Emergency Care

The Long Beach Animal Hospital is open 7 days per week until 10 PM. We are available to provide emergency care for your pet any time one of our doctors is present. Always call us first, because this will allow us to be better prepared for your arrival and to give you suggestions on what do do at home before leaving.

After midnight we have a recording on our phone at 562-434-9966 to tell you where to take your pet if you have an emergency.

Some things to watch for that might indicate an emergency situation:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Unresponsive to you
  • Neurologic signs like seizures or circling
  • Crying in extreme pain
  • A cut or wound that does not stop bleeding
  • Your pet has fallen a substantial height or has been hit by a vehicle
  • Seeing your pet eat an known toxin like chocolate, antifreeze, rat poison or lillies (in cats)
  • If your pet has eaten your prescription medication

Emergencies take precedence over regular appointments, and we will stop whatever we are doing to assist your pet.

Emergency Preparedness

You should have a first aid kit available at all times.

Have the Animal Poison Control phone number available also.

For a list of common poisons follow this link on our web site.

Emergency Assessment

When you first arrive with an emergency your pet will be taken into the treatment area for a rapid assessment of your pets cardiovascular status and other important physiologic parameters. During that time one of our staff will be talking to you regarding the history of the emergency.

Any immediate problems like low body temperature, seizures, or bleeding, will be assessed and treated immediately, along with treatment for shock with IV fluids and placement in our oxygen cage.

After this rapid assessment our doctor will talk to you regarding your pet’s status. At that time he/she will talk about treatment or any needed diagnostic tests.

The most common immediate tests we perform for emergencies are:

Blood Glucose

On many emergencies we need to determine the blood glucose (sugar) level, especially in young animals, diabetic animals, those with liver disease, those that have ingested certain toxins, and those that are on specific drugs.

A pet with a low blood glucose can display some of the following symptoms:

  • Weakness
  • Acting like they are drunk or in-coordinated
  • Wandering aimlessly
  • Gazing into space

A high blood glucose can also be a problem in pets with diabetes mellitus (sugar diabetes). If not properly regulated with insulin the the glucose in the bloodstream cannot be utilized, and the utilizes a different energy source. This leads to ketones in the bloodstream, causing a serious change in the pH of the blood and organ dysfunction.

We check the blood glucose rapidly with a special glucose meter that gives us an answer in under a minute. The number of 78 on this test might be normal, it all depends on the species we are checking and the disease process suspected. For a humanoid this would be considered very high. This shows you cannot always extrapolate animal health to human health.

Our routine blood panel sent to the lab also checks the blood glucose, but turn around time is not fast enough it an emergency.

Pulse Oximeter

This is an important test for pets that have heart disease, lung disease or are having any type of breathing difficulty. It is always a good idea to keep track of your pet’s respiratory rate while at res to give an early warning of a breathing problem before it becomes an emergency.

The Pulse Oximeter measures the oxygen saturation of the hemoglobin in the red blood cells. It is quick and painless, and gives us valuable information

We like to see animals have a number in the 90’s, although this varies by species. In the video on the right this pet is 92 %. If the number is low we will administer 100% oxygen until we determine the cause and correct that problem.

Blood Pressure

In many emergency cases where we are concerned that a pet is in shock from trauma we will check the blood pressure. In cases of shock we are checking to make sure the blood pressure is not low.

It is used differently than in people regarding heart disease, and the number blood pressure number in animals is usually much higher than a person. The systolic pressure is the most important one in a dog or a cat with a blood pressure problem.

The final number of 168 on this cat is slightly high, and it needs to be confirmed with more readings. To learn more about high blood pressure follow this link to our hypertension page.

Blood Analysis Machine

We use state-of-the-art Idexx in-house analyzers that need only a small amount of blood to give us immediate and detailed information on your pet’s internal status.

These blood tests can also be run on routine samples for healthy or ill pets. They give us results within a few minutes, which is important when there is an emergency.

