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These "red flag" symptoms may mean that your pet is having a serious health problem.

Contact Pieper’s emergency hospital at 860-347-8387 as soon as possible if you notice any of the following:

  • Pale, white, or blue/grey gums, tongue, and skin
  • Struggling to breathe, or seeming to have difficulty breathing
  • Bloated or distended abdomen ("pot belly")
  • Unable to urinate
  • Collapse, unable to walk, or unresponsive
  • Multiple seizures within 24 hours, or any seizure lasting longer than 5 minutes
  • Paralysis in one or more legs, or dragging the hind legs
  • Very fast or very slow heart rate
  • Gagging / trying to vomit but nothing coming up
  • Vomiting and diarrhea for longer than 24 hours, especially if not eating
  • Trauma (hit by car, hit by blunt object, falls)
  • Pregnant animal struggling to give birth (more than 2 hours between deliveries, or no delivery after 4 hours)
  • Ingestion of a fatal toxin (e.g., antifreeze)
  • Ingestion of a dangerous object (e.g., batteries, sharp object)
  • Nose bleeding
  • Swelling of the face or neck
  • Severe, sudden lethargy or loss of appetite
  • Severe wounds (bite wounds, puncture wounds, anything that bleeds heavily)
  • Severe pain (crying out, aggressive when touched, trembling or twitching)
  • Sudden changes in behavior (uncharacteristic aggression, hiding, anxiety, etc.)

Vital Signs in Pets

Vital signs (such as heart rate and temperature) are good indicators of your pet’s overall health.

A pet with normal vital signs in generally considered "stable" or not in immediate danger - they may still need to see a vetrinarian, but don’t need to be rushed to the ER. Abnormal vital signs can indicate a serious health problem, and you should contact us if you notice them.

Learn How to Check Your Pet’s Vitals

Common Medical Emergencies

Contact Pieper’s emergency hospital as soon as possible if you notice any of the following:

When Should I Visit Urgent Care instead of the ER?

Not all symptoms require a visit to an emergency veterinarian. So how do you know when it’s safe to head to an urgent care hospital instead?

The following symptoms canbe considered "yellow flags." They should still be addressed by a vetrinarian, but are not considered signs of a life-threatening emergency.

  • Coughing and sneezing
  • "Runny" or discharge from the nose or eyes
  • Ear or eye infections
  • Urinating more than normal or in strange places (not straining to urinate)
  • Comiting or diarrhea (for less than 24 hours)
  • Constipation
  • Decreased appetite
  • Visible parasites (intestinal worms, fleas, etc.)
  • Liming or soreness
  • Lethargy, weakness, seeming "down"
  • Skin irritation, rash, hot spot
  • Broken or torn nail/claw
  • Minor to moderate wounds (no heavy bleeding), abscesses
  • Blood in stool or urine
  • Allergies or allergic reactions (hives, swelling, itchiness)

Urgent Care is a good option for pets who are stable and non-critical - in other words, they are not at risk of suddenly getting much worse or dying if not seen by a doctor right away. A pet who has mild or moderate pain or discomfort, but still has normal vital signs, no "red flag" symptoms, and is generally behaving normally (still eating, drinking, and able to move) is likely okay to visit Urgent Care or even to wait for an appointment with their regular veterinarian.

You Know Your Pet

better than anyone else, so if you feel like they’re acting "off" or otherwise "just aren’t doing right," you are always welcome to contact us for your own peace of mind


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Whenever your pet needs us, we’re hear to help. Connect with our email list for the latest pet health news and tips.

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