Did you know that 1 in 3 pets in the United States need emergency veterinary care each year? While we would like our furry companions to stay healthy and out of harm’s way, the truth is that accidents and illnesses can happen at any time.
If you don’t know what to expect at an emergency vet appointment, the experience will be more stressful for you and your pet. So it’s important to prepare yourself for emergency care visits by learning what you need to know ahead of time.
In this guide, you’ll learn five things you need to know about emergency veterinary care!
1. Not Every Problem Is an Emergency
Our furry friends are family members, and it’s all too easy to panic if they’re not feeling like themselves. In these cases, it’s also easy to assume there must be something seriously wrong.
The best thing you can do for your pets in these situations is to stay calm and observe the symptoms they’re experiencing. Staying calm allows you to assess the situation practically.
You can start by asking questions such as:
- Is your pet breathing normally?
- Is your pet vomiting or having diarrhea?
- Is your pet alert and responding to you?
- Is your pet moving normally?
- How well is your pet eating?
- Did your pet get a lot of physical activity yesterday and maybe feel tired?
Like humans, sometimes pets experience a down day that causes them to be less playful or act a little blue. If your cat or dog has a lump on their skin or you suspect something isn’t right with their teeth, it’s best to schedule a wellness exam.
Your pet will get a thorough physical exam from the nose to the tail during a wellness exam. They’ll also get other tests, such as a heartworm test or a blood panel. Your veterinarian will discuss the results with you and form a treatment plan if necessary.
2. Know Which Problems Need Emergency Care
Another thing to know about emergency veterinary care is when to use it. You don’t want to wait too long if your pet needs emergency care, but you also don’t want to rush in if it can wait.
The key is learning how to identify animal emergencies that require immediate consultation with a vet, such as:
- Injuries to the eyes
- Staggering when walking
- Choking and gagging
- Coughing up blood
- Difficulty breathing or nonstop coughing
- Severe bleeding or bleeding that won’t stop after five minutes of continuous pressure
- Obvious broken bones or severe inability to use the legs normally
- Not drinking for 24 hours or more
- Not conscious or waking up normally
Additionally, if you’re not sure about the symptoms your pet is experiencing, you should call your veterinarian. Often, a telehealth appointment or a brief phone assessment can get to the bottom of what’s happening with your pet.
3. You’ll Need to Be Prepared for Extra Paperwork
If you’re taking your pet to a clinic for the first time to receive emergency care, you’ll typically need to complete more paperwork than you would normally.
The veterinary care team treating your pet during an emergency must know specific information about its health history. This information can be vital in determining what is causing your pet’s symptoms.
Therefore at an emergency visit, you’ll need to fill out information like age, symptoms, current medications, and vaccine status. You’ll also have to fill out consent forms that authorize veterinary services like medical and surgical treatment or continued hospitalization. You may also have to fill out other treatment forms depending on your pet’s condition.
To make things easier in case of an emergency, take the time to get your pet’s medical history together and place it in a folder for easy access. Be sure to write down all your pet’s medications, including the dosages.
4. Emergency Veterinary Care Can Be More Expensive
When you need emergency care for your pet, it’s essential to be prepared for the cost. Emergency care is generally more expensive than taking your pet for a standard wellness exam.
This is because you’ll usually need to pay for things like:
- Advanced diagnostic tests
- Diagnostic blood panels
- IV fluids to stabilize your pet.
- Continuous blood pressure monitoring
You might also have to pay for extended hospitalization or surgical procedures. Although it’s impossible to know the exact cost of an emergency pet care visit, you can still prepare yourself beforehand.
First, you can consider buying a pet insurance plan. These policies can pay the vet clinic directly for treatments. You can also consider other options like Care Credit, pet health savings accounts, or short-term loans.
In many cases, the clinic you choose will accept multiple payment options. They might also have suggestions about financing options you can look into.
5. Not All Emergency Veterinary Care Clinics Are the Same
Some emergency veterinary care clinics only offer emergency veterinary services. These clinics can be either 24-hour emergency clinics or after-hours veterinary hospitals. There are also full-service veterinary clinics that provide same-day emergency visits.
24-hour veterinary hospitals provide round-the-clock emergency care for pets. Usually, they can keep your pet there for the duration of their treatment. Some 24-hour hospitals require a referral from your primary veterinarian, so you’ll need to be sure to check for this information.
After-hours veterinary hospitals usually don’t provide routine vet care services and are open when regular vet offices are closed for the day. They’re also available on weekends and holidays. After-hours hospitals will triage your pet, stabilize them, and refer them back to its regular veterinarian for any follow-up care they need.
Full-service veterinary clinics provide a wide range of routine care services, like surgeries, wellness exams, and dental care. Many of these clinics also offer emergency appointments. The great thing about full-service clinics is that they also provide follow-up care for your pet.
Find Emergency Veterinary Care in Charleston, SC
Now that you know more about emergency veterinary care, you’ll be better prepared for an emergency.
If you’re looking for a reliable veterinarian in Charleston, SC, that can provide both emergency pet care and a variety of wellness services, then you can turn to Hampton Park Veterinary.
We offer preventative veterinary care, pet dental care, pet dermatology, geriatric pet care, and veterinary surgery.
We also offer the latest technology in a warm and friendly environment. We look forward to helping you and your furry friend, so be sure to contact us today to schedule an appointment!