Recognising a dog emergency and knowing how to react is part of being a responsible dog owner. Review these common dog emergency scenarios and how you should handle them:

Scenario #1: Medication Ingestion

Your dog swallowed an over-the-counter painkiller that was left on the table. A single dose of ibuprofen (often packaged as Advil® or Motrin®), tranquilizers, acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or birth control pill may present danger, especially for puppies. Call a veterinarian immediately if your dog swallows human medication or call the animal poison control center if the ingestion occurs after hours.

Scenario #2: Car Accident

Your dog was hit by a car but seems to be fine. Consult your vet anyway. Many injuries aren’t immediately obvious, so your dog should be checked out. Breathing difficulties are especially critical.

Scenario #3: Gash or Cut

While playing in the woods, your pet was lacerated by an errant branch. If the wound is full skin thickness or excessively long, he or she should be seen by a veterinarian as the wound may need to be sutured. All puncture or bite wounds should also be assessed by a veterinarian as they can often become infected.

Scenario #4: Unexplained Limp

While jumping in the yard, your dog developed a limp. If the limp is persistent, he or she refuses to bear weight or if the leg appears bent, it definitely warrants a veterinary visit.

Scenario #5: A Taste of Chocolate

A well-intentioned friend “treated” your dog to several pieces of chocolate. You know chocolate can be harmful to pets. The amount of harm depends upon the kind of chocolate and the amount consumed. The darker the chocolate, the more dangerous for canines: 30g of baking chocolate is toxic to a small dog. Call your vet and report what you’ve seen.

Scenario #6: Obstructed Airway

While playing catch, your dog got a ball lodged in his throat. Most dogs quickly expel something stuck in their mouth, but on occasion their airways can become obstructed. If your dog can’t breathe or if their breathing is labored, take them to the emergency clinic immediately. Never try to yank out the object, as it might get pushed further down the airway.

In spite of your best intentions, dog emergencies may happen. You can prepare for the worst by programming your vet’s number into your cell phone and printing directions to his office and to the after-hours clinic. Keep this information in the glove compartment of your car. It’s a precaution you’ll be glad you took if an emergency occurs.