A cat and owner looking at a phone

There are many symptoms a pet can display when they are experiencing a serious or emergency situation. Sometimes an underlying illness or condition can mask something acute and critical, like pet poisoning. The likelihood of knowing every sign of all of the ways a health crisis can come into play is low to none. That is why having a plan to seek help promptly is the way to go whenever you are in doubt.

Both an allergic reaction and pet poisoning are emergency situations that require immediate care by your veterinarian or emergency hospital. But how can you know what’s occurring?

We’re here to help differentiate the two and tell you how to proceed.

Signs of a Severe Allergic Reaction in Pets

An allergic reaction is caused by a foreign body, such as dust or mold, and causes reaction by the immune system. In most cases, the reaction is mild or moderate and can be treated with rest, an antihistamine, steroids, and other supports. These allergens can trigger symptoms, such as scratching, sneezing, shaking head, biting at paws, etc.

There are some allergens, though, that can prompt a more serious reaction, and these include:

These reactions can lead to anaphylactic shock, which is when there is swelling in the lungs and air passages. Signs of a critical allergic reaction include:

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Shallow breathing
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Swelling of the face
  • Weak pulse
  • Collapse

Your pet must receive prompt treatment if they are experiencing an allergic reaction. Go to the nearest animal emergency hospital when your pet is experiencing these symptoms, or you know that they may react to a bee sting or other allergen. 

Pet Poisoning

When your pet gets into something they shouldn’t have, pet toxicity or poisoning can occur. It’s no surprise that thousands of pets go to the emergency clinic each year due to poisoning. Toxics can include everything from medication to household cleaner, antifreeze to food, poisonous plants to numerous other things. And, of course, symptoms can sometimes present very differently depending on the toxin.

These common signs of pet poisoning:

  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Restlessness
  • Drooling
  • Twitching
  • Lethargy
  • Low or rapid pulse
  • Seizure
  • Collapse

There is some overlap in the signs of poisoning versus an allergic reaction, so this is why the two can be confused.

The bottom line: if your pet shows these signs, or they have ingested something they should not have, like chocolate or medication, get help.

If we can answer any questions about allergic reactions, pet poisonings, or anything else, please contact the Brodie Animal Hospital team.