Is it an Emergency? What should I do?

During office hours, if you have an emergency or an urgent situation, please call us at 703-378-8813 before you bring your pet in. We’ll be able to expedite your visit by getting out your pet’s file and gathering what emergency supplies the doctor may need. Because we are a small practice, we will refer you to a 24/7 facility if our doctor is performing surgery or temporarily out of the office when you call. After hours you will need to call and/or take your pet to one of the local 24/7 emergency veterinary offices which are listed on the left. Click on the emergency clinic name and more information will be shown.

Any major, abrupt change in your pet deserves a phone call – the emergency clinic staff can help you determine if your pet should be seen right away. If it happens during our office hours, please call us! The following situations should always be considered urgent:

    • Any major change in your pet.
    • Any sudden swelling, especially if the area is tender to the touch.
    • Hives (many small raised bumps all over your pet – bumps may be red and/or itchy, and from 1/4 inch to 1 inch in diameter).
    • Bleeding from an injury (if it is more than a few drops), or your pet is bleeding and you can’t find where the blood is coming from.
    • Male dog bleeding from the penis, even if just a few drops.
    • Unspayed female dog acting ill, with or without vaginal discharge (which can be bloody).
    • Bruises on the skin, or purple spots, from tiny to several inches in diameter.
    • Repeated vomiting, especially if your pet is not drinking well, or he drinks and then vomits fluid.
    • Any red blood in vomit, or dark coffee-grounds appearance to vomit (this can be semi-digested blood).
    • Multiple bouts of watery diarrhea when the pet is not drinking well and/or is doing any vomiting.
    • Pet ate something he shouldn’t have – bones, plastic, cloth, needle and thread, etc. (pets have been known to eat hearing aids, rocks, earrings, necklaces, ribbons, and more).
    • Your pet may have (or did) eaten something poisonous or potentially dangerous. This can include all human medications, chocolate, mouse bait, cleaning agents and/or insecticides, some plants, and lots more. With some poisons (including mouse bait, chocolate, Tylenol, and ibuprofen), time is the most important variable in your pet’s treatment, so don’t wait!
    • Frequent cough with a sudden onset.
    • Choking, difficulty breathing, severe wheezing (you can clearly hear them breathing).
    • Seizures or convulsions (a single one that lasts more than 5 minutes, or more than three in one hour, or your pet is not returning to normal within 20 minutes after a seizure).
    • Your pet was hit by a car or other moving vehicle, even if there does not seem to be any obvious injury.
    • Your pet was in a fight with another pet, or with a wild animal. Even if there are no obvious bite wounds or blood, an emergency evaluation is important.
    • Your pet may have (or did) bite into an electrical cord.
    • Blood in urine, and/or straining to urinate. Also frequent attempts to urinate with not much produced. This is especially urgent with male cats and dogs as they may have a blockage.
    • Red, swollen, runny eye (especially if your pet is rubbing at it).
    • Straining to pass stools, or (for cats) no stool produced at all for 48 hours.
    • Bloated, enlarged abdomen.
    • Red, tender, swollen, and/or smelly ear. Especially if your pet is shaking his head or scratching the ear.
    • Your pet is crying, reluctant to move much, and can’t seem to get comfortable.
    • Not putting any weight on one leg, or a mild limp is suddenly much worse.
    • Pet can’t walk properly (stumbling, circling, falling over, weak rear legs, dragging rear legs).
    • Your pet refuses to eat his regular food for more than 24 hours.
    • Weak, lethargic pet.
    • Open sore anywhere, especially if there is any bloody, yellow, sticky, or greenish discharge and/or it smells bad, and/or the pet won’t leave it alone (frequently licking at it or scratching at it).

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