Emergency Vet Near Me: How to Find the Best

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By: Kathryn Anderson Updated: September 2, 2020

emergency vet near me

Your dog accidentally ate onions and now you have to rush them to the vet. But wait! Your normal vet clinic isn’t open and your dog needs help now. No pet parent wants to be in this position, but learning how to find the “best emergency vet near me” is something to prepare for no matter what the case.

What are Emergency Veterinarians?

Before typing “where to find the best emergency vet near me” into google, Did you know that an emergency veterinarian is actually a specialist? 

Yes, an emergency veterinarian specializes in treating patients that arrive in critical condition. Their job often involves dealing with the acute cause of the problem as opposed to the chronic cause.

To become an emergency vet, a person must first complete a bachelors of Veterinary Medicine. This will allow them to become a qualified, licensed general veterinarian. A vet who chooses to further continue their education may choose to pursue a residency program.

To work in an emergency hospital, a veterinarian must undergo a residency program in veterinary emergency and critical care. Thereafter, an emergency vet may work on acute cases such as:

  • Dealing with post-operative complications
  • Handling medical trauma
  • Renal and neurological problems
  • Acute illnesses

When Should I Head to An Emergency Vet Clinic?

Perhaps one of the biggest questions pet owners worry about is, “when is my pet’s condition considered an emergency?”. Well, before we answer this question, it is important to remember that— it is better to be safe than sorry—if you think your pet is in need of urgent care, then call your emergency vet clinic.

There are many cases where your pet may need to visit the emergency vet clinic. While we could list the infinite possible emergency cases, we will rather help you understand what is an emergency.

Consider The Situation

First, it is important to consider the relative situation.

For example, if you own a large dog who’s consumed large amounts of onions (toxic to dogs) then ask yourself. Is this an emergency?

For the most part, when a pet consumes large amounts of a toxic substance, then yes they will require urgent care.

In contrast, you also need to consider the severity of the situation. For example, if you own a little dog who is limping after falling from the couch then it’s not really an emergency.

A common reason why pets visit an emergency vet is that they are experiencing trauma—aka take broken bones as an example. However, a limping dog could also simply have a slight sprain on their leg. These slight sprains often recover within a few hours.

Examine the Signs and Symptoms

Searching “best emergency vet near me” can bring up a lot of pages on how to know if your pet is showing signs of an emergency or not.

Now you don’t have to be a veterinarian to figure out what’s normal in an animal and what not. While it’s never advised that pet owners self-diagnose their pets, it is highly recommended that pet owners learn to distinguish what’s normal in a pet and what’s not.

To give you an idea, we have listed signs and changes in a pet that are considered abnormal and are an emergency:

  • Hemorrhaging: Firstly, if your dog or cat is experiencing severe blood loss then this is considered an emergency. Blood loss may be occurring through the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, vagina, penis, or anus.
  • Severe vomiting and diarrhea: If your pet has profuse diarrhea or is vomiting a lot, then this is an emergency. It can indicate that your pet may have ingested something dangerous or it could be indicative of a metabolic disorder.
  • Change in normal physiological conditions: If you notice a change in heart rate, increased temperature, increased respiration rate, then, in this case, it is best to call the emergency vet. Sudden changes in the physiology of an animal may require further veterinary evaluation.
  • A severely dehydrated animal or a pet who shows symptoms of a heatstroke will require an emergency vet
  • Sudden lethargy, ataxia, and seizures require urgent care
  • Any trauma to the animal will require urgent care. Trauma may be physical such as broken bones or lacerations.
  • A pet who is in extreme pain and whines a lot.

Will Fido Need Insurance?

Sometimes our dogs and cats can get into trouble and when that happens they may require a visit to a veterinary emergency clinic. Now, remember, a veterinary emergency clinic is going to cost pet owners a lot of money. In fact, many pet owners actually fear to visit the after-hours emergency vet. So what do you do?

Our pets are our family members, and in cases of emergencies, figuring out how to pay for a possible vet bill should be far from your mind. Your pet’s health should be your top priority!

Most pet insurance companies recognize that accidents happen, so they often cover some—if not, all the vet bills that may incur during a visit to an emergency veterinary clinic.

If you’re unsure if your insurance company covers visits to the emergency vet, then it’s best to contact the company and request for information about their policies.

ER vet near me

Pet At The Vet: 3 Things To Look Out For

As a concerned pet parent, you must now be wondering—what do I have to look out for when searching for the best emergency vet near me? To make things as easy as possible, we’ve listed 3 things to look out for when looking to find the best emergency vet near me.

