The Star-Herald

How to recognize an emergency

As a pet owner, we all want to enjoy our four-legged family members, keeping them as healthy and as happy (and as spoiled) as possible. There are times when we are all “under the weather” and experiencing head colds and not feeling well, including our pets. There may come a time when your pet needs immediate care outside the normal operating hours of your regular veterinarian.

You know your pet and his normal habits and behavior better than anyone, but you may be unsure if your pet needs emergency care. Following are some signs you can look for that will help you determine if you are dealing with an urgent situation. If your pet does not eat when he normally does or shows no interest in food, this needs to be watched. I wouldn’t let this go on too long, especially in an animal that can’t wait for his next meal.

Changes in behavior are often a sure sign that there is something going on that needs to be treated immediately. Sudden shifts in demeanor, such as extreme aggression or severe lethargy and unresponsiveness, can indicate a hidden problem.

Another change in behavior that can indicate an emergency is disorientation. If your pet has a bewildered look, appears confused or disoriented, is bumping into things or collapses, this is a sign of a bigger problem and your pet should be seen in the ER.

Vomiting or diarrhea may not be cause for immediate concern, but many episodes of vomiting or diarrhea in a short period of time indicates an emergency. Problems urinating and/or defecating and blood in the urine or stool is also a sign that your pet needs to be seen quickly.

Rapid, shallow, noisy or difficulty breathing is a sure sign of an emergency. And if you think your pet has a fever he should be seen in the ER. A fever in a dog is 103 degrees and in a cat it is anything over 102.5.

In addition, your pet should be seen quickly if he: is in pain, crying out or whimpering; has a swollen or hard abdomen; is having a difficult labor; ingests any type of poison; is experiencing convulsions or seizures; or experiences a trauma such as being hit by a car.

If there is a puncture wound or your pet is acting strangely or in any way that appears out of the ordinary, these are sure signs that there could be an emergency. If you feel that your pet is in distress, please take him to an experienced veterinarian. We are very fortunate here in Aroostook County to have well trained and experienced veterinarians in our Presque Isle and Caribou areas.

Remember to remain calm and know that your animal friend will be in good hands.

If you are looking for that special friend, stop by the Central Aroostook Humane Society at 26 Cross Street, Presque Isle. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, closing for lunch from 12 to 12:30. Check us out on and Facebook.

Please be responsible: spay and neuter your pets. Summer is here, a wonderful time to bring a pet into the home (actually, any time of the year is great).

“The dog was created especially for children. He is the god of frolic.” — Henry Ward Beecher

Carolyn Cheney is a member of the board of directors of the Central Aroostook Humane Society.

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