If your pet suddenly starts having problems breathing in the middle of the night, who should you call? A handful of veterinary clinics and hospitals around Hong Kong offer 24-hour emergency service for those scary moments. At Peace Avenue Veterinarian Clinic in Mong Kok, about 10 to 15 animals are treated every night. 'Most nights are busy, but generally the waiting time is short,' says veterinarian Anthony Hollis. 'We sometimes need to prioritise cases, but people expect and understand this.' The most common problem, Hollis says, is vomiting and diarrhoea. He points out that gastroenteritis is mostly caused by an infection (virus or bacteria) or occasionally diet-induced, such as changes to a high-fat or meat-based diet, or eating table scraps or garbage. 'A lot of the time these cases can be simply treated and return home with their owners,' he says. 'If the diarrhoea or vomiting occurs more then two to three times in a short period, if the animal is dull or lethargic, in pain, has a fever or if there is blood present', that is the time to call an emergency clinic. When an animal is vomiting or having diarrhoea, stop all food for 24 hours and keep your pet hydrated. 'If they can keep liquids down then it's often ok to wait and see,' Hollis says. Another reason pet owners have been calling the clinic's emergency number is due to dog fights and lacerations. 'This has increased recently. There are a lot of new pet owners in Hong Kong, who are unaware of how much damage a dog can do in a short time,' he says. 'People like to let their dog run loose and sometimes the end result is a fight. It's important to maintain control. Luckily, most people in Hong Kong are responsible pet owners, it's the few that have aggressive dogs and don't keep them on a lead that results in trouble.' Most of these lacerations and injuries are not serious. However, if a big dog bites a small dog, Hollis says, there can be severe trauma underneath the skin, especially if the smaller dog has been picked up and shaken. For cats that fall out of windows or balconies, between the first and fourth floor, it almost always has a fracture or major injury, broken jaw, legs or bleeding in their lungs, warranting a call to emergency, Hollis notes. 'Fortunately, we don't get too many flying cats, but when we do they are often some of the worse trauma cases ... About 30 per cent don't make it.' Surprisingly, above four floors, says the vet, cats have enough time to spread out all four legs during the fall and allow the impact to be spread throughout their body - resulting in about 30 per cent of falling felines walking away unharmed, Hollis notes. He advises owners to call an emergency helpline if other problems arise, such as acute heart failure; trouble in passing urine or stool, especially in cats; seizures; eye injuries; allergic reactions, such as swelling around the face; suspected poisoning; heat stress or snake bites. Another veterinary hospital open in the middle of the night is the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) Hong Kong in Wan Chai. The SPCA's deputy director of veterinary services and chief veterinary surgeon Jane Gray says they are open 24 hours a day with a vet and veterinary nurse on duty. On average, the hospital treats from 90 to 120 emergency cases a month, on top of handling injured stray animals and wildlife such as birds of prey, monkeys and deer. According to Gray, the most common problems are trauma cases, resulting from falling cats and road traffic accidents for dogs. Other trauma injuries could also simply happen when an animal jumps off a bed, falling and breaking their legs, which is a common problem for Pomeranians and Yorkshire Terriers. Gray says small dogs, including Shih Tzus, Pekinese, Schnauzers and Yorkshire Terriers, are also prone to acute spinal problems, showing sudden severe pain and have difficulty walking. She adds gastric torsion (swelling and twisting of the stomach that is full of gas) in dogs is another emergency, which requires correction within a few hours or death could occur. Emergency 24-hour help: The Ark Veterinary Hospital, tel: 2549 2330, www.thearkvets.hk.com Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, tel: 2711 1000, www.spca.org.hk Peace Avenue Veterinary Clinic, tel: 3650 3000, www.peaceavevet.com.hk Victoria Veterinary Clinics, tel: 2477 8929, www.victoriavet.com.hk .