What Is An Emergency and Critical Care Specialist?
A board certified specialist in emergency and critical care is a veterinarian who has obtained intensive, additional training in treating life-threatening conditions.
An emergency and critical care specialist can help in the following kinds of cases, among others:
- Traumatic injury (including fractures, bite wounds, burns, lacerations)
- Respiratory emergencies (including cases in which the use of a ventilator is needed)
- Animals in need of blood transfusions
- Animals that are in shock (weak, pale)
- Animals with life threatening neurologic disease, such as coma or severe seizures
While your general practitioner veterinarian can diagnose and treat many health problems and handle many routine emergencies, certain situations may benefit from the care of a doctor who has had specialized, intensive training in handling emergency and critical care for your pet. An emergency and critical care specialist typically works in tandem with your general practitioner veterinarian on a referral basis, as well as with any other needed specialists, until the emergency is resolved.
When Does My Pet Need Emergency Care?
Any of the following situations can be considered an emergency:
- Difficulty breathing
- Ingestion of a foreign object or unknown substance
- Vomiting blood
- Blood in the feces or urine
- Swollen, hard abdomen that is painful to the touch
- Serious wound
- Suspected broken limb
- Any injury to the eye
- Loss of consciousness
- Inability to move or sudden weakness
- Unusual or erratic behavior
- Signs of extreme pain, such as whining or shaking
- Straining to urinate (especially a male cat)
- Labor that does not progress
- Signs of heatstroke
What Is Critical