Sentinel Veterinary Specialists & Emergency offers top-of-the-line medicine in Western Montana. We practice compassionate care backed by the latest medical research and our years of experience in the veterinary field. We emphasize clear communication and see ourselves as a key team member with you, your pet, and your primary care veterinarian in times of need. As a Missoula veterinary emergency clinic, our primary goal is to keep your pets healthy and happy throughout their lives.
We are open Monday–Thursday 5 p.m.–8 a.m. and Friday–Sunday 24hrs/day. We understand that you and your pets are active, and at times, emergency care becomes inevitable. The good news is, we are here to help!
We treat everything from illness to injury, including infections, lacerations, seizures, refusal to eat or drink, difficulty urinating, lethargy, ingestion of toxins, fractures, painful extremities, fainting, enlarged abdomen, pale or blue-tinged gums to name a few. Some of these presentations can indicate a serious illness that may lead to death, so it is important to always be in tune with your pet's normal state and monitor closely for any changes. Do not wait until they cannot eat, drink, eliminate, or walk; if an accident happens, an infection may begin within hours. Early detection, diagnosis, and treatment may save your pet's life.
Common emergent cases we see include:
Vomiting & Diarrhea
A couple episodes of vomiting or diarrhea in one day is not always related to severe illness. Sometimes it is a small flair up from dietary indiscretion, but it can be the tip of the iceberg.
Many times symptomatic care is able to help limit the process from getting worse while the body heals. If an animal has eaten something that doesn't agree with its stomach, it can cause inflammation and discomfort.
Without limiting the process, patients can become dehydrated, which can progress to a more severe illness. On occasion, the process can lead to bloody diarrhea, risk of bacterial translocation into the bloodstream, or severe concentration of red blood cells, which limits adequate blood flow.
Parvovirus, pancreatitis, and blockages are common concerns to rule out. Renal damage, early diabetes, parasites, infections, and a number of metabolic conditions are other illnesses that can show up as nausea, anorexia, or diarrhea.
Wounds come in all shapes and sizes. A small puncture from a bite wound can leave extensive damage under the skin.
Things to Remember:
- Infection sets in after 6–12 hours.
- Getting wounds addressed in a timely manner improves the outcome.
Many cuts require sutures, some need flushing, most need preventive antibiotics, and a few need drains. The choice of drain type makes a difference. Closed suction drains reduce risks of infections and allow the tissue to be pulled together; while open drains don't clog as easily and are not as difficult to manage in rowdy pets. Both cause irritation leading to drainage, and, at times, simply leaving an opening is best.
We will help guide you through your pet's needs while discussing the risks of different approaches and possible complications to watch for.
Despite the best care in the world, any wound can have complications. Antibiotic resistance is not only a human medical concern. Damage or devitalized tissue doesn't always appear unhealthy until a few days pass. These injuries can require a second surgery or may heal by a delayed healing process called second intention. Usually, your primary care veterinarian will best help manage injuries that require prolonged care, but we are also available if needed.
Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) or Blocked Urethra
IMPORTANT: If you have a male cat that cannot pee, it could be a life-threatening emergency!
The best-case scenario is that trouble urinating will be due to something a course of antibiotics will take care of—such as a UTI.
To identify the root cause of difficulty urinating, some testing is required.
- URINALYSIS: This can show inflammation and other signs of a urinary tract infection. A UTI can be related to a kidney infection, and bloodwork helps us narrow down the root cause.
- RADIOLOGY: Used to see if the formation of stones in the bladder caused the blockage. If they are present, then the blockage could recur until they are removed.
Pets get into all sorts of things we know of, and many that we do not!
Some things will cause gastric irritation and ulceration, while others can lead to life-threatening complications. If your dog or cat ingests a toxin, we can help in a number of ways. From symptomatic care and cardiovascular support to flushing out the toxins, we work to completely eradicate the toxin from your pet's body.
WHAT IS CONSIDERED A TOXIN: A great resource for further information about toxins is Pet Poison Control. They will help evaluate if your pet has eaten critical amounts and discuss the needs and expectations with you. We work closely with them to best treat the toxin effects.
Not Eating, Not Drinking
When an animal refuses to eat or drink, it is a sign something else is going on internally. While the range of possibilities is very large, diagnostics and a thorough health history can help us figure out the cause.
Not drinking water can make an animal dehydrated fairly quickly. Fluid therapy helps to make sure they stay hydrated and get adequate circulation to help them heal.
Cats that don't eat are of particular concern because they can develop hepatic lipidosis (a fatty liver) due to their body's incredible ability to utilize the fat stores for nutrition. Larger-bodied felines are most at risk.
We can help provide symptomatic relief to help reduce anorexia, fluid for support, and diagnostics to rule out critical issues or identify a primary cause. In many non-critical cases, we will simply help them feel better, and if they continue to put their nose up to food, your primary provider can further assess the issue.
Watching a seizure is incredibly scary, and knowing what to do in case your pet has one is important.If your pet has had more than one seizure, they need veterinary intervention to figure out the cause and how to treat the issue.
Genetic issues, toxins, metabolic problems, infections, and/or cancer are just a few of the causes of seizures. We can help gather baseline blood work, discuss the possible causes as well as therapy, and help to make sure there is not a critical underlying problem that needs immediate attention.
Our pets don't always want us to see their weakness, others yelp for help at every little thing.
When your pet is more tired than usual, it can be due to mild gastrointestinal upset or pain from an injury. Other, more serious causes include loss of red blood cells from internal bleeding or an autoimmune disease. Liver failure or undamaged diabetes can also cause lethargy. With the help of a thorough evaluation from a veterinarian, we can try to determine the cause to find the right treatment.
If you start to suspect signs of a small infection, now’s the time to visit your vet before the problem becomes a serious emergency. Infections set in 6-12 hours after a wound is inflicted and become more difficult to treat over time. You may notice redness or swelling around a laceration or an ear, signs of a skin infection, or difficulty urinating. All of these may lead to more serious conditions. External infections can turn into bacteria in the bloodstream, which is called sepsis. Urinary tract infections can move to the bladder and infect the kidney. This is called pyelonephritis.
While we can treat your pet during any of these stages, the earlier we can treat it, the better the outcome. Our trained and certified veterinary staff will investigate the source of the problem and recommend treatments, generally topical or oral, to relieve symptoms and cure the underlying illness.
When a pet is struggling to use a limb, it can be due to anything from arthritis, soft tissue strains and sprains, infections, or fractures.
Our veterinarians will examine your pet to look for the root cause and help to provide pain relief while things heal. Radiology can help us ensure there is no underlying bone disease or fracture.
During the physical exam and diagnostics, we gather information to help identify causes and a prognosis for healing. Some soft tissue injuries such as cranial cruciate tears and bicipital tendon tears can be healed with surgery.
Fractures should be seen as soon as possible to get adequate pain relief and stabilization. We can assess the fracture, provide relief, discuss the outcome and surgical options, and help establish you with a veterinarian that will perform the surgery.
If your pet is experiencing an emergency, please call (406) 218-2800.