PDSA vet teams reveal six of the most common emergency cases they treat

by PDSA | 4 August #Lifestyle

We spoke to PDSA vet teams who have uncovered six of the most common emergencies they see coming through the doors of our pet hospitals.

Emergency illnesses and injuries can occur at any time and at any stage of our pets’ lives. Whether they get their paws on something they shouldn’t or have taken a tumble, our furry friends can get into all sorts of trouble that can sometimes need emergency vet care.


1. Bone fractures

In 2021 we saw over 3,000 bone fracture cases across our 48 PDSA Pet Hospitals. These cases vary in severity from small hairline fractures to complete breaks but all are painful and should be seen by a vet as soon as possible.

Fractures are commonly caused by a road traffic accident (RTA), dog bites, and falls. The symptoms may vary, but usually pets will be limping, or possibly not be able to bear any weight at all on their leg, showing signs of pain, visible wounds and/or swelling, and their leg may be held at an odd angle.

If you suspect your pet has broken a bone, be careful when moving them as they are likely to be in severe discomfort and are may bite or scratch if they are scared and in pain.

Pets will be given pain relief immediately if the vet suspects a broken bone. Depending on the cause of the accident, they may need to be stabilised prior to any x-rays to find out the exact injury. Some fractures can be managed with cage rest or a splinted dressing, but some will require surgical repair. If the fracture cannot be repaired, the last resort is amputation.


2. Foreign bodies (swallowed objects)

Our pets are curious creatures who love to explore the world with their mouths, which could lead to them swallowing something they shouldn’t. Simply put, a foreign body is an object that shouldn’t be inside your pet’s stomach and/or intestines, as it could cause a blockage or a tear in their delicate guts. A gut blockage caused by a foreign body can be a serious and painful condition if not treated quickly.

We have seen all sorts of foreign bodies come in through the years, from corn on the cobs and Homer Simpson toys, to coins and poo bags! This doesn’t stop when Christmas comes around, this is a particularly risky time of year when all the decorations come out of the loft. Take a look at 8 Christmas-themed objects pet patients have eaten – including their interesting X-rays.

Foreign bodies can be diagnosed with ultrasound scans and/or x-rays. Pets with foreign bodies are often really poorly when they are brought into us so they will have fluids and medication to stabilise them before surgery. The surgery can take a long time – sometimes hours – to remove the object and then to ensure the guts are stitched up completely so they don’t leak.


3. Road traffic accidents

Each year, we see an average of 2,400 road traffic accident cases at our Pet Hospitals. Road traffic accidents (RTAs) can cause severe injuries, which are not always immediately obvious. Most cases we see involve broken bones and wounds, but it’s not uncommon for there to be internal injuries that aren’t visible, such as a punctured lung or bleeding.

A pet who has been hit by a car (or other vehicle) will be in pain or discomfort and even if they have escaped injury, they may still be in shock. Contact your vet straight away if you suspect they have been involved in an RTA, even if you think your pet is okay


4. Pyometra

Pyometra is a condition common in unneutered female pets that affects the womb. It’s a severe condition that causes the womb to fill with infected fluid and can be fatal if left untreated.

In most cases, emergency surgery is required to remove the womb, so if your pet shows any of the signs of pyometra, call your vet immediately. Symptoms can include drinking more than normal, discharge from the vagina, reduced appetite, and a bloated tummy. Neutering your pet will prevent this condition from developing.

Toots is just one of many pet patients who have suffered with pyometra. PDSA vets performed a lifesaving surgery to remove her womb, which was severely infected.


5. Eye Problems

Eye problems like infections, ulcers, and trauma can deteriorate quickly if left untreated and may even require the removal of the eyeball if it is causing too much pain or is severely damaged.

Obvious signs of eye problems in pets can include:

  • Redness
  • Discharge
  • Cloudiness
  • Holding the eye closed

There are various reasons your pet’s eyes might be causing them issues, but it’s best to seek help from your vet if you’re concerned about any changes.


Stomach issues

Many pets come into our Pet Hospitals in an emergency with upset tummies, which in severe cases can cause dehydration and require hospitalisation. There are lots of different causes, from infections, to eating something that has disagreed with them, to even overheating. All of these things can result in vomiting and diarrhoea, and a very poorly pet.

Keeping your pet on a healthy complete diet suitable for their age and breed, and avoiding human food can help prevent problems, as can making sure your pet is up to date with their vaccinations.


Should you find yourself in any of the emergencies above, the last thing you want to do is worry about vet fees which is why it’s important to consider insuring your pet.


Emergencies don’t often come with a warning, so why not insure your pet with PDSA Pet Insurance

PDSA Pet Insurance offers a range of policies to cover your cats and dogs for unexpected emergencies and illnesses. And what’s more, every policy sold contributes to our life-saving work, which helps pets and owners receive the vital veterinary care they desperately need.

Often it can be difficult to know if your pet’s health problem requires emergency treatment, so if you are unsure, contact your vet, and they will be happy to provide advice or see your pet for an examination.


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