  1.  Visit your local veterinary emergency clinic: Ask the staff of the hospital to take you around the clinic. Ideally, you should ask them what is their procedure for dealing with critical care, do they take pet insurance, their hours of operation, etc. You will need to make sure that your emergency veterinary clinic is opened 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  2. AAHA Accredited: A emergency veterinary care hospital should ideally be AAHA accredited. This is because a hospital that is AAHA accredited will have a proper emergency procedure in place. This means that the hospital will have emergency drugs stocked at all times, proper emergency surgery kits made, and proper medical equipment.
  3. Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society: Although not mandatory, it is a good idea that pet owners ask their local pet emergency hospital if they are VECCS accredited. VECCS aims to increase and provide the best quality emergency care for patients in critical conditions.  When a hospital is VECCS certified this means that the hospital’s staff—vet technicians, nurses, and vets—are well trained in critical care.

Does A Vet’s Speciality Matter? Match the Pet’s Pain to the Right Dr.

How to find the best emergency vet near me can seem like an easy search but take a second and think about what vets actually do and the specific areas each one is trained in.

In the case of veterinary specialties, it is important to remember that—Yes, a vet’s specialty does matter! But, what exactly is a veterinary specialty?

A veterinary specialty simply means that the veterinarian has completed a degree in veterinary medicine and has further continued their studies. A veterinary specialist is one who chooses to pursue a residency program in a specific field.

For example, you can have a veterinarian who specialized in radiology, ophthalmology, emergency-critical care, and even soft tissue surgery.

An emergency veterinary hospital or animal emergency center is likely to have various specialists available on call.

Board-Certified Veterinarian Surgeon

A board-certified veterinary surgeon is a veterinarian who specializes in various surgeries. Most board-certified surgeons would be able to perform common emergency surgeries such as:

  • Pyometra
  • Cystotomy
  • Gastrotomy
  • Splenectomy
  • C-Sections
  • Gastric Dilation-Volvulus

Board-Certified Veterinary Anesthesiologist

Putting a pet under anesthesia can itself be risky!

Now, the situation becomes even more complicated when you put a pet in critical condition under anesthesia. Sometimes, a veterinarian will have no choice but to anesthetize a pet. And so, they’ll require the help of a board-certified veterinary anesthesiologist to help them monitor their patient.

A board-certified veterinary anesthesiologist will provide proper care to a patient pre-op, during the operation, and post-op! An anesthesiologist will:

  • Create a proper anesthesia plan for the individual patient
  • Will evaluate what is the best sedative drug, injectable anesthetic, or best analgesic for the patient.
  • Ensure the patient’s respiration rate and heart rate is stabilized
  • Monitor the patients’ oxygen saturation, respiration, and heart rate
  • Do their best to stabilize a patient undergoing severe operations

Board-Certified Veterinary Radiologist

Nearly all veterinary emergency hospitals will have a board-certified veterinary radiologist on call. A radiologist is a specialist who will evaluate and examine your pets X-ray(s).  A board-certified veterinary radiologist may be called on to evaluate urgent conditions such as:

  • Broken bones or fractures
  • Foreign body ingestion
  • Analyze heart and lungs
  • Check for signs of pneumonia or pneumothorax

3 Vet Tips: What They Say About Basic Care

If your vet could share some top pet care secrets what would they be? The 3 vet tips on what vets say about basic care aren’t all that much of a secret! In fact, these tips are something all vet students actually learn about!

  1. Nutrition is key! We teach our kids that fruits and vegetables are healthy! If we feed our children well, knowing full well that nutrition is important, then we must also apply this same concept to our beloved pets. Providing quality food, fresh fruits, vegetables, and plenty of nutritional supplements, will ensure your pet lives a healthy and long life!
  2. Don’t overfeed: Today, one of the most common problems seen among pets is—you guessed it—pet obesity! An obese or overweight pet is a lot more likely to encounter breathing problems, diabetes, and even joint problems at an early age. Without a doubt, any vet will tell you that feeding your pet quality feed, a few times a day is all your pooch needs.
  3. Know your pet’s history: During an emergency, you’re very likely going to panic and forget a lot of things. As difficult as it can be, it is important that you know your pet’s medical history, the onset of any symptoms, and any possible change in the environment. If possible, keep a physical record of any past vet visits, allergies your pet has, or pre-existing conditions.

emergency vet

Resources for the Top Emergency Vet Near Me

Searching for the best emergency vet near me can be tricky business! Make sure you check out the following resources should you require more information about veterinary emergency services.

  • AAHA: The American Animal Hospital Association
  • VECCS: Veterinary Emergency & Critical Care Society
  • AVMA: The American Veterinary Medical Associations

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