It can be difficult to tell if your pet has an emergency. Many pet emergencies are readily apparent, such as paralysis, collapse and bleeding. However, other life-threatening emergencies can start with minor symptoms. This article discusses some of the most commonly seen after hour pet hospital emergencies, and it offers tips to pet owners on how to handle situations as they arise.

Breathing issues: Perhaps the most important of all the emergencies on this list, breathing troubles can turn fatal quickly. If your pet is having breathing difficulties, puffing his or her lips, or making excessive noise with each breath, take them to the vet right away.

Restlessness or inability to vomit: These are symptoms of bloat, or gastric dilatation. Bloat is a very dangerous situation for dogs, and some pets may not exhibit every symptom. Because of the danger involved, any pet suspected of having bloat should get immediate veterinary care.

Seizures: Although a single seizure isn't likely to be fatal, seizures typically don't come as isolated incidents. If your pet suddenly has a seizure, take them to the vet to ensure they haven't ingested poison.

Weakness or collapse: These are often a sign of major issues such as hemoabdomen (internal bleeding), cardiac arrest, poisoning or anaphylactic shock. Any of these problems should be dealt with by a veterinarian immediately.

Major trauma: Profuse bleeding, car impacts or dog fights can result in severe injuries, although a pet may seem unharmed at first. Call a vet right away for emergency treatment.

Prolonged vomiting or diarrhea: Pets who vomit or have diarrhea one time may not need treatment beyond rest and bland food, but prolonged vomiting and/or diarrhea are medical emergencies. These situations can lead to dehydration, and they can signal issues like gastrointestinal blockage.

Failure to eat and drink: Some dogs never leave a scrap of food behind, while others are known to skip meals. If your dog or cat suddenly seems reluctant to eat or drink, take them in for an evaluation to prevent dehydration and other issues.

Exposure to known toxins: Although there are numerous poisons, some of the most common are rat baits, chocolate, human medicines and grapes. Any ingestion of poison requires immediate emergency treatment at an animal hospital.

The situations above are some of the most common experienced by pet owners, but the list is not comprehensive. If a pet owner can't determine whether an animal needs emergency care, it's safest to take them to an animal emergency clinic with