When confronted with troubling symptoms, it can be difficult to know when to “wait it out” or when to call in a bona fide pet emergency. Your pet is also skilled at masking symptoms, leaving you to wonder whether he or she is simply having an “off” day…

That’s why Arlington Animal Hospital wants you to know how to recognize and handle a pet emergency. Your swift actions will enable your pet to get the life-saving help he or she needs.

Red Flags

When it comes to a pet emergency, there are certain tell-tale signs that indicate immediate medical attention is required. Please do not wait to contact us if you notice any of the following:


  • Bleeding from the mouth, eyes, nose, or rectum
  • Bloody stool or urine
  • Obvious signs of trauma, such as animal bites, open wounds, seizures, or injuries from a car accident or fall
  • Laborious breathing or excessive panting
  • Lethargy or withdrawal
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Pale gums
  • Elevated temperature and heart rate
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Painful urination or defecation
  • Disorientation
  • Anxiety
  • Obvious signs of pain
  • Any swelling
  • Lack of mobility

Pet Poisoning

Poisonings are one of the most common reasons for a pet emergency. Never allow your pet to get close to the following:

  • Antifreeze
  • Medications
  • Household cleaners
  • Nicotine
  • Chocolate
  • Xylitol (common sugar substitute)
  • Insecticides or rodenticides
  • Toxic plants

Handling a Pet Emergency

You may be scared during an emergency, but being prepared will go a long way to securing and stabilizing your pet. We recommend learning (and of course we’re happy to help!):

  • Pet first aid and CPR
  • How to apply pressure to wounds in order to slow bleeding
  • Ways to address your pet’s defensive postures or aggression
  • How to fashion a stretcher for transport
  • The effect seizures have on your pet’s body and muscle function
  • Ways to protect yourself from injury when handling a pet emergency

Your Resources

During regular business hours, our team can help you support your pet’s wellness with advanced diagnostics or surgery. If your pet requires care at night or on weekends, please seek emergency care at the nearest pet emergency hospital.

If your pet has consumed something poisonous, contact the 24-hour hotline at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.

Pain Management

Although your pet may try to hide signs of pain, be on the watch for increased vocalization, whining, increased anxiety, or clingy behavior.

Peace of Mind

We hope all owners can recognize signs of a pet emergency and respond quickly and efficiently. Although these situations can be stressful, please know that our staff will also keep you informed of your pet’s condition at all times. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us.