Emergencies requiring IMMEDIATE veterinary intervention:
* Difficulty breathing: noisy respiration; blue tongue; gasping for breath.
* Bleeding (from any part of the body) that does not stop; apply pressure with a clean cloth and immediately get the animal to your vet.
* Bloated, distended, or painful abdomen, with or without vomiting.
* Inability to urinate or move bowels while continuing to try; bloody stool or urine; painful defecation or urination.
* Heatstroke: heavy panting, extreme weakness, body temperature about 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
* Loss of balance or consciousness, or seizure: tremors, staggering, coma, convulsions, sudden blindness, tilting of the head, biting at imaginary objects, or sudden change in personality (such as out-of-character aggression).
* Pain: severe or continuous.
* Major trauma, injury, or shock from falls or vehicle accidents: broken bones, wounds, cuts.
* Any signs of weakness, collapse, shallow breathing, rapid heart rate, or dilated pupils.
* Ingested poison: be sure to bring the container or the commercial or chemical name of the ingested product if you have it.
* Penetrating wounds.
* Vomiting or diarrhea with blood or violent episodes.
* Lameness or inability to bear weight on a limb.
Prevention of Poisoning
Dogs and cats of all ages explore their environment with their mouths. Dogs mouth and chew things, and cats may start to taste something and not be able to spit it out because of their rough tongues. Sometimes these behaviors can mean trouble; here are some helpful hints:
* Do not give any of your medications, including over-the-counter medications such as aspirin, Ibuprofen, cough or cold medicines, and decongestants, to your pet. Dogs and cats have body chemistries much different than humans'.
* Be careful of your own medications. Do not drop pills within reach of a paw or slurping tongue. Do not leave your medication out on a table or counter. Store medications out of reach.
* Dogs can crack open a pill bottle and swallow the entire contents in a very short time.
* Some houseplants can be harmful if ingested--and can cause serious medical problems or even death. Chewing on some plants can cause irritation to the mouth and throat, and other, while not as deadly, can cause severe intestinal upset if swallowed. Keep potentially toxic plants out of areas accessible to animals.
Insecticides (including flea-control products) and mouse/rat poison
* Be sure to read labels carefully and follow directions. Ant or roach baits should be kept out of pet-accessible areas and disposed of in a timely manner, as should mouse or rat poison.
* Many household chemicals can be harmful to your pet if ingested. Most cleansing materials can cause stomach upset and vomiting. Dishwasher detergents can cause burns in the mouth. When using household chemicals, special care should be taken to prevent exposure to your pet.
* Outdoor plants can be quite dangerous to your pet. Some can cause stomach upset with vomiting, mental confusion, or death.
Gardening and lawn-care supplies
* Do not use garden or lawn-care chemicals in the presence of your pet. Read labels and follow the directions. Pets should not be allowed on a lawn treated with insecticide or weed-killer until the lawn is completely dry. Keep your pets out of areas treated with snail- or slug-bait.
* Car-cleaning products are often stronger than those used indoors. Keep them out of reach. Antifreeze and windshield-washer fluid are also potentially fatal to your pet.
* Keep pets away from fresh paint, varnish, or stains until completely dried. Do not use paint thinner or paint remover to remove paint from your pet.
In case of emergency, you can call the ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center at (900) 443-0000. There is a $45 charge per call (fee charged to your phone bill). NAPCC also has a 67-page Household Plant Reference available for $15. You can order by sending your name and address, along with a check, to: ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center, 1717 South Philo Road, Suite 36, Urbana, Illinois 61802. Another resource is Ani-Med, an automated telephone service with answers to hundreds of questions. The toll-free numbere is (888) 252-7387. Prior to making a call, you will need to order a free code list from (610) 257-7963. Keep in mind that this should not replace the advice of your veterinarian.