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The following is a partial list of signs your dog could need emergency care. If Fido collapses, is unable to breathe, is unconscious or starts to convulse, then contact your vet right away - If you see any of the following symptoms, get your dog to a vet immediately!

Signs of overheating

Heat stroke kills, and it happens very rapidly in dogs. Read more here about heat stroke.

Swelling of the abdomen

This is the primary symptom of Bloat, which can kill very quickly. Deep-chested breeds are particularly prone to this illness; extensive emergency surgery and possible ongoing therapies could be necessary.

Undiagnosed convulsions or seizures
Difficult breathing
Bloody diarrhea

Difficulty, or inability to urinate

This could be caused by bladder stones forming a dangerous blockage; emergency surgery would be necessary.

Uncontrollable bleeding

A dog can die of blood loss very quickly.


If your dog is conscious but unresponsive, it could be a sign of a serious or life-threatening illness, or possible poisoning.

Thick discharge from the anus (unaccompanied by a bowel movement)

This is usually the sign of a bowel obstruction, and is often accompanied by a high fever and lethargy. This condition is lethal if not treated immediately.

Vomiting blood

This could indicate a foreign object in the system, puncture wounds, poisoning, ulcers, blood disorders or even cancer.

A traffic accident or other kind of household accident or animal attack could also require immediate treatment. In case of serious hemorrhages, lacerations, fractures, intoxication, suffocation, burning or birth delivery problems, contact your vet for emergency treatment right away.

What a dog’s seizure looks like:

A seizure can kill your dog. It is extremely important to have Fido diagnosed right away by a vet, and get him on proper anti-convulsant medication. Seizures cut off oxygen to the brain and strain the dog's heart, often resulting in brain damage or heart failure.


Some dogs have a very recognizable onset stage, such as head-shaking, batting at the air, and snapping as if trying to catch a fly. If you suspect recurring seizures, watch your dog carefully for signs that a seizure is about to start. If you notice a pattern developing, keep track of the times between onset and actual seizure. These signs could help your vet in diagnosing your dog's problem.

There are three degrees of seizure severity. All are equally serious.

Petit Mal - This is the type of seizure that is often missed by pet owners; it is characterized by tremors, drooling, whining, loss of balance, and sometimes spontaneous urination.

Grand Mal - This is the more violent kind of seizure. Grand Mal seizures often include convulsions, foaming at the mouth, rapid jaw-snapping, uncontrollable defecation and urination, paws flailing and loss of consciousness.

Status Epilepticus - This is a long seizure of either type, and is extremely dangerous. If your dog'Petit or Grand Mal seizure lasts for longer than five minutes, seek immediate emergency veterinary care!

A dog in a seizure can very easily hurt himself; make sure there is nothing nearby to injure him when he is thrashing around. Do not stick anything in your dog's mouth, such as spoons, sticks, or your hands.

Post seizure:

Fido regains consciousness, but his problems are not over yet. He may experience blindness, loss of balance and coordination, loss of bladder and bowel control, confusion or deafness.

Post-seizure symptoms can last for an hour or more; a dog in post-seizure will likely try to find you to be comforted. He may walk into walls, fall down stairs, or just fall over, period, in an attempt to get where he’s going. Try to keep him safely with you until you’re sure his symptoms have passed. But don’t wait – call your vet immediately in any seizure situation.