We love our dogs, and we know it can be hard to wait when it seems like something is off. Deciding when to go to an emergency vet and when to wait for an appointment can be tricky. Always trust your gut—if you have a dog emergency on your hands, it’s better not to wait. Call your vet to get their advice, but be ready to head to the emergency vet if necessary. 


Emergency Vet Clinics vs. Urgent Vet Visits

Oftentimes there are appointments open for urgent visits at your regular vet. These appointments are different from going to an emergency clinic. They are for care that cannot wait for a yearly check-up but are not immediately life-threatening. 

Much like the ER for humans, emergency vet clinics are for extreme emergencies. Many of the reasons you would visit the ER are the same as when you would take your dog to an emergency clinic, like a snake bite or a broken bone. 


Things That Can Wait for an Urgent Care Appointment 

  • Changes in eating habits
  • Vomiting and diarrhea that is not excessive (two or fewer times in an hour)
  • Behavioral changes
  • Limping
  • Sore spots
  • Excessive itching


Dog Emergencies That Cannot Wait 

  • Excessive Bleeding

While some cuts and scratches can be treated at home, bleeding that lasts longer than 5 minutes requires veterinary intervention. Oftentimes fur can conceal wounds, and some cuts might need stitches to heal properly without infection. 

  • Encountered Poisons or Venoms

The veterinarian may need to induce vomiting or need an antivenom. Do not wait if your dog consumed something poisonous, or was bitten by something venomous

  • Refusal to Put Weight on a Limb

If your dog is walking on three legs or refusing to allow you to touch a limb after a fall,  they might have a broken bone. Most vets will encourage you to get an x-ray as soon as possible.

  • Eye Injuries 

It only takes a few moments for an eye injury to cause blindness, so get your dog to a vet right away. 

  • Overheating

If your dog has heat stroke, they could be undergoing kidney failure, which is fatal unless it’s treated immediately. 

  • Difficulty Breathing 

Shallow or labored breathing can be caused by a number of emergencies. Anaphylaxis, although rare in dogs, is one of them. 

  • Being Struck by a Vehicle 

Even if your dog springs up after an accident and seems fine, they might still be in trouble. Internal bleeding and other problems don’t always appear right away. 

  • Involved in a Fight

Whether they were attacked by another dog or a wild animal, injuries from a fight might be worse than they seem. And If it was a wild animal, your dog might need a rabies booster as a precaution. 

  • Convulsions Lasting Longer Than 3 Minutes

Seizures can cause brain damage, and organ failure, and are always an emergency.

  • Unconsciousness 

If your dog is unresponsive, seek medical attention right away. 

  • Excessive Diarrhea and Vomiting 

Your dog runs the risk of dehydration if they get sick more than three times in a one-hour period, or if they are sick for more than 48 hours. 


Emergency Care When You Need It in Gilbert, Arizona

If you need emergency veterinary care, urgent care, or a regular appointment, East Valley Animal Hospital has the services you need when you need them. We specialize in helping pets no matter the difficulty. If you have questions about when it is an emergency for a dog, give us a call to speak with one of our caring staff members. 


Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (12/4/22). Photo by freestocks on Unsplash.