Medical emergencies notoriously happen in the middle of the night or on the weekend.
1) Know your dog: take your dog’s temperature when he is healthy. A dog’s normal temperature is between 101 and 102 degrees. You will have a better idea of how your dog is feeling if you know that his normal temperature is usually 101.2 degrees for example.
2) Know your dog’s normal gum coloration. If your dog is in shock the gums will appear pale. Again, that is a relative standard and it will be helpful to know what gums look like on a normal day. The same is true for the rim of the lower eyelid.
3) Check the blood refill speed of your dog’s gums on a normal day. Hold the upper lip and press a finger against the upper gum. You will see the gum whiten around the finger imprint. As soon as you remove your finger the gum should return to the original color. In a dog experiencing an emergency this will happen more slowly.
4) The gums of a healthy dog should feel nice and moist and slippery. If your finger sticks to the gum and the gums feel tacky your dog very well might be dehydrated and need veterinary attention. Especially if your dog has vomited multiple times or has had diarrhea and the gums feel tacky: take her in.
5) Another test to see if your dog might be seriously dehydrated is to check the elasticity of the skin around the scruff. When you pull the skin it should feel thick and bouncy and should bounce right back. If it feels thin and slack your dog is quite dehydrated and may need subcutaneous fluids.
6) Unsuccessful vomiting and retching can be a sign of the onset g of gastric dilatation ( bloat)…a life threatening condition for large -chested dogs. The abdomen spontaneously expands hugely, filling up with air . Then the stomach turns around itself and causes death by cutting off blood circulation to the brain. Go to the emergency vet immediately.
If you are at all in doubt if you should or should not take your dog to the emergency room:
Better one unnecessary trip than a missed chance to save your dog’s life!
Toxic ingestions account for a significant portion of the cases seen in animal emergency rooms. Our canine companions are regularly exposed to the foods we eat, the drugs we take, and the chemicals we bring into our homes, garages, and yards. Following are some of the most common toxicities we see…
ASPCA Poison Control Hotline 1 888 426-4435