<1 walker valley vet / Is it an Emergency?

walker valley vet

P O box 360
walker valley, NY 12588



Common Emergencies

Hit by Car
Fight Wounds
Prolonged Labor
Allergic Reaction/Facial Swelling/Anaphylaxis
Vaccine Reaction
Urinary Problems
Broken/Ripped/Bleeding Toe Nail
Nail Clipped Too Short
Ate Bones


Hit by Car

Any animal that is hit by a car should be evaluated immediately, even if the animal seems fine and there are no outward appearances of injury.  Injuries from cars vary greatly and can include lacerations, abrasions, fractures, internal hemorrhage, and organ damage.  Initially, signs may be mild but can progress over several days. Therefore, immediate veterinary attention is warranted. 


Use a clean cloth to apply firm direct pressure to the wound for five full minutes.  Wounds that have not stopped bleeding during this time should be evaluated immediately.  Small, superficial abrasions will likely heal on their own.  Clean the wound with soap and water and apply a thin layer of topical antibiotic, such as Neosporin.  Larger and deeper lacerations may require stitches, the sooner this happens, the faster it will heal.  Lacerations on the face, feet, and tail will often bleed more profusely than lacerations in other areas, especially if the animal is agitated and shaking it's head.  Any laceration has the potential to become infected, so even a non-emergency laceration should be seen the next day to see whether antibiotics are required.


Fight/Bite Wounds

Separate the animals and allow them to calm down so you can evaluate the extent of the injury.  Stop any bleeding by applying firm direct pressure for five minutes. Then clean the wounds with soap and water.  Wounds from fights between animals can result in injuries ranging from mild to severe. Superficial lacerations and punctures, as discussed previously, may be the only external sign of injury.  However, penetrating puncture wounds over the neck, chest, and abdomen can cause internal injury.  If you suspect a deep puncture wound, or the animal is having difficulty breathing or showing other signs of distress, they should be seen immediately.  Bite wounds usually become infected after a few days, so even non-emergency wounds should be evaluated the next day so the animal can be placed on an appropriate antibiotic.


Seizure activity can vary from violent grand mal seizures to smaller less severe tremors.  They are extremely nerve-wracking to witness and may be accompanied by salivation and loss of bladder and/or bowel control.  Most seizures last between 1-3 minutes, followed by a period of disorientation and incoordination. Do not touch an animal that is having a seizure or attempt to put anything in their mouth.  Seizures can be due to a wide variety of causes including epilepsy, toxic ingestion, head trauma, infection, liver problems, electrolyte imbalance, brain tumors, etc.  Seizures in diabetic animals and in young puppies (especially toy breeds) and kittens are often caused by low blood sugar.  In these cases, a small amount of karo syrup or sugar water can be given once the animal has regained the ability to swallow.  Animals that have repeated seizures, a seizure lasting more than five minutes, or additional symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, or altered consciousness need to be seen immediately.  Animals that have one seizure and then seem to recover fully should still be seen the next day so that an exam and bloodwork can be done to help determine the underlying cause.


Limping is one of the most common veterinary complaints, especially in dogs.  The list of ailments that can cause limping is extensive and includes: musculoskeletal injury (fracture, sprains, ruptured cruciate ligament), infection of the toes/ pads/ nails, arthritis, Lyme disease, intervertebral disc disease, degenerative disease and metabolic disease. 

Some dogs will limp profoundly if they have a broken toenail while others will barely limp even with a more severe injury.  If your pet is limping, you should limit their activity until your veterinarian can evaluate them.  Cases that should be seen immediately as emergency include those that resulted from known trauma such as hit-by-car, those accompanied by other symptoms such as weakness and lack of appetite, and any limp resembling paralysis.  (See paralysis.) 

Note:  Do not administer any over-the-counter or human medication to your pet unless instructed to do so by your veterinarian. Ibuprofen™, Tylenol™, naproxen, and many other OTC pain relievers are extremely toxic to dogs and cats and should never be administered.

