Pet Emergencies

Hopefully you and your pet will never need us on an emergency basis.  The reality 

though, is that emergencies do happen and we are here for you.  There are a few 

procedural tidbits that I would like to offer that may help to make your experience 

more “enjoyable”.   Also, the better prepared you are, the less stressful an urgent 

visit to AVH will be for you and your family.


1. Is this a true emergency?  We hear this question all of the time and it is 

actually often very hard for us to determine remotely if your pet is truly in 

trouble.  The top priorities for coming in to our Emergency Service should be,  

lots of bodily fluids involved (blood, vomit, diarrhea, urine, drool, etc.), 

difficulty breathing (this is always an emergency), collapse, an inability to 

walk, bite wounds, or severe lethargy.  The bottom line is though, if you are 

worried and cannot imagine having your pet wait until the next day to be 

seen by a veterinarian, you are likely being faced with an emergency.  I 

always recommend that owners enroll in a Pet First Aid class or certification 

program.  Having a good knowledge base is the best tool you can have when 

it comes to deciding what to do in an emergency.  A calm, cool, and collected 

caretaker is going to be more effective in determining how urgent a problem 

is and knowing how best to handle their pet if they are in distress.


2. Gather yourself and your history.  The more information we have, the more 

quickly and efficiently we can help you and your pet.  Keep all your pet’s 

medical information in a folder so that you can grab it quickly as you run out 

the door.  Also, talk to your family members about what they have seen as 

this will supplement your knowledge of the problem at hand.  It helps to 

check food and water bowls and take a quick look at the back yard or litter 

box so that you know the in’s and out’s.  Our pets cannot tell us what hurts or 

how they feel so we have to become Special Investigators and the 

interrogation begins the minute that you walk in our door.


3. Give us a call before leaving to come in.  If we know that you are coming, we 

can be prepared for your arrival, this is especially important in the event of a 

true life-threatening emergency.  Also, if you call ahead, we can usually offer 

some information on wait times, which brings me to my next topic…


4. Triage.  The definition of triage is “a process for sorting injured people 

(animals) into groups based on their need for or likely benefit from 

immediate medical treatment”.  You experience the same thing when you go 

to a human ER, we have to address problems based on how emergent they 

are not necessarily the order in which they arrived.  We always do our best to 

see every patient as quickly as possible because we know that you would not 

be in our hospital lobby unless you felt that your pet was in some degree of 

distress.  Occasionally we will have to ask for your patience if your pet is 

stable and we are managing a critical patient.


Our support staff is comprised of highly skilled technicians and veterinarians who 

are trained to manage all degrees of illness and trauma.  We are here for you and 

hope to gain your trust by offering the best care to our patients in a timely and 

compassionate manor.   Always feel free to call with any questions.


Natalie Adams,  DVM, CCRT, cVMA