Veterinary Emergency Triage and What is an Emergency

If You Think You Are Having an Emergency, Bring Your Pet In

If you feel your pet is having a veterinary medical emergency, please bring your pet to our 24/7 emergency hospital. Your pet should be brought in immediately if they are experiencing major bleeding, breathing problems, seizures, are unresponsive or limp, had severe trauma (dropped, kicked, crushed, or run over), or collapse.

Other situations needing immediate attention include blood in the urine or straining of male cat or dog, a bloated abdomen, a snake bite, fluid in the lungs or around the heart, and unproductive retching.

Emergency situations involving your pet can be a very stressful time for both you and your pet. We apologize if you have to wait. This information should help you understand what is happening and how we handle emergency situations.

Levels of Urgency

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More Emergencies That Warrant a Visit

Pets experiencing any of these emergencies should be brought in for urgent care and stabilization.

These include:

  • Trouble during active labor

  • Cluster seizures- 3 or more seizures in a 24-hour period

  • Diarrhea paired with appetite loss and vomiting

  • Toxin Ingestion

  • Diabetic not doing well/lethargic

  • Open fracture - can see the bone

  • Euthanasia

  • Acutely Non-Ambulatory

What Triage is in Emergency and How it Helps

Here at MASH, we use a triage system to quickly determine which pets need immediate attention, especially when times are busy. This system is color-coded to easily show what is prioritized. Lower urgency may mean wait times to be seen will be longer. We may ask questions about your pets symptoms and injuries or illness to determine the level of urgency.

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Immediate stabilization is required for best chance of survival/Urgent care is needed to stabilize patient.
Patient is currently stable but serious nature requires further evaluation.
Urgent but does not require immediate attention. Wait times may be extended.
Injury or illness is not life threatening. May be accommodated by being scheduled.


If you think your pet has ingested poison or eaten something toxic and you do not want to bring them to the veterinary emergency hospital, contact a pet poison hotline. If this is the case, call (888) 426-4435. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center has good resources for any animal poison-related emergencies.

Evaluation and Visiting the Hospital

We know everything can feel like an emergency when our pets are in distress or pain. It is important to keep in mind that we want the best for your pet too. We will need to examine your pet to determine the level of urgency so we can provide the best care that they need.

Wait times for non-critical patients may vary. This is why we ask for patience as we care and triage your furry friends. Wait times are usually increased by cases that would benefit more from being seen by a primary veterinarian rather than the emergency room. There is also currently an industry-wide veterinary technician shortage.

If you give us a call on your way, please tell us what happened so we can prepare to care for your pet when you arrive. If you do not want to visit a veterinarian, you can contact us by phone to receive advice on how to handle an at-home emergency. We are unable to prescribe medications over the phone and may not give the proper information for the situation without an in-person exam.

We are here to support and care for you and your pet in any way we can. If you have any questions or are experiencing an emergency, please contact us.

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