Veterinary emergencies can be terrifying, and while you can’t prevent every issue, you can protect your pet from some common situations. Our team at Haskell Valley Veterinary Clinic wants to help by explaining how you can safeguard your pet from some common pet emergencies.

Protect your pet from being hit by a car

Numerous pets are seriously injured and killed on roadways every year. Steps to ensure your pet isn’t a car accident victim include:

  • Ensure your cat stays inside Cats who go outdoors have much lower life expectancies than indoor-only pets. Ensuring your cat remains indoors will not only prevent them from being hit by a car, but also will protect them from other dangerous situations, such as animal fights and exposure to diseases and parasites.
  • Keep your dog leashed — When out for a walk, keep your dog on a leash to prevent them from bolting into traffic. If your dog is a known escape artist, use a halter style leash to ensure they can’t get free. Do not use a retractable leash if your dog doesn’t heed your commands.
  • Teach your dog to sit at intersections — Train your dog to sit and wait for your walk command when they reach an intersection, to ensure they don’t walk into traffic.
  • Inspect your fence — Before allowing your dog in your yard, inspect your fence and fix any weak areas where they could escape.

Protect your pet from heatstroke

Your pet’s body temperature should be between 101 and 102.5 degrees. Strenuous exercise and hot humid conditions can cause your pet’s temperature to rise, and put them at higher risk for heatstroke, since they don’t sweat like humans. Extreme heat causes inflammation throughout the pet’s body, damaging their heart, lungs, brain, kidneys, gastrointestinal tract, and coagulation system. Signs include excessive panting, drooling, weakness, diarrhea, collapse, and seizures. Steps to ensure your pet isn’t a heatstroke victim include:

  • Ensure your pet remains hydrated — Provide access to several fresh water sources, and clean and change out the water frequently. When going out for a walk, take water and a bowl and offer your pet a drink regularly.
  • Don’t leave your pet in an unattended vehicle — Every year, numerous pets die when they are left in a parked car. Temperatures rise rapidly in an enclosed vehicle, and parking in the shade and cracking your windows will not keep the inside temperature safe for your pet. Leave your pet at home if they can’t accompany you at your stops.
  • Acclimate your pet — Gradually acclimate your pet to the warmer, summer temperatures. 
  • Restrict your pet’s activity — Avoid excessive exercise on hot, humid days. Brachycephalic pets, senior pets, overweight pets, and those who have a health issue are at increased heatstroke risk and should remain inside in the air-conditioning, except for brief bathroom breaks.
  • Avoid peak heat — Walk your pet during the early morning and evening hours to avoid the hottest time of the day.

Protect your pet from ingesting a poison

Several common foods and household items are toxic to pets. Steps to ensure your pet isn’t a poison victim include:

  • Educate yourself — Ensure you know what items are toxic to pets, so you can remove these substances from your home, if possible. 
  • Keep medications secure — Many over-the-counter and prescription medications are toxic to pets and should be kept in a secure location, to ensure your pet doesn’t investigate. In addition, take your medication when your pet is not present, so they don’t have access to a dropped pill or tablet.
  • Read the label — Read the label before feeding your pet any new food to ensure the product doesn’t contain a toxic ingredient.
  • Keep your garbage in sealed containers — Keep your garbage in sealed containers to ensure your pet doesn’t go dumpster diving and ingest a toxin.
  • Secure your guests’ personal items — Do not allow your pet access to your guests’ purses and coats, which may contain poisonous items such as sugar-free gum and ibuprofen.

Protect your pet from ingesting a foreign object

Pets frequently investigate their environment using their mouth, and can ingest a foreign object that becomes a gastrointestinal obstruction. Common culprits include bones, socks, rocks, and small toy pieces. Steps to ensure your pet isn’t a victim include:

  • Provide appropriate toys — Ensure your pet has access to appropriate toys, so they aren’t tempted to chew on the wrong items.
  • Don’t feed your pet bones — Avoid feeding your pet any meat with bones. Cooked bones are often brittle, and can easily fracture and damage your pet’s mouth or gastrointestinal tract. In addition, the small pieces can cause gastrointestinal obstruction.
  • Ensure your pet’s toys are the right size — Choose size-appropriate toys that your pet can’t swallow, and ensure they have no pieces that can come loose and be swallowed.
  • Remove small items — If your pet is prone to chewing inappropriate objects, remove any small items from their environment to prevent an accident.

Not every pet emergency can be prevented, but you can take certain precautions to safeguard your pet from a crisis situation. However, should your pet experience a veterinary emergency, contact our American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA)-accredited team at Haskell Valley Veterinary Clinic, so we can get them the help they need.