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Veterinary emergencies can happen to our pets at any time. You might find it difficult to decide whether your cat or dog needs emergency care. Our veterinarians explain which situations require emergency care, what steps to take, and how to find emergency care for cats and dogs in Halifax and Dartmouth.

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How do I know if my pet needs emergency care? 

Sometimes, our pets can become injured or get themselves into dangerous situations in the blink of an eye. It's wise to be prepared for the moment your cat or dog may need emergency care

You may not always immediately know that your pet needs emergency care from a veterinarian, so you'll need to be aware of some signs and symptoms that can tell you when you need to take your four-legged companion to a veterinary hospital. If you're in doubt, contact Coastal Care Veterinary Emergency & Referral Hospital for help and guidance. 

Signs of a Veterinary Emergency 

If your cat or dog is experiencing a medical emergency, you may see them display these symptoms:

  • Bloated, swollen, or painful abdomen
  • Difficulty breathing, extreme coughing or choking
  • Dilated pupils
  • Inability to urinate or defecate
  • Inflammation or injury to the eye
  • Ingestion of poisonous foods, plants, bones, or substances
  • Lameness or inability to walk 
  • Loss of balance
  • Obvious pain
  • Seizures
  • Severe injury (falls, car accidents, broken bones, open wounds)
  • Sudden blindness, staggering or stumbling
  • Unable to deliver puppies or kittens
  • Uncontrolled bleeding
  • Vomiting or blood in diarrhea 

Providing Basic First Aid to Cats & Dogs

Remember: Giving your cat or dog first aid does not mean they won't need veterinary care. First aid simply helps you stabilize your pet to prepare them for transport to a veterinary emergency hospital. 


After you've muzzled your pet, place a clean gauze pad over the injury and apply pressure with your hand until the blood starts to clot (this will likely take several minutes). Severe leg bleeding requires a tourniquet of gauze and an elastic band to secure it. If you are bringing your cat or dog to Coastal Care Veterinary Emergency & Referral Hospital, call ahead if you can so our staff can provide instructions. 

Broken Bones

Place a muzzle on your cat or dog's face, then lay them on a flat surface that can be used as a stretcher to transport them to the veterinary hospital. If possible, secure them to the stretcher while avoiding touching the injured area.


Cats and dogs sometimes bite when they are panicking, so be cautious while looking for objects in their mouth. If you do find an object, remove it if possible, while being careful not accidentally to push the object further into the throat. Don't waste time on this if it's difficult, as you may lose precious minutes. Bring your pet to Coastal Care Veterinary Emergency & Referral Hospital immediately. 


If any objects near your pet may cause injury, remove your cat or dog from the area. After the seizure is over, keep your companion warm and call our veterinary hospital

Being Prepared

What You Should Know in Advance

Our veterinarians recommend preparing and having these on hand in case of a veterinary emergency:

  • The phone number for your veterinarian's office and local animal hospital that provides 24/7 emergency care. This is our phone number: (902) 703-2323
  • Directions to emergency veterinary clinics or ERs. You can find a map with directions to our emergency animal hospital on our contact page
  • The phone number for your local Animal Poison Control Center
  • Training in basic CPR for cats and dogs
  • Knowledge of how to stop bleeding
  • Knowledge of how to muzzle your pet

Financial Considerations

Emergency veterinary care can be costly due to the amount of diagnostic testing, monitoring, and treatment that's required. As a pet owner, you are responsible for making sure you can financially care for your companion during a medical crisis. 

You may want to consider setting aside funds for emergencies, or looking into pet insurance plans. Delaying care to avoid emergency fees may leave your pet's life at risk, so it's important to plan for unforeseeable events from the first day you welcome your dog or cat into your home. 

Emergency Veterinary Care for Pets in Halifax & Dartmouth

Our emergency team at Coastal Care Veterinary Emergency & Referral Hospital provides vital medical attention and emergency care for cats, dogs, and exotic pets from Halifax, Dartmouth, HRM, and across Atlantic Canada 24/7, 365 days a year. We are equipped with specialized diagnostics and a complete range of surgical services and can offer hospitalization when required. 

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Do you suspect your pet may be experiencing a veterinary emergency? Contact us as soon as possible. We are dedicated to the health and well-being of cats and dogs in Halifax and Dartmouth.

Does my pet need emergency care?

Caring for Pets in Atlantic Canada

Our specialists are pleased to accept new patients by referral from primary care veterinarians. Our emergency service welcomes all clients – 24/7/365. 

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