Eight tips to be prepared if your pet suddenly becomes ill

Eight tips to be prepared if your pet suddenly becomes ill
Are you prepared your pet becomes suddenly ill?

After publishing Friday’s post about the sudden illness and death of a suburban Chicago dog, I’ve heard from several people with similar stories. In these cases, dogs that appeared to be healthy overall quickly became sick and died from similar symptoms to those mentioned in the post. I’d like to point out that canine circovirus hasn’t been pinpointed in any of these cases.

However, one common thread is that dogs that appeared to be healthy quickly became ill. Because we don’t know why or how these dogs became ill, a lot of dog lovers feel at a loss on what to do for prevention. That doesn’t mean you can’t be prepared for any emergency, if your pet suddenly becomes ill. Here are some tips to help prepare you before an emergency happens.

Establish a relationship with your vet before your pet gets sick.

Establish a relationship with your vet before your pet gets sick.

Establish a relationship with your vet. While your pet is healthy, it’s vital to find a vet you trust and develop an ongoing relationship with that veterinary office. Annual check ups will give your vet a baseline of your dog’s or cat’s vitals like blood pressure, heart rate, blood values etc. This information is vital when helping a vet diagnose a problem. This seems like a no-brainer, but too many people only visit the vet when their pet suddenly becomes ill.

Know the limitations of your veterinarian’s practice. Don’t be afraid to ask what your vet’s office can do and what is beyond the scope of their capabilities. It’s better to know up front what X-ray and diagnostic equipment are on hand and when you may need to go elsewhere for assistance. Don’t be afraid to call and ask if you should go straight to a local emergency clinic if your pet is severely injured or critically ill.

Know the location of the local emergency vet. Along with knowing the location, make a few test runs there so that you can easily find the emergency vet when it may be a matter of life or death for your pet.. Check out their Website to learn about policies and procedures before your pet suddenly becomes ill.

Cat's especially mask symptoms.

Cat's especially mask symptoms.

Know your pet. This may sound silly, but cats especially are experts at masking signs of illness. Often when a pet shows signs that they are ill, they may be profoundly ill already. It’s possible in some of these cases reported recently that dogs had been getting sick for weeks, but didn’t display signs of illness until the pet became very ill. Subtle changes in behavior, appetite and activity levels could indicate something is going on.

My husband used to give me grief when we had a senior cat in the house because I would run her to the vet when she “seemed fine.” I’d lived with her so long that a slight change in litter box behavior, amount of food that she ate or where she was certain times of day triggered an alarm for me. About 90 percent of the time, I was right and we found a developing infection while in the early stages.

Don't delay with real emergencies. Pets vomit and get diarrhea. However, if they are violently ill, have seizures, may have eaten something toxic or have an extremely high or low temperatures, you need to act. If your vet is open, call and head in or ask if you should go straight to an emergency vet. If it's after hours, head to the emergency vet. Don't be afraid to take over these scenerios with your own vet before your pet suddenly becomes ill.

Phone apps keep your pet's vital information at your finger tips and can help you find an emergency vet.

Phone apps keep your pet's vital information at your finger tips and can help you find an emergency vet.

Keep vital information handy. Pet First Aid is a $4.99 iPhone app that has articles, step-by-step instructions and videos that walk you through what to do in an emergency. Plus, you can save your pets vital information like vaccination records, medications, allergies, microchip info etc. An Android version with fewer bells and whistles goes for $2.99. There is a free version called PawCard that helps you track your pet's medical info that you can send to the vet as well.

PetMD has a variety of apps including a Finder that will help you find the nearest emergency vet. Other apps include medical information and symptom checkers for dogs and cats. Pet Poison Helpline also has an app for $1.99.

Take note and be prepared. If you don't have an app, keep a list of medications, health information and other health-related data that could be helpful in an emergency – especially if your vet can’t be reached. If an emergency happens, take a deep breath and write down key information about what happened to your pet before you leave as to not leave out important details. If you suspect your pet ingested something toxic, make sure you have that with you. Keep a pet first aid kit on hand and know how to use it.

Calm and steady. It’s hard to be calm when your pet is in danger, but our pets do read our emotions. The calmer you are for your pet the better. Also, make sure you stabilize your pet and do what you can to keep him or her comfortable. That could include an extra towel or blanket for the car or crate and to transport in a way that keeps your pet still.

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You may reach me at kathypetexam@gmail.com and find me at on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

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    Raining Cats and Dogs

    I'm an animal lover who has counted rescue pets as a member of my family since I was a child. As a writer and public relations specialist, I'm passionate about advocating for homeless pets and the rescues that give these pets a second chance. i also love to connect with the many pet businesses in Chicago that support animal rescue.

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