Emergency & Critical Care

VCA Arboretum View is excited to announce that we are fully open 24/7 in our ER effective January 16, 2023!

We appreciate your patience and understanding as staffing shortages, combined with unprecedented demand, forced us to make the difficult decision to limit the hours of our ER department the last three years. Our team has since grown, and we are thrilled to once again be at the capacity needed to support the community and you in the care of clients and their pets.

As we continue to experience a high volume of cases and the potential for a full capacity ICU, we ask our partners to continue calling us to discuss possible transfer cases. We will do everything possible to streamline the process in the care for patients.  

Thank you for your referrals and continued confidence in our services.

How do I know it is an Emergency?

  • Trauma
  • Suspect broken bone
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Collapse, extreme weakness or inability to stand or support weight
  • Heat stroke
  • Seizures (more than 2 minutes long or more than 2 in 24 hours)
  • Straining to urinate, only able to produce a small amount of urine, or unable to urinate
  • Difficulty or pain when defecating
  • Bleeding from eyes, nose, mouth, or blood in vomit, urine or feces
  • Vomiting or diarrhea (especially if more than 24 hours)
  • Not eating or drinking for more than 24 hours
  • Pain (whining, panting, inability to get comfortable, arching back)
  • Distended and/or hard abdomen and/or retching or attempting to vomit
  • Ingestion of household chemicals
  • Ingestion of human or another pet's medications
  • Ingestion of a foreign object
  • Ingestion of chocolate, sugar free gum with xylitol, grapes, raisins, garlic, rodenticides, petroleum products, and/or antifreeze
  • Pregnant animal with active contractions with no birth in 60 minutes or more than 4 hours between births 

What is an Emergency Center and Intensive Care Unit for pets?

Our Emergency and Intensive Care Unit (ICU) mirrors what you would find at a human medical center. Our emergency center is where you would bring your pet when they need immediate care and cannot wait for an appointment with a primary care veterinarian. Depending on your pet's condition, your pet can be treated and discharged on the same day

Our ICU is where critically ill pets stay until they are stable to go home. Our ICU veterinary technicians have special training in taking care of our critically ill patients

Our ICU receives patients from our other specialty services and transfers from surrounding primary care veterinary hospitals. The ICU is fully staffed with doctors and technicians 24/7/365.

Does my pet need an appointment for ER?

Your pet does not need an appointment. But that means many pets may need treatment at the same time. In that case, the most critical pets are treated first. We recommend that you call ahead so our staff may give you valuable advice in the time it takes you to get here, and so that we may be prepared for your arrival.

Our ER and Critical Care Department is experiencing an unprecedented large caseload, resulting in excessive wait times. Critical pets will be prioritized.

My primary care veterinarian is referring me over for diagnostic imaging (ultrasound/MRI/CT)? 

We cannot guarantee that your pet will receive an ultrasound, MRI, or CT scan.

When you arrive with your pet:

You will talk to a triage technician when you arrive. The triage technician has specialized training in veterinary emergency care. The technician will determine the severity of your pet's condition through a physical examination and questions they ask you.

Depending on the severity of the injury or illness, the triage technician may advise they take your pet to our treatment area to see a doctor immediately. If your pet is stable and does not require immediate medical attention, you will be asked to wait so we can attend to the pets with the most life-threatening injuries or illnesses.

There can be an extensive wait time, depending on the severity of emergencies that present to our hospital. Please know that we are working diligently to have your pet seen in a timely manner. If you feel that your pet's condition has changed while waiting, let the triage technician know.

Examination with our ER veterinarians:

Your pet will receive a full physical examination by an Emergency Services Veterinarian. During this time, our triage technician may ask questions about your pet's current symptoms, health, and medications.

Shortly after discussing your pet's health with the triage technician, you will meet with your pet's emergency doctor. It may seem like you are answering several questions, but this information helps the ER doctor develop a unique treatment plan for your pet.

Your ER doctor will discuss the treatment recommendations and answer any of your questions. If your doctor recommends diagnostic testing, overnight care, procedure, or medications, a technician will review a detailed treatment plan so that you can make an informed decision that is best for you and your pet.

Update on your pet:

Please do not hesitate to call 630.963.0424 any time, day or night. Please state that you would like to speak to the ICU technician that is taking care of your pet. If the ICU technician cannot answer the phone, we will take a message, and the technician will call you back as soon as possible.

Visitation hours:

9:00 am to 9:00 pm, unless arranged otherwise. It is best to call ahead when planning a visit at 630-963-0424.

What to expect on discharge day:

You will be scheduled a discharge appointment time so that your pet can be discharged as efficiently as possible. When you arrive to pick up your pet, you will first check out with a client service representative at the front desk. You will then meet with an emergency care coordinator who will review all discharge instructions with you. The emergency care coordinator will go over all prescribed medications, activity restrictions, expectations of the healing process, and follow up appointments. At any time, please address your concerns and or questions with the emergency care coordinator. We understand that this process can be somewhat overwhelming. At any point during your pet's recovery process, please call us with any questions or concerns; we are always available to help you and your pet.

