Emergency situations with pets can pop up out of nowhere, causing you extreme worry and panic. While you cannot prevent every emergency, you can reduce the likelihood of many urgent situations. Here are five ways you can help reduce your pet’s risk for landing in an emergency situation.

#1: Spay or neuter your pet

Pets driven by hormones can get into all sorts of mischief that can be dangerous. Male pets following their noses to a female in heat often dodge traffic, fight off other suitors, and have to avoid many environmental dangers, like sharp fencing, toxins, and wildlife. Female pets can be hurt during the mating process, or be injured if they escape their home in search of a mate. And, an intact female pet who goes through a heat cycle without being bred is at a higher risk for developing a pyometra (i.e., uterine infection).

A female pet who successfully breeds has no guarantee her labor and delivery will be smooth. All sorts of emergency issues can occur during pregnancy, labor, and after delivery, such as calcium imbalances, dystocia, or uterine prolapse, and the mother may need intensive hospitalization or surgery to save their life and the babies’ lives.

#2: Teach your pet obedience commands

Your pet’s curiosity can get them into trouble if they dart through an open door, gulp down a dropped pill that was on the floor, or gnaw on a chicken leg they won’t give up. But, teaching your furry pal various obedience commands—and regularly reinforcing them—can save their life. Focus on training the following skills:

  • “Leave it” — When you drop something on the floor, like a sharp knife, your heart medication, or a bunch of grapes, telling your pet to “leave it” gives you time to pick up the item before they do.
  • “Drop it” — Puppies in particular love to take off with items they shouldn’t, and when you chase them for the forbidden object your pursuit becomes a much better game. Teaching your pet to “drop it” on command can prevent them from gulping down a bone, clothing article, or your keys.
  • “Come” — When walking your pet outdoors, they may slip out of their collar or the leash may snap, and they suddenly have unintended freedom. Teaching your four-legged friend to come when called can prevent them from bolting into traffic, chasing a deer into the woods, or running up to an unfriendly dog.
  • “Stay” — When carrying armloads of groceries, for example, opening and shutting the door without a struggle is nearly impossible, which gives your pet the perfect opportunity to escape—unless they listen and stay. 

#3: Regularly check your pet’s restraint system

An appropriate pet restraint system, which includes a collar, leash, and a fenced yard, is essential for keeping your furry pal safe from harm, whether they are out and about, or relaxing in your yard. Check the fit and strength of your pet’s collar and leash before heading out to prevent them from slipping free of the collar or snapping the leash, and to help ensure they stay close to you and away from traffic, other animals, wildlife, or debris. Also, walk your fence’s perimeter regularly to search for holes, gaps, or damage that would allow your pet to escape, or for another animal to enter.

#4: Know what pet toxins are hiding in your home

Your home is full of hidden items for pets that you may not realize are dangerous. Brush up on the most common possible toxins in your home, so you can appropriately protect your pet.

The top 10 pet toxin categories—and the most common items in each—identified by the ASPCA are:

  • Over-the-counter (OTC) medications — Ibuprofen and acetaminophen
  • Human food — Grapes, raisins, protein bars, and xylitol-sweetened gum
  • Human prescription medications — Antidepressants, cardiac, and ADHD medications
  • Chocolate — Dark and baker’s chocolate
  • Plants Indoor and outdoor plants
  • Household toxins — Disinfecting wipes
  • Veterinary products — Calming chews and joint medication
  • Rodenticides Anticoagulant, bromethalin, and cholecalciferol products
  • Insecticides — Organophosphates, carbamates, and pyrethrins
  • Recreational drugs — Marijuana-based drugs, hallucinogenic mushrooms, and cocaine

#5: Avoid extreme weather conditions

Severe weather can seriously harm your pet and become a life-threatening situation. High heat and humidity can rapidly cause heatstroke, while bitterly cold temperatures can lead to frostbite or hypothermia. Before heading outside with your furry pal, check the weather to avoid thunderstorms, high heat and humidity, and frigid conditions.

If your pet has encountered an emergency situation, you do not need an appointment to bring them in during our business hours. However, we ask that you call our Tamberly Animal Hospital team in advance, so we can prepare for your pet’s arrival and immediately begin life-saving treatment.