What should you do if your pet gets sick during the lockdown?

Maggie Adan
What should you do if your pet gets sick during the lockdown?
We asked a local vet for some expert tips

Nobody wants their beloved pet to get sick, especially now, when entire cities are on lockdown. But in case they do, you should know what to do.

Tabby Dans, DVM, of the Pet Health Hub Animal Clinic, says that if your pet should fall ill while we’re on “enhanced community quarantine,” the first thing you need to do is to assess the severity of the illness.

“I think pet owners can generally assess if a condition is urgent or if it can be observed for a while before seeking medical care. It helps to put yourself in your pet’s shoes: If you showed the same signs, would you go to the doctor or would you wait a bit and see how your symptoms progress?” she said. 

Dans understands though that it can be a little tricky because it’s very subjective. So to help you differentiate between when you need to observe your pet’s condition in the meantime and when you need to bring them to the vet, she’s come up with a list of examples that might help.

Please note that this is not a comprehensive list, and if you do feel you need to bring your pet to the vet, please use your own discretion. “It’s important to remember that an accurate assessment can only be done if the vet can actually assess the pet [in person],” reminds Dans.

Here’s when it’s probably okay to wait a bit and observe your pet before seeking medical advice:

  • Your pet has diarrhea (sudden onset; not more than two days) but has a good appetite, and is still active with no observed vomiting. If there is a bit of blood, you can still observe as long as previous criteria are also present. Cases like these usually have self-limiting diarrhea.
  • Your pet is limping on a limb but still relatively alert, not too lethargic, and still eating satisfactorily. If it’s just a temporary condition like muscle pain, you’ll probably see some improvement within the first 24 hours. 
  • Dermatologic conditions are usually not an emergency.
  • Your pet is not eating or has decreased appetite but is still active; no diarrhea or vomiting. If this is the case, you can probably observe for a day before seeking medical advice.
  • Your pet is vomiting, but it’s infrequent or happened a few times only, and they remain active and alert. In this case, they may not eat for a few hours but will probably eat again within the day.

Dans says, “The general rule is, if your pet is eating satisfactorily, is active, and generally responsive, it’s unlikely to be an emergency and you can probably observe them closely for a day before deciding to bring them to the vet.”

Here are some instances when you should go see or talk to a vet:

  • Your pet vomits repeatedly in a day, and is lethargic, not eating or has no appetite, and/or has diarrhea.
  • Your pet is not urinating or has had difficulty urinating for more than 24 hours. If your pet has not peed at all in 24 hours, it qualifies as an emergency.
  • You pet is not eating or has eaten very little for more than a day.
  • Your pet is recumbent, weak, and/or unresponsive.
  • Your pet has difficulty breathing, is gasping for breath/open-mouth breathing.
  • Your pet has ingested known toxins. If you’re unsure if something is toxic, the ASPCA poison control website may be able to give you the information you need.
  • Your pet’s movements are uncoordinated and/or they have wobbly gait or don’t appear to have very good motor control, with or without decrease in consciousness.
  • Your pet collapses.
  • Your pet has a sudden spike in body temperature accompanied by change in behavior (agitated, restless et al.) especially if they were apparently okay right before this happens.
  • Your pet’s bleeding doesn’t stop, especially if accompanied by other signs like weakness and/or inappetence.
  • Your pet has diarrhea accompanied by repeated vomiting and/or with blood in stool.

“If you’re unsure or aren’t confident you can do an assessment on the severity of your pet’s condition, call your vet and discuss whether or not it’s time to look for a vet clinic that can accommodate you and your pet. FYI, most of the clinics that are still operational right now are strictly by-appointment only and have a one-pet-one-companion policy,” says Dans.

Some clinics do offer telemedicine at this time. “I saw a Facebook page dedicated to online consults for pets while we’re on lockdown called Pet First Aid. Teleconsults may not be ideal but some consults can be done online in the meantime,” Dans notes.

“I’ve been doing this from home, and I just email clients their prescriptions and hope that the teleconsult will be enough to address their pets’ needs. If not, then they have to look for clinics that are still currently open,” she adds.

Here’s a list of clinics that have remained open during the lockdown, albeit under modified hours. – Rappler.com


Maggie Adan is a storyteller at heart. She is a freelance editor, writer, and content creator.

When she’s not stringing words together, she’s practicing yoga, doing crafts, puttering around in the kitchen, or providing free petting services to neighborhood dogs.

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