Life is unpredictable for us all, including our pets. Pet health emergencies can happen at any time, and seeing your pet suffer is scary and stressful, but you can take precautions to reduce your pet’s accident risk. Read our Juanita Hills Animal Hospital team’s description of the most common pet emergencies, and how you can prevent them.
#1: Protect your pet from stings, bites, and allergic reactions
You may not always see them, but insects and snakes are often lurking on trails you and your pet frequent, increasing their bite and sting risk. To minimize your pet’s flea and tick bite risk, ensure they are on a parasite preventive year-round. To protect your pet from a snake bite, keep them leashed in areas snakes likely inhabit. If your pet has an allergic reaction to a sting or is bitten by a snake, contact your veterinarian, and ensure your pet receives emergency care as soon as possible.
#2: Ensure your plants are pet-friendly
We all enjoy gazing at colorful plants in our homes and yards, but behind their beauty, some plants, flowers, and bushes can harm our pets. Hundreds of common indoor and garden plants are toxic to pets, including:
Use this extensive list from the ASPCA to determine which plants in and around your home are pet-friendly, and ensure that plants you plan to purchase are nontoxic. Some houseplants can cause your pet to experience digestive upset, or worse, and floral arrangements may contain flowers that can harm your pet if they ingest them, so keep bouquets out of your pet’s reach.
#3: Keep your pet safely secured
If your pet is hit by a car, they can experience fractured bones, lacerations, blood loss, and internal trauma. Prevent your pet from being hit by a vehicle by keeping them secure at home and in public places.
- Secure your pet’s collar —Ensure your pet’s collar and harness are snug, but not so tight it restricts their breathing. You should be able to fit two fingers underneath your pet’s collar, and you should not be able to pull the collar over their head.
- Keep your pet on a leash — Always keep your pet leashed when outdoors unless they are in a fenced in area. If your pet often pulls at their leash, ensure the person walking them is strong enough to prevent them from getting away when they pull forcefully.
- Secure your fence — You can allow your pet to be off leash in your yard if it is fenced, and you should ensure the fence is secure—with no gaps or damaged gate latches—and tall enough that your pet cannot jump over. If your yard is not fenced, always leash your pet, and supervise them when they are in the yard.
#4: Ensure your pet stays cool
Like humans, pets are susceptible to heatstroke when the temperature and humidity levels rise. Take these precautions to keep your pet cool to avoid a heat-related emergency:
- Avoid the midday heat — During hot and humid weather, exercise your pet early in the morning or late at night—when the sun’s rays are less intense. Keep walks short on hot days, and avoid strenuous outdoor aerobic activities.
- Keep your pet hydrated — Ensure your pet always has access to fresh, cool water at home and during walks. Your pet will become dehydrated more quickly than you, so ensure drinking water is always accessible to keep them hydrated, especially in the heat.
- Leave your pet home — When the temperature soars, reduce your pet’s outdoor time, and never leave your pet unattended in a parked vehicle. Every year, many pets die as a result of overheating when left alone in a parked car, and leaving the windows cracked open or parking in the shade does not help. A vehicle’s interior temperature can rise to lethal levels within minutes, and your pet can overheat, potentially experiencing damage to their heart, liver, kidneys, and brain. When running errands, leave your pet in your air-conditioned home.
- Recognize overheating signs — Your pet can quickly develop heatstroke, which can lead to organ failure and death if you do not immediately begin cooling them down. To prevent your pet from developing this life-threatening condition, learn to recognize heatstroke signs:
- Heavy panting
- Red gums
- Rapid breathing
- Fast heart rate
- Dull or distant look
If your pet is exhibiting heatstroke signs, bring them to a cool, well-ventilated area, and cool them down with lukewarm—never cold— water and wet towels, and seek medical treatment immediately.
#5: Provide safe toys for your pet
Pets need to chew, and appropriate chew toys are essential to their physical and mental wellbeing. However, not all chew toys are safe, and some can cause dental damage, mouth injury, and intestinal blockages. Evaluate your pet’s chew toys for these key characteristics:
- Size — Some toys may be too small for your dog, allowing them to swallow the toy, or potentially choke.
- Durability — Ensure your pet cannot easily destroy and eat a toy.
- Rigidity — Toys that are harder than your pet’s dental enamel can break their teeth. Do not give your pet bones, antlers, or hooves.
Not all pet emergencies are preventable, but you can greatly reduce your pet’s health risk by taking these precautions. If your pet has an emergency, contact our Juanita Hills Hospital team for the care they need.