Top 10 Cat Emergencies

Handsome Young Animal-Lover Man on a Bed, Hugging and Cuddling his Gray Domestic Cat Pet.

Cats often become reclusive and hide when they are not feeling well, which makes knowing when they need to be seen by your veterinarian a challenge. They have unique signs of emergency conditions that often go unrecognized by owners. Some injuries are obvious, such as a cat with an open wound, while others have more subtle signs that can be equally dangerous if left untreated. Knowing signs of illness is crucial in determining when to seek emergency care for your cat. Below is a list of some of the most common cat emergencies and their signs.


Urethral Obstruction

This is a condition in which a cat, usually male, is unable to urinate due to a blockage in the urethra (the tube leading from the urinary bladder to the outside environment).


Cats will show a sudden onset of restless behavior, which includes frequent trips in and out of the litter box. They will often attempt to urinate in unusual places such as in a bath tub or on a plastic bag. You may notice a very small stream of urine that contains blood. More often than not, despite a cat’s straining, there may be no urine or even just a drop produced. In later stages of the obstruction, cats may cry loudly, vomit, and become lethargic.


You should consider these signs a serious emergency and seek veterinary care immediately. There are reports of cats developing kidney failure and dying within 12 hours after the onset of signs. Expect your cat to be hospitalized at least 36 hours for treatment of this condition. Veterinary treatments may include a urinary catheter, intravenous fluids, and pain management. Female cats are less likely to become obstructed due to their wider urinary tract.


Toxicities (Poisoning)

The combination of their curious nature and unique metabolism (the way their body breaks down chemicals) makes cats vulnerable to toxins. Owners are often unaware that their home contains multiple products that are poisonous to felines. The most common cat toxins include antifreeze, Tylenol, and rat or mouse poison.


The signs your cat displays depends on the type of poison he or she has encountered. Antifreeze will often cause wobbliness or a drunken appearance first, then progresses to vomiting/weakness as the kidneys fail. Tylenol may cause an unusual swelling of the head and changes the cat’s blood color from red to chocolate brown. Rat or mouse poison interferes with blood clotting so you may see weakness from internal blood loss or visible blood in the urine or stool.


Breathing Problems

Often, cats hide the signs of breathing problems by simply decreasing their activity. By the time an owner notices changes in the cat’s breathing, it may be late in the progression of the cat’s lung disease. There are several causes of breathing changes, but the most common are feline asthma, heart disease, or lung disease.


Foreign Object Ingestion

Many cats love to play with strings or string-like objects (such as dental floss, holiday tinsel, or ribbon), but those strings can be dangerous for your cat. When a string is ingested by a cat, one end may become lodged or “fixed” in place, often under the cat’s tongue, while the rest of the string passes further into the intestine. With each intestinal contraction, the string see-saws back and forth actually cutting into the intestine and damaging the blood supply.


Signs that your cat has eaten a foreign object may include vomiting, lack of appetite, diarrhea, and weakness. Occasionally owners will actually see part of a string coming from the mouth or anal area. You should never pull on any part of the string that is visible; instead, call your veterinary health care team immediately.


Surgery is usually necessary to remove the foreign object and any damaged sections of intestine.


Bite Wounds

Cats are notorious for both inflicting and suffering bite wounds during encounters with other cats. Because the tips of their canine, or “fang,” teeth are so small and pointed, bites are often not noticed until infection sets in, which is usually several days after the initial injury.


Cats may develop a fever and become lethargic 48 to 72 hours after experiencing a penetrating bite wound. They may be tender or painful at the site. If the wound becomes infected or abscessed, swelling and foul-smelling drainage may develop.


You should seek emergency care for bite wounds so your veterinarian can thoroughly clean the area and prescribe appropriate antibiotics. Occasionally, the wounds can develop large pockets called abscesses under the skin that require surgical placement of a drain to aid in healing.


Hit By Car

Cats that spend time outdoors are at a much greater risk for ending up in the emergency room. Being hit by a car is one of the most common causes of traumatic injuries, such as broken bones, lung injuries, and head trauma. You should always seek emergency care if your cat has been hit by a vehicle, even if he or she appears normal, because many injuries can develop or worsen over the following few hours.


Increased Thirst and Urination

Sudden changes in your cat’s thirst and urine volume are important clues to underlying disease. The two most common causes of these changes are kidney disease and diabetes mellitus.


Your veterinarian will need to check blood and urine samples to determine the cause of your cat’s change in thirst and urine. Having your pet seen on an emergency basis for these signs is important because prompt treatment increases chances for recovery. Exposure to certain toxins, such as antifreeze or lilies, will show similar signs, and delaying veterinary care can be fatal.


