When Is It an Emergency? Quiz

In an emergency situation, time is of the essence. But can you recognize the most common canine health crises? Following are some common emergency scenarios. Circle those you think are most dangerous, then check your answers. Choose all answers you think are correct; more than one may apply.
1. Your dog ate the pill you dropped. Which drugs could cause problems?

  • a. birth-control pills
  • b. tranquilizers
  • c. ibuprofen (Advil/Motrin)
  • d. acetaminophen (Tylenol)

Correct answer: None or all.
A single dose of any of these drugs is unlikely to cause problems for most dogs, but multiple doses may be harmful. Seek veterinary care if your dog consumes multiple doses.
2. A car hit your dog. He should be examined by a veterinarian if:

  • a. he can walk, but with a limp
  • b. you see no injuries
  • c. he seemed fine, but now is lethargic
  • d. he’s panting

Correct answers: All.
Internal injuries aren’t immediately obvious, and even a seemingly unhurt dog should be examined. Breathing difficulties are especially critical. (Many injuries can be avoided by keeping your dog on a leash. Click here to learn tips on how to leash train your dog.)
3. Your dog is bleeding. Seek emergency help if:

  • a. it’s a deep cut, still oozing after a half-hour
b. you over-clipped a toenail; your dog is yelping
  • c. his gums are pale
d. you applied pressure and the bleeding stopped

Correct answers: a and c.
Pale gums can indicate excessive blood loss. Any injury that bleeds for more than five minutes requires immediate medical attention. If a dog loses too much blood too soon, the results can be fatal.
4. Your dog was playing in the backyard and injured himself trying to jump a fence. It is serious if:

  • a. he won’t walk on one leg now
  • b. he’s walking with a limp
  • c. he limped briefly, then the limp disappeared
  • d. one leg is now at a funny angle

Correct answers: a and d.
A non-weight-bearing or abnormally positioned limb could be fractured or dislocated, and needs immediate care. A weight-bearing, but painful limb, may be able to wait until morning as long as your dog is not whining or showing other obvious signs of pain, such as not wanting to perform regular tasks like going outside to take care of business.
(Your backyard may be your pet’s playground, but in extreme weather, even this familiar territory can be dangerous to your pet. Click here to learn important information on the dangers posed by extreme hot and cold weather.)
5. Uncle Ned gave your 10-pound dog some chocolate. It is only dangerous if it was:

  • a. 1 ounce of milk chocolate
  • 2 ounce of dark chocolate
  • c. three chocolate-covered almonds
d. four minutes after you told Uncle Ned not to feed your dog anything

Correct answer: b.
The rule: Darker equals more dangerous. For a 10-pound dog, it takes 10 ounces of milk chocolate, but only 1 ounce of baking chocolate to be toxic. Some veterinarians recommend inducing vomiting immediately if your dog ingests chocolate. Ask your veterinarian what to give your dog in this situation, and how much. (Many table foods, not just chocolate, can be dangerous to your pet. Click here to learn how to teach your dog not to beg for table scraps.)
6. You’re playing catch with your dog. You should panic if:

  • a. the baseball hit his head; he yelped but continued playing
  • b. the rubber ball is stuck in the back of his mouth
  • c. he catches better than you

Correct answer: b.
Soft rubber balls are the perfect size to lodge in the upper airway of medium-large dogs. An obstructed airway is a true critical emergency; fortunately, it’s highly uncommon. Dogs normally expel foreign bodies without help.
Finally, post the telephone numbers for your regular veterinarian and your local after-hours emergency veterinary hospital nearby. A professional will be able to identify whether something is a true emergency or not.