Mon - Fri: 8:00AM - 7:00PM
Sat: 8:00AM - 1:00PM

Emergency Dog Clinic - What To Do In A Dog Emergency

What To Do In Case Of A Dog Emergency

There are times when you are certain that your dog has an emergency, and there are times when you are very concerned but not convinced that it is an emergency requiring immediate care. When in doubt, head to our hospitalduring business hours or to the closest emergency clinic if we are closed. If possible, call on to explain the emergency and let us know if you will need assistance getting into the building and as well as your E.T.A.

Do your best to remain calm, and have a passenger hold the dog while you drive. We are staffed and equipped to handle all types of emergencies. Emergencies are very stressful, and it is important that you do your best to remain calm. Your dog will be soothed by your ability to remain calm and speak in a soothing tone while driving him or her to the hospital.

Some types of situations may concern you and you may be unsure whether your dog needs immediate care. In these cases, it is still best to err on the side of caution. 

Dog Emergencies That Require Immediate Veterinary Attention

We have compiled a partial list of emergency situations to help you decide if your dog requires emergency care:

  • Difficulty breathing: This may be the most serious of all non-trauma-induced injuries, as hypoxia (low oxygen levels) and the events that follow can lead to respiratory arrest and possibly death if not treated quickly. In addition, when this is occurring, your dog is suffering and panicked. Difficulty breathing is an immediate emergency. It may arise slowly or acutely. Regardless, when you notice any of these symptoms, your dog is in trouble and needs veterinary care. Symptoms include labored breathing (this can be subtle, but it looks like your dog's chest is moving faster and more pronounced while breathing), making alarming noises, or a puffing of the lips. If you see or suspect these symptoms, seek immediate emergency dog care.
  • Restlessness: Simply put, restlessness is when your dog cannot get comfortable. Restlessness can be a sign of many urgent or emergency situations. It can include excessive panting, an inability to lie down comfortably, abdominal distension, or unsuccessful attempts to vomit. Restlessness can also be a primary sign of GVD.
  • GVD and bloat are two of the most urgently life-threatening situations a dog can face. These are generally seen in deep-chested large breed dogs, such as German Shepherds, Great Danes, and Standard Poodles. Some dogs will exhibit attempts at vomiting, abdominal distention, restlessness, lethargy, panting, etc. It is essential to seek emergency care for your dog if you observe any of these symptoms.
  • Seizures: Although a solitary seizure may not be life-threatening, seizures often come in clusters and can become progressive. Seizures have many causes, including the ingestion of a toxic substance or medication. If your dog has never had a seizure and is not currently under the care of a veterinarian for a seizure disorder, we recommend seeking immediate medical attention.
  • Collapse or profound weakness: These can be symptoms of a major illness like internal bleeding, anaphylactic shock, certain poisons, cardiac disease, seizures, an endocrine condition, and some types or organ failure. No matter the cause, seek emergency dog clinic care immediately if your dog collapses or seems to be uncharacteristically weak.
  • Major trauma: It is essential to seek immediate medical attention if you have reason to suspect hemorrhaging or if your dog has fallen, been struck by a car, or gotten into a dog fight. Remember, some dogs hide their injuries as an instinctual defense mechanism, so if something has happened that would cause you to suspect major trauma, seek immediate medical attention.
  • Dog fight: All dogs should be seen by a veterinarian after a dog fight. The bite or puncture wounds on the outside of a dog are usually just the tips of the iceberg when it comes to the amount of damage the dog may have sustained during the fight. This is especially important when a small dog has been attacked by a larger dog. A puncture wound on the skin may involve severe damage on the inside of the dog's abdomen or lungs, including a lacerated liver or spleen, which will cause internal bleeding, or a punctured lung, which will cause hypoxia and death if not treated.
  • Protracted vomiting or diarrhea: If your dog vomits once or has a single loose bowel movement, he or she may not require any treatment other than a few hours of resting the stomach and a day or two of bland food. However, repeated vomiting and diarrhea, especially with the presence of blood, can rapidly lead to life-threatening dehydration. This can also be a symptom of major problems such as gastrointestinal obstruction.
  • Struggling to urinate: This could signify a bladder infection, which is painful but not life-threatening. However, this could also represent obstruction of the urinary tract by bladder stones or enlarged prostate, which is a very urgent condition. Because of this, if you notice that your dog is struggling to urinate, seek veterinary care immediately.
  • Not eating or drinking: This is a judgment call on your part. Your dog will not finish every bit of kibble in his or her bowl every time. However, if your dog goes for an unordinary time without eating or drinking, then you should seek medical attention.
  • Coughing: Excessive and repeated coughing could be a symptom of kennel cough or eating bug bait. When in doubt, the safest course of action is a veterinary visit.
  • Loss of use of rear legs: This is especially common in Dachshunds, Corgis, and other breeds with short legs and long backs. It can be a sign of injury to the spinal cord. This paralysis or partial paralysis is usually very painful, and rapid treatment can make a big difference in the outcome. This is an emergency situation, and you should seek immediate care for it.
  • Severe pain: This is always an emergency. If your dog is restless, hiding, vocalizing, panting, profoundly limping, or exhibiting other symptoms of agony, don't let the suffering continue, seek immediate emergency dog care.
  • Known exposure to toxins: We discuss this more in depth in its own section on this page, but if you know or suspect that your dog has ingested toxins or medications, contact us, an emergency clinic or the  ASPCA Poison Control Hotline immediately.