Sudden Inability to Use the Hind Legs

Cats with some forms of heart disease are at risk for developing blood clots. These clots can sometimes lodge in a large blood vessel—the aorta—where they can prevent normal blood flow to the hind legs. If your cat experiences such a blood clotting episode (often called a saddle thrombus or thromboembolic episode), you will likely see a sudden loss of the use of his or her hind legs, painful crying, and breathing changes.


On arrival at the emergency room, your cat will receive pain management and oxygen support. Tests will be done to evaluate the cat’s heart and determine if there is any heart failure (fluid accumulation in the lungs). Sadly, such an episode is often the first clue for an owner that his or her cat has severe heart disease. In most cases, with time and support, the blood clot can resolve, but the cat’s heart disease will require lifelong treatment.


Upper Respiratory Infections

Cats and kittens can experience a variety of upper respiratory diseases caused by a combination of bacteria or viruses. An upper respiratory infections, or URI, can cause sneezing, runny nose, runny eyes, lack of appetite, and fever. In severe cases, it can cause ulcers in the mouth, on the tongue, and on the eyes. More often than not, severe cases are seen in cats that have recently been in multiple-cat environments, such as shelters. Small kittens, or kittens struggling to thrive, are also easily infected and may develop more severe complications, such as low blood sugar.


Sudden Blindness

A sudden loss of vision is most likely to occur in an older cat. The most common cause is increased blood pressure (hypertension), which may be due to changes in thyroid function (hyperthyroidism) or kidney disease. There are some cats that appear to have hypertension with no other underlying disease.


Sudden blindness should be treated as an emergency and your veterinarian will measure your cat’s blood pressure, check blood tests, and start medications to lower the pressure and restore vision.


If you notice a change in your cat’s eyes, whether he or she loses vision or not, you should consider this an emergency have your pet seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible.



Disclaimer: This website is not intended to replace professional consultation, diagnosis, or treatment by a licensed veterinarian. If you require any veterinary-related advice, contact your veterinarian promptly. Information at is exclusively of a general reference nature. Do not disregard veterinary advice or delay treatment as a result of accessing information at this site.




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Easter Pet Poisons


The veterinarians at Pet Poison Helpline receive hundreds of calls this time of year from pet owners and veterinarians concerning cats that have ingested Easter lilies.

“Unbeknownst to many pet owners, Easter lilies are highly toxic to cats,” said Ahna Brutlag, DVM, MS assistant director at Pet Poison Helpline. “All parts of the Easter lily plant are poisonous – the petals, the leaves, the stem and even the pollen. Cats that ingest as few as one or two leaves, or even a small amount of pollen while grooming their fur, can suffer severe kidney failure.”

In most situations, symptoms of poisoning will develop within six to 12 hours of exposure. Early signs include vomiting, loss of appetite, lethargy and dehydration. Symptoms worsen as kidney failure develops. Some cats will experience disorientation, staggering and seizures.

“There is no effective antidote to counteract lily poisoning, so the sooner you can get your cat to the veterinarian, the better his chances of survival will be,” said Brutlag. “If you see your cat licking or eating any part of an Easter lily, call your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline immediately. If left untreated, his chances of survival are low.”

Treatment includes inducing vomiting, administering drugs like activated charcoal (to bind the poison in the stomach and intestines), intravenous fluid therapy to flush out the kidneys, and monitoring of kidney function through blood testing. The prognosis and the cost – both financially and physically – to the pet owner and cat, are best when treated immediately.

There are several other types of lilies that are toxic to cats as well. They are of the Lilium and Hemerocallis species and commonly referred to as Tiger lilies, Day lilies and Asiatic lilies. Popular in many gardens and yards, they can also result in severe acute kidney failure. These lilies are commonly found in florist bouquets, so it is imperative to check for poisonous flowers before bringing bouquets into the household. Other types of lilies – such as the Peace, Peruvian and Calla lilies – are usually not a problem for cats and may cause only minor drooling.

Thankfully, lily poisoning does not occur in dogs or people. However, if a large amount is ingested, it can result in mild gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting and diarrhea.

Other Dangers to Pets at Easter Time

Pet Poison Helpline also receives calls concerning pets that have ingested Easter grass and chocolate.

