Taking a pet to the emergency hospital is something none of us wants to do. It’s scary and stressful for you and your dog or cat.
We’ve been there more times than we like to think about, and we have some tips to help you cope. We hope you won’t ever need to use them, but tuck them away in the back of your mind just in case.
Keep a muzzle on hand or ask your veterinarian to show you how to safely tie one using a scarf or tie.
“We do them in order of medical need,” says our friend and colleague Dr. Tony Johnson, an emergency and critical care specialist at the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine. “If I have a hit-by-car and a dog with diarrhea, even if the dog with diarrhea has been waiting two hours, the hit-by-car is going to get seen first.”
The only time someone jumps that line, he says, is if they’re bringing in a pet to be euthanized.
And it’s always good to have someone’s hand to hold while you’re waiting.
Most veterinary hospitals won’t treat your pet without proof that you can pay for care. Your regular veterinary hospital might do that if you’ve been a client for years – they know where you live and that you’re probably not going to skip town – but an emergency hospital isn’t in that position.
“It sounds avaricious, but there are not too many emergency hospitals that are going to do something on a handshake,” Johnson said.
“ERs usually see people once. They can’t separate out the people who are a risk of not paying from those who aren’t.
“They’re not trying to be greedy.”
If you’re not sure, well, we recommend erring on the side of caution. Like their counterparts in human medicine, veterinary emergency clinics are expensive, but sometimes the cost of a visit is a price worth paying for peace of mind. And when a visit saves your pet’s life? Priceless.