Emergency Veterinary Care

What to Expect

If your pet is having an emergency or requires immediate veterinary care, the most important thing to remember is to stay calm. If you need immediate assistance or instructions for transporting your pet, call us at 713-693-1100. You may also call to let us know you are on your way so that we can assist you from your car upon arrival.

Here are some helpful tips in the case of an emergency:

  • Do not administer any medications without consulting a veterinarian first
  • If possible, muzzle your pet if they are painful or injured. Even the most non-aggressive pets may bite when in pain or injured. A muzzle can be created by wrapping a shoelace or leash around the pet’s mouth. Fasten the leash tight enough to prevent biting while still allowing your pet to breath and rest comfortably.
  • If your pet has suffered a traumatic injury to his/her back, it is recommended to transport your pet on a back board to prevent further injury. Your pet can be secured to a firm flat board (piece of wood) with tape or straps.

Your pet may be experiencing an emergency if they are exhibiting one of the following symptoms:

  • Disorientation
  • Collapse episodes
  • Uncoordinated walking
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Persistent pain
  • Pale gums
  • Straining to urinate with little to no urine production
  • Limping
  • Excessive lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive panting

gulf coast emergency animal hospital

If your pet is experiencing other symptoms, please contact a veterinarian to determine if emergency care is required.

Emergency hospital signage can be seen from the 610 North feeder road just past Post Oak Rd.

There are a variety of minor and major emergency conditions. The following are common life-threatening emergency conditions:

Gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV) is a condition affecting primarily the large breed dogs (although it can occur in small breed dogs) in which the stomach fills with air and liquid and rotates within the abdomen. Common breeds affected by this condition include Great Danes, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Irish Setters, and German Shepherds.

The cause of this condition is not fully understood. Symptoms of gastric dilation or GDV include lethargy, discomfort and restlessness, non-productive retching/vomiting, and a distended stomach.

What to expect when you arrive at the emergency hospital?

After an initial evaluation of your pet’s vitals (temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate, mucous membrane color, and pulse quality), the veterinarian will likely request permission to take an abdominal x-ray. Abdominal x-rays help confirm the diagnosis of a GDV.

If your pet is definitely diagnosed with a GDV, immediate treatment is necessary because unfortunately, this condition is life-threatening.

Treatment for GDV:

Your pet will immediately be treated with pain medication and intravenous fluid therapy. A stomach tube will potentially be passed through their mouth and into their stomach (if possible) to relief some of the stomach distension. After initial stabilization, surgery will be required to de-rotate the stomach and to evaluate the abdomen for any complications associated with the condition. During the surgical procedure, a gastropexy will be performed to adhere the stomach to the body wall in the hopes of preventing a future torsion.

Your pet will need to be monitored in the hospital for at least 48 hours after the surgical procedure to monitor for common complications including abnormal heart rhythms, electrolyte disturbances, abdominal discomfort, etc.

Prognosis:

Survival rate depends on the severity of distention, the amount of time before treatment, and degree of shock present. Approximately 60-70& have dogs will survive when very aggressive therapy is initiated quickly.

Contact us now if your pet is experiencing any of these symptoms.

How do I know if my pet is suffering from heat stroke? Heat stroke can be a life-threatening condition. Heat stroke occurs when an animal’s core body temperature rises to dangerously high levels. The degree of body temperature elevation is directly related to the severity of secondary organ damage. Various factors such as obesity, thick hair coat, brachycephalic conformation (“smush-faced” dogs such as bulldogs, pugs, boxers, etc.), strenuous exercise, water deprivation, or exposure to hot/humid weather, can predispose an animal to heat stroke. A common heat stroke scenario involves a dog being left in a car “for just a second.” In ambient temperatures (86 F), a car with windows partially rolled down can reach an internal temperature of 104 F within 16 minutes. These 16 minutes can be fatal to your pet.

Common heat stroke symptoms:

  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Excessive panting
  • Drooling
  • Glassy/glazed eyes
  • Dark red gums
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Collapse
  • Unresponsiveness to commands

Heat stroke is a medical emergency therefore treatment should begin as soon as possible. Active cooling is recommended prior to transport but should not delay arrival to the hospital. Use a cool water source such as a hose to completely wet the animal’s hair coat. Due to the risk of drowning, it is not recommended to submerge the pet in a cold-water bath. Transport the pet to the hospital in an air-conditioned car while simultaneously cooling, if possible. If the car lacks air-conditioning or if the internal temperature of the car cannot be decreased rapidly, it is recommended to drive with the windows down.

After arriving at the veterinary clinic, the animal will be evaluated and if necessary, additional cooling measures will be instituted. Baseline blood work is typically performed to evaluate the animals underlying health status. Depending on the severity of the patient’s symptoms and blood work abnormalities, they may require multiple days of intensive care with aggressive medical management. Heat stroke patients require intravenous fluid therapy support, stomach protectants, antibiotics, and sometimes blood component therapy (plasma transfusions). Serial bloodwork evaluation is recommended to detect the systemic side effects of heat stroke including abnormal heart rhythms, liver damage, kidney failure, neurologic derangements, and abnormal blood clotting ability.

