Perhaps it was the accidental tumble down the stairs that your puppy took, or the bag of chocolate candy that your Chihuahua ate in the middle of the night, know when to rush to the vet

Knowing when your furry friends are suffering from a severe health problem can be a tough call. It’s not uncommon for symptoms to occur in the middle of the night, however, there are signs that can help pet-owners decide whether to call the 24-hour emergency number or wait until the clinic opens in the morning. These are the five big emergencies that require veterinary care right away.

1. Difficult With Breathing

This is one of the main reasons dogs visit the emergency room. If your dog has breathing problems, or the breathing seems or sounds “funny,” like alarming noises when they breathe, or puffing lips when breathing, you need to take them to the vet as soon as possible.

2. Seizure

In some cases, seizures are not likely to be fatal, but it can come in clusters, which is progressive. However, sometimes seizures are caused by toxics that can cause fatal reactions so best to visit the vet immediately to rule out the latter.

3. Collapse or Intense Weakness

These can be symptoms of bigger health problems such as internal bleeding, cardiac compromise, anaphylactic shock, certain poisonings or some type of organ failure. All of these conditions always require urgent veterinary attention.

4. Bloating

Uncomfortable panting, whimpering, attempting to vomit and abdominal distention are symptoms of bloating. Bloating is a life-threatening situation. Some dogs can exhibit all of these symptoms while others show only one or two, therefore bloating is an emergency situation and they need to go to the nearest veterinarian.

5. Internal Hemorrhage or Trauma

Dogs who fallen from great heights, have been struck by cars/motorbikes, or have been in a fight with much larger dogs can appear unharmed at first, but there may be internal bleeding or damages that you can’t see just by looking. If you’re not sure what to look for, bring them for a check-up before something more serious develops.

Here are some small tips to check up on your dogs at home, which is to observe their tongue or gums. Gums give a great deal of information about circulation, blood oxygenation and hemorrhage. Normal gums should look pink and moist; and if you press it gently with your finger, the press area should flash white and then turn pink again within one or two seconds. Gums with abnormal colors such as pale, blue, gray or red gums signs of trouble. You can check your dog’s gum regularly when they are not in distress and see how it looks like normal.

Finally, it doesn’t hurt if you don’t take your dog to the vet immediately whenever you see them suffering from a mild tummy ache. But if they are suffering from bloating, don’t ignore it because it may be fatal.

Dr. Van Anh, a member of Animal Doctors International team, has a special interest in veterinary internal medicine and hematology. She graduated from Nong Lam University, her graduation research has been conducted at a veterinary referral hospital in Brisbane, Australia.