You are worried there’s something wrong with your pet but don’t know if they require emergency care.

If you are ever in this situation you can always call us so we can help you decide whether your pet needs to be seen immediately or if they can wait for a scheduled appointment.

There are some circumstances which we almost always consider emergencies. Continue reading to find our what signs and symptoms you should keep an eye out for. If your pet is exhibiting any of these listed below please call us immediately at (802) 375-9491.

1. Crying in Pain

Whether or not you know what happened, if your pet is crying out in pain, there is likely something going on. Animals in general typically act like they are not in pain even if they are to hide weakness.

This is especially true for prey animals like cats. They may hide if they’re in pain because they don’t want to risk being caught when out in the open and weak.

If your cat is hiding more than usual and there’s nothing else to explain the behavior (scary noises, stranger in the house, etc.), then you may want to bring them in for an evaluation.

2. Change in Gum Color

One of the first things veterinarians check when evaluating an animal is the color of their gums because this can be indicative of other health problems. You should also be regularly checking the color of your pet’s gums to catch a medical issue as early as possible.

There are several dangerous changes in gum color to be aware of:

Bright Red

An animal’s gums can become bright red if they’re over-heated or suffering from an infection in the mouth. If you suspect an animal to be over-heating, this is usually an emergency as it can lead to shock.

If you believe the bright red gums to be from gingivitis or another mouth infection, you should make an appointment to be checked as soon as possible because these conditions can lead to more serious conditions.


Pale gums or those that don’t turn back to pink within a second of being pressed could indicate anemia or internal bleeding. Both of these issues are potentially life-threatening and require an emergency visit to the veterinarian.


Yellow gums, eyes, or skin is called jaundice. This indicates a buildup of bilirubin in the body which is caused by a breakdown of red blood cells.

Jaundice is a symptom of bile duct obstructions, liver conditions, or increased red blood cell destruction. There are a variety of illnesses that can lead to increased red blood cell destruction.

Depending on what other symptoms are present, a veterinarian may want to see your pet immediately if he develops jaundice or, in some cases, it can wait for an appointment. Always call us if you are not sure of the severity and we can help guide you.


If your pet isn’t getting enough oxygen, their gums may begin to turn blue. This is always a medical emergency so you should call us immediately.

Often, blue gums are associated with serious heart or lung conditions, none of which should wait.

3. Wounds/Injuries

Your pet may not be crying in pain, but a wound could still be more serious than it appears. Whether your pet has an open bleeding wound, is unable to walk properly, or has been hit by a car but otherwise appears fine, you should bring them in as soon as possible.

As previously mentioned, animals tend to mask their pain so it’s always best to have them thoroughly checked out by a veterinarian to ensure they’re as okay as they’re acting.

Some animals that have been hit by cars may have internal bleeding but show no other symptoms until it’s too late. That’s why we always recommend having your pet checked when they’ve been injured.

4. Restlessness

Another indication of pain in animals is restlessness or nervousness. If your pet can’t seem to get comfortable, is pacing or can’t fall asleep, this could mean they’re experiencing pain or discomfort.

This is also why you should always pay attention to your pets. By noticing small changes in their behavior, you could save their lives.

5. Lethargy

If, on the other hand, you notice your pet has been sleeping far more than usual or appears “out of it,” this is another reason to bring them in as soon as possible.

There are a large number of diseases or conditions that can cause an animal to be lethargic, many of which are life-threatening if not immediately addressed.

Additionally, if your pet faints or collapses for any reason, this should be considered an emergency.

6. Changes in Breathing

If an animal is breathing hard after playing hard, that’s normal. However, if your pet is completely relaxed and yet is breathing fast or hard, this could be a sign that something is going on with them that requires an emergency vet visit.

Dogs that are excessively panting could have heart or lung problems, among others.

It’s rare for a cat to pant and for it to be considered normal, so you should always consider this an urgent situation and get them in as soon as possible.

Dogs and cats should take between 15 and 25 breaths per minute while relaxed.

To check this, watch or feel your animal breath for thirty seconds and count each breath (one inhale and one exhale). Then, double that number to get the total breaths per minute.

7. Fast Heart Rate

Along the same lines, a fast heart rate can also indicate some serious conditions and should be considered an emergency as long as it’s not following vigorous activity.

You can check your pet’s heart rate with a stethoscope if you have one. Keep in mind that one beat has several sounds, so only count the “lub” or the “dub,” not both.

Another way to check your pet’s heart rate is to place your hand on her chest and feel for the heart beating.

Normal heart rate for puppies and smaller dogs is between 120 and 160 beats per minute . Larger dogs will have between 60 and 120 beats per minute. You can always give us a call if you’re not sure if your dog’s heart is racing or not.

Normal heart rate for cats is between 160 and 180 beats per minute when relaxed.

8. Bloated Abdomen

If you have a larger or deep-chested dog, pay careful attention to their stomach as these animals are more prone to a condition commonly called bloat. Essentially, the stomach can flip over and the digestive tract begins to fill with gas.

This is a life-threatening situation and you should immediately bring your pet in if you notice they have a distended or abnormally large abdomen.

Male cats are more prone to blocked urinary tracts which can sometimes cause a swelling of the abdomen as the bladder fills and is unable to be emptied. This is likewise a life-threatening situation and requires immediate veterinary intervention.

9. Unproductive Coughing

If you notice your animal repeatedly coughing or retching yet nothing is coming up, this could mean there’s a foreign object lodged in their throat or they’re suffering from some type of digestive or respiratory emergency.

Either way, if your animal can’t seem to get anything to come up, it’s time to get them in before it becomes something more serious.

10. Vomiting Pink Foam or Blood

Sometimes, an animal is able to get things up and will be vomiting. While not all vomiting is an emergency, if your pet has pink foam or bright red blood coming up, you need to get them in as soon as possible since this indicates bleeding in the digestive tract.

Additionally, excessive vomiting can cause dehydration, so you’ll also want to bring in your pet quickly if they can’t keep anything down so we can figure out what the problem is before it becomes a life-threatening situation.

Get Your Situation Evaluated

Now you know some of the situations that we consider an emergency. Getting your pet in as soon as possible if they have any of these conditions could save their life. Waiting could mean putting their lives in serious danger.

If you have any concerns about your pet, please give us a call at (802) 375-9491 so we can evaluate your situation and get your pet the care they need.