Veterinarian-written / veterinarian-approved articles for your dog.

What You Need to Know in Case of a Canine Emergency

Learn how to prepare for a canine emergency.

The thing about emergencies is that you don't know they're coming. And when you have an emergency with your dog, emotions can be running high. That's why it's important to prepare ahead of time, so if the worst ever happens, you can go on autopilot and handle things as well as possible.

Preparing for Dog Emergencies

Here are three numbers that you should always keep with you in case an emergency situation arises with your dog:

  • Your veterinarian's phone number. Program this into your cell phone, post it on your refrigerator, keep it on a pad near your house phone, and send it to the groomer, boarder, and day camp with your dog.
  • The local emergency veterinary clinic's phone number. Keep this in the same spots as your regular veterinarian's phone number. Also, be sure you know how to get to the emergency clinic, so you aren't trying to find your way there during a life or death situation.
  • A pet poison control hotline number. Don't hesitate to call if you even think that your dog has gotten into something toxic. Also, call right away if your dog has eaten something that you are unsure about. Minutes can count when something toxic has been ingested, so keep this number in your cell phone, on your refrigerator, and anywhere else that will make it easy to find. Here is one such number: Pet Poison Helpline: 855-764-7661.

In addition to these important phone numbers, there are some things you should learn ahead of time, so you'll be ready to jump into action if necessary. Three of these are:

  • Canine CPR and rescue breathing. If your dog is ever unresponsive, you need to know how to check for respirations and a pulse and how to perform rescue breathing or CPR as needed until you can get to the veterinarian. You can learn more here: "First Aid for a Dog with No Heartbeat," and here: "First Aid for a Dog That Isn't Breathing."
  • How to stop bleeding. If your dog is bleeding externally, you need to know how to slow or stop it until you can get to the vet. Learn what you need to know here: "First Aid for External Bleeding in a Dog."
  • How to muzzle your dog. A dog that is in pain or scared may bite, and you can't help your dog if you're at risk of being bitten. Learn how to safely muzzle your dog and have the proper size muzzle on hand. Ask your veterinarian to show you how to muzzle your dog and advise you on the size needed. You can also make a muzzle in an emergency: "How to Make a Homemade Muzzle for Your Dog."

Preparing for the Financial Aspects of a Canine Emergency

When your dog's life is in danger, the last thing you'll need is to be concerned about how you will afford treatment. Luckily, there are some things you can do ahead of time to alleviate this additional strain during an emergency.

  • Get pet insurance. You should consider doing this as soon as you acquire your dog, so certain medical issues don't become pre-existing and not covered. Here's some more information on pet insurance, how it works, and which one we recommend: "Pet Insurance = Peace of Mind."
  • Consider getting Care Credit. You can apply for this special credit card, which often has 0% interest for a period of time, whenever you like. The card can only be used for certain things, like pet care or dental care for you. Knowing you have this source of credit available to you can ease your mind during a dog emergency. You can learn more here: www.carecredit.com.

Hopefully, having these types of things in order beforehand will help ease the situation during a true emergency so that you can focus on your dog.

You May Also Like These Articles:

Top Ten Emergencies in Dogs

First Aid for Dogs

Emergency Care for Suspected Poisoning

CPR in Dogs

Baseline Vital Signs in Dogs and How to Measure Them

Canine Epilepsy: Seizures in Dogs

IVDD: Intervertebral Disc Disease in Dogs

How to Get the Most out of Your Sick Dog's Vet Visit


Disclaimer: This website is not intended to replace professional consultation, diagnosis, or treatment by a licensed veterinarian. If you require any veterinary related advice, contact your veterinarian promptly. Information at DogHealth.com is exclusively of a general reference nature. Do not disregard veterinary advice or delay treatment as a result of accessing information at this site.