Emergencies in Cats and Dogs

Woody Dudley, DVM


Where will you go if you have an emergency with your pet?

No pet with an emergency should be put on a waiting list or told they can’t be seen today. For this reason, our AAHA Accredited Hospital accepts walk-in patients. In the Oviedo community, we are also fortunate to have the first 24-hour Veterinary Emergency Care facility in the Metro Orlando area on Aloma Avenue.

Stressful Emergencies and urgent health issues are all too common in Veterinary Medicine. With many health concerns that client believes are minor, the pet is in fact in critical condition. Our pets can’t talk. Pets also do a phenomenal job of hiding symptoms which makes illness difficult to detect even for experienced Doctors.

Any sick patient could potentially be an emergency. Therefore, the patient should be brought to the Hospital for exam and vital signs. The sick patients examined by the Veterinarian that are triaged as emergencies often have unstable vital signs, high or low heart rates, pulse, respiration, temperature, and blood pressure. An Ultrasound of the chest and abdomen and Electrocardiogram is very useful at determining how serious and what treatment is needed.

We classify emergency health conditions as acute or chronic. Acute illnesses develop suddenly over a period of a few to several days, such as poisoning, trauma, urinary obstruction, bowel obstruction, viral infections. Chronic conditions have been building up gradually over more than 3 weeks and often much longer, even years. These subtle changes are not obvious because there is very little change from day to day. Examples of chronic illnesses include gum disease, tooth fractures, heart disease, cancer, kidney disease, liver disease, eye diseases, urinary stones, hypertension (high blood pressure), urinary infections, hormonal diseases affecting the adrenal glands and thyroid glands.


Did you know that many of the stressful and expensive emergencies that occur in our pets can be prevented by simple Health Screening and economical Imaging?

Many pet owners believe that all their pets need to be healthy is vaccinations, parasite prevention for fleas and worms, and a quick 15-minute appointment with a veterinarian once a year. Nothing could be further from the truth. Dogs and cats just like humans need lab testing, blood pressure, ultrasound imaging, eye screening, electrocardiograms, and regular dentistry to stay healthy and live a long life. In fact, testing is even more necessary since our patients can’t tell us where the pain is.

Health Screening is especially helpful for early detection of chronic diseases which develop slowly and gradually, such as gum disease, tooth fractures, heart disease, cancer, kidney disease, liver disease, eye diseases, urinary stones, hypertension (high blood pressure), urinary infections, hormonal diseases affecting the adrenal glands, pancreas, and thyroid glands. These conditions often surface as older patients and can often be diagnosed with Ultrasound, Blood Pressure, and Blood and Urine screening tests (Senior Profile) taken every 12 months. The cost of this testing is far more economical and less stressful than an unexpected emergency hospital visit, where often large sums of money are needed in treatment to save the patient’s life because the illness was caught too late.


Did my Senior Pet Emergency start yesterday?

Contrary to what it may seem, commonly seen emergencies in senior pets often have been developing for months and even years prior to becoming obvious. Senior diseases often develop very slowly.

Initially, with commonly seen senior diseases such as heart disease, kidney disease, hypertension, cancer, arthritis, pain, thyroid diseases, gum disease there are no symptoms at all. Gradually over time, subtle signs develop. This is where a good history form filled out completely can be so helpful for early detection; we encourage all Clients with Senior Patients to fill out a history form.

Wellness Health Exams every 6 months, Health Screening tests and Ultrasound Imaging will frequently diagnose these health issues early, when there are no symptoms, or symptoms are minimal, and long before an expensive and stressful trip to the emergency room becomes necessary. With early detection, our clients will know what to expect in the future (no surprises), treatment will be more economical, all options for treatment will be available, and our pets will live a predictable, longer, pain free life.

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