Educational Articles

Emergency Situations

  • Diabetic ketoacidosis is a life-threatening condition that results from inadequate insulin or interference of insulin action on the body preventing glucose regulation. This causes a buildup of ketone bodies that, at a high enough level, will cause a metabolic derangement resulting in inability to retain water, weakness, vomiting and weight loss, among other signs. Treatment usually requires intensive hospitalized care including IV fluids, potassium supplementation, short acting insulin injections, and regular monitoring of glucose and electrolytes. In dogs already diagnosed with diabetes, ketoacidosis can often be prevented with regular glucose monitoring performed at home.

  • Common conditions of pet ferrets include diarrhea, intestinal foreign bodies, parasites, heart disease, and various tumors. This handout outlines the causes, clinical signs, and treatment options for each of these conditions. Any variation from normal should be a cause for concern and should be immediately evaluated by your veterinarian.

  • Even though e-cigarettes may be safer for humans than using traditional tobacco products, they are certainly not safe for pets. The nicotine associated with e-cigarettes, even without the tobacco, poses a serious health threat for dogs and cats.

  • Eclampsia in cats is a rare emergent condition of hypocalcemia that generally occurs one to four weeks after giving birth but can occur before. Risk factors include a poor diet, abnormal parathyroid gland, and calcium supplementation during pregnancy. Signs of eclampsia start as restlessness, panting, and stiffness and can progress to disorientation, tremors, inability to walk, and convulsions. Treatment includes intravenous fluids, careful intravenous calcium supplementation, and other supportive medications followed by oral supplementation and weaning kittens as soon as possible or supplementing their diet with milk replacer.

  • Eclampsia in dogs is an emergent condition of hypocalcemia that generally occurs one to four weeks after whelping but can also occur shortly before giving birth. Risk factors include a poor diet, small breed dogs, abnormal parathyroid gland, and calcium supplementation during pregnancy. Signs of eclampsia start as restlessness, panting, and stiffness and can progress to disorientation, tremors, inability to walk, and convulsions. Treatment includes intravenous fluids, careful intravenous calcium supplementation, and other supportive medications. This is followed by oral supplementation and weaning puppies as soon as possible or supplementing their diet with milk replacer.

  • Egg binding is not uncommon in birds and may be resolved easily if treated early. Egg binding occurs when the female bird is unable to expel the egg from her body. If a prolonged period has elapsed since the bird began attempting to lay the egg, she may become critically ill. Birds with egg binding may or may not have passed an egg more than 2 days ago, are usually weak, not perching, often sitting low on the perch or on the bottom of the cage, and are straining as if trying to defecate or to lay an egg. Treatment varies depending upon how sick the bird is, as well as the location of the egg and the length of time the bird has been egg bound. Critically ill birds are first treated supportively for shock, and then attempts are made to extract the egg. If your veterinarian cannot see the egg through the vent, surgery under general anesthetic may be necessary to remove the egg from the abdomen. A hysterectomy (removal of the oviduct and uterus) is typically the last choice therapy, when medical and egg extraction through the vent are not possible.

  • Emergencies arise unexpectedly and it is important to stay calm. After realizing what has occurred, it is important to contact your veterinarian for recommendations in order to provide the best chance for a successful outcome. Once you have received initial instructions, it is important to transport your cat to your veterinarian for a complete examination as soon as possible.

  • There are many types of emergencies, but initial care is similar: stay calm, keep your dog warm and quiet, contact your veterinarian, and get help to transport your pet to a veterinarian. Common emergencies are described including gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV), acute hemorrhagic diarrhea, anaphylaxis, automobile injury, seizures, respiratory distress, eye injury, eclampsia, heatstroke, heart failure, toxin ingestion and, collapse. In the event of an emergency, owners are advised to bring their dog to the veterinarian as soon as possible, even if it appears normal.

  • Epilepsy is a brain disorder characterized by recurrent seizures without a known cause or abnormal brain lesion (brain injury or disease). A seizure is a sudden surge in the electrical activity of the brain causing signs such as twitching, shaking, tremors, convulsions, and/or spasms. The exact cause of epilepsy is unknown, but a genetic basis is suspected in many breeds. Seizures can vary in appearance and can be focalized or generalized.

  • Many liquid potpourri products and essential oils, including oil of cinnamon, citrus, pennyroyal, peppermint, pine, sweet birch, tea tree (melaleuca), wintergreen, and ylang ylang, are poisonous to cats. Both ingestion and skin exposure can be toxic.