Bay State Veterinary Emergency Services

Is It an Emergency?

How to Know When You Have an Emergency With Your Pet

If you think your pet may need medical attention right now:

Call BSVES at: (508) 379-1233

If you are closer to East Greenwich, Rhode Island, call OSVS at (401) 886-6787

Frequently, when an attentive pet owner feels concern over his or her pet, there is a medical issue that should be addressed. When you are uncertain whether your pet has a medical emergency, call the Bay State Veterinary Emergency Services team.

How to Know When You Have an Emergency With Your Pet

The following list includes some signs suggestive of emergency conditions. There are many more symptoms that could be included. Please call us for advice if you are unsure if your pet shows signs of a serious condition. If you think your pet may have ingested a poison, call the poison control center of the ASPCA at (888) 426-4435 immediately. They will advise you as to whether the substance ingested was toxic and whether you should seek veterinary care.

How to Know When You Have an Emergency With Your Pet


  • Repeated or profuse vomiting
  • Difficulty breathing, panting or open-mouthed breathing
  • Breathing rate greater than 50 breaths in one minute
  • Sitting over the water dish and not moving
  • Seizures or twitching
  • Drooling excessively
  • Extreme lethargy
  • Not moving
  • Hiding (for example under a bed or in a closet)
  • Sudden weakness in a limb or dragging a limb
  • Abnormal vocalizing
  • Any trauma
  • Any string hanging out of any orifice (do not pull)
  • Any toxicity or suspicion the cat ate or drank something it shouldn’t
How to Know When You Have an Emergency With Your Pet


  • Persistent diarrhea
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Non-productive retching
  • Strained breathing
  • Continual coughing
  • Straining to urinate
  • Blood in the urine
  • Restlessness
  • Lethargy
  • Unable to move
  • Not walking
  • Dragging hind legs
  • Crying out in pain
  • Distended abdomen
  • Painful, squinting, or bulging eyes
  • Pale gums
  • Elevated heart rate (greater than 160 beats per minute)
  • Any trauma
  • Significant amount of bleeding
  • Ingesting any toxin or poison
How to Know When You Have an Emergency With Your Pet

Evaluating small mammals, birds, reptiles, and other species can be challenging. What may seem like a small change can be an indication of a more serious illness. In general, changes in basic behaviors, such as an increased effort in breathing, change in appetite, decreased movement, or increased lethargy, should result in a call to our emergency team.

Many conditions have greater success in treatment when caught early, so when in doubt, it is "better to be safe than sorry" and have your pet evaluated by a veterinarian.