How Do I Know if It’s an Emergency?

Understand The Types of Veterinary Emergencies With The Help of South Peninsula Veterinary Emergency Clinic

What is an emergency? In many situations, the answer is not simple. Please call us to discuss your concerns, but realize that accurate medical advice cannot be given without a complete history and physical examination of your pet. We don’t want to do harm to your pet by giving advice based on incomplete facts. Pets can’t talk and animals, especially cats, are programmed by nature to hide symptoms of injury or illness so they don’t show weakness to predators in the wild. Based on our years of experience, in most cases owners are tuned in to what is normal for their pet. If you feel like something is wrong, you’re probably right. An emergency is not necessarily a "life-threatening" condition but rather a personal choice by the pet owner to address a concern about the pet’s comfort as soon as possible.

If you have any question at all about whether your pet needs urgent care, please call us at 650-494-1461. We are more than happy to talk to you on the phone and advise you whether or not to bring your pet in for further evaluation.

If your pet exhibits any of the symptoms listed below, we urge you to seek immediate care:

  • Bleeding or laceration
  • Bite wounds or abscess
  • Bloated, painful abdomen—with or without vomiting
  • Bloody urine or stool
  • Breathing difficulty—increased rate or effort, shortness of breath
  • Burns
  • Collapse
  • Diarrhea
  • Eye injury or pain
  • Hives or swollen muzzle
  • Labor contractions lasting longer than one hour or more than 10 minutes when fetus is visible
  • Lethargy/weakness
  • Loss of appetite lasting more than one day
  • Major trauma (hit by car or animal fight)
  • Pain
  • Pale gums (gums are normally pink)
  • Restlessness, pacing, and/or panting
  • Seizure, staggering, or loss of balance
  • Sudden lameness or not placing weight on a leg
  • Temperature with rectal thermometer of 103+ degrees
  • Unable (straining) to urinate or have bowel movement
  • Vomiting
  • Sudden changes in alertness or behavior

If your pet swallows any of the following, contact your veterinarian immediately:

  • Anti-freeze
  • Bones
  • Chocolate
  • Foreign objects, such as socks, toys, pacifiers, underwear, rocks, coins, plastic, string
  • Grapes or raisins
  • Human medications (not prescribed for pet), especially Tylenol, heart medications, or mood-altering drugs
  • Lilies (cats)
  • Marijuana
  • Mushrooms
  • Poisonous plants
  • Xylitol (sugar substitute used in chewing gum and baking)

If you are not sure whether your pet has ingested something dangerous, you may call ASPCA Poison Control for immediate advice on the action to take at 888-426-4435.

This list is not all-inclusive. If your pet exhibits any changes in health or behavior, contact your family veterinarian during daytime hours, or call us from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. during weekdays or 24 hours during weekends and holidays.

To Dr. Thelen and the Vet Nurses: Thank you for saving my life. My mom wants to thank you for keeping all the humans calm too. You all are the best!

– Juno (I was chasing a car and it didn’t see me—oops!)

Dear Dr. Hanes and Nurses: Thank you for taking such good care of me and helping me with my diabetes problem. I was afraid and feeling pretty sick, and you calmed me and helped me get well. I am feeling much better now, and my family is giving me lots of special attention.

– Woof, woof!—Bella the Wonder Dog

I just wanted to thank everyone who helped my little dog Ginger. She had eaten some dark chocolate, so you had to induce vomiting, etc. She is now back to her usual state of excellent health thanks to you all. You guys are the best!

– Laura W.

The doctor and nurses were fabulous saving our cat who somehow opened a container of our dog’s Rimadyl medicine and ate some. They provided helpful information over the phone about the toxicity and how to handle it. When we brought our cat in they gave her excellent care. A wonderful experience in a stressful situation.

– B.N.

I wish this facility was open during the day because I wouldn’t hesitate to bring my cats here on a regular basis. Everyone is very helpful and nice. I will definitely be using this emergency clinic again if needed.

– Erica L.

AAHA Accredited