Prolonged Labor

The gestation period is about 63 days in cats and 63-65 days in dogs.  Pregnant dogs and cats should deliver the first puppy/kitten within 1-4 hours of the start of labor.  An additional puppy/kitten should be delivered every 1 to 4 hours until all puppies/kittens have been delivered.  If labor is slow, contractions are weak, or mother seems too exhausted to continue it could be a sign of problems.  Immediately after delivery, the mother should open the birth sac to remove the puppy/kitten, and clean it by licking.  If the mother doesn't do this within a minute, you must remove rupture the sac, remove the the puppy/kitten, and gently clean it with a towel to stimulate breathing.

The puppy/kitten should begin nursing within an hour or two of birth.  Prolonged labor, or failure to care for/nurse the puppies/kittens are medical emergencies.  Prompt veterinary care is necessary to preserve the life and health of the puppies/kittens and the mother.


Vomiting and diarrhea can be the result of many different problems ranging from a simple belly-ache from eating something they shouldn't have to something more serious.  Some mild mild cases of vomiting and/or diarrhea that result from eating something gross may resolve on their own by simply withholding food and water for 12-24 hours.  Situations that require immediate emergency care include blood in the vomitus, known foreign body ingestion, and vomiting accompanied by any of the following additional symptoms: weakness, distended/bloated abdomen (see Bloat), difficulty breathing, or collapse.

Prolonged vomiting or diarrhea can lead to dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, and weight loss and should be treated promptly.  Any animal with even one bout of diarrhea should have a stool sample evaluated to check for internal/intestinal parasites.  (This may be done during normal office hours.)  As noted in the section on over-the-counter medications Pepto-Bismol can be administered to dogs and Immodium (loperamide) can be given to both dogs and cats.  See the OTC section for correct dosage information.

Bloat (gastric dilation and volvulus/GDV)

Bloat is a serious sudden medical emergency in large breed dogs.  Bloat is caused by too much gas and fluid in the stomach.  This gas expands (dilates) the stomach like a large balloon.  The gas-filled stomach then twists (volvulus/torsion.) The twist cuts off the blood supply to the abdominal organs and releases toxic chemicals which are immediately life threatening.

The common signs of Bloat are:

Abdominal dissension - the belly may be visibly distended just behind the ribcage and feel tight like a drum.
Restlessness – whining, pacing, hiding
The animal may refuse to sit or lie down.
Vomiting/Defecating – or attempts to vomit or defecate
Unproductive gagging/hacking and heavy drooling
Abdominal pain
Rapid breathing and heart rate
Weak pulse
Pale/cold gums
Weakness or collapse.

Any dog suspected of Bloat needs to be seen immediately. Bloat is rapidly fatal if untreated.

Allergic Reaction/Facial Swelling/Anaphylaxis

Facial swelling associated with allergic reaction is common in dogs and is most often associated with insect stings and bug/spider bites.  The swelling is often throughout the entire head and includes the eyelids, muzzle and ear flaps.  The swelling is usually red and hot to the touch.  The swelling is usually non-painful but can be extremely itchy.

The swelling may or may not be associated with more severe symptoms of anaphylaxis which include:  difficulty breathing/wheezing, pale gums, vomiting/diarrhea, staggering or collapse.  If any of these symptoms are present your pet must be seen immediately, as this reaction can be life-threatening.  If your dog is 100% normal other than the swelling you may treat the swelling at home by giving Benadryl™ (diphenhydramine).  Please consult the section onover-the-counter medications for proper dosage.

Vaccine Reaction

Vaccinations are generally very safe, but rarely can cause an allergic reaction that can range from mild to severe.

If your pet vomits after a vaccine or displays any of the following symptoms please call the office immediately.

Mild. Mild reactions include fever, sluggishness, and loss of appetite. Mild reactions last about 24 hours and usually resolve without treatment. 
Moderate. Hives and facial swelling - swelling and redness of the lips, around the eyes, and in muzzle. It is usually extremely itchy. This reaction usually develops 1-4 hours after the vaccine and can last several hours. Please refer to the section on facial swelling for treatment options. 
Severe. The most severe reaction is anaphylaxis which is a sudden, severe allergic response that produces breathing difficulties, vomiting, and collapse.  These reactions usually begin within 15-20 minutes after the vaccine was administered, so often times you will still be in the office.  If you have already left you will be instructed to return to the office for treatment.


