Taking your sick or injured pet to an emergency room for a vet visit is terrifying for several reasons. You may even wonder if your pet is sick and having a true emergency in the first place.
Coupled with fear about the prognosis, treatment options, and outcome —the ER vet is highly stressful for both pets and their owners —and we haven’t even talked about cost yet. If you find yourself in an emergency situation, preparing with an Accidental Coverage for dog insurance or a cat insurance plan can help offset costs.
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about pet emergency visits. Hopefully, you’ll never need one, but if you do, we cover eligible emergency visits.
1. Do I need to take my pet to the ER?
Most things can wait, at least until the morning. However, there are some things that all vets agree need to be treated immediately. If your animal is experiencing any of the following, an ER vet is probably necessary:
- Significant bleeding
- Crying due to pain
- trouble breathing
- coughing of foamy liquid
- bloated abdomen
- extreme restlessness which could indicate pain or discomfort
- inability to walk or maneuver properly
- excessive vomiting or diarrhea
- trauma caused by falling or accident
- ingesting poison
- not eating or drinking
- inability to urinate
- any behavior that concerns you significantly
2. What is an emergency veterinarian?
Emergency and critical care veterinarians are specialists who are trained to handle emergency medicine for animals. They provide emergency services like performing lifesaving procedures and providing interventions in situations where dogs or cats are critically ill or injured. These veterinarians differ from regular vets by specializing in the treatment of life-threatening conditions and handling emergency situations.
3. How do I find an emergency vet?
At 2 a.m. it can be difficult to find and make a decision as to where to take your sick or injured dog or cat. A quick Google search for “emergency vets near me” should pull up at least a few options. Of these, consider distance, name recognition, and scan the reviews if you have time.
4. Are ER vets available 24/7?
Most emergency vet clinics operate on a 24-hour basis. Some services like Vester can connect you to a vet 24-hours a day, 7 days a week, all from the comfort of your home. Conversely, you may opt to find a mobile vet in your area that may be able to see you quicker than a traditional vet appointment.
5. What should I bring with me?
Make sure you call ahead. They will then advise pet parents as to what to bring with you, (stool sample or urine, for example), based on your pet’s symptoms. Also, having your pet’s medical records with you can be beneficial as well. It’s important to have your primary vet’s information with you so follow-up visits can be coordinated as needed.
6. Will my pet have to stay over?
This depends on the severity of your pet’s illness or injury and what the treatment will be. For example, if your pet was hit by a car or moving vehicle, they might need to stay longer for observation. ER vet clinics and pet hospitals generally do have the capacity to have pets spend the night.
7. Is the ER more expensive?
Generally, yes, an emergency room visit will cost more than a regular trip to the vet. Your pet may require blood work and/or x-rays, which can be costly in an ER. Also, the fees you’ll pay to have your pet evaluated initially will be higher. A member of the staff should talk to you right away regarding the estimated cost of your pet's care. Be prepared to pay a deposit before they'll begin treatment.
8. Will pet insurance cover the ER vet?
Pet parents know all too well how expensive vet bills can be. Carrying a pet insurance policy is the best way to protect you and your furry family against unexpected vet costs for accidents and illnesses. Different pet insurance companies offer different types of coverage when it comes to ER visits, so it is best to contact your specific provider for more information.
Spot Pet Insurance plans cover eligible treatments at all veterinarians and licensed pet care specialists in the US (including emergency room vets). Spot also offers accident-only plans for the times that you're hit with a hefty vet bill for accidents.
Remember, you know your pet best. If something seems wrong and you’re concerned, call your regular veterinarian during business hours. However, if an emergency arises or an unexpected injury occurs, knowing the facts about emergency pet hospitals and clinics can be lifesaving.