Pet Emergencies – When Do I Call The Vet?

We encourage all pet owners to have a plan in case of an emergency. Have available the number and location of your nearest 24-hour care facility in addition to the information of your regular veterinarian.

Trouble Breathing
You should be familiar with the colour of your pet’s gums. The gums should be pink at all times. If the gums become pale, purple, grey, red or blue, this is an emergency. Your pet may not be receiving enough oxygen or may be bleeding. It is very normal for dogs to pant, but if the panting becomes excessive, you should see a vet. Panting in cats is unusual, so seek care. A persistent cough, especially with frothy or pink sputum is a cause for concern.

Vomiting and Diarrhea
When a pet is experiencing repeated vomiting and/or diarrhea, they should be seen. If the vomit or diarrhea contains blood, the urgency of a visit increases. Prolonged vomiting and/or diarrhea can cause dehydration.

A Bloated Abdomen
Bloat is a very serious emergency! The stomach generally bloats with food or gas and is accompanied by unproductive retching. If left, a stomach full of air can twist, putting pressure on blood vessels and restricting the flow of blood.

Accidents happen. Situations such as being attacked, falling or being hit, can cause serious injury. After a trauma, a pet may appear normal, with clinical symptoms appearing in the hours following the incident. Any trauma or accident should be followed by a vet visit immediately.

Ingestion of a Toxin or Foreign Body
Pets are tempted to eat the strangest things. If you see or have a suspicion that your pet has eaten or chewed ANYTHING not meant to be ingested or swallowed, please contact a veterinarian for direction. Many unsuspecting things are toxic or can cause a blockage. Many vets will provide a list of common toxic items during a first puppy or kitten visit.

Seizures are one of the scariest things for an owner to witness. If your pet is having a seizure, make sure they are in a safe, secure spot away from stairs with low stimuli. Do not put your hands near their head/mouth. Call your vet immediately.

Trouble Urinating or Defecating
It is important to monitor your pet’s elimination patterns. Straining to pass either urine or stool should not be ignored.

Not Eating or Drinking
If your pet has no interest in food or water for an entire day, please see your veterinarian. Prolonged periods without food or water can lead to dehydration and systemic issues that complicate managing/determining the cause of the anorexia.

Eye Injuries
Eye injuries can escalate quickly. Any issue with the eye should be evaluated on the day it is detected. Excessive rubbing, squinting, discharge, cloudiness and a bulging eye are some of the symptoms of concern.

Allergic Reactions
Dogs and cats can develop allergies via contact, ingestion, injection or inhalation of an offending substance. The most common symptoms of allergen exposure are hives, itching, swelling on the body, particularly of the face and tongue, and trouble breathing. Much like a person experiencing an allergic reaction, fast action is required to prevent it from progressing to anaphylaxis.

If you have any questions, please give us a call at 204.253.2668.

Written by: Dr. Michelle Saydack, DVM



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Dear Clients,

In order to maintain everyone's safety and prevent the spread of COVID-19, the following procedures have been implemented:

If you have a fever, new or worsening cough, shortness of breath, runny nose, nasal congestion, loss of sense of smell, sore throat, painful swallowing, headache, muscle aches, fatigue, loss of appetite, chills, or fever we ask that you do not attend your pet's appointment.

If you have been instructed to self isolate for 14 days due to travel from Eastern Canada, travelled outside of Canada, had contact with someone known to have COVID-19 in the last 14 days, or are waiting for COVID-19 test results we ask that you do not attend your pet's appointment.


We are OPEN with the following hours:

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday: 7:30 am - 6:00 pm
Wednesday: 7:30 am - 8:00 pm
Friday: 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Saturday: 8:00 am - 3:00 pm
Sunday: Closed


Have you welcomed a new furry family member to your home? We’d love to meet them! Visit our Must Know New Pet Owner Information page for useful resources and helpful recommendations for new pet owners.

Thank you for your patience and understanding and we look forward to seeing you and your furry family members again!

- Your dedicated team at St. Vital Veterinary Hospital