Paralysis is the inability to move one or more limbs. There are many different disease processes that can cause a slowly progressive weakness or paralysis in dogs and cats.

Acute paralysis (developing suddenly or over minutes to hours) is always an immediate emergency.   There are numerous causes of sudden paralysis. The most common causes are:

Spinal injury/trauma from falls, fights, and hit-by-car
Intervertebral disc disease/bulging disc (common in small dogs especially dachshunds)
Blood vessel clot (cats) - commonly referred to as "saddle thrombus."

Urinary Problems

Urinary tract disease is very common in both dogs and cats. Urinary tract disease can become a life-threatening emergency in male cats, because they can become blocked/obstructed and unable to urinate at all. Any male cat that is unable to urinate is a medical emergency and needs to be seen immediately. Urinary obstruction is rare but can occur in female cats and in male and female dogs.

Urinary tract infections are the most common culprit but other problems include the presence of crystals or stones, congenital abnormalities of the urinary system, and behavioral issues.

Symptoms include:

Inappropriate urination - cats often urinate in sinks or bathtubs
Straining or pain during urination
Frequent urination - often only a drop at a time. (Cats go in and out of the box repeatedly.)
Blood in the urine (causing a dark or reddish color)
Excessive licking of the genitals
If your male cat displays any of these symptoms, seek emergency care immediately to make sure he's not obstructed.

If your dog or female cat has any of these symptoms, try to collect a urine sample as soon as possible. With dogs you can simply hold a cup or tupperware under them to collect the urine. To collect a urine sample from a cat it is easiest to replace their normal litter with something non-absorbable such as unpopped popcorn kernels. Be sure to wash the pan first. When the cat urinates in the litter pan, pour the urine into a cup. and refrigerate the samples.  We will need that urine sample in order to make an accurate diagnosis. 

Broken/Ripped/Bleeding Toe Nail

Try and remove any of the broken part of nail that may still be attached.  The broken end only causes the dog more pain and may increase or continue the bleeding every time the torn piece is disturbed.  The quickest way to do this is with a dog toenail clipper.  Sometimes the piece is barely hanging on and they can be pulled off (quickly) with your hand.

Then use warm water to gently rinse the toe. If there is active bleeding, apply gentle but firm pressure with a clean cloth to the area.

Often this type of injury leaves a bloody "stump" of inner nail tissue. This is very tender and sensitive.  Although not a medical emergency, it is advisable to have your vet take a look at this type of injury to see if antibiotics are needed to prevent nail bed infection.

Nail Clipped Too Short

Cutting a nail too short will cause temporary pain and bleeding, but is not a medical emergency.  To stop the bleeding you can apply stypic powder or pencil, corn starch, flour, or press into a bar of soap.


Keep the dog outside (we really didn't have to tell you that, right?).  Wipe off as much oil with paper or cloth towels as possible. Use a damp rag to wipe around the eyes especially.
Prepare a home-made skunk bath:

Mix 1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide,
¼ to ½ cup baking soda,
1 to 2 teaspoons dish soap.
Wet the fur with warm water.  Apply to skunk bath mixture liberally and let sit for 5 minutes.  Rinse and repeat several times. 

This will help eliminate the odor, but won't completely get rid of it, that will take a week or so.

Important: Do not store the mixture in a closed container, the mixture of these ingredients creates pressure and could cause bursting.

Warning: The hydrogen peroxide could have a bleaching effect on your dog's coat. If this is a concern, try substituting vinegar for the peroxide.

Ate Bones

Do not induce vomiting

Feed several slices of mushy, spongy bread coated with butter or vegetable oil.  The bread will form a cushioned ball around the bones to help protect the lining of the GI tract and the oil will help lubricate the bread/bone "ball" and help it pass.

Monitor your dog closely for signs of pain, fever, vomiting, bloody stool or difficulty defecating and seek medical attention if you see any sign of trouble.  An x-ray can easily tell us if there are still bones within the GI tract.