FAQ – Emergency

  1. What is the difference between primary care and emergent/urgent care? Primary care involves care of acute illness, chronic conditions (i.e., diabetes), routine checkups, and overall health management/prevention throughout the life span of a pet. Annual check-ups increase your primary care veterinarian’s ability to pick up on small changes in your pet’s health because they already established a base line. Emergency care involves life-threatening emergencies such as risk of a loss of limb, motor vehicle accidents, broken bones, head injuries, seizures, abdominal pain, breathing difficulties, unconsciousness, or uncontrollable bleeding. Urgent Care involves conditions that require medical attention for an acute, but not life threatening, emergency such as minor cuts/lacerations. Our emergency/urgent care walk-in services are available 24/7. A primary care veterinarian may also refer a patient to VSCNL that requires critical care, close monitoring, and/or life support measures.
  2. What is considered an emergency? Always be wary of any behavioral changes in your pet as it could signify an underlying health problem. 
  • Vomiting/Diarrhea caused by dietary indiscretion, human food, infections, etc.
  • Poison injection such as chocolate, xylitol, plants, human medications, pesticide, or even an overdose of the pet’s own medication.
  • Wounds incurred by another animal (i.e., at dog park visits, during off-leash walking).
  • Automobile accident where external injuries may appear minimal; however, internal injuries can be serve.
  • Urinary tract obstructions which are an painful and life-threatening. Signs may include straining, frequent urination in small amounts, vocalizing, or excessive grooming.
  • Difficulty breathing may signify heart failure, pneumonia, asthma, or heat stroke.
  • Gastrointestinal foreign material lodged in the stomach/intestines.
  • Worsening of chronic illness (i.e., heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, cancer).
  • Painful, red eye caused by injury, scratch, foreign material, infection, or glaucoma.
  • Lame/difficulty walking from sprains, ligament tears, fractures, dislocations, or cancer.
  1. What do I do if I have an emergency? Call your primary care veterinarian to enquire if they are available or call us. Calling ahead allows medical staff to prepare for your pet’s arrival. Our medical teams are onsite 24/7.
  2. Why are you treating a pet that arrived after my pet and I did? We have been waiting longer. As with all emergency medicine, we function on a ‘triage’ basis – meaning the most critical or unstable patients are cared for first.. Even though you may wait longer, your pet is still a priority to us. For a greater understanding, read Things to Keep in Mind When Making Use of Our Emergency Services.
  3. The veterinarian told me they would have information within an hour and I’ve been waiting much longer. Why? Our intension is never to make clients wait; however, the reality of emergency medicine is that it is impossible to predict when an emergent case will arrive or in patient in our ICU may require immediate attention. Long wait times can be stressful, but we understand if your pet was in critical condition, you would want us to prioritize their care. We appreciate your patience, understanding, and cooperation.
  4. What does a critical care consent form approve? Upon arrival, if it appears your pet requires immediate, emergent attention, we ask you to sign a critical care form. The critical care may involve placing an IV catheter, administering IV fluids, and/or lifesaving medications, and other interventions such as CPR to try to stabilize your pet.