Finding an Emergency Veterinary Hospital When On the Road

Finding an emergency veterinary hospital while on the road can be a harrowing experience. In an unfamiliar city, state, or even country with an injured or sick beloved pet in tow, you're bound to be stressed, upset, and confused. Read on for a few tips for locating an emergency pet hospital when you need it the most.

Planning Ahead

The best defense is a good offense. This means you should plan for the unexpected before you even step out your front door. In the days before your trip, look up emergency veterinary hospitals in the area where you'll be staying with your pet. What do they charge for their emergency services? If possible, read reviews about the emergency pet hospital from fellow pet owners. Which pet hospitals get the best reviews?

If you're driving instead of flying, go ahead and pinpoint a few key locations on your route, and pick an emergency pet hospital from each location. Print out an online map that shows you where all of these hospitals are. That way, if something happens to your pet on the way to your destination, you'll have a map of the closest pet hospitals that meet your budget and expectations.

What to Expect If You Don't Plan Ahead

Unfortunately, in an emergency, you're not going to have much time to "shop around" and compare reviews from other pet owners. You'll probably be happy to find the closest emergency veterinary hospital and hope for the best.

Although most emergency veterinarians pride themselves on their professionalism (so you probably won't have to worry about stumbling across an unqualified vet), don't be surprised if you're stuck with a bill much higher than you expected.

On the Road Searching: The Internet

If you haven't planned ahead and you've got a cell phone with Internet access (or a laptop with Wi-Fi), take it out and do a quick search for the following:

  • Emergency veterinary hospital [CITY] - Find an emergency pet hospital by doing a search for emergency veterinarians in the city in which you're currently located. If you have time, you can comparison shop by price and pet owner reviews.
  • AAHA-certified - If you don't have time to compare vets, pick one that is AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association)-certified. The AAHA is an independent organization that reviews and certifies a pet hospital based on its performance.

On the Road Searching: By Phone

Not all of us have mobile Internet access, but most of us (especially if we're on the road) carry a cell phone. This is an old solution, but dial '0' from your cell phone and you'll likely get an operator who can help you locate the nearest emergency veterinary hospital. The operator won't be able to help you compare prices or services, but he or she will be able to find the phone number and address for the closest pet hospital in your vicinity.

Pet owners who prepare for the worst will find themselves the most calm and the least stressed should the worst actually happen. However, you're not entirely out of options should an emergency happen to your pet on the road (when you're unprepared). Just remember to stay calm and act quickly!