Looking After Fido: The Top Signs Your Pet Needs Emergency Vet Care

man holding dog in emergency vet office

According to the latest data, 95 percent of pet owners say that they consider their pet to be part of the family.

If you fall into this category, you know how important it is for your pet to see the vet on a regular basis. You also know how expensive vet visits can be.

Because of their high cost, most pet owners want to know that a visit is actually needed before they hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars at the vet’s office.

Sometimes, your pet will be fine recuperating at home. Other times, though, they need emergency vet care.

If you’re unsure of whether or not your pet needs emergency vet care, keep reading. Listed below are some signs that indicate your pet is dealing with a serious health problem.

Unusual Eating Habits

If your pet skips a meal here or there, you likely don’t need to worry. This isn’t too unusual, especially during the summer or when the weather is unseasonably warm.

If your pet skips multiple meals, though, and shows little-to-no interest in food, this is a big red flag. More than two days of avoiding food is a sign that you should take them to the vet.

You should also take them to the vet if they’ve developed other unusual eating habits. For example, if they’re excessively hungry and have started digging for food in the trash.

Increased Thirst

Excessive thirst is a major warning sign for pets, too.

If your pet has suddenly started drinking way more water than usual, they might be dealing with a kidney problem or another health issue like diabetes.

Pay attention to how many times you’ve had to refill their water bowl and how often they need to go outside to urinate.

Changes to Their Coat

Has your pet’s coat changed lately? Is it rough or dry when it was once silky and shiny? Does your pet have bald patches? 

If the appearance and/or texture of their coat has changed, they might be dealing with some serious health problems that need attention.


How are your pet’s energy levels? Are they more tired than usual? Do they show little interest in playing with toys or going for walks?

If this is the case, they may be feeling sick and need a vet’s attention. This is especially true if their lethargy persists for more than a day or two.

Frequent Vomiting

Occasional vomiting is not a huge cause for concern. If your pet vomits more often than usual, though, they may need emergency vet care.

Pay special attention to your pet’s vomit when you’re cleaning it up, too. If your pet is vomiting blood, they need to see the vet right away.

Changes to Their Stool

If you’re concerned about your pet’s health, you should take note of their stool. Do they have diarrhea? Do they appear to be constipated? 

If either issue persists for several days, it’s worth it to take your pet to the vet. Be on the lookout for other issues like worms, blood, or mucus in their stool as well.

Weight Loss

Has your pet lost a lot of weight in a short period of time? Sudden weight loss is a serious issue.

If your pet’s weight drops by 10 percent or more (and you’re not intentionally trying to help them lose weight), you should address it with your vet.

Remember, if you have a very small dog, even weight loss of one-pound can indicate a big problem.

Changes to Their Eyes

If you’re concerned about your pet’s health, take a close look at their eyes. Are they red or cloudy? Do they have excessive discharge coming from them?

This could a sign of an infection or a serious eye injury. If left untreated, these issues could cause a significant decline in eye health or even blindness.

Changes to Their Ears

Consider your pet’s ear health, too. Do they have excessive ear wax? Black or brown discharge coming from their ears?

Be on the lookout for redness or foul odors coming from their ears as well. These issues could be signs of ear infections or other problems.

Bad Breath or Oral Issues

If your pet’s breath worse than usual? Can you smell them from across the room?

Very bad breath could be a sign of an infection. Infections of the mouth that go untreated can contribute to heart disease, kidney disease, and other serious health problems.

Breathing Problems

Finally, consider your pet’s breathing.

Do they have a very rapid breathing rate, even when they’re at rest? Is their breathing slower than normal, or does it seem labored?

Either of these extremes can be a sign of heart or lung problems. 

How to Find Good Emergency Vet Care

If you notice any of the symptoms in your pet, you should get them to an animal hospital right away.

If your pet’s regular vet does not offer emergency services, you might find yourself trying to locate emergency vet care. This can definitely be tricky, but these tips can help you find a good vet that will care for your pet well:

  • Make sure they’re accredited by the AAHA (the American Animal Hospital Association)
  • Make sure they’re accredited by the VECCS (the Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society)
  • Look at online reviews to see what past clients have to say about their experience
  • Consider their proximity to your home and how long it’ll take you to get there

Consider the atmosphere of the hospital when you arrive, too. Is it clean and well-cared for? If you don’t like the vibe of the place, it may be worth it to drive a little farther to get your pet the best care possible.

Need More Pet Care Advice?

It’s not always easy to know if your pet requires emergency vet care. If you keep these guidelines in mind, though, the process of determining your pet’s health care needs will become much less daunting.

In the event that your pet does need emergency vet care, be sure to remember the tips explained in this article. They’ll help you make sure you’re working with a qualified vet and giving your pet the best care possible.

Do you want to learn more about caring for your furry friend? If so, we’ve got lots of other helpful articles available on our site. Check out the Pet Health and Behavior section of our blog today for more information.