Your First Emergency Veterinary Visit -- What to Expect

With an injured or ill beloved pet in tow, your first visit to an emergency veterinary hospital can be a stressful experience. Therefore, you should take the time now to understand what to expect during your first visit to an emergency pet clinic.

Call First

If possible, call the emergency pet clinic before you leave. There is usually someone available to speak with you 24 hours a day. Describe your pet's symptoms and the technician on the line will advise you whether or not to bring your pet in immediately and give you any first aid tips you may need to perform that the situation may require. This will also alert the emergency vet and team to prepare for immediate treatment upon your arrival, saving time that could mean the difference in saving your pet's life.

Be Prepared

You can expedite your pet's treatment by being sure to bring along:

  • your ID
  • a method of payment (cash, check, debit or credit)
  • your pet's health insurance card (if applicable)
  • your pet's health records and the contact information for your pet's primary veterinarian

Intitial Examination

As soon as your pet is in the emergency pet clinic, the technician at the front desk will call for "triage." This means that a team will examine your pet's condition and ask you a few questions about your pet and the nature of your pet's illness or injury. The vet will then determine whether or not your pet must be taken to an examination room immediately and a technician will ask you to sign a release for for your pet to be treated.

Checking In

Once your pet is being examined by the emergency veterinary team, the technician at the front desk will ask you to check in. You will be asked to provide your contact information, information about your pet and your method of payment. The technician will likely then give you an estimate of your bill and explain your payment options.

The Wait and Updates

You will be asked to wait in the waiting room while your pet is being treated. A technician will update you on the pet's progress every few minutes.

Prognosis and Examination

Once your pet's treatment has been completed, you will be invited into the examination room to see your pet and discuss the treatment with the emergency veterinary team. Should your pet be determined fit to be discharged, you will receive instructions for his or her at-home care. The vet may also tell you that you need to check your pet into the hospital overnight or for a few days for further observation.


If your pet is hospitalized, you may be allowed to come visit him or her and check on his or her progress for 15-minute periods during visiting hours. Please do not bring more than one other person with you to visit the pet as your pet will need to rest. Your emergency veterinary team will call you when you are not there to keep you updated on your pet's progress.


When it is time to bring your pet home, you will receive detailed instructions for his or her continued at-home care, including medications. You will then receive an actual total for your bill and be expected to make at least your first payment. You'll also be reminded of the emergency pet clinic's contact information should you find your pet's condition worsens.

Visiting the emergency veterinary hospital can be stressful, but when you know what to expect, you can help insure your pet receives the prompt care it needs.