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What are signs of a dog emergency?

Recognizing the signs of a dog emergency is essential for any pet owner. Here are key symptoms that indicate your dog may be experiencing an emergency and requires immediate veterinary attention:

  1. Severe Bleeding: Continuous or severe bleeding that doesn't stop within 5 minutes.

  2. Choking, Difficulty Breathing, or Nonstop Coughing: Signs of respiratory distress.

  3. Inability to Urinate or Pass Feces, or Pain Associated With Urinating or Defecating: Could indicate a blockage or other serious issue.

  4. Eye Injuries: Any injury to the eye should be considered serious.

  5. You Suspect Broken Bones or Severe Lameness: Non-weight bearing lameness or obvious bone deformity.

  6. Seizures or Uncontrolled Trembling: Especially if they are prolonged or the dog has multiple seizures in a short period.

  7. Unconsciousness: If your dog faints or loses consciousness.

  8. Severe Vomiting or Diarrhea: More than two episodes in a 24-hour period or if blood is present.

  9. Refusal to Drink for 24 Hours or More: Dehydration can be a serious issue.

  10. Evidence of Extreme Pain: Agitation, restlessness, or vocalization.

  11. Swollen Abdomen or Excessive Gagging: Could indicate bloat, which is a life-threatening emergency.

  12. Exposure to Toxins: Including ingestion of harmful substances or chemicals.

  13. Extreme Lethargy or Collapse: Sudden weakness or collapse.

  14. Heatstroke: Symptoms include excessive panting, drooling, reddened gums, vomiting, diarrhea, mental dullness, loss of consciousness, uncoordinated movement, or collapse.

  15. Sudden Change in Behavior: Aggression, withdrawal, or any significant change in behavior can indicate pain, discomfort, or neurological issues.

  16. Persistent Cough or Difficulty Breathing: Any change in breathing patterns or persistent coughing.

Remember, in any emergency, time is of the essence, and swift action for these potential life-threatening conditions, can make a significant difference in the outcome. So if we are closed or you cannot reach us immediately, please head to your closest animal ER. 


Closest Emergency Clinics For Our Service Area:
  • Portland Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Care: 207-878-3121, 739 Warren Avenue, Portland, ME 04103.

  • Animal Emergency Clinic of Mid-Maine: 207-777-1110, 37 Strawberry Avenue, Lewiston, ME 04240.

  • Maine Veterinary Medical Center: 207-885-1290, 1500 Technology Way, Scarborough, ME 04074

Here are some other questions regarding dog emergencies: 

What should I do if my dog stops breathing?

If your dog stops breathing, you can attempt CPR. Check for a heart rate and begin artificial respiration by closing the dog's mouth and blowing into its nose. If there is no heartbeat, start chest compressions. For detailed guidance, consult a veterinarian or a pet first aid guide.

How do I handle a choking dog?

If your dog is choking, carefully check its mouth for obstructions. You can perform the Heimlich maneuver by applying pressure to the abdomen just behind the ribs. However, be cautious and gentle to avoid further injury. Get to a veterinarian immediately. 

What if my dog swallows medication?

If your dog ingests medication, contact your veterinarian or an emergency clinic immediately. You can also call Animal Poison Control, as they have extensive data on the types of medication and associated risks to your dog. Provide details about the type and amount of medication ingested. Depending on the situation, the veterinarian may advise inducing vomiting or other treatments.

My dog is vomiting, what should I do?

Occasional vomiting might not be serious, but if it's repetitive, especially with signs of lethargy or diarrhea, it's best to have your dog evaluated by a veterinarian.

What if I suspect a broken leg?

Approach a dog with a suspected broken leg cautiously, as they may bite due to pain. Having a muzzle in your pet first aid kit can keep everyone safe if an event like this happens unexpectedly. Transport them to a veterinarian or emergency clinic as soon as possible. Using big puffy blankets, such as a comforter, to carry a large dog can be helpful. 

How to respond to a dog seizure?

During a seizure, ensure your dog is safe from drowning or falling. Avoid touching their face or mouth as they may bite unintentionally. If a seizure lasts more than two minutes (use a watch if you can, as even short seizures can seem like an eternity to someone watching), seek veterinary help immediately.

What should I do if my dog is bleeding?

For external bleeding, apply firm pressure to the wound. If the bleeding is internal (indicated by pale gums, blood in vomit, or difficulty breathing), get to a vet immediately.


What are the signs of shock in dogs?

Signs of shock include rapid heart rate, pale gums, low blood pressure, and weak pulse. Keep the dog warm and quiet, and seek veterinary care right away.

What to do in case of bee or wasp stings?

If stung, monitor your dog for allergic reactions like swelling or difficulty breathing. If this occurs, call your veterinarian.  Keep an eye on your pet for several hours.

How do I handle coughing in my dog?

If your dog's coughing is persistent or accompanied by other symptoms like shortness of breath or lethargy, they should be evaluated by a veterinarian.

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