It’s unnerving enough…just finding out that your dog or cat is swollen somewhere that it shouldn’t be, shaking and scratching at its painful ears, sneezing blood, holding up a sore leg, yelping in pain when you pick it up or move its head, acting listless, puking, scratching itchy skin until it’s raw, straining, suffering from runny diarrhea with spots of blood in it…and, well, bleeding from anywhere. The only thing worse is when you realize it is after clinic hours and you may have to seek emergency care. You may think it’s time to panic. Maybe it is and maybe it isn’t.
I’ve got some advice and rules of thumb that may help you to help your dog or cat…until you can get in to see your regular vet.
First, let me stress that if your pet seems to be very sick, in pain, or bleeding profusely there is no decision to make. Call and seek help immediately. If it’s after hours, however, prepare yourself for a much more expensive veterinary visit. Emergency clinics are staffed nights, holidays and weekends with veterinarians that specialize in trauma and critical care, along with a full staff of technicians and veterinary assistants, all of whom provide treatment and monitoring all night or weekend long. That’s good news when your sick or injured pet needs immediate help!
The bad news is, it will cost you anywhere from a minimum of $200 to several $1000—even if what you thought was a serious problem….isn’t. If the symptoms are not obviously life threatening, here are two options you may consider:
1.If you are unsure of the severity of the condition, you may get an exam at the emergency clinic and delay expensive treatment until your vet opens the next day (when the same treatment may be less costly),
2. If you are reasonably sure that the condition is mild, not too uncomfortable for your pet, and treatment could wait a few hours or even a day, you could administer some home first aid. This guide—while not a diagnostic tool—lists some safe medications you can administer for temporary relief.
WARNING: While some over-the-counter medication can provide your pet with temporary relief, you need to be very careful NOT to give your dog or cat Tylenol (acetaminophen is the generic form) or ibuprofen. And while dogs can have aspirin (see dosage recommendations in 5, below) do NOT give aspirin to your cat. Pain relievers for cats are best purchased from your vet.
Here’s the link!