Usually green or yellow in color, Easter grass is the fake grass that often accompanies Easter baskets. When your cat or dog ingests something “stringy” like Easter grass, it can become anchored around the base of the tongue or stomach, rendering it unable to pass through the intestines. It can result in a linear foreign body and cause severe damage to the intestinal tract, often requiring expensive abdominal surgery.

Lastly, during the week of Easter, calls to Pet Poison Helpline concerning dogs that have been poisoned by chocolate increase by nearly 200 percent. While the occasional chocolate chip in one cookie may not be an issue, certain types of chocolate are very toxic to dogs. In general, the darker and more bitter the chocolate, the greater the danger. Baker’s chocolate and dark chocolate pose the biggest problem. The chemical toxicity is due to methylxanthines (a relative of caffeine) and results in vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, an abnormal heart rhythm, seizures, and possibly death. Other sources include chewable chocolate flavored multi-vitamins, baked goods, or chocolate-covered espresso beans. If you suspect that your dog ate chocolate, call your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline immediately.

Spring is in the air and Easter is a wonderful holiday. Remember that your pets will be curious about new items you bring into your household like Easter lilies, Easter grass and chocolate. Keep them a safe distance away from your pets’ reach and enjoy the holiday and the season.



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February is National Pet Dental Health Month

Bulldog sitting down and brushing his teeth with a blue toothbrush that has toothpaste bubbles

Dental health is a very important part of your pet’s overall health, and dental problems can cause, or be caused by, other health problems. Your pet’s teeth and gums should be checked at least once a year by your veterinarian to check for early signs of a problem and to keep your pet’s mouth healthy.

What is veterinary dentistry, and who should perform it?

Veterinary dentistry includes the cleaning, adjustment, filing, extraction, or repair of your pets’ teeth and all other aspects of oral health care. These procedures should be performed by a veterinarian or a board-certified veterinary dentist. Subject to state or provincial regulation, veterinary technicians are allowed to perform certain dental procedures under the supervision of a veterinarian.

The process begins with an oral exam of your pet’s mouth by a veterinarian. Radiographs (x-rays) may be needed to evaluate the health of the jaw and the tooth roots below the gumline. Because most dental disease occurs below the gumline, where you can’t see it, a thorough dental cleaning and evaluation are performed under anesthesia. Dental cleaning includes scaling (to remove dental plaque and tartar) and polishing, similar to the process used on your own teeth during your regular dental cleanings.

Oral health in dogs and cats

Your pet’s teeth should be checked at least once a year by your veterinarian for early signs of a problem and to keep your pet’s mouth healthy.

Have your pet’s teeth checked sooner if you observe any of the following problems:

  • bad breath
  • broken or loose teeth
  • extra teeth or retained baby teeth
  • teeth that are discolored or covered in tartar
  • abnormal chewing, drooling, or dropping food from the mouth
  • reduced appetite or refusal to eat
  • pain in or around the mouth
  • bleeding from the mouth
  • swelling in the areas surrounding the mouth

Some pets become irritable when they have dental problems, and any changes in your pet’s behavior should prompt a visit to your veterinarian. Always be careful when evaluating your pet’s mouth, because a painful animal may bite.

Causes of pet dental problems

Although cavities are less common in pets than in people, they can have many of the same dental problems that people can develop:

  • broken teeth and roots
  • periodontal disease
  • abscesses or infected teeth
  • cysts or tumors in the mouth
  • malocclusion, or misalignment of the teeth and bite
  • broken (fractured) jaw
  • palate defects (such as cleft palate)

Periodontal disease is the most common dental condition in dogs and cats – by the time your pet is 3 years old, he or she will very likely have some early evidence of periodontal disease, which will worsen as your pet grows older if effective preventive measures aren’t taken. Early detection and treatment are critical, because advanced periodontal disease can cause severe problems and pain for your pet. Periodontal disease doesn’t just affect your pet’s mouth. Other health problems found in association with periodontal disease include kidney, liver, and heart muscle changes.

It starts with plaque that hardens into tartar. Tartar above the gumline can often easily be seen and removed, but plaque and tartar below the gumline is damaging and sets the stage for infection and damage to the jawbone and the tissues that connect the tooth to the jaw bone. Periodontal disease is graded on a scale of 0 (normal) to 4 (severe).

The treatment of periodontal disease involves a thorough dental cleaning and x-rays may be needed to determine the severity of the disease. Your veterinarian or a board-certified veterinary dentist will make recommendations based on your pet’s overall health and the health of your pet’s teeth, and provide you with options to consider.

Why does dentistry require anesthesia?

