Emergency Services

What To Expect When You Arrive at the Emergency Service


BE PREPARED TO WAIT, PLEASE BE PATIENT. Patients are not seen in the order of arrival, but based in which patient is more critical and requires the doctor’s immediate attention.

Upon arrival, you will be asked to fill out an information sheet about your pet. While this is happening, one of our nurses will triage your pet and assess his/her stability by measuring preliminary vital signs (e.g. heart rate, respiratory rate, mucous membrane color, overall mental status) and taking basic history into consideration.

If your pet is deemed “stable”, the nurse will leave your pet with you until your information is entered into our computer system and one of our doctors is available to discuss your pet’s case. At this time, you will be escorted into an exam room where your doctor will perform a complete physical examination and discuss your pet’s needs. There are situations when a pet will need to be taken to the ICU area for their physical examination if the pet is in severe pain, in need of restraint or becomes aggressive. A pet may need to remain in the ICU area to receive immediate emergency treatment should the need arise.

Following triage, there are several reasons one of our veterinarians may perform a physical examination on your pet in the ICU area.

  • The doctor may have another critical, unstable pet that cannot be left alone.
  • Some pets have conditions or are in emotional states that may be best evaluated away from their owners.
  • Pets that are sick and /or in a strange environment may react unpredictably, in which case it is often safer for them in the ICU.

Should your pet be experiencing a life-threatening emergency when you arrive, our staff will help you fill out an “Emergency Consent Form” which gives us permission to perform preliminary diagnostic tests and treatments to aid in potentially life-saving stabilization of your pet. In these cases, it is deemed vital that the doctor start diagnostics and treatment prior to speaking with you in order to put your pet’s best interest first. As soon as your pet has stabilized, the doctor can safely leave the ICU and update you on your pet’s condition.

Common Emergencies that Require Immediate Veterinary Attention

  • Severe bleeding or bleeding that doesn’t stop within five minutes
  • Choking, difficulty breathing or nonstop coughing and gagging
  • Bleeding from nose, mouth, rectum, coughing up blood, or blood in urine
  • Inability to urinate or pass feces (stool), or obvious pain associated with urinating or passing stool
  • Injuries to your pet’s eye(s)
  • You suspect or know your pet has eaten something poisonous (such as antifreeze, xylitol, chocolate, rodent poison, etc.)
  • Seizures and/or staggering
  • Fractured bones, severe lameness or inability to move leg(s)
  • Obvious signs of pain or extreme anxiety
  • Heat stress or heatstroke
  • Severe vomiting or diarrhea – more than two episodes in a 24-hour period, or either of these combined with obvious illness or any of the other problems listed here
  • Refusal to drink and/or eat for 24 hours or more
  • Unconsciousness
  • Known foreign body ingestion
  • Laceration or any other type of trauma (hit by a car, eg.)

Conditions such as ear infections, allergies or itching skin, broken nails, urinary tract infections, are not considered pressing emergencies. You are welcome to come in, but please bear in mind that in these cases you may experience extended waiting time. Consider coming in during our day hours with an appointment or as a walk in.