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This page is all my notes and information regarding emergencies and emergency care. Emergencies come in all shapes and sizes and can occur in any animal, which is why its important to identify key signs of different diseases, conditions and situations to ensure your animal has the best chance of survival.

[Triage and Assessment in Emergencies]

Triages and assessments allow members of the veterinary team to assess whether a call from a client is considered as an emergency situation. The first point of contact in these scenarios are from the client to the veterinary team. There are many factors that can influence wether a situation can be considered as an emergency. In emergency situations, the way a client relays information to a member of the veterinary team influences how quick emergency treatment can be given. In situations such as seizures or ingestion of toxins, emergency treatment is vital so it is important to relay information as clearly and effectively as possible.

Compromising Factors

  • Clients have different views on what counts as a emergency
  • Clients ability to relay accurate information will vary
  • Veterinary team are not able to see the patient and therefore cannot assess whether it is in need of emergency care
  • Client is likely to be in distress or be upset by situation

Steps for gaining information

  1. Name and telephone number in case phone line disconnects
  2. Patient details such as name, breed, age, existing medical conditions
  3. Current problem/ situation
  4. Transport and time of arrival if/when possible

Examples of Emergencies

  • Breathing issues/ abnormalities
  • RTA (Road Traffic Accident)
  • Struggling to Urinate (ESPECIALLY MALE CATS!)
  • Haemorrhages
  • Collapse/ Fainting
  • Epilepsy/ Seizures
  • Intoxication and/or Poisoning
  • Persistent vomiting and/or retching

The main points to ask when you receive a phone call are: Is the patient breathing? If so, how fast/ slow? | Does the patient have a heart beat? If so, how fast/ slow/ steadiness? | Is the patient conscious? Consciousness level?


The table below shows the normal readings for a healthy cat and dog. Readings in practice may vary depending on lifestyle and health however these are general guidlines. Mucous membranes are tissues that line body cavities. They are most prodominantly seen in the mouth but we just call them "gums".

Heart rate is as easy as it sounds, its the rate at which the heart is pounding. In smaller animals and breeds of dogs, the heart rate will tend to be faster and with bigger animals (such as humans, horses, elephants etc) and breeds the heart rate is slower. The lifestyle of an animal can also lower or raise the heart-rate. For example, a fit dog might have a resting heart rate as low as 50 beats per minute. You may ask, whats the difference between heart rate and pulse. Good question. Your heart rate is how fast your heart is beating at a given time. Your pulse is how strongly you can feel your heart rate.

Your extremity temperature is the temperature of your extremities. In animals that would be their paws and ears. The warmth of the extremities can help show circulatory problems and often helps to indicate problems such as poisonings and heart issues. Body temperature is the measure of the bodies core temp. This is often done by shoving a thermometer gently into the B-hind of an animal. Low temperatures can indicate hypothermia. Prolonged exposure to cold temperature, prolonged submersion in cold water and shock due to a traumatic incident or fright can cause a low core body temperature. New-born puppies, elderly dogs and smaller breeds are also more prone to hypothermia as they lose their body heat faster through their skin as opposed to other dogs. High body temperatures can also be fatal. High temperatures often occure due to infections or heat stroke, which can be very damaging to the body and even cause death.

Parameter Dog Cat
Mucous Membranes Pink, Moist (1 to 2 Sec) Pink, Moist (1 to 2 Sec)
Heart Rate 80bpm to 140 bpm 150bpm to 200 bpm
Pulse Strong and Regular Strong and Regular
Extremities Temp Warm to touch Warm to touch
Body Temp 38.3 C to 38.7 C 38.1 C to 38.7 C