Think your 2-year-old corners the market on accidents and incidents that lead to trips to the emergency room? If you’re a pet owner, you know cats and dogs can get into plenty of ER-worthy trouble, too.
Outdoor pets are particularly prone to cuts and skin punctures, some of which require a vet’s immediate attention to avoid infection, says Karl E. Jandrey, DVM, assistant professor of clinical small animal emergency and intensive care at the University of California, Davis.
According to Jandrey, you can’t always judge the severity of an injury by its appearance. That’s especially true with bite wounds, which are dangerous. Bacteria from the biting animal’s mouth can be injected deep into the skin, causing an infection that can quickly get out of control.
Jandrey says there’s a golden rule when it comes to seeking help for bites: “If you can get it managed within the first six hours, your pet will do much better because we can get him on therapy and prevent a contaminated wound from becoming an infected wound,” he says. If your regular vet can’t see your cat or dog that quickly, Jandrey says, go to a pet ER instead.
The same goes for snakebites (poisonous snakes bite more than 15,000 dogs and cats in the United States each year). Take your pet to an emergency clinic ASAP. Enzymes in venom work quickly to break down muscles, tendons, and ligaments, causing severe and sometimes permanent damage.
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