It can be a scary situation whenever your beloved cat or dog suddenly begins acting unusual, especially in the middle of the night. But does it warrant an immediate visit to the ER, or is it fine to wait until you're able to get an appointment at your regular vet? There are many factors to take into consideration when you're considering a trip to the emergency vet, including necessity, wait times, and cost. Here's what you should look for to make sure you aren't causing undue stress for your pet and spending your time and money with a late-night trip to the ER.
When should I bring my dog to the ER?
Sometimes, it will be relatively obvious when a visit to the ER for your dog is necessary. Issues like sudden collapse, seizures or severe tremors, and traumas warrant a visit to the vet, no matter the time of night. Other harder-to-spot conditions that can be concerning if left untreated for too long include difficulty breathing, constant coughing, fast heart rate or breathing rate, and inability to urinate. Any of these issues might be worth a trip to the ER to get treatment for your pup.
When should I bring my cat to the ER?
Many of the same symptoms that are cause for concern in dogs are similarly worrying in cats. In addition, if your cat hides for an abnormally long period of time, it might be a sign that they are in serious distress. Cats tend to hide symptoms of serious diseases, and this can be a serious issue if you are unable to get treatment in a timely manner. Also watch for symptoms like straining to use the litter, excessive vomiting or drooling, and difficulty breathing.
When can it wait?
In many circumstances, problems like urinary tract infections, itchiness, and diarrhea are not immediately life-threatening. If your dog or cat begins displaying these symptoms in the middle of the night but is not expressing any other signs of distress, it will likely be fine to call your normal vet in the morning. However, you know your pet better than anyone else, and if you are worried that something might be seriously wrong, it's a good idea to visit the ER both for your pet's safety and your own peace of mind.
Pet Care Triage: What to Know About Emergency Vet Wait Times
When you bring your dog or cat to our emergency animal hospital, you may not be seen right away. Don’t worry - this is a good thing! It means your pet’s condition is not life-threatening. In times of high patient traffic, we prioritize animals in a system known as triage that allows those in critical conditions to be seen right away. Check out the chart below to see how Mason Dixon Emergency Animal Hospital prioritizes our emergency visitors:
One of the best ways to avoid emergency vet visits is to bring your dog or cat to their primary care vet before an issue becomes so advanced as to require an ER visit. If you suspect something is wrong with your pet, try to take them to the vet before it can become a serious health concern. Of course, not all pet emergencies are predictable, so it's a good idea to keep the contact information of a reputable emergency vet center like Mason Dixon Emergency Animal Hospital in your phone or on your refrigerator. If you have any more questions about whether your pet should come to the ER, feel free to contact our clinic.