In an emergency situation, time is of the essence. But are you able to recognize a canine health crisis? Here are some common emergency scenarios. Choose the answers you think are most correct. For each question, more than one answer can be selected.
1. Your dog ate the pill you dropped. Which drugs could cause problems?
A. Birth-control pills
C. Ibuprofen (Advil/Motrin)
D. Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
Correct answer: None or all. A single dose of any of these drugs is unlikely to cause problems for most dogs, but for safety's sake, contact your veterinarian for his or her advice.
2. Your dog was hit by a car. The dog should be examined by a veterinarian if:
A. It can walk, but with a limp
B. You see no injuries
C. It seemed fine, but now is lethargic
D. It is panting
Correct answer: All. Internal injuries aren't immediately obvious, and even a dog that seems unhurt should be examined by a veterinarian. Breathing difficulties are especially critical.
3. Your dog is bleeding. Seek emergency help if:
A. The cut is deep, and still bleeding after 30 minutes
B. You over-clipped a toenail; your dog is yelping
C. Its gums are pale
D. You applied pressure and the bleeding stopped
Correct answer: A and C. Pale gums can indicate excessive blood loss. Any injury that bleeds for more than five minutes requires immediate medical attention. If a dog loses too much blood, the results can be fatal.
4. Your dog was playing in the backyard and injured itself trying to jump a fence. It is serious if:
A. Your dog avoids walking on one leg
B. Your canine walks with a limp
C. Your dog limped briefly, then the limp disappeared
D. One leg is now at a funny angle
Correct answers: A and D. A non-weight-bearing or abnormally positioned limb could be fractured or dislocated, and needs immediate medical care. A weight-bearing, but painful limb, may be able to wait until morning as long as your dog is not whining or showing other obvious signs of pain, such as not wanting to go outside to eliminate.
5. A friend gave your 10-pound dog some chocolate. It may be dangerous if it was:
A. Milk chocolate
B. Dark chocolate
C. Chocolate-covered almonds
D. Unsweetened baking chocolate
Correct answer: All or none. The rule: Darker chocolate is more dangerous. Some veterinarians recommend inducing vomiting immediately if your dog ingests chocolate. Ask your veterinarian ahead of time what to give your dog in this situation, and how much. Furthermore, many table foods, not just chocolate, can be dangerous to your pet. Teach your dog not to beg for table scraps.
6. You were playing catch with your dog. You should be concerned if:
A. The baseball hit your dog's head; your pooch yelped but continued playing
B. The rubber ball is stuck in the back of your dog's mouth
C. Your dog can catch better than you
Correct answer: B. Soft rubber balls are the perfect size to lodge in the upper airway of medium to large dogs. An obstructed airway is a true critical emergency; fortunately, it's highly uncommon. Dogs normally expel foreign bodies without help.
To be safe, post the telephone numbers for your regular veterinarian and your local after-hours emergency veterinary hospital on the fridge or in a place where you can find them quickly in case of a canine emergency.