If your furry friend shows any of these signs, don’t ask Facebook members for a diagnosis, go to the vet stat

It can be quite frightening to see your pet suffering, especially if you are unsure whether the situation should be considered an emergency or not. When in doubt, always contact your veterinarian or the nearest animal hospital. However, to hopefully better prepare you, here are six of the most common pet emergencies found in emergency veterinary hospitals around the country.

Seizures

Seizures are episodes of abnormal electrical activity within the brain. They can be triggered by intra-cranial problems (such as epilepsy, brain tumors or brain swelling) or extra-cranial problems (such as low blood sugar, electrolyte disturbances, etc.). Any seizure can be life threatening. Seizures can occur singly or in clusters, and can occur at any time and in any frequency.

Pain

Pain can occur in pets for many reasons and can be displayed in a variety of ways. Pacing, agitation, restlessness, panting, vocalization, rapid heart rate, or even aggression, are all symptoms of possible pain. Spinal pain can oftentimes be misinterpreted as abdominal pain. If your pet is acting strangely and you suspect pain, contact a veterinarian immediately.

Difficulty Breathing

Increased respiratory effort typically occurs when the lungs or airway is compromised. This can occur due to trauma, allergic reactions, heart failure, toxins, infectious agents, cancer, or leakage of air. Any difficulty breathing should be considered a serious problem, requiring immediate evaluation by a veterinarian. Often radiographs are necessary to evaluate the lungs and airways.

Coughing and Choking

Choking can be a serious problem, even if the symptoms resolve within seconds. Lack of proper oxygenation or the build-up of fluid within the lungs can be dangerous consequence of choking. Coughing is a vague symptom of several possibilities, including viruses, bacteria, fungal pneumonia, allergic bronchitis, or even heart failure. Any compromises in your pet’s respiratory ability should be evaluated by your vet.

Vomiting and Diarrhea

Vomiting and/or diarrhea are some of the most common emergencies pets can have. These nonspecific gastrointestinal signs could be caused by a primary gastrointestinal problem (such as getting into the garbage or having an obstruction) or by a secondary cause (such as metabolic disease, cancer, etc.). Dehydration can occur quickly, and depending on the underlying cause, symptoms can drastically worsen in a matter of hours.

Difficulty Urinating

Struggling to urinate is a symptom of more than just a urinary tract infection. Many pets will strain to urinate if they have crystals or stones in their bladder. Inflammation, blood clots, cancer or even stress alone can all cause difficulty urinating. If a pet is straining and is unable to pass any urine, it is a lifethreatening emergency that needs to be addressed by a veterinarian ASAP.