Pets often find themselves in all sorts of mischief, and occasionally that trouble requires emergency veterinary care. If your furry pal follows their nose across a busy street or into the trash can, they may need emergency surgery or hospitalization to repair fractured limbs or treat a toxicity. Or, your dog may be too rambunctious at a dog park, and their friendly play session escalates into a fight and their ear is torn. Help keep your four-legged friend out of trouble—and the local emergency veterinary hospital—by implementing the following tips.

#1: Feed your pet a healthy diet

While you may not think a healthy diet could help keep your pet out of the veterinary ER, what they eat sets the foundation for their health. A poor, unbalanced diet can lead to your pet developing a variety of health issues that can have serious consequences. For example, pets fed too much and who weigh too much can develop diabetes, which can lead to life-threatening complications such as diabetic ketoacidosis. Or, pets who are fed a high-fat diet can develop pancreatitis, which not only is incredibly painful, but also can be life-threatening.

Monitoring your pet’s treats is also important. Bones, rawhides, and other long-lasting chews can pose a health risk, such as a gastrointestinal obstruction, if swallowed. Pig ears and other hide-type treats can be coated with bacteria that can disrupt your pet’s digestive tract and cause vomiting and diarrhea. 

Feeding your pet a well-balanced diet of high-quality dry or canned food, plus healthy treats in moderation, can prevent or minimize the risk of many diet-related health issues.

#2: Teach your pet life-saving commands

Is your pet prone to snatching up any dropped item, thinking they have found a treat? Maybe they are a notorious door-dasher who takes any opportunity to slip between your legs and out the front door. Teaching your pet to obey your commands, such as “Drop it,” “Leave it,” or “Here, Fido,” can do much more than make them a good family companion—you can save their life. If you drop your medication on the bathroom floor as your cat winds around your feet, ensure they know not to eat the pill—ingesting Tylenol, for example, could be fatal. Or, the next time guests arrive and your sneaky dog darts out the door, ensure that when you call, they will come back quickly and not bolt into the road. Spend a few minutes each day to brush up on and reinforce old skills, so you can count on your pet listening to you in an emergency situation.

#3: Spay or neuter your pet

Pets can experience all sorts of hormone and reproductive problems. Male pets are often more territorial, and will escape from home to seek out a mate, fighting off other competitors for the female’s attention. Female pets can become irritable during their heat cycle, and cause inter-pet aggression in the household. And, after their heat cycle has ended, a female pet can develop a uterine infection called a pyometra, which can be fatal if left untreated. If your pet becomes pregnant, they can experience serious complications, including eclampsia, mastitis, metritis, and retained placenta, during pregnancy and labor, and after giving birth. If a puppy or kitten becomes stuck in the birth canal, an emergency Cesarean section will be needed to save the life of the mother and her offspring. 

#4: Take part in regular wellness care for your pet

Staying on top of your pet’s wellness care can go a long way toward preventing an emergency situation. Vaccinations, parasite prevention, dental care, and discussions about the best way to optimize your pet’s health are key components of wellness care. In addition, routine screening tests can detect slight changes in your pet’s health status, before a disease process becomes advanced and likely to cause significant illness. 

#5: Don’t wait to contact your Palm Valley Veterinary Center veterinarian

The best way to stay out of the emergency veterinary hospital is to contact your primary care veterinarian at the first sign of your pet’s illness. Rather than waiting for the problem to resolve on its own, let our team treat your pet and prevent the issue from escalating to a major health concern that needs urgent treatment outside normal business hours. Ear infections, eye issues, and gastrointestinal upset are a few of the health issues that your Palm Valley Veterinary Center veterinarian can treat more easily—and cost-effectively—rather than you scrambling to find an emergency veterinarian in the middle of the night.

If you are worried that your pet is becoming ill or appears injured, do not wait for the problem to clear up on its own. Contact our Palm Valley Veterinary Center team for an appointment before the issue becomes an emergency.