Educational Articles

Emergency Situations

  • Arsenic poisoning is the accidental ingestion, skin contact, or inhalation of products containing a toxic dose of arsenic. The clinical signs of sudden arsenic poisoning can vary depending on the dose. Supportive therapy is a crucial part of treating arsenic poisoning. Aggressive fluid therapy and rehydration is necessary and helps the body to remove arsenic from the body.

  • Acetaminophen is a medication that is used to treat fever and/or pain in humans. Cats have a genetic deficiency in a metabolic pathway in the liver that makes cats vulnerable to acetaminophen toxicity.

  • Acetaminophen, a common human drug used to control pain and fever, is toxic in dogs. Acetaminophen is occasionally recommended by veterinarians and should only be given under their direction. Young and small dogs have a higher risk for toxicity.  

  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome, also known as shock lung, is a life-threatening complication of critical illness in cats, such as systemic infection or disease, severe trauma, or near-drowning. Treatment involves targeting the underlying cause while also supporting the cat's compromised lung function with the use of an oxygen cage, an oxygen line direct to the cat's nasal passages, or in severe cases, a mechanical ventilator. Unfortunately, the prognosis for this condition is poor.

  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome, also known as shock lung, is a life-threatening complication of critical illness in dogs, such as systemic infection or disease, severe trauma, or near-drowning. Treatment involves targeting the underlying cause while also supporting the dog's compromised lung function with the use of an oxygen cage, an oxygen line direct to the dog's nasal passages, or in severe cases, a mechanical ventilator. Unfortunately, the prognosis for this condition is poor.

  • Early decontamination of can be performed following exposure to a toxic dose of alcohol as long as a pet is not showing clinical signs. Decontamination may include inducing vomiting (for ingestions) or bathing (for skin exposures). Other therapies include intravenous (IV) fluids, IV dextrose to help with low blood glucose, anti-nausea medication and warming support. Although there is no specific antidote for alcohol poisoning, medications may be used to assist with severe clinicals signs of respiratory depression and coma. Hospitalization for monitoring of cardiovascular and neurological parameters is needed until animals have recovered. Recovery is expected within 24 – 36 hours following treatment.

  • Anorexia (a loss of appetite) and lethargy (a feeling of listlessness and general inactivity) are commonly seen in sick pet birds. While not diagnostic for any specific disease, these signs can indicate severe illness in a bird that requires immediate medical attention. Birds rarely get sick overnight. Usually birds are ill before pet owners notice outward signs of illness.

  • Anticoagulant rodenticides are poisons used to kill mice, rats, and other rodents by preventing blood clotting. Poisoning occurs when a cat ingests rodenticide. Anticoagulant rodenticides cause excessive bleeding by interfering with vitamin K1 recycling in the body. Vitamin K1 is needed for the body to make certain clotting factors which enable blood to clot and help to control bleeding.

  • Anticoagulant rodenticide is used to kill mice, rats, and other pests. Poisoning occurs when a dog ingests rodenticide accidentally. Anticoagulant rodenticides cause excessive bleeding by interfering with vitamin K1 recycling in the body. Vitamin K1 is needed for the body to make certain clotting factors which enable blood to clot and help control bleeding.

  • An aortic thromboembolism results when a blood clot is dislodged and travels through the aorta, becoming lodged in a distant location. This causes severely reduced blood flow to the tissues receiving blood from that particular part of the aorta, leading to decreased oxygen in the tissues. Mixed breed cats, Abyssinian, Ragdoll, and Birmans are the most commonly affected. Sudden paralysis and pain, usually in the rear legs, are the most common clinical signs of aortic thromboembolism, although weakness and lameness may be seen. Other signs may include decreased or absent pulses in the femoral arteries of the rear legs, rapid breathing or difficulty breathing, vocalization from pain, vomiting, and the nailbeds and footpads may be pale or bluish. Initially, cats may need to be treated as inpatients. Drugs to prevent platelets from clumping together will be prescribed. The expected course of this disorder is days to weeks for full recovery of function to the legs, but the prognosis in general is very poor.