Pet Emergency: Tips for the Emergency Room

If you discover your dog or cat exhibiting aberrant behavior or signs of disease, if you notice an injury, or if your pet ate something harmful, you should seek emergency pet care from a veterinarian. While your regular veterinarian can probably treat some minor diseases and injuries during normal office hours, more serious conditions are considered true emergencies and require immediate treatment regardless of the time of day or night.

How to prepare for the animal ER?

The emergency room can be intimidating and overwhelming if your pet is wounded or in distress. Follow these tips to make check-in and waiting less stressful.


When checking in with the receptionist, try to remain calm so you can explain the situation briefly. Please turn over your pet’s medical records. Don’t leave the building until you’ve been seen, and then keep your phone charged in case your vet needs to reach you. Visit the hospital’s home page to get an idea on how they run things. 

Check financial assistance.

Pet emergencies can be very costly unlike cat and dog routine exams. Consider the accepted payment methods if you believe you will require financial assistance. While you’re waiting to be seen, start looking into financial options.

Keep your cool.

Meditate, eat a snack, or do something else to distract yourself from your worries. Avoid not reading online forums about what might be wrong with your pet that exacerbates your anxiety. Our pets can detect our anxiety, so try to stay calm for their sake.

Keep your pet relaxed.

Move to a quiet waiting room section and speak softly to your dog or cat to keep them calm. If your pet tolerates it, stroke them softly; otherwise, give them some space and let them relax in a carrier or on a blanket. Request permission from the veterinary staff to give your pet some water. If your cat is nervous, request a cat-only waiting area or a pheromone spray like Feliway.

Be prepared to wait.

You could be there for several hours depending on how busy the emergency room is and how many pets are in its care. When you arrive, a vet or technician will triage your pet based on the severity of his or her condition. 


Life-threatening issues are addressed first, followed by less serious issues. Before you see the veterinarian, a nurse may take your dog or cat’s history and check vital signs.

Be courteous and respectful.

Our emotions run high when our pets are ill, but we must treat the 24 hour veterinarian with respect and kindness. They care for your pet’s health and work tirelessly at their hospital. Be honest and open about finances with veterinary nurses and your emergency vet. Explain what happened to your pet and how long the problem has been going on. Be aware that your veterinary doctor may be called away anytime during your appointment for a more pressing matter. 


Please be patient and understand that the doctors are doing everything possible to save the lives of all pets in their care and make decisions accordingly.

Prepare for hospitalization or extended treatment.

During your visit, your pet may be subjected to a battery of diagnostic tests, which may take some time. If your pet can return home, inquire about any necessary home care or rechecks. The ER’s primary priority is to stabilize your pet, so it may need to be hospitalized or transferred to your normal veterinarian the next day for follow-up care. Your dog or cat may be referred to a specialist for tests or surgery.


Your pets are completely reliant on you in good and bad times, and this is especially true during emergencies. That is why it is critical to plan ahead so that you have everything in place to keep them safe and secure.