Preparing for a pet emergency
Emergencies normally happen when you are least expecting them and at the most inconvenient time. They can be a very stressful and traumatic time for both you and your pet. Here are a few things to consider in advance so you are as prepared as possible to deal with an emergency, should one occur. Knowing what to do and what not to do can make a difference to saving your pet’s life.
- Speak to your veterinary practice about the arrangements for emergency care during the day and “after hours”.
Often out of hours veterinary care is provided by a dedicated team of vets and nurses that only work at night. These out of hours providers, such as Vets Now, work with your regular vet to provide a dedicated emergency and out of hours service.
The teams are made up of fully qualified and experienced vets and nurses and because they’re dedicated to working with emergencies and critical care cases, they are particularly skilled at dealing with accidents and emergencies. If your practice uses an out of hours provider, make sure you have their contact details and know where they are located.
- Think about how you would get your pet to the veterinary clinic in an emergency.
In almost every emergency case you will need to take your pet to a veterinary clinic where the necessary staff, equipment and drugs are available in order to provide the very best care and immediate treatment for them.
If an emergency happens during the evening when you may have had an alcoholic drink, is there anyone you could call to give you a lift to the veterinary clinic? Alternatively, keep details of a local pet friendly taxi company or ambulance to hand.
A large dog can be extremely difficult to move so think about whether you’re able to lift him or if you will need someone else to help you get him into the car.
Occasionally house visits can be arranged, but it can take a bit of time to organise and in almost all cases, it is much better for your pet if they can be brought in to the veterinary clinic, as the vets and nurses are quite limited in the level of treatment they can provide away from the clinic.
- Keep your vet’s phone number in your mobile phone.
This can save you valuable time in an emergency and if your practice offers an out of hours service there will be information directing you to the emergency service required.
How would you pay for a large, unexpected bill?
Having pet insurance to help cover for any emergency makes life so much easier for you at such a potentially stressful time. If you have pet insurance, all or some of the cost may be reimbursed by your policy. However cover varies enormously so check your policy to find out exactly what is covered and what excesses apply.
Alternatively, although not as recommended, you could open a bank account for your pet and pay a monthly sum to ensure you have some cash to help pay for treatment in case of emergency.
- Keep your pet’s documents, medical records and vaccination history in a secure and easily accessible location.
Vets at the emergency centre may not have access to your pet’s records and will need to know if your pet is currently receiving any medication or has on-going health issues so having this kind of information to hand will save time and worry.
- Think about what will happen when you are on holiday.
If the worst happens when you’re away make sure you have a plan in place for whoever is looking after your pet. Ensure they know who to contact, where to go, who will pay for the treatment and have access to any relevant medical information.
- Make sure you have the necessary accessories to keep your pet safe while travelling.
Animals can get spooked while travelling, especially if they’re in pain. So ensure you have a safe and secure carrier for each pet with your name and contact information on it. This is particularly important for cats.
Also make sure you have a lead or harness including tags/identification in a convenient location and a spare in the car.
- Make sure you have a fresh supply of all your pet’s medication.
Regularly check the expiration dates to ensure it’s in date and safe to use.
- Invest in a first aid kit for your pet.
This should include items such as a sterile saline wash, water, bandages, tape, a blanket or towel, gloves, scissors, tweezers, medication, thermometer and washing up liquid which is good for removing toxins from the skin and fur. Find out more about what to include in your pet first aid kit.
Vets Now assumes no liability for the content of this page. This advice is not a substitute for a proper consultation with a vet and is only intended as a guide. Please contact your local veterinary practice for advice or treatment immediately if you are worried about your pet’s health - even if they are closed, they will always have an out of hours service available. Find out more about what to do in an emergency.
Guidelines from our vets on what to do, and what not to do in a pet emergency.
Our advice on the most common pet emergencies
Advice on what to expect when you visit an out of hours vet.