When you go to the dentist, you know that what’s being done is meant to help you and keep your mouth healthy. Your dentist uses techniques to minimize pain and discomfort and can ask you how you are feeling, so you accept the procedures and do your best to keep still. Your pet does not understand the benefit of dental procedures, and he or she reacts by moving, trying to escape, or even biting.

Anesthesia makes it possible to perform the dental procedures with less stress and pain for your pet. In addition, anesthesia allows for a better cleaning because your pet is not moving around and risking injury from the dental equipment. If radiographs (x-rays) are needed, your pet needs to be very still in order to get good images, and this is unlikely without heavy sedation or anesthesia.

Although anesthesia will always have risks, it’s safer now than ever and continues to improve so that the risks are very low and are far outweighed by the benefits. Most pets can go home the same day of the procedure, although they might seem a little groggy for the rest of the day.

What can I do at home for my pet’s oral health?

Prevention of the most common oral disease in pets consists of frequent removal of the dental plaque and tartar that forms on teeth that are not kept clean. Regularly brushing your pet’s teeth is the single most effective thing you can do to keep their teeth healthy between dental cleanings, and may reduce the frequency or even eliminate the need for periodic dental cleaning by your veterinarian. Daily brushing is best, but it’s not always possible and brushing several times a week can be effective. Most dogs accept brushing, but cats can be a bit more resistant – patience and training are important.

There are many pet products marketed with claims that they improve dental health, but not all of them are effective. Talk with your veterinarian about any dental products, treats, or dental-specific diets you’re considering for your pet, or ask your veterinarian for their recommendation.



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4 Ways to Have Fun with Your Pet This Winter

Ways to Have Fun with Your Pet This Winter

Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean your pet can’t have fun! It’s important to keep your pet active and stimulated in every season so they can stay healthy. Consider Full Circle Animal Health Care’s list of five ways you can have fun with your pet and keep the winter blues away, and give us a call if you have any questions.

Take a Walk

Compared to the last two winters, this winter has been pretty mild—warm enough for a comfortable walk around the block or on the bike trail with your dog. If you’re feeling chilly, make your walk a brisk one, or start jogging so both you and your dog can warm up. The one downside to winter walks, though, is that many streets and sidewalks are treated with salt, which can irritate your dog’s paws, so whip out the booties to protect your dog’s paws before leaving the house.


Buy an Interactive Toy

Many pets tend to get a little lazy, both physically and mentally, during the winter, but with an interactive toy, you can change that. From laser pointers to food toys, there are many options available that can provide some mental stimulation for your four-legged friend. They can also help your pet get some exercise in, too.


Teach Your Pet a New Trick

With the hours you and your pet will probably spend indoors over the next couple months, why not use some of those hours to teach them a new trick? Sit, stay, play dead, roll over…take your pick on which trick you’d like to try to teach them. Training your pet can strengthen your bond with them and improve their overall behavior, so it’s certainly worth the effort. You may be surprised at what your pet can learn. And remember, Full Circle Animal Health Care offers in-home behavior consultation services if you need some extra assistance.


Play Hide and Seek

Who doesn’t like a good game of hide and seek? Believe it or not, many pets (yes, sometimes even cats!) can enjoy a good old-fashioned game of hide and seek. The best way to play is if you have at least two floors. Make your way down a flight of stairs, leaving your pet at the top. Give your pet the “stay” command until you’re out of sight. Then, quickly find your hiding spot and yell your pet’s name until they come running to find you. And if your pet isn’t the seeking type, you can always try a hide and go seek game with their treats instead.


If you’d like to schedule an appointment at Full Circle Animal Health Care, give us a call at 888-426-3069, and have a happy, safe winter with your pet!

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Get Our Smartphone App

Veterinary App in Wheaton, IL

The Full Circle Animal Health Care team has always been committed to offering our clients the best information and the most supportive customer care, but now we’ve taken that level of care one step further! Introducing, the Full Circle smartphone app. We are so excited to share this great tool with you and tell you about some of its many features.

Features of the Full Circle App

Once you’ve downloaded the app and chosen Full Circle Animal Health Care as your primary veterinary care provider, you can begin taking advantage of the following awesome features:

  • Appointment scheduling requests
  • Ask Now text message questions to veterinary professionals at any time—simply text your questions to (858) 877-9797
  • Video chat with your veterinarian
  • …and more!

Learn more about the app by downloading from the website and begin taking advantage of the many incredible pet owner features today! Have questions? Don’t hesitate to ask us!

