When Is It An Emergency?

It is 2pm on Sunday afternoon, you hear tires screeching and a yelp. Your dog apparently got out of the yard, ran out on the street and was hit by a car, but he got up immediately and seems to be fine – should you panic? No, do not panic, but call us immediately to have him evaluated – although outwardly he seems fine, internal injuries may be present.

Or it’s 9pm Tuesday night and you’ve come home from work and you notice your cat squinting one eye and it is watering – should you panic? Again, no, do not panic; however, you should have your pet evaluated at the next available office-hours appointment. Below, we have provided a guide as to when we would strongly recommend you contacting us ASAP.

Note: By no means, should you use the information below as an exclusive guide as to whether a situation is determined to be an emergency or not. You are the best judge until you talk to us. There are many shades of gray in between. It is only meant to provide guidance. If you are in doubt, call us, and we will help you determine if you should worry or not.

Also, as a reminder, if you do have an emergency, call us before coming in. If we are not available, the answering service will refer you to a local veterinary emergency clinic. Please click here for further details.

Call us immediately if you notice any of the following:


  • Seems lethargic, depressed, weak, or is not very responsive to your voice or food,


  • Has not eaten in more than 24 hours (Especially for cats! Cats can develop secondary liver failure in response to not eating even over a short time period)

Gastrointestinal signs

  • Has persistent vomiting and cannot drink or eat without vomiting
  • Has a large amount of blood in their stool
  • Has uncontrolled diarrhea


  • Has never had a seizure before
  • Has a seizure lasting longer than 5 minutes, or has multiple seizures in a row

(If your pet has a history of seizures, and it has a seizure lasting less than 5 minutes long, record it in your log, and notify us at your earliest convenience.)


  • Has ingested any human drugs; indoor/outdoor plants/flowers; insectides and rodenticides; cleaning agents, antifreeze; or other chemicals

Dystocia (difficulty birthing puppies)

  • Is in labor and:
  • More than 30 minutes of persistent, strong, abdominal contractions have passed without expulsion of offspring
  • More than 4 hours have passed from the onset of stage 2 (abdominal contractions) to delivery of first offspring
  • More than 2 hours have passed between delivery of offspring
  • There is failure to commence labor within 24hours of drop in rectal temperature
  • Female is crying, displaying signs of pain, and constantly licks the vulvar area when contracting


  • Has a sudden inability to use their back legs, and/or their front legs

Urinary issues

  • Cannot urinate, or is straining to produce a small amount of urine


  • Is having any difficulty breathing

Soft tissue Trauma/Bleeding

  • Is actively bleeding from a wound or has a nosebleed. Place pressure on the wound with a towel or wrap the area with gauze and bandage material. If your pet is having a nosebleed, keep your pet quiet and place an icepack over his muzzle.
  • Has a wound larger than a puncture wound

High Impact Trauma

  • Has been hit by a car (even if no external injuries are apparent, internal injuries can be present and take up to 24 hours to be evident)

Heat Stroke

  • Was outside in the sun for an extended period, or locked in a hot car for even a short period of time

Note: Hose your pet off with cold water before contacting us, however, your pet still needs to be evaluated ASAP for internal damage.

Other Scenarios

Again, this list is not exclusive. If you have any concerns at all about your pet, call us so that we may alleviate your concerns or direct you further.