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Pet Urgent/Emergency Medical Care

If your dog, cat, or pocket pet is experiencing any of the following medical problems please call Big Creek Pet Hospital immediately for help (440) 234-5831 (after hours (216) 362-6000). These items could be a sign of a life-threatening problem, which can only be diagnosed and treated by a veterinarian.

While this list covers most problems you and your pet may face in the Cleveland, OH area, it doesn’t cover everything. Seek immediate veterinary medical care if you would go or take a family member to an Urgent Care or Emergency Room for the same problem. Call us, (440) 234-5831 for help during our business hours.


After business hours please call the Westside Animal Emergency Clinic, (216) 362-6000.


Fagin Getting Wheeled InTips for handling an injured pet

Be Careful, your otherwise gentle pet when injured, may attempt to bite or scratch you.

Click here for the AVMA’s Basic Tips for Handling an Injured Pet


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Severe Bleeding

If your pet is bleeding from a serious wound, or if the bleeding doesn’t stop within 5 minutes your pet should be seen immediately. Apply direct pressure over the bleeding location and/or wrap the site. If possible, elevate the wound site.

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Breathing Problem

If your pet is choking, breathing erratically, coughing, or having noisy/loud breathing they should be seen immediately. Other signs may include pale or blue gums. If you think your pet swallowed something which is blocking the airway lay your pet on their side and carefully open their mouth. Pull their tongue forward and use your finger to dislodge an object in the mouth.

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Allergic Reaction

If your pet is having problems breathing or their face or neck is swollen, they may be suffering from an allergic reaction to something they ate, bee sting, or insect bite, call us immediately.

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Bleeding from Nose, Mouth, Rectum, or Blood in Urine/Bowel Movement

If your pet is coughing blood from the mouth, bleeding from the nose or rectum, or if you, see blood in their urine or bowel movement, they should be seen immediately.

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Difficulty Urinating or Defecating

If your pet is straining or unable to urinate or defecate they should be seen immediately. Male cats are especially vulnerable to being unable to urinate (blocked), which is a life-threatening condition.

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Eye Injury

Any time your pet’s eye is scratched or injured they should be seen immediately. They should also be seen as quickly as possible, if they are red, cloudy, have a discharge, and your pet is squinting.

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Your pet can be poisoned if they eat, breath, or absorb topically a toxic substance. If possible, let us know what you think may have poisoned your pet and when. We can advise you whether to induce vomiting or wash the potential poison off your pet. We will also advise you whether you should call the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center ((888) 426-4435) prior to coming in to the hospital.

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Seizure, Stroke, and/or Staggering

If your pet is having a seizure, they will be twitching and lose body control, possibly falling down. They may be staring “into space” with no focus. Your pet may be staggering as if they were drunk. Do not put your hand near your pet’s mouth if they are having a seizure, as they may bite you. Nor should you try to restrain your pet. Signs your pet may have had a stroke if they are walking in circles, turning the wrong way when called, head tilt to one side, extremely tired, and/or loss of bladder control. Senior Pets are more likely to have a stroke than adult or younger pets, especially if they have (or had) any of these health problems: head injury, thyroid disease, heart disease, Cushing Disease, kidney disease among others.

Call us immediately if think your pet had a stroke or it is your pet’s first seizure, has multiple seizures, or if the seizure lasts 4 minute or longer.

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Severe Lameness, Inability to Move Leg(s), Possible Broken Bones

If your pet has fallen or has undergone extreme trauma, like being hit by a car call us immediately. Also if your pet is unable to use one or more of their legs or is extremely lame call us..

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Extreme Pain and/or Anxiety

If your pet is in extreme pain or extremely anxious these are signs your pet needs to be seen immediately. Be careful as a pet in extreme pain may attempt to bite or scratch you if you touch them. Call us for advice or click here for the AVMA’s Basic Tips for Handling an Injured Pet

For less obvious signs your pet is in pain click on the appropriate page below:

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Heat Stress or Heatstroke

Your pet can get overheated much easier than us. Your pet may collapse, be panting incessantly, have increase heart rate; body temperatures of 104º F or higher are also a sign of heatstroke. First, get your pet out of the direct heat. Spray your pet with cool (not ice cold) water for 1-2 minutes and then use cool water-soaked towels on their head, neck, feet, and body. Do not immerse your pet in ice cold water. Your pet should be seen immediately by a veterinarian.


When the wind is blowing during our cold Cleveland winters your pet is susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite. Signs of Hypothermia include body temp below 98.5° F, decreased heart rate/weak pulse, and/or extreme shivering. Frostbite sings include: pale or even blue-black skin at affected site, initially lack of pain at the affected site, becoming extremely painful as your pet warms up. Get your pet out of the cold and use warm towels or water bottles (not hot) to warm your pet. Cover and call us to let us know you are coming.

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Vomiting or Diarrhea

More than 2 episodes in a 24-hour period, or either of these combined with obvious illness or any of the other problems listed here. Puppies, Kittens, and Senior Pets are more susceptible to problems. If possible, please bring a stool sample, or at a minimum take color photographs of the vomit and/or diarrhea.

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Refusal to drink for more than 24 hours

Pets that refuse to drink for more than 24 hours should be seen immediately. To check to see if your pet is dehydrated. Pull the skin between the shoulder bones straight up. If the skin remains up or “tented” your pet is dehydrated. Refusing to drink water can also be a sign of other serious problems. Call us immediately.

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If you think your pet is unconscious, and not a very sound sleeper, get veterinary care immediately.


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Bloated or Distended Abdomen

Larger dogs are susceptible to Gastric Dilation Volvulus Syndrome (GDV), also know as Bloat. If your pet has a swollen abdomen or is bloated, call us immediately. (Bloat happens when a dog’s stomach fills with gas, food, or fluids, making it expand. The stomach puts pressure on other organs. It can cause dangerous problems, including:

  • No blood flow to his heart and stomach lining
  • A tear in the wall of his stomach
  • A harder time breathing

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