We use the Idexx ProCyte Dx Hematology Analyzer for our in-hospital CBC’s (complete Blood Cell Counts). This allows us to assess the red blood cells and white blood cells. With this test we can determine if your pet is anemic and if your pet is fighting a viral or bacterial infection.

We use the Idexx Catalyst One analyzer to check your pets internal organs, the protein levels, and electrolytes, crucial information in an emergency. Up to 30 tests can be performed as determined by our doctors. This is called a BCP (Biochem Panel). This analyzer is important when we suspect a problem with the liver, and kidneys, along with checking for diabetes mellitus, sodium and potassium levels, and the status of your pet’s immune system.

Digital Radiology

Radiology is very important in an emergency, especially in a pet that is having a breathing problem or we suspect an internal organ or bleeding problem. Our patients don’t talk to us, and by taking an X-Ray we can learn important problems that do not show up during a physical exam.

Since our radiographs are digital, within a few minutes we can have an assessment of some of the internal organs of your pet. In the case of trauma we are concerned with broken bones, damage to the chest, and damage to the internal organs.

The details we see with the advent of digital radiography allows us to assess the internal organs to a much greater detail than in the recent past. This detail is found in animals as small as little birds like Budgies and dogs as large as Great Danes.

Follow this Digital Radiography  link to learn much more about radiographs, and to learn how we use them to make a diagnosis.

Student Learning Radiology

Emergency Treatment

One of the first things we do is warm up pets that are hypothermic with warm towels, warm air blankets, and IV fluids.

Some of the more common hypothermia causes are:

  • Elderly pets that cannot thermoregulate properly
  • Puppies and kittens that do not have the ability to regulate their body temperature yet
  • Dogs and cats that are dehydrated
  • Pets that are in the acute phase of a urinary problem like kidney disease
  • Male cats that cannot urinate due to F.L.U.T.D.

Once a pet is stabilized we can address other problems. These problems include lacerations, broken bones, burns, poisoning, bleeding and internal organ damage.

Lacerations and bite wounds are common, and if treated immediately they usually heal well. Bleeding is a priority, and if it is a small patient like a bird with a tiny amount of blood, we address that issue immediately. Poisons are treated initially by inducing vomiting when it is appropriate for that specific poison and only if your pet is conscious. Internal organ damage like a ruptured and bleeding spleen is remedied surgically. Seizuring pets are given anti-seizure medication. Those with low blood glucose are given intravenous (IV) dextrose.

This rabbit is getting a splint put on its front leg due to a fracture. This type of injury is painful, and the splint will decrease the pain in addition to starting the healing process. Click here to learn more.

Sometimes we need to go right into surgery to correct a major problem.  Some of these problems might include:

  • A broken bone that is sticking out through the skin
  • A female with an infected uterus (called a pyometra) that might rupture
  • A foreign body in the stomach that needs removal before it passes into the intestines
  • A urinary bladder in a blocked cat that has ruptured due to inability to urinate
  • A large growth like a mammary tumor that is ulcerated and bleeding continuously
  • A C-Section on a pregnant female that cannot deliver them

 

In addition to warming up a hypothermic pet, IV (intravenous fluids) are important to treat for dehydration, shock and help support important internal organs. This is one of the most important treatment modalities in an emergency.

We use a special IV pump to give precise amounts of fluid, ranging from shock doses given immediately to maintenance doses given over several days.

These fluids contain sodium and potassium to correct imbalances in electrolytes. We can add dextrose (glucose) to pets that have hypoglycemia (low blood glucose), and calcium to pets that are hypocalcemic (low blood calcium).

You can learn much more about fluids by clicking here.

We can also hospitalize your pet if needed and have a technician that lives in our building treat your pet through the night. In addition to these examples we can provide a wide array of other medical and surgical services.

LEARNING CENTER

Access our library on general information on the health of pets.

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