The prognosis for patients with heat stroke depends on the animal’s prior medical condition, the degree and duration of heat insult, and the response to medical therapy. Overall mortality in dogs with heat stroke is approximately 50%. As heat stroke is a preventable condition, it is important to ensure that your pet has free access to both water and shade during the hot summer months.

Want to learn more about safe exercising tips for the hot weather? Gulf Coast has all the information you need! Learn More >>

Head trauma can occur from a variety of causes including falling from an elevated level, hit by car incidents, and dog fights. Injury to the head can cause skull fractures, trauma to the brain tissue, or bleeding within the skull causing pressure on the brain. Head trauma is considered a medical emergency and can cause death in your pet.

Signs of a head trauma may include bleeding from the head or ear canals, erratic eye movements, weakness, uncoordinated walking, dilated or constricted pupils, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, disorientation, seizures, or coma.

If you feel that your pet has suffered from head trauma, seek veterinary care immediately. Remove all restricted collars from around the neck and avoid kinking the pet’s neck during transport. It is best to keep your pets head elevated above the remainder of their body during transport.

Your pet will need immediate diagnostics and supportive care to determine the extent of their medical condition and to stabilize your pet. Unfortunately, it is difficult to predict if there will be permanent brain damage during initial evaluation. Your pet will need to stay in the hospital for possible oxygen support and to monitor for progressive brain swelling.

The final outcome of a head injury that results in a concussion depends on the severity of the injury and the duration of clinical signs. Prognosis is best predicted based on the pet’s response to therapy within the first 24-48 hours. Unfortunately, some pet’s that suffer from head trauma will have persistent symptoms despite aggressive care.
Contact us now if your pet is experiencing any of these symptoms.

Congestive heart failure can occur secondary to a variety of underlying heart conditions including valvular disease, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and dilated cardiomyopathy. Often pet’s will develop congestive heart failure without a previous diagnosis of heart disease. Congestive heart failure can result from the lack of effective pumping of the heart muscles leading to fluid backing up into the lungs (pulmonary edema).

Symptoms of congestive heart failure:

  • Exercise intolerance
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Discoloration of the tongue and gums (cyanosis)
  • Collapse episodes

In the event that your pet is experiencing the following symptoms, seek veterinary care immediately. Congestive heart failure can be fatal resulting in the death of your pet.

Upon arrival at the hospital, you pet will immediately receive oxygen therapy, a mild sedative to decrease their anxiety, and a diuretic injection in an attempt to decrease fluid within the lungs. The veterinarian will request chest x-rays to confirm the diagnosis of congestive heart failure. X-rays typically will reveal an enlarged heart, fluid within the lungs, or fluid around the lungs.

Your pet will likely need to stay in the hospital for a minimum of 24 – 48 hours. Often they will require blood work, blood pressure evaluation, oxygen therapy, and heart medications. After initial emergency stabilization and hopeful resolution of heart failure, a referral to a veterinary cardiologist will likely be recommended for a full evaluation of their heart.

Your pet’s prognosis is based on the cause of the heart failure, degree of heart disease, and response to treatment.

Contact us now if your pet is experiencing any of these symptoms.

Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD) is a condition that commonly occurs to male cats resulting in inability to urinate. FLUTD is characterized by bladder wall inflammation secondary to infections, bladder stones, urinary crystals, or it can be idiopathic (unknown cause). Often cats with FLUTD develop a urethral obstruction which is considered a medical emergency.

Symptoms of a urethral obstruction include:

  • Straining to urinate with little to no urine production
  • Frequent trips to the litterbox
  • Restlessness and a painful belly
  • Vomiting

If you feel that your pet potentially has a urethral obstruction, seek veterinary care immediately. If your pet is diagnosed with a urethral obstruction, immediate urethral catheterization to relieve the obstruction is required. Without appropriate care, a urethral obstruction can be fatal.

Typically, your cat would be placed under heavy sedation or general anesthesia. A urinary catheter would then be utilized to alleviate the urethral obstruction and remove urine from the bladder. It is recommended to keep the urinary catheter in place for approximately 36 hours while providing your cat with intravenous fluid therapy. Urine production and serial bloodwork evaluation is typically monitored while your pet remains in the hospital. Unfortunately, cats can reobstruct at any time after removing the urinary catheter.

Often, environmental modifications are recommended in an attempt to prevent recurrence of the urethral obstruction. Environmental modifications include feeding exclusively a wet diet (urinary formula), increasing water consumption, adding another litter box, and decreasing environmental stress.
Contact us now if your pet is experiencing any of these symptoms.