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Health Checks: When to Call Your Vet

Default blog image: a guinea pig

No one likes feeling sick. Whether you or your furry, feathered, or scaly baby, we can all think of things we’d rather be doing than feeling ill. But how do you know if your precious pet needs extra snuggles to get them feeling better, or do they need to see a dogtor? Today we’re going to discuss when to call the vet and how regular health checks help you figure that out.

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Before your pet gets sick...talk to your vet

We’ve mentioned this before in our blog IMPORTANT WARNING: Plan for long emergency pet medical care wait timesWe cannot emphasize enough that you should talk to your regular vet about how they're managing routine, urgent, and emergency appointments during normal business hours. Knowing how your vet wants you to manage different situations will make you feel more confident caring for your pet and when to call the vet for help.

Perform regular health checks

Emergency preparedness is just smart. You never know when an accident or natural disaster will happen. The same goes for pet health emergencies. While we made you a list of things to put in your pet first aid kit, always discuss with your vet or the rescue/shelter you adopted your pet from what items you’ll need for your specific species. As we are a multi-species household with bunnies, a cat, and dogs, they all need different tools. For instance, Golden had asthma, and we had a pediatric adapter for her inhaler as it had to go over her mouth and nose. How do you give a cat an inhaler? Very carefully!!! Golden was not a fan.

Pet first aid

Signs of a pet health emergency

If you see any of these signs, you need to call your vet at once…even if it’s on the drive to the vet clinic or animal emergency room.

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Collapsing or losing consciousness
  • Pale color of gums
  • Any eye health issue
  • Restlessness/cannot get comfortable, vocalizing, or appearance of being in severe pain
  • Seizures
  • Uncontrolled bleeding/open wounds
  • Broken bones
  • Vomiting (cats and dogs only) and diarrhea—especially if it happens more than once an hour
  • Inability to pee or poop
  • Refusing to eat or drink
  • Paralysis
  • Exposure to chemicals or toxins

Other examples of when to call the vet

This is one of those questions where the answer is "it depends." First, you should always call the vet if you are unsure of what is happening. Use your smartphone to take pictures and videos to share with your vet. Lastly, keep a log of what you've noticed that concerns you. For instance, a month ago, Pippi, our bun with Dutchie pajamas, turned her nose up at her dinner veg two days in a row. Pippi ate everything else just fine, but she is the least picky rabbit we’ve ever had. She also had GI stasis the day after Christmas and recently after we taught a class about bunnies at our library. I made a routine appointment for her, but I also let our vet know what was happening. We decided that she could wait for the routine appointment if nothing changed. However, he would squeeze her in during clinic hours if another unusual behavior occurred.

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Again, discussing with your vet when to call the vet BEFORE anything happens is the best way to decide how to handle different pet health issues. Your vet clinic should never make you feel bad about calling and asking for help or information. However, remember that they will not always be able to tell you what to do, sight unseen. Finally, please remember to be kind to all our medical professionals who aim to keep you and your precious pet healthy and happy.


DISCLAIMER: The links and information are being provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only; they do not constitute an endorsement or an approval by Small Pet Select of any of the products, services or opinions of the corporation or organization or individual.

VETERINARY DISCLAIMER: We are not veterinarians, and none of our information should be construed as veterinary advice.  If your pet is acting unwell, you have concerns for their well being, or before adding any new product, please contact your veterinarian immediately.  


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