Pet Connections

Help! My Pet Has an Emergency!

Beth Rossi

Since March of 2020, Veterinary practices have been busier than ever! People are home spending more time with their pets and adding new pet additions to their families.  In order to keep clients, pets, and staff safe, veterinarians have had to put into place new protocols and rules that take additional time to follow resulting in less ability to add new appointments to an already busy schedule.   With more pets needed to be seen and less appointments available, pets with non-urgent medical issues are ending up at the ER resulting in longer wait times.  Emergencies can happen at any time, here are a few things that you should know so you are prepared in case a trip to the ER is needed for your pet.

Know where to go before an emergency occurs.  Check with your family veterinary to find out if they handle emergencies, what kind of emergencies they handle, and the hours of emergency coverage available.   In case your family veterinary is not available or has limited hours, find out where the closest 24 hour ER Veterinary Hospitals are and have their numbers in an easy to access location.  To avoid long wait times for minor emergencies (when your family veterinary is not available), have a list of facilities that offer animal urgent care or same day appointments.   Be mindful that emergencies can be expensive.  Most ER veterinary facilities will accept pet insurance and may offer Care Credit as a financing option.

Although all emergencies are scary, not all emergencies require the same immediate medical attention.  Pets arriving at the ER are triaged, or evaluated to determine their urgency for medical treatment.  Pets that are not stable and in urgent need of medical invention, such as but not limiting to difficulty breathing, sever bleeding, sever trauma (hit by car), actively seizing, or are non-responsive, need to be seen first. Pets that are currently stable but have the potential to become unstable or have a worsening condition such as but not limited to abdominal pain, open fracture, large lacerations, difficulty or unable to walk, back pain, straining or inability to urinate, are next to be treated. For pets coming to the ER for minor medical issue such as but not limited to minor ear infection, lumps/ bumps, minor laceration, mild URI, or non-life threating conditions, are seen after the urgent cases have been treated. 

If you are able, call the ER facility either before or on your way to let them know what your emergency is especially if your pet is not stable.  For stable pet emergencies, you can find out what the ER wait time is.  Wait times can vary greatly depending on the time of day.  Expect longer wait times for nights, weekends, and holidays.  Depending on your pet’s condition, you may want to call around to other ER facilities for their wait times or for minor emergencies, seek treatment from animal urgent care facilities.   

When you are arriving to the ER, look for signs to alert you where to go. Due to the different demands and needs of veterinary practices, the safety protocols put in place may different between veterinary hospitals.  These protocols are designed to keep the clients as well as staff safe so your pet can be properly treated.  Please be respectful and follow the policies and rules in place.  At this time many ER facilities including BluePearl PVSEC are providing curbside service, clients are not permitted in the building.  

Once you have arrived, call and alert the receptionist of your pet’s emergency, stay on the line for further instructions. At BluePearl PVSEC, a technician will come out to your car and bring your pet into the building to be triaged, the receptionist will take down your information over the phone.  Alert the receptionist of any financial concerns you may have.   If you are transporting the pet for a friend or family member, or for households with multiple pet parents, designate one person to be the contact person.  If the doctor calls you and you are not the point person, alert the doctor in the beginning of the conversation so they can get in touch with right person in order to expedite your pet’s treatment.   Although waiting is the hardest part, try to be patient.  The parking may not look busy, but there is a reason for the wait time posted. The doctor will call you once they have had an opportunity to thoroughly assess your pet’s condition, in the meantime your pet’s vitals will monitored and pain managed.  To ensure you do not miss the doctor’s call or any patient updates, make sure the ER Veterinary Hospital’s number is added to your list of contacts on your phone.  Be mindful of you phone’s battery and alert the receptionist if you do not have a way to charge your phone so the proper steps can be taken to ensure you are able to communicate with the hospital team.  

You waited, you talked to the doctor, treatment was determined, and now your pet can go home.  BluePearl PVSEC will send your family veterinarian a medical report informing them of your pet’s visit to the ER including diagnostics, diagnosis, current treatment, and any follow-up needed with your family veterinarian.  Hopefully you will never need to take your pet to the ER, but if you do, at least you will be prepared. 


December 14, 2023
December 14, 2023