Pet Emergency Care

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When your pet is in an emergency situation, the best thing to do is stay calm. At the Ark we understand how stressful these situations can be, and are here to help you get the fastest and best care during times of need. We can attend to your pet quickly and calmly to minimise further stress on them, and support you throughout the process. This page has all the information you need in the case of an emergency, both during opening hours and when the Ark is closed. This page will also provide you with answers to important questions you might have in an emergency.

When the Ark is open:

Take a deep breath and bring your pet straight up to the hospital. There is no need to book an appointment – we will see to your pet straight away – but if possible, please call us to let you know you’re on your way.

When the Ark is closed:

Outside our opening hours, we recommend contacting Northside Emergency Veterinary Service:

Phone: (02) 9452 2933

Address: 335 Mona Vale Road, Terry Hills

If necessary and when your pet is stable, they can be transferred back to the Ark where they are closer to home and you can visit them if suitable.

Does my pet need emergency help?

You know your pet better than anyone else, but it can be difficult to determine if they are in need of emergency care. If you spot any of these symptoms, we recommend that you bring your pet in for treatment straight away:

  • Difficulty breathing, rasping panting, pale gums or a blue/purple tongue
  • Swollen or bloated abdomen, with or without vomiting
  • Inability or straining to urinate or defecate
  • Collapse or an inability to stand or walk
  • Loss of balance or consciousness, seizures or convulsions
  • Vomiting or diarrhoea with blood

Your pet also requires immediate attention if:

  • They injest a toxin such as mouse/rat bait, garden pest control products, prescription and over the counter medication or any household cleaning products. PLEASE BRING THE CONTAINER OF THE TOXIN WITH YOU!
  • They have a penetrating wound, such as a bite, gunshot or stab wound
  • They are experiencing heavy panting and weakness on a hot day – this may be heatstroke
  • You find a tick on your pet
Remember that when pets are in pain, they are often scared and confused. This can cause even the gentlest of pets to lash out. The priority in any emergency situation is to keep both you and your pet safe. Read on below for some tips on how to safely handle and care for your pet in an emergency situation.

It’s also important to have your pet’s medical records in a safe and easily assessible place, so you can bring them with you to the clinic. The more we know about your pet, the better we can help them.

Caring for your injured pet:

  • Keep your face away from your pet’s mouth. It is okay to comfort your pet, but don’t attempt to hug them, as you may get bitten. Instead speak to your pet softly and kindly, and gently stroke them.
  • When examining your pet, do so gently and slowly. Stop at any point if they appear to be agitated.
  • If possible, call the veterinarian before you arrive at the clinic so we can prepare emergency equipment to treat them as quickly as we can.
  • Never place a muzzle on your pet if they are vomiting.

Transporting your injured pet:

  • Cats and smaller animals can be wrapped in a towel to restrain them and keep them warm. Ensure that their nose is uncovered and they are not wrapped so tightly that they struggle to breath.
  • Before moving an injured animal, stabilise any injuries if possible with a splint or bandage to prevent any further trauma.
  • Keep your pet confined to a smaller area to prevent further injury. Pet carriers or a cardboard box both work well, provided your pet has enough air to breath.
  • When moving larger dogs, a surf or boogie board, throw-rug or blanket can all be used as stretchers.

Toxic foods:

If your pet injests any of the following foods, we recommend you treat it as an emergency situation. Since tolerance varies between animals, we would prefer it if you were over-cautious when it comes to these foods:
  • Alcohol
  • Apples/Apricots/ Cherries/Peaches/Pears/Plums
  • Grapes and raisins
  • Onions and foods containing onion powder
  • Cooked bones
  • Salt and salty foods
  • Food preparation items, such as aluminum foil, wrappers, paper plates.
  • Liver in large quantities
  • Mouldy or spoilt foods
  • Nuts, especially macadamias
  • Garlic
  • Caffeine
  • Chocolate
  • Corn cobs
  • Raw eggs
  • Dairy products
  • Avocado
  • Rich fatty foods
  • Tobacco products

Tips for preventing pet emergencies:

While some situations are out of your control, here are some things that you can do to minimise the risk that an emergency situation may arise:

  • Keep all medications and cleaning products in either a locked cupboard or one that your pet cannot reach.
  • Keep any gardening toxins such as snail bait or rat poisons inside a shed that your pet cannot access.
  • Refrain from feeding toxic foods to your pet and keep these foods out of their reach.
  • Follow a tick prevention program (e.g. Bravecto, Nexgard, tick collars etc) to make sure your pet has protection against ticks. You can always give us a call to discuss the most appropriate and effective tick control for your pet.
  • Never leave your pet inside a locked car – even in the colder months. Pets can overheat and suffocate if left alone for too long. Always take them with your or tie them up where they have access to fresh air and clean water.

What to do in case of…

  • Cool the area by applying cold running water for a minimum of 5 mins
  • You can apply a cool wet compress, never an ice-pack
  • Transport your pet to the vet as soon as possible
  • DO NOT place your hand or finger into your pet’s mouth
  • DO NOT give any food or water to your pet while they are having a seizure
  • Clear the area around your pet, make the room as quiet and dark as possible
  • Wait until the convulsions have stopped before touching or moving your pet
  • Transport your pet to the vet once the seizures have stopped
  • DO NOT attempt to remove the object
  • If it is a penetrating wound to the chest, restrict your pet’s movement
  • Try to stabilize the object, without putting pressure on it, by wrapping a towel or bandage around the area
  • Try to control the bleeding, but without applying pressure to the object
  • Keep your pet warm
  • Transport your pet to a vet immediately
  • Apply pressure to the wound with your hands or a piece of cloth for at least 5 minutes to control the bleeding
  • Try to place a dressing on the wound to stem any further bleeding before transportation, or if you are unable to get to a vet immediately
  • If the wound is a puncture wound from a fight, it is important to see a vet promptly, as your pet will require antibiotics starting within the first 6-12 hour
  • Transport your pet to a veterinarian IMMEDIATELY
  • Try to see if there is an object causing the obstruction, if this is the case, try to gently remove it without getting bitten

Warming your pet:

  • Warm your pet slowly
  • Wrap your pet up in a jumper or thick blanket and pad with a layer of bubble wrap to avoid heat loss
  • Place a heat pack next to your pet. Make sure that it is not too hot, and check your pet’s temperature regularly to avoid over-heating
  • If your pet is wet, dry them quickly, as wet pets lose heat rapidly
  • Cool you pet slowly
  • Wet your pet with cold water by wetting a towel and drizzling water over your pet, concentrating on the head, stomach, neck, inner thighs, and paw pads
  • For larger-sized pets, consistently applying water by hose may be an easier option
  • DO NOT apply ice packs to your pet
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