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Health & Wellness

Importance of a pet emergency preparedness plan

Plan ahead and protect your pet

We know how much you love your pets — you’d do anything for them. And when an emergency arises, your preparation and planning to get them care quickly is just one example of how much you love them. Veterinarian and pet health advocate Dr. Aliya McCullough is sharing all the ways you can develop a pet emergency preparedness plan.

When do pets need emergency medical help?

While every situation is different, there are a couple outstanding moments that are considered a health emergency:

  • Difficulty breathing, coughing or choking
  • Unable to get up or move around
  • Uncontrollable bleeding or open wounds
  • Obvious pain
  • Severe vomiting or diarrhea
  • Blood found in vomit or diarrhea
  • Severe injury 
  • Seizures
  • Pain when urinating
  • Eye injury or blindness
  • Broken bones
  • Ingesting poison or toxins
  • Eating a foreign object
  • Inability to deliver puppies or kittens
  • Unconsciousness 

What should pet parents immediately do when there’s an emergency? 

If your pet is showing any of these signs, contact your vet or emergency animal hospital immediately. 

Create an emergency plan

Save important vet locations and phone numbers

Locate the nearest vet hospital or animal emergency room on a map and write down the hours they’re open. It’ll help you to know exactly where to go in case of an emergency. 

It’s helpful to save important phone numbers, too: 

  • Local 24-hour emergency pet hospital 
  • Poison control
  • Local animal ambulances

Call the animal emergency room to let them know you’re on the way and the status of your pet’s emergency.

Organize a pet emergency kit

Always keep an emergency first aid kit in your car and home. Life is full of surprises (especially when it comes to pets) and having health items at your reach will be so helpful. Consider taking a pet first aid course so that you know exactly how to use them. Here’s a couple things that should definitely be in your emergency kit: 

  • Gauze
  • Tweezers
  • Towels, rags and a blanket
  • Digital thermometer to use under their armpit (a rectal thermometer works, too, but this may be easier in an emergency.)
  • Poop bags
  • List of medications
  • Medical records
  • Microchip information
  • Latex gloves
  • Wound pads
  • Bandage scissors
  • Antiseptic wound cleaner
  • Vet wrap, which is an elastic bandage that adheres to itself so you don’t snag your pet’s fur.
  • Information card with your vet’s address and phone numbers


Practicing for an emergency situation will help limit stressors on the day of. For instance, practice riding in the car and familiarizing your pet with their carrier or crate so if an emergency happens they won’t be stressed out. 

After a pet emergency, try to get your pet back to a normal routine. Life is unpredictable, but the love you have for your pet makes you that much more prepared for emergency situations. 

The Dig, Fetch Pet Insurance's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.

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