How to Spot and Handle a Pet Emergency

Unfortunately, accidents and pet emergencies do happen. When a medical pet emergency befalls our furry friends, pet parents may find it difficult to make rational decisions, especially if something occurs during the middle of the night. That’s why it’s crucial to have a pet emergency plan in place—before you need it.

Have a pet emergency protocol in place:

Fairgrounds Animal Hospital will happily accommodate pet emergency appointments for our sick patients during regular hospital hours. Our regular hospital hours are Monday – Friday 7:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. and Saturdays 8:00 a.m.-2 p.m. Learn more about what to do in a pet emergency here.

Fairgrounds Animal Hospital

Phone: 775-329-4106
2435 Sutro Street, Reno, NV 89512


If your pet experiences a medical emergency during hours that Fairgrounds Animal Hospital is closed, please call:

Animal Emergency Center

Phone: 775-851-3600
6425 S. Virginia Street, Reno, NV 89511


If your pet has ingested or come in contact with a potentially poisonous substance, please call:

ASPCA Poison Control

1-(888) 426-4435


If you have found injured wildlife:

Nevada Humane Society

Phone: 775-856-2000 ext 200
6425 S. Virginia Street, Reno, NV 89511

(775) 856-2000 ext. 200



Signs Your Pet May Need Emergency Care

Your dog may need emergency care because of severe trauma—caused by an accident or fall—choking, heatstroke, an insect sting, household poisoning or other life-threatening situation. Here are some signs that emergency care is needed:

  • Pale gums
  • Rapid breathing
  • Weak or rapid pulse
  • Change in body temperature
  • Difficulty standing
  • Apparent paralysis
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures
  • Excessive bleeding

Pets who are severely injured may act aggressively toward their pet parents, so it’s important to first protect yourself from injury.

For dogs: Approach your dog slowly and calmly; kneel down and say his name. If the dog shows aggression, call for help. If he’s passive, fashion a makeshift stretcher and gently lift him onto it. Take care to support his neck and back in case he’s suffered any spinal injuries.

For cats: Gently place a blanket or towel over the cat’s head to prevent biting; then slowly lift the cat and place her in an open-topped carrier or box. Take care to support the cat’s head and avoid twisting her neck in case she’s suffered a spinal injury.

Once you feel confident and safe transporting your pet, immediately bring him to an emergency care facility. Ask a friend or family member to call the clinic so the staff knows to expect you and your pet.


First Aid Treatments to Perform At Home in a Pet Emergency

Most emergencies require immediate veterinary care, but first aid methods may help you stabilize your pet for transportation.

  • If your pet is suffering from external bleeding due to trauma, try elevating and applying pressure to the wound.
  • If your pet is choking, place your fingers in his mouth to see if you can remove the blockage.
  • If you’re unable to remove the foreign object, perform a modified Heimlich maneuver by giving a sharp rap to his chest, which should dislodge the object.