Responsible pet owners do everything in their power to protect their pets from harm. Unfortunately, accidents and medical emergencies still happen to cherished four-legged family members. Often, accidents and emergencies happen after-hours when most veterinary clinics are closed. Because time is of the essence in a medical emergency, many pet owners will find themselves needing an emergency vet.
When is Seeing an Emergency Vet Necessary?
If a pet is bleeding, seizing, or having trouble breathing; has been hit by a car or experienced physical trauma; has ingested a foreign object or poisonous substance; or is in clear distress, it’s best to contact an emergency vet right away. An emergency vet is uniquely equipped to address these and other potentially life-threatening situations. When in doubt, it is always best to err on the side of caution. Deciding to take an ill or injured pet to an emergency vet could be the decision that saves its life.
Don’t be Caught Off Guard: Have an Emergency Vet on Speed Dial
In some cases, the regular veterinary clinics that pet owners rely on for wellness exams, vaccinations, and routine care have veterinarians on call 24/7 to respond to emergencies. Pet owners should be aware of their regular vets’ after-hours emergency policies.
In other cases, especially in smaller veterinary clinics, after-hours emergency care is not offered. In these situations, a better option is to identify a local emergency vet clinic or hospital before the need arises. Everyone in the household should know the plan — know which emergency vet to call and knows the quickest route to get there.
To be extra-prepared, pet owners may even decide to visit the emergency vet facility before it’s needed to fill out paperwork, share a pet’s medical records, and meet the veterinarians on staff. Discovering that a pet has been hit by a car or attacked by another animal is not the time to begin searching for a local emergency vet. Similarly, it can be comforting to have already met the person who will be caring for a pet in its most vulnerable state. Advance preparation is key!
Transporting A Pet to an Emergency Vet: Have A Plan for That, Too
A pet that needs to see an emergency vet may be frightened and in excruciating pain. It’s important to approach anxious pets carefully. If a dog is able to walk on its own, lead it gently on a leash secured to a well-fitted collar he will not be able to wiggle out of. If a dog cannot walk, place him in a carrier or gently carry him wrapped in a sturdy blanket or lying on top of the blanket that serves as a makeshift stretcher carried by two or more people.
Secure cats and other small pets in sturdy carriers for transport to the emergency vet. Avoid sudden movements that could further injure or frighten pets. On the way to the veterinary clinic, make sure to call ahead and provide as much information as possible so the admissions team can be prepared.
Emergency Vet Care: Expensive but Necessary
In addition to planning in advance for a pet emergency, it’s smart to have a plan in place to pay for a pet emergency. Just as a visit to a hospital’s emergency room costs more than a visit to a primary care physician, a visit to an emergency vet costs more than a visit to a regular vet. The same holds true for insurance: just as medical insurance safeguards people from astronomical surprise medical bills, pet insurance can often make an emergency vet visit much more affordable.