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What Should You Expect When Calling Animal ER?

By: Kyla Olmsted, LVT

There may be a time in your pet’s life when he needs medical attention but your primary care veterinarian is not currently open.  In this case a 24-hour Animal Emergency Hospital may need to be contacted.  Although an unexpected problem can be overwhelming, knowing what to expect when calling an emergency facility can help alleviate your stress. 

When calling, be prepared to provide some information about your pet.  Know your pet’s breed, age, sex, approximate weight and current medications.  Also be prepared to discuss your pet’s primary concern or current symptoms.  The technician may ask you for further clarifications or observations.  Discuss whether your pet has changed from his normal routine, such as not eating, a decrease in energy levels, vomiting, diarrhea, vocalizing, having difficulty getting comfortable, straining to urinate or defecate or any change in their effort of breathing.  You may also be asked to evaluate your pet such as counting the number of breaths he takes over a 10 second period or to lift up his lip and observe the color of his gums.  Remember to stay calm and give the most accurate information that you are able to communicate.

If you are expecting to receive a diagnosis over the phone you will be disappointed.  Obtaining his history and current problem is only the first step of information a veterinarian uses to diagnose their patients.  They also require a hands on exam where they can personally listen to and observe your pet.  Further diagnostics such as bloodwork, x-rays and an ultrasound exam may also be necessary.  The technician you are speaking with will do their best to let you know if you should seek urgent medical care or if you can wait till your primary veterinarian’s office opens.  When you go into the clinic, you can share your Voyce data, and any information you collected from the Voyce Symptom Checker.  Remember, the Voyce Symptom Checker is an additional resource to allow you reassurance and guidance regarding your dog’s symptoms. 

If you are calling the emergency hospital because your pet has ingested something he shouldn’t have you may be recommended to call an animal poison control center.  The poison control centers have experts on call 24 hours a day.  These specially trained Veterinary Toxicologists have access to an extensive database, which they can quickly access to help diagnose problems and give treatment advice.  If you are recommended to seek medical care for your pet the control center will work closely with your veterinarian to create the best treatment plan for him.

As a current veterinary technician at an animal emergency hospital I speak with worried pet parents during every shift.  If you are concerned enough to contact an emergency hospital about your pets well-being, I would recommend an exam with a veterinarian, either emergency or primary. 

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