Ask the Vet: What is an emergency?

Pet emergencies are sometimes obvious to pet owners, but not always. Below is a list of some common pet emergencies and what you might observe if your pet is having one of these problems. If you think your pet has any of these problems, I recommend having him/her seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible.

* Urethral obstruction (inability to urinate) -- Stones, sediment, mucus or a growth can cause a urethral obstruction and the inability to urinate. While most common in male cats because of their anatomy, it can occur for either sex in both dogs and cats. Signs of an obstruction include frequent attempts to urinate, straining, crying and licking the genitals. A urethral obstruction is life threatening and can cause severe kidney damage.

* Gastric dilation and torsion (bloat) -- Canine bloat occurs when a dog's stomach flips over and fills with gas. This happens quickly; dogs can die within just a few hours of their stomach flipping over. Signs include a distended and firm abdomen, discomfort, no interest in food, and vomiting or dry heaving.

* Rodenticide toxicity -- Rat bait contains a drug related to warfarin that prevents blood from clotting. If dogs or cats eat rat bait they can bleed to death within a week. Signs of rat bait ingestion are lethargy, weakness, bleeding or pale gums.

* Fractures -- Most broken bones result from falls or getting hit by a car. Signs that your pet has a fracture can be obvious or subtle, such as a limping or holding a foot off the ground. Treatment depends on the severity, type of the fracture and location, but will usually consist of a cast, splint or surgery.

* Gastrointestinal foreign body -- Objects such as socks, toys or underwear that get stuck in the stomach or intestines are called foreign bodies. Foreign bodies can lead to numerous complications and even death. Signs include vomiting, lethargy, and loss of appetite.

Read the rest of Dr. Weaver's pet emergencies next week in the Danville Express.

Dr. Kristel Weaver is a graduate of the Veterinary School at the University of California, Davis where she received both a DVM and a Master's of Preventative Veterinary Medicine (MPVM). She has been at Bishop Ranch Veterinary Center & Urgent Care in San Ramon since 2007. She currently lives in Oakland with her husband and their daughter, Hayley. If you have questions you would like Dr. Weaver to answer for future articles, please email [].


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Brad Taylor
a resident of San Ramon
on Jul 17, 2011 at 8:48 pm

My cat Dino ingested an 18" piece of ribbon about a year ago. Had it not been for the professional medical care of Dr. Weaver, Dino would have died. Dr. Weaver, thank you for saving Dino's life. I've always wanted to send you a card of thanks, but as with so many things, time just slipped away. When I saw your picture, I smiled and decided that this little message would do in place of that card I never sent.

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