The above list is not exhaustive, and there are many more situations that may necessitate emergency care for dogs. If the situation appears immediately life-threatening, please call us immediately or simply bring your dog to our hospital during regular busines hours or to tan emergency veterinary clinic.

Our staff will do everything possible to save the life of your canine friend and restore him or her to full health.

After Hour Emergency Veterinary Services

If your pet has an emergency after hours, please contact the Emergency Animal Hospital located at 10270 Baltimore National Pike (Route 40) at (410) 750-1177.

Tips For Getting To A Dog Emergency Room Safely

Although your dog might be very well behaved and trained, please remember that in an emergency situation his or her instincts, as well as feelings of pain or fear, could lead him or her to bite you if you attempt to secure it. If your dog needs to be transported to a dog emergency room, you have a responsibility to ensure that no subsequent injuries occur to any party. Follow these tips for safely transporting your canine companion to an emergency dog clinic:

  • Approach your dog slowly and calmly.
  • Kneel down and say your dog's name.
  • If your dog shows aggression, you may need someone to aid you in securing and transporting your dog. Towels may be used around the head or neck to attempt to keep the dog from biting while you move it.
  • If your dog is passive, fashion a makeshift stretcher and gently lift him or her onto it.
  • Take care to support the neck and back in case your dog has suffered any spinal injuries.

Once secured, immediately transport your dog to our clinic during regular business hours or to an emergency veterianry clinic after hours wekends and holidays. If possible, call ahead to alert the staff of your pending arrival so they can adequately prepare while you are en route.

First Aid For Dogs

Sometimes, it is necessary to perform first aid in order to stabilize your dog before transporting him or her to an emergency clinic. Other times, first aid for dogs can be performed at home to save your dog's life and buy you enough time to make the trip to a dog hospital. Some first aid techniques you can use on dogs include:

  • For external bleeding due to trauma, try to elevate the affected area, and apply direct pressure to the wound. Most importantly apply firm pressure with towels, and keep it applied until you arrive at the emergency hospital. Placing pressure over a wound will help to stop the loss of blood.
  • For choking emergencies, place your fingers in your dog's mouth to see if you can remove the blockage. Be careful not to push the blockage farther back into the throat, and mind your fingers to ensure they're not bitten due to fear on the part of your dog.
  • If you cannot remove the object, perform a modified Heimlich maneuver by giving a sharp rap to your dog's chest. This should help dislodge the object. We recommend learning how to perform this maneuver beforehand in order to minimize the risk of injury in the case of an actual dog emergency.

We recommend learning various methods to perform first aid for dogs. The only way to be prepared in an emergency situation is to educate yourself before an emergency occurs.

How To Perform CPR On Your Dog

It is a very good idea to know how to perform CPR on both humans and animals because you never know when you might need to use it to save a life. Performing CPR on your dog may be necessary if he or she remains unconscious after you have removed an obstruction. If a dog emergency like this occurs, take the following steps to perform CPR on your beloved canine companion:

  • First, check to see if your dog is breathing.
  • If not, place your dog on his or her side and perform artificial respiration by extending the head and neck, holding the jaws closed, and blowing into the nostrils once every three seconds.
  • Make sure no air escapes between your mouth and your dog's nose.
  • If you don't feel a heartbeat, incorporate cardiac massage while administering artificial respiration. This includes three quick, firm chest compressions for every respiration until your dog resumes breathing on his or her own.

What To Do If Your Dog Eats Something Poisonous

If you see your dog ingest a toxic substance, or even if you suspect that he or she has done so, it is important to seek emergency dog care immediately.

Go directly to the veterinarian. Bring the bottle or know the type of medication or poison ingested. Call on your way in and tell them what your dog ingested and how long ago it was ingested and the amount.


Service Category: 

Share this Content