Emergencies!  When Does Your Pet Need Urgent Veterinary Care?

As we have discussed in previous posts, The LifeCentre is comprised of 14 different veterinary practices with 16 areas of specialty.  One of the biggest and busiest practices is VCA Animal Emergency – Critical Care. Open 24- 7 and 365 days a year our ER and ICU (Critical Care) departments see cases when your primary care is closed at night, on the weekends or holidays.

What we are often asked is – What IS an Emergency?  When do you need to come in or call us right away?  How do you know what can wait until tomorrow or Monday?  Many of our clients prefer to come in to see our ER teams just for peace of mind – your pet is uncomfortable or acting in an unusual manner and you would rather be sure it’s not serious!

Sometimes things ARE serious, and your pet needs to be seen right away.  The following list is by no means all encompassing, and if you have an elderly pet, one with additional medical concerns, or your pet has been undergoing treatment for a chronic condition – these signs are even more important to note.

If you are ever unsure about your pet and would like to call us – our technicians may be able to guide you over the phone. We cannot of course give medical advice on pets our Doctors have not examined.  To do so would be unethical at best!  We can however review what’s going on and prepare for your arrival!

If you have someone watching your pet – like a pet sitter or neighbor – the following is a helpful list to have.  They may not know what is “normal” for your dog or cat and having a reference may make them more aware that your pet needs to see a veterinarian.   Often, like with many things in life, it is better to be safe than sorry.


  • Severe Bleeding or Bleeding for over 5 min.
  • Bleeding from Nose, Mouth, Rectum, Coughing Up Blood or Blood in Urine 
  • Difficulty Breathing, Continuous Coughing or Gagging
  • Inability to Urinate or Pass Stool
  • Eye Injuries
  • Hit by a Motor Vehicle
  • Seizures – Staggering – Unconsciousness
  • Severe Vomiting or Diarrhea 
  • Fractured Bones or Severe Lameness 
  • Signs of Pain, Discomfort and/or Anxiety that concerns you
  • Over Exposure to Heat/Cold – Heatstroke or Hypothermia
  • Ingestion of a Poison, Toxin or Foreign Object
  • Refusal to Drink for 24 hours
  • Any combination of the above signs


If possible, it helps if our team has the following information:

  • Your pet’s primary care veterinary hospital name
  • any medications your pet is taking OR the packaging of any substance they might have eaten
  • medical records if you have them in the case of a chronic condition (medications and dosages for arthritis, heart, neurologic conditions for example).

If you can call us and let us know you are on your way – the team in our ER can prep a gurney to meet you as soon as you arrive.  In the cases of collapse, ingesting toxins, collapse and heat emergencies, we want to be ready for you!

We will do another blog about safety in the heat and how to care for you dog in the summertime as that is one of the most critical kinds of patients we see, so look for that next week!

Below is another list for reference with some of the most common and dangerous things a pet can ingest that are VERY DANGEROUS:

Please take care to keep your pet(s) away from the following:

  • XYLITOL – A common SWEETENER in diet foods, candy, sugar free gum, pudding, gelatins and baked goods. It is also occasionally in peanut butter!  Read labels carefully!
  • Grapes/Raisins, Cherries, Peach pits, Currants, Apricots
  • Onions, Garlic, Mushrooms, Corn Cobs and Avocados
  • Nuts – No Almonds, Pecans, Walnuts, Macadamia, Pistachios or Hickory nuts for pets!
  • Alcohol
  • Moldy Food


Ingesting the following items are also VERY DANGEROUS and ARE EMERGENCIES!

  • Human Medications – Call Poison Control IMMEDIATELY – Rx and Over the Counter – Ibuprofen -Advil, Acetaminophen -Tylenol, Naproxen – Aleve, Camphor, 5-FU are all toxic!
  • ANTIFREEZE and Propylene Glycol and Kerosene or Gasoline – Paint Solvents and Wood Stains
  • Household Cleaners
  • Super Glue or Gorilla Glue
  • Fertilizer and Weed Control products – Blood Meal and Bone Meal
  • Bait and Poison for – Mice, Rats, Snails, Gophers
  • Lead or Iron



Finally – Emergencies can be scary, but we’re here to help you and your pet!  Try to remain calm and give us as much information about your pet’s condition as possible.

Remember – We do highly recommend all pet owners look for an insurance policy  “just in case” (*see our blog post from last week!) so you have a little extra financial security.

With the largest and most advanced veterinary hospital within 100 miles of Loudoun County, and with our board-certified doctors, licensed veterinary technicians and caring nursing assistants and client care staff – we are the 24 hour care you can rely on.

Our team with VCA Animal Emergency Critical Care are exceptionally well trained, and have since 2007, treated thousands of cases from minor runny noses, to limping, upset stomachs, to being hit by cars and more.  We are open 24 hours and our services compare to human hospital – right in Leesburg.

Visit us at tlcvets.com for more information about our team of veterinarians and the equipment, diagnostics, and treatments we have available day and night.

Our phone number is – 703-777-5755 and we are located on Fort Evans Rd. across the street from the outlet mall.

165 Fort Evans Rd. NE Leesburg, VA 20176

Look for our building, so you are familiar with the location!  It may save you time if your pet needs us.

Our Facebook Page is– facebook/tlcvets  – Follow us for behind the scenes stories about  us and our work at The LifeCentre – where together, we are redefining veterinary emergency and specialty care!



[Ask The Expert is a promotional program sponsored by Loudoun Now. The writers have held out that they have experience, training, education and/or certifications to qualify as experts in their fields. Although shared on Loudoun Now‘s online platforms, the writers are solely responsible for this content.]

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