Preparing for an Emergency
No one hopes for an emergency but nonetheless, they happen. I myself have been the frantic client running barefoot into the emergency room with my pet. I could not even dial the phone to notify the hospital that I was on the way. With a little preparation though, an emergency can be more manageable. Here are some tips to help with this.
1. Pre-register your pet.
Some hospitals offer a pre-registration program. You can have your name and information as well as your pets, their medical records, allergies, current medications all on file. This is especially helpful prior to traveling and having a pet sitter in charge. It gives both parties peace of mind knowing that if an emergency happens and you are not with your pet, there is a game plan. For our facility you can register at www.veterinaryspecialtycare.com and look for emergency pre-registration.
2. Call ahead
Calling the animal hospital or emergency room prior to coming in may allow the veterinarian to give helpful advice before you arrive. For instance, if your pet has ingested something toxic, we may recommend inducing vomiting before you get to the hospital to get the toxin out of the system as soon as possible. This also allows staff to prepare for the emergency and in many cases, time is of the essence. Had I been able to operate a phone during my experience, the staff could have already had the necessary supplies out and ready to get started on my pet ASAP rather than wasting valuable time tting up once I arrived.
3. Use caution when dealing with an injured pet.
When pets are scared or injured, they can be aggressive. This is an inherent “fight or flight” response for them. They will sometimes bite in these instances. Use caution when moving them if they are painful or scared, even if it is your own pet. Your emergency veterinary team may need to muzzle them to work with them. This is no reflection on their personality and does not label them as aggressive; it is simply a preventative measure in a painful animal whose natural response may be to bite when it hurts.
4. Bring containers from toxins ingested with you.
It is very helpful to your veterinarian to bring the container from any toxins your pet may have been exposed to. This allows us to know the exact ingredients and their concentrations. We may also recommend you calling Animal Poison Control. Yes, there is a fee associated with this but it gives us valuable information to treat certain uncommon toxicities with which your veterinarian may not be familiar. Contacting them and setting up a “case” for your pet can be done ahead of time to help us move forward with treatment as quickly as possible. If you do this, it is a good idea to write down the case number so the doctor can reference it later if needed.
I hope these helpful tips after 7 years of emergency experience help the next time it happens to you. Please remember to drive safely too, one emergency is enough.
Dr. Kelly Anne Love earned her doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from the University of Florida. She worked for the Greater Charleston Emergency Clinic before moving to Wilmington, NC to continue working in emergency and critical care medicine. She rejoined the team at Veterinary Specialty Care in June of 2010 to head up the 24 hour emergency service in Mount Pleasant. Prior to vet school she was an emergency and surgical technician in North Carolina and Florida. She is originally from Charleston, SC.