As our beloved four-legged friends’ guardians and caretakers, we’re willing to do everything we can to protect them. However, accidents and emergencies can happen, and may leave us wondering—could this have been prevented?

Often, the answer is “Yes.” To help you, the Town and Country Animal Hospital team has compiled the best emergency-prevention tips. 

Keep current identification on your pet at all times

If your pet runs away, or is otherwise separated from you and injured, current identification (e.g., collar, tags, a microchip) can ensure you are immediately contacted. This not only can reunite you with your pet, but also make the difference between their life and death, should their injuries require emergency surgery or treatment. 

Keep veterinary emergency numbers posted or stored in your phone

Because a 9-1-1 number does not exist for pets, you could lose precious time trying to locate the right phone number to call during an emergency. Prevent unnecessary delays by posting emergency numbers on your refrigerator, or adding them to your favorite contacts so that help is only a touch away. We recommend including:

Recognize common pet emergency signs

Knowing when to call Town and Country Animal Hospital for expert advice may minimize your pet’s chances of a life-threatening emergency, or reduce its severity. Common signs of an impending emergency include:

  • Dry heaving in dogs
  • Distended abdomen
  • Pale or discolored gums
  • Multiple or continuous seizures
  • Inability to urinate
  • Uncontrollable bleeding 
  • Loss of coordination
  • Sudden paralysis

If you’re not sure about the severity of your pet’s condition, call us. Our skilled team can triage your pet over the phone.

Supervise your pet in new places

No matter their age, most pets are naturally curious about new things and places. However, in only a split second, pets can pick up and swallow a stray pill or rat poison, escape through an open door and be hit by a car, or encounter an unfriendly animal. Unless you’ve fully pet-proofed the area, supervise your pet at all times.

Secure your pet for travel with a seatbelt, crate, or carrier

During an automobile accident, unrestrained pets may be ejected or experience physical trauma from colliding with parts of the car’s interior. Ejected pets may suffer broken bones and internal injury, or rush into traffic and be hit by a car. Protect your pet by restraining them in a seatbelt, crate, or carrier.  

Don’t try home remedies without veterinary approval

When your pet is sick or “not quite right,” please contact us before looking for information online. Self-diagnosing your pet, or treating them with at-home remedies, can make them worse, result in serious complications, and further delay appropriate treatment. 

Never induce vomiting or give any human medication without your veterinarian’s advice.

Pet-proof your home

Before you welcome home a new puppy, kitten, or adult pet, remove any hazards that may put them at risk for injury, toxicity, or other harm. While middle-age pets may lose their youthful desire to chew or consume nonfood objects, senior pets with cognitive dysfunction or certain medical conditions may resume this behavior, so stay alert for behavior changes as your pet ages.

When pet-proofing a space, remove the following:

  • Electrical cords
  • Household toxins
  • Toxic plants
  • Breakable or valuable items
  • Medications
  • Essential oil diffusers or liquid potpourri warmers
  • Trash cans

Don’t let your pet interact with wildlife or unfamiliar pets

Dog and wildlife attacks are an unfortunately common pet emergency. Help your dog avoid unfriendly encounters by keeping a close eye on their outdoor activity, restricting them to a leash, and not allowing them to rush up to other animals or disturb wildlife. 

Learning how to read canine body language can help you interpret your dog’s and others’ emotional state, and is especially helpful at the dog park, where fights can be common.

Protect your pet from the heat

Heatstroke is a dangerous and potentially tragic condition that affects pets every year during warm weather. Take these precautions during spring, summer, and fall, to ensure your pet stays cool and comfortable: 

  • Never leave your pet in a parked car.
  • Always provide fresh water, shade, and frequent breaks when outside.
  • Exercise only in the cooler hours of the day.
  • Monitor your pet for heat stress signs, such as excessive panting, restlessness, vomiting, or loss of coordination.

Keep pets away from open windows and doors

Pets who escape through open windows and doors may experience serious or fatal injury if they are hit by a car or fall from a high level. If your pet experiences either of these events, bring them immediately to Town and Country Animal Hospital. While your pet may appear normal, adrenaline can mask serious internal injuries. 

Create a pet first aid kit that is kept stocked

Finally, be prepared for minor injuries, such as abrasions, insect bites, torn toenails, and small wounds, with a pet first aid kit. Check your kit often, replace outdated materials as necessary, and always follow up with Town and Country Animal Hospital to determine if your pet needs veterinary attention.

No pet owner wants to think about pet emergencies, but by learning about common hazards, and how to keep your pet safe, you may one day save their life. 

If your pet is experiencing an emergency, immediately contact Town and Country Animal Hospital, or the nearest veterinary emergency facility for 24-hour emergency services.