10 Tips to Avoid Expensive Emergency Veterinary Visits

It never fails. Your pets and children get sick or injured at night or on the weekend when veterinary and doctor offices are closed. The trip to the emergency room is going to cost three to four times a normal visit. We'd all love to avoid the trauma and expense of the ER. Follow these tips for your pets to save time and money.

  1. Don't wait until Friday afternoon to call for an appointment if your pet is limping, not eating, or has had an upset stomach with vomiting or diarrhea during the week. Getting the problem handled early is much better than waiting for it to get better (or much worse) on its own.
  2. Pet-proof your home. Pets are just toddlers in fur. They are inquisitive and check out most things they find by tasting or chewing them. Make sure all medications and cleaning supplies are securely put away out of reach. Breakable decorative items should be displayed high enough that they won't be accidentally knocked to the floor resulting in cut paw pads or lips, gums, and tongues. Store medications in secure cabinets. Tuck electric cords out of reach. Foods, gum, and candy that contain xylitol are lethal to pets. 
  3. Don't smoke, use perfumed candles, or scented cleaning products around pets. Cats are prone to asthma which can be activated by all these things. Dogs have a sense of smell hundreds of times more sensitive than humans. Scents can be irritating which can cause sinus infections.
  4. Avoid oil diffusers, particularly around cats. Cats are very sensitive to many oils; they can develop liver failure resulting in death. By the time you know they are ill it's generally too late to treat. If you have pets, use only oils labeled as safe for pets.
  5. If your pet has increased thirst and urination, call for an appointment early in the week. This can be a sign of kidney or liver disease, as well as an early warning sign of cancer.
  6. Do not keep houseplants that might be toxic if eaten by pets. Lilies, philodendron, aloe vera, Sago palm, and dieffenbachia are a few that can harm pets.
  7. Avoid crowded dog parks. While it's fun to see your dog playing with others, consider that other dogs may not be friendly, may be carrying internal or external parasites, or diseases such as parvovirus, leptospirosis, and upper respiratory infections.
  8. Train your dog to obey simple commands. The recall command to come back to you should produce an instantaneous response. A dog chasing after cars, other animals, or people risks being hit by a car or other traffic. Don't allow your dog off-leash unless they are trained to come when called. "Leave it" or "drop it" is a command all dogs should know. If your pet is chewing on something dangerous, this command will allow you to get the object away from them. Pets that do not know this command are more likely to swallow an object that you are trying to get away from them.
  9. Make sure all trash cans in the home are hidden inside cupboards or have tightly secured lids. Foreign body removal and upset gastrointestinal tract from garbage eating can be very expensive to treat!
  10. Feed the highest quality food you can afford. Human grade ingredients are the most desirable. Avoid very hard chew toys such as antlers, as many dogs break teeth while chewing. Never feed cooked bones or high-fat foods such as bacon or drippings from roasting pans which may cause pancreatitis. Practice good dental hygiene to avoid dental infections and loose teeth.