A General Guideline of Going to the Vet

Dog and Cat at Vet Hospital

In some cases it is obvious that your pet needs emergency care. They may have been hit by a car, or they may be struggling to breathe. Unfortunately, in most cases, it is not so obvious. Your pet cannot speak to you and let you know when they are feeling awful or when they are only feeling a little bit under the weather. As such, this makes it challenging for you to determine when they need emergency care at an after hours ER, or when they can wait the next day to be seen by their normal vet. Here are a few common symptoms that your pet may experience if they are sick or not feeling well and the way you can tell whether they need to go to a normal vet or an after hours ER.


Just like humans vomit when we do not feel well, dogs and cats do as well. As a general rule of thumb, a pet vomiting should not be a reason to bring your pet to an after hours ER. However, there are exceptions to every rule. If you know or suspect that your pet may have eaten something poisonous to them, such as chocolate for a dog and certain plants for a cat, you should take your pet immediately to an emergency room. If they have been vomiting excessively and cannot hold water down, you should also take them to an emergency vet. Lastly, if they have a bloated or distended belly, and are unable to urinate and are vomiting, they need emergency care.


Diarrhea is much the same as vomiting. Typically, it is not a reason to head out to an emergency vet. However, if you suspect your cat or dog has eaten something poisonous or harmful to them, you should visit an emergency vet. If your pet is lethargic or overly weak while experiencing diarrhea, they should also be brought in. Lastly, if you notice anything suspicious or unusual in the stool, you should bring your pet in. In some cases, people notice chewed up toys or household items. These items can get stuck in the digestive tract and could be causing the diarrhea.


It can be challenging to determine when your pet is in pain. As a general rule of thumb, both dogs and cats do a great job at hiding pain and discomfort. As such, if your pet is howling or showing obvious signs of distress, such as heavy breathing or panting, crying or whimpering, they are in a decent amount of pain. You should bring them to an emergency vet to determine why they are in pain and how they can be treated. If you suspect your pet is in pain, such as not wanting to do much, or walking gingerly to avoid the use of one paw, they can often wait until the morning to see their regular vet.

Not Alert or Sleepy

When pets are feeling under the weather, they may want to sleep, much in the same way that we as people do. This is not anything to be concerned about if it occurs for just a day or two. However, if your pet is lethargic, not moving or not alert or aware, you will want to take them to an emergency vet. An emergency vet will then be tasked with diagnosing your pet and determining why he or she may be lethargic.

Not Eating or Drinking

The final reason you may be unsure of whether your pet needs emergency care or whether they can wait to see their own vet is because they are not eating or drinking. In most cases, if a pet is not eating, they can wait until the next morning to see their vet. They may have an upset stomach or be full. However, if a pet is not drinking, you may need to be a bit more concerned. If your pet has sunken eyes, lethargy, a dry nose, or pale, dry gums, they may be dehydrated. If your pet is not drinking and you notice any of these signs, your pet likely needs emergency care and should not wait until the morning to see your regular vet.

Trying to determine whether your pet can wait to go to their normal vet or whether they need to go to an after hours ER can be a tough decision. When in doubt, consider calling an emergency vet and asking for their expert opinion. Here at Barking Life Pet Concierge, we understand how important your pet is to you. That is why we are committed to helping you with your pet needs. If you have a pet who is not feeling well and you need a ride to the vet, we can help. We also other services, such as pet walking, overnight care, pet visits and supply drop off. Contact us today to inquire about any of the services that we have to offer.