How To Help Your Pets In An Emergency

How To Help Your Pets In An Emergency
VERG’s Dr. Brett Levitzke with Max, a pit-bull-pointer-shepherd mix who lost his owner during Hurricane Sandy.
VERG’s Dr. Brett Levitzke with Max, a pit-bull-pointer-shepherd mix who lost his owner during Hurricane Sandy.

Without a doubt, when your pet gets hurt or sick, it’s a scary, stressful, and emotional experience. As pet owners, we can’t predict when this will happen, but we can be sure it will happen. And that’s why Dr. Brett Levitzke, medical director at Veterinary Emergency Referral Group (VERG), says being prepared is the best way to deal with an emergency.

“Keeping copies of pertinent medical records can be helpful if an emergency happens after hours,” says Levitzke. “Know your veterinarian’s hours of operation, as well as your local emergency clinic’s location and phone number. Calling ahead to your veterinarian or the emergency clinic is also a good idea, so they will be prepared for you.”

VERG North, located at 318 Warren Street in Cobble Hill (718-522-9400), has emergency veterinarians on site 24/7 with no referral or appointments necessary. Levitzke says they see a tremendous number of different emergencies. The most common emergencies include: trauma (hit by car), toxicities (chocolate, human medications), gastroenteritis, foreign body ingestion and surgical or endoscopic removal, and metabolic diseases (liver, kidney). VERG South is located in Marine Park at 2220 Flatbush Avenue (718-677-6700).

Other nearby after-hour or weekend options include:

Blue Pearl Veterinary Hospital, at Pacific Street and 4th Avenue, offering 24/7 emergency care. Call 718-596-0099.

Animal Kind Veterinary Hospital, on 7th Avenue between 10th and 11th Streets. Open for emergencies until 10pm seven days a week. Call 718-832-3899.

If you need help getting to the hospital, Eastern Car Service, Arecibo, and Continental are all pet-friendly. Or, AmbuVet Pet Ambulance specializes in the transport of sick or injured animals, but costs can get expensive. Regular transport, or a curbside pick-up where a pet is caged or leashed, during the hours of 9am to 8pm, is listed as $95 on their website.

It’s also important to try to keep yourself from freaking out.

“When pets are sick or injured, they will feed off of their owner’s emotional state,” says Levitzke. “Because of this, it is important to stay calm — speak softly and reassuringly to your pet. Yelling, crying, or other distressing behaviors will definitely have a negative effect on your pet’s state.”

So, what if your pup decided to taste test the leftover Halloween candy you mistakenly left out?

“Hydrogen peroxide will come in handy if your dog ingests a toxin, and animal poison control suggests inducing vomiting,” says Levitzke.

Other helpful items to keep at home include gauze or cotton balls to gently clean superficial scrapes and abrasions.

If you think your pet could have ingested a poisonous substance, such as your leftover Halloween candy, call ASPCA’s Animal Poison Hotline at 888-426-4435.

Keep it stored in your phone for emergencies! Do note that there could be a $65 consultation fee.

“I cannot stress enough that knowledge is power,” says Levitzke. “Being informed is the best way to deal with an emergency.”

And if you’re worried about emergency care costs or you want to check in with your regular vet, ask the emergency vet whether or not treatment can wait in less serious cases.

For more tips for pets (and their owners) in the neighborhood, check out Park Slope for Pets.

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