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.

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 outdoors, your dog rummaged through thick brush and developed a deep gash on their leg. It’s possible for puncture wounds to cause serious infection without even bleeding. Seek a vet immediately.

Scenario #4: Unexplained Limp

While jumping in the yard, your dog developed a limp. If their limp goes away immediately or soon after the incident, they're probably fine. If they refuses to put pressure on it or if the leg looks like it is bent out of shape, contact the vet immediately.

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, though they can consume 280g of milk chocolate without serious consequences (other than a possible upset stomach). It’s best not to guess. 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.