Five Ways to Prepare for Pet Emergencies

10/10/2015  By YakimaPES

Emergencies happen when we least expect them. It is our duty as pet owners to make sure that we are prepared for the unexpected. Our family pets are very important to us, and to the veterinary staff that cares for them. These emergencies can vary from Rover not eating for a few days, to a severe crisis, such as a gunshot wound.

The following are things that we can do as pet owners to prepare for these emergencies. 

1. Establish a Veterinarian-Client-Patient relationship.

This is one of the first steps to preparing for emergencies. One reason that this is so important, is because in many states, it is the law for veterinary professionals to have a relationship with the client and patient, before any medications can be prescribed. You can contact your state's veterinary medical board, to learn what your state's specific laws are. 

The purpose for this relationship goes beyond legality and into the wellness of your pet. Consulting with your veterinarian on a regular basis can lower the risk of a major emergency because having wellness exams, vaccines, and routine blood work, in specific cases, can prevent serious illness. Take a puppy for example, going to your regular veterinarian for their scheduled puppy vaccines, can prevent them from getting parvo, which can land them in an emergency pet hospital, such as ours.

2. Budget & Save. 

It is true that the worst seems to happen when we are least prepared. Maybe we are two days before payday, and we don't have the amount to visit the vet. This can be common with the shifts in economy our nation is facing. We can beat that predicament, by setting a budget. Ask yourself, how much are you able or willing, to spend at one given time on your pet in an emergency? There is no wrong answer for this. You know what you are able to do, so save for that number. Are you able or willing to spend $1,200 on three day hospitalization on a parvo puppy? Can you afford a $3,200 gastric torsion surgery on a Newfoundland? These are the questions you should think about and discuss, before an emergency happens.  

There is also a credit card you can apply for and set aside, specifically for your pets health care called, Care Credit. This is a medical credit card that you can use on yourself or your pet's for medical, dental, & vision. They offer a variety of payment options depending on the amount of the bill. Some are no interest if paid in full within six months, others have a fixed interest rate from 12 to 60 months. It is definitely a good option to have this tucked away because you can't be tempted to use it anywhere other than for medical expenses, and there is no fee to maintain it. 

3. Keep a record of your pet's medical history.

Maybe you have a puppy who is 12 weeks old and isn't feeling well. He may be vomiting and having diarrhea. Having access to the vaccine dates can help veterinary staff determine if it could be a virus or something else. Maybe your pet is a senior who has had a history of seizures and has gone through some different treatment options. Having the details and information on dates, medications, etc. can help an emergency veterinarian who doesn’t know your pet's medical history make the best medical decision. Another great example is, if your pet is currently being treated for a medical condition and is on certain medications, knowing the drug name, strength, dose, and when it was last given, will help the DVM in assisting you best.

4. Know your general DVM hours and the available emergency facilities.

Wherever you live, it is important to research the emergency pet hospitals in the area. How many are there? If more than one, which is closer to your house? Which is closest to your day vet, in the event of a transfer?  Know the hours of the emergency clinic? What is their phone number? Address? These are all important questions to find the answers to when you obtain a pet or move to a new area.  Keep them written down somewhere conspicuous, so that you can quickly access the info in an emergency.  If you have exotic pets, it may be good to do further research to find an emergency vet clinic that provides services for exotics or which doctors at that clinic have experience with them.

Keeping a record of your regular veterinarian hours as well. It is good to know if your vet is open on the weekends, if so, how late and how late are they open during the week? This can help you in the heat of the moment, to decide if you need to go to your rDVM (your regular vet) or to the emergency service. It may be 4:45pm, if your vet closes at 5pm, heading to the emergency hospital first will allow you to obtain full services at one stop. 

5. Out of town/pet sitter plan.

When we have that family reunion three hours away or we get that family vacation to Disneyland, we often choose to find someone to watch our pets in house.  It is crucial to provide your sitter with a contact list for your daytime vet, the local pet emergency hospitals, in addition to reliable contact information for you. If you choose to board your pet, ensure they have an established emergency plan for pet's in their business' care.  

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Before you leave town, you should consider how you, or your sitter, would pay for a pet emergency if it happened while you were away.  Here at Yakima Pet Emergency Service, we provide PayPal on our webpage, so that owners can pay for treatments while they are out of town. You should call your local regular vet and emergency services to see what options they provide, if such a situation should arise. There is also the option of leaving an emergency fund at the house for a sitter to utilize. If boarding, it would be crucial to speak with them on how they would handle such a situation and plan accordingly.

It is also important to write down any pertinent medical conditions, & medications your pet may take, including dose, strength, time due etc. for anyone else caring for your pet. 

American Veterinary Medical Association

Humane Society