By Dr. Eric Barchas
For several years I have worked as an emergency veterinarian. As the title implies, that means I treat emergencies. But what is a veterinary emergency anyway? How can you tell whether your dog is suffering from an emergency that requires urgent treatment at 1:00 am, or whether your dog's problem is something that can wait until the morning?
This article will discuss several of the most serious and common veterinary emergencies. It is by no means exhaustive -- there are far too many different types of true emergencies to list them all, and there are emergencies that can't even be imagined before they happen. (If you doubt that, then I urge you to read my story about the dog who put his life at risk by eating a fake breast.)
Many emergencies are not subtle -- collapse, paralysis, and hemorrhagic diarrhea come to mind. However, some urgently life-threatening problems, such as bloat, can start with symptoms that don't seem like a big deal at first.
Several critical emergencies will be described. If something seems wrong with your dog that does not seem to fit into any of the descriptions, there are some basic guidelines you can follow to assess the urgency of the situation.
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