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Military Discount for Veterans


They serve our country with their sacrifices. They risk their lives for the lives of others. They are our veterans, and Full Circle Animal Health Care wants to recognize them this month. In honor of Veterans Day, we’re offering a 10% military discount on all pet wellness exams for all veterans and active military members for the whole month of November.


About the Pet Wellness Exam  


As a mobile veterinary practice that services the Chicagoland area, Full Circle Animal Health Care comes to you to care for your pet. We offer wellness services for dogs, cats, pot belly pigs, and backyard chickens. We strongly believe in the importance of comprehensive wellness exams, which is why we recommend it at least once a year.


Each wellness exam includes a full body assessment of your pet, which is customized to species, breed, age, and lifestyle. Depending on our findings, we may recommend treatment or diagnostic laboratory services for further diagnosis. All of these services can be performed in the comfort of your home.


Take Advantage of Our 10% Military Discount


If you’re a veteran or are currently serving on active duty, give us a call at 888-426-3069 to request an appointment for your pet’s wellness exam at 10% off the normal price. We look forward to seeing you and your pet, and we thank you again for your selfless service to our country.

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Three-Year Rabies Vaccine for Chicagoland Cats


Rabies is a well-known, deadly virus that can affect both animals and people all over the country. It originates in wild animals, including skunks, raccoons, and bats, and can be transmitted through their saliva, such as through biting. With a fatality rate of 100%, many state laws require that all pet dogs, cats, and other companion animals be vaccinated for rabies.

According to the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, cats are almost five times more likely to be diagnosed with rabies than dogs in the U.S. That’s why Full Circle Animal Health Care wants to protect your cat from rabies while helping you save money at the same time. For the month of October, we’re offering the PUREVAX 3-year rabies vaccine for cats for just $20. That’s half off the regular price!


About the PUREVAX Vaccine

A vaccine is designed to protect the body against potentially life-threatening conditions, such as rabies and feline leukemia. While most vaccines provide protection for up to a year, the PUREVAX vaccine has a three-year lifespan. One of the unique aspects of this vaccine is that it lacks the ingredient (adjuvant) that has been known to cause vaccine-related diseases in cats, making it a safer option for cats.

The PUREVAX induces immunity by exposing a cat’s body to part of the rabies virus known as glycoprotein G. As a result, if a vaccinated cat is ever exposed to the full, real rabies virus, its immune system will be prepared to fight it off.

To take advantage of Full Circle Animal Health Care’s 50% off offer on our PUREVAX feline rabies vaccine, call Dr. Yeager at (847) 212-2680 to request a house visit…but hurry! This offer ends October 31!

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In-Home Veterinary Care for Chicagoland’s Pets

If your pet is like most, riding in a car might take some getting used to. But then there are other pets that are simply unable to be transported in a car for veterinary appointments, due to health or other reasons. If your pet falls in this category, a house call vet is your solution. We’re pleased to introduce you to Full Circle Animal Health Care, a house call veterinary practice that brings its services to YOU. We offer veterinary care in the comfort of your home within 50 miles of Wheaton, IL. Our goal is to preserve the human-animal bond through continued compassion and knowledge while making the process of veterinary care as convenient as possible.

What Kind of Animals Do You Provide Care For?

Full Circle Animal Health Care provides high quality, compassionate, professional veterinary care for several animal species. Dr. Yeager considers the unique needs of every species—with additional consideration to age, breed, and lifestyle—and tailors her care accordingly. Our veterinary house call services are available for dogs, cats, pot belly pigs, and backyard chickens.

What Pet House Call Services Do You Provide?

Just as with a traditional veterinary practice, Full Circle Animal Health Care provides a full range of veterinary services to keep your companion healthy and happy. We also place a strong emphasis on counseling, which we believe is a critical part of your pet’s overall care. Our services include:

  • Comprehensive wellness exams
  • Vaccinations
  • Preventative care
  • Diagnostic laboratory services
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Allergy counseling
  • Behavioral counseling
  • Chicken care counseling
  • Chronic disease management
  • End-of-life care/euthanasia
  • Surgery (limited)
  • Dog walking
  • Pet sitting
  • Canine massages
  • Nail trims
  • Anal gland expression
  • Exercise/weight control programs
  • Emergency Care

How Can I Request a Visit from Full Circle Animal Health Care?

As a house call practice, Full Circle Animal Health Care operates by appointment only, Monday through Friday. We also have limited Saturday availability. To request a visit from Dr. Yeager to care for your pet, call 888-426-3069. If you have any questions, you can e-mail her at As a new house call practice, serving pets in and around Wheaton, IL, we look forward to meeting you and your companion!

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