Is this a True Emergency?

The Holiday Season is coming up fast! Along with it come holiday decorations, family gatherings, big family feasts, gifts, and lots of busy, busy schedules. All of us at Goldenvale hope that you have a wonderful, relaxing holiday but sometimes that isn’t the case and we want you to be prepared for emergencies that may come up with your pets. Dr. Steph has put together a list of things that are true emergencies; things that can’t wait until the morning, or the next day. If any of these situations arise, your pet needs to take a trip to the vet immediately, or if we aren’t open, head to the emergency clinic.

There are certain emergencies that we would all recognize would need immediate attention – if your pet was hit by a car (or other trauma), had a seizure, suddenly collapsed, or having trouble breathing – but there are a few other situations where you wouldn’t want to wait that might not be so obvious.


Straining to Urinate/Can’t Urinate

Most often we see this in male cats, but in can happen in females, and dogs too.
This is most often caused by crystals, or bladder stones blocking or plugging up the urethra. This is unfortunately a common problem for male cats and given the term Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD). Sometimes we get warning signs before they actually block – urinating outside the litter box, seeing blood in the urine, or actually seeing them strain. If a urinary blockage happens, the cat is unable to urinate at all. The bladder starts to distend and it becomes very painful, very quickly. These cats are usually vocalizing and very unhappy. If left too long, potassium can build up in their blood stream, and have a negative effect on their heart – it will slow their heart rate and if the potassium gets high enough, their heart can actually stop.


Unproductive Retching

If your dog is trying to vomit repeatedly without bringing anything up, that’s what we call unproductive retching. For medium to large breed dogs, this is a symptom of bloat. Their stomach may be distended with air, or sometimes food and it is VERY uncomfortable. Sometimes when a dog is bloated their stomach will actually twist and flip on itself – this is called gastric dilatation and volvulus or GDV for short. When this happens, blood vessels get twisted and the blood supply to the stomach is cut off. This is an emergency and dogs with GDV need immediate surgical intervention to correct it. While it is possible for this to happen to any breed, we mostly see it in deep chested dogs, especially German Shepherds, and Great Danes.


Sudden Hindlimb Paralysis

DOGS – We aren’t talking about elderly dogs who slowly become weaker on their hind end, we are talking about dogs up running around 1 minute and then not able to move their hind legs the next. Dogs can slip discs in their back leading to sudden paralysis (Intervertebral Disc Disease). These dogs need immediate attention to try to save the nerves from more permanent damage. Disc disease can happen to any breed, but we most commonly see it in the long back breeds like Dachshunds, Corgis, and Shih Tzus.
CATS – In cats the most common reason for sudden hindlimb paralysis is usually a blood clot to one of their major vessels supplying blood to their hind legs – saddle thrombus or Aortic thromboembolism. This is a very painful condition and many cats will start to vocalize as soon as it happens. It is usually due to underlying heart disease.


Red, Irritated Eyes

We see a lot of pets with simple conjunctivitis, but there are many, much more serious conditions they can get that can cause a red eye. A scratched cornea or Corneal Ulcer can be very painful and animals often make them worse by rubbing their eyes before they get treatment. An even worse condition would be Glaucoma – just like people can get. It is a very painful condition where the pressure inside the eye builds up. If left untreated, medication may not be able to bring the pressure down and the eye will become blind. Sometimes the eye may have to be removed to stop the pet’s pain.  


We hope that you won’t need to deal with any of these problems this Holiday season, but if you do, please call the Veterinary Emergency Clinic of York Region, located on Journey’s End Circle beside the Comfort Inn.  Their number is 905-953-5351