Frequently Asked Questions

It goes without saying that the best way to avoid an emergency is to prevent it in the first place. To reduce the chances that you will experience an emergency situation during the lifetime of your pet, consider the following tips:

Follow your veterinarian's advice regarding all relevant wellness care, including vaccinations, age appropriate health screenings, and parasite prevention.

Prevent traumatic injury by keeping pets under your control at all times. Keep cats indoors and dogs fenced. When pets venture outdoors, keep them leashed at all times. If you do allow them off leash, limit this privilege to large enclosed areas away from traffic, other potentially aggressive pets, and wildlife.

Invest the time in training your pet to obey simple commands, such as Come, Sit, Down, Stay, and No.

Never leave your pet alone or unattended in a car, even with the windows open.

Pet proof your home, removing all potential hazards from your pet's reach, much the same as you would do with an infant or toddler.

Supervise your pet as much as possible. Puppies and kittens, just like human babies, like to explore with their mouths. Supervising them during playtime can prevent their ingesting poisonous substances or choking hazards.

If your pet is coping with a chronic illness, carefully follow all of your veterinarian's recommendations regarding medication administration and check ups.

Make sure you know ahead of time what your veterinarian's policy is regarding emergency care, both during regular practice hours and after hours. If your veterinarian does not have a referral relationship in place, then make sure you know the location of the closest emergency referral center for your area.

If your pet has an ongoing medical problem that could result in a sudden emergency, make sure you keep any pertinent medical records in a handy place so that you can quickly locate them and bring them with you to the emergency service or hospital in the event of a crisis.

Keep your veterinarian's phone number and any emergency phone numbers and directions next to your phone along with all other important emergency information for your family.

Know basic first aid tips for pets. Ask your veterinarian for these ahead of time during a routine wellness exam

Handle With Care

Pain, fear, and shock can make animals behave differently. When you are faced with a pet emergency, remember that even the most well trained and loving pet can behave differently when feeling ill or in pain. Also realize that even relatively small animals, such as cats or small dogs, are capable of inflicting serious bite and scratch wounds when they are disoriented and in pain. If this occurs, it is important not to take such actions personally, but to realize that it is an expression of the extreme pain or disorientation your pet may be experiencing at the time.

Approach all injured pets with caution. Despite your natural wish to comfort your ill or wounded pet, do not place your face or hands near his or her head until you can assess your pet's condition. If you feel you cannot safely manage the emergency situation, ask your veterinarian for advice on how to handle and transport your pet when you call to report the emergency. Sometimes wrapping small, injured pets in towels (taking care not to cause further injury or pain) or placing larger pets in crates or carriers for transport may be the safest option for both you and your pet.

Veterinarians who want to become board certified in emergency and critical care medicine must seek additional training to become a specialist and earn this prestigious credentialing. Specialty status is granted by the American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care (ACVECC). A veterinarian who has received this specialty status will list the initials, 'DACVECC,' after his or her DVM degree. Or, the veterinarian may indicate that he or she is a 'Diplomate' of the ACVECC. The word 'Diplomate' typically means the specialist has achieved the following:

Obtained a veterinary degree (three to four years of college plus four years of veterinary school).
Completed a one-year internship at a referral private practice or veterinary teaching hospital.
Completed an additional three years of advanced training in emergency medicine, surgery, and critical care through a residency at a veterinary teaching hospital where the veterinarian will have trained with some of the best specialists in the field and obtained hands on experience. This training focuses on the most up to date techniques for the diagnosis and treatment of life threatening disease processes or injuries, not only for the duration of the emergency but throughout the critical care period right after.
Passed a rigorous examination.

After completing and passing all of these requirements, the veterinarian is then recognized by his or her peers as a board certified specialist in veterinary emergency and critical care. When your pet faces an emergency, years of additional training and education will be focused on helping him or her to recover from injury or illness and enjoy the highest quality of life possible.

Call your veterinarian immediately. Even if it is after hours, most veterinarians have recordings that explain how to obtain emergency help for a pet when the practice is closed.

Call your veterinarian rather than attempting to obtain advice online. Do not leave a voicemail. In an emergency, your pet needs help immediately. Keep going until you get a live person on the other end of the phone who can connect you with a veterinarian or direct you to an emergency facility.

If you are away from home, consult the yellow pages of the local phone book for the closest veterinary emergency facility.

High Tech Help

Much of the same high tech equipment that human doctors use to help critically ill humans is also available to help save injured or seriously ill pets. Emergency and Critical Care specialists are more likely to have access to the following cutting edge equipment or capabilities to help your pet recover:

  • Supplemental oxygen delivered via oxygen cages or nasal tubes
  • Pulse oximeters
  • Blood gas monitoring
  • End tidal carbon dioxide measurement
  • Colloid oncotic pressure measurement
  • Continuous ECG monitoring and telemetry
  • Ultrasonography
  • Endoscopy
  • Blood pressure and central venous pressure measurements
  • Blood transfusions
  • Advanced imaging techniques, such as CT scans and MRI