Medical Emergencies and Concerns | PAWS Chicago

Medical Emergencies and Concerns

Time is of the essence when your dog is sick or injured.


Signs of Medical Emergency

If your dog is exhibiting any of these symptoms, he needs immediate medical attention:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Major trauma (fall, hit-by-car, large wound, broken bone)
  • Penetrating wounds
  • Seizure activity
  • Staggering, stumbling, head-tilted, sudden blindness
  • Lameness or nonweight bearing on any limb
  • Ingestion of poison or foreign material
  • Inflammation, swelling or other irritation to the eye(s)
  • Severe hives or itching
  • Bleeding that does not stop
  • Bloated, distended, swollen or painful abdomen
  • Inability to urinate or defecate
  • Inability to deliver puppies
  • Loss of balance or consciousness
  • Pain
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Dilated pupils
  • Vomiting or diarrhea with blood or violent episodes

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In Case of Emergency

If you suspect that your dog has been injured or poisoned, contact a veterinarian immediately.

For quick reference, place the following emergency numbers in an easily visible and accessible place:

  • Regular Veterinarian: Include your vet's name, number and address. If you are going out of town, call beforehand to authorize treatment and payment should something happen while you’re away.
  • Emergency Veterinarian: Include the name, number and address of the closest 24-hour emergency vet.
  • Poison Control: The ASPCA Poison Control Hotline can be reached at 888-426-4435.
  • Emergency Contact: Include the name and phone number of a person who can be called if something happens to you.
  • Medical Information: Include a list of critical medications, allergies and other essential medical information about your dog.

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Signs of Medical Concern

These signs should trigger a call to your vet:

  • Continual diarrhea
  • Continual vomiting
  • Open mouth breathing, difficulty breathing or increased effort to breathe
  • Bleeding that will not stop
  • Unexplained bruising in the skin
  • Not eating or drinking; a lack of interest in food
  • Lethargic or an unexplained reduced level of activity or play
  • Sudden changes in behavior
  • Loss of color in the gums
  • Abnormal discharge
  • Difficulty urinating or defecating
  • Lumps under the skin
  • Marked weight loss or gain
  • Hair loss
  • Excessive scratching or licking
  • Swollen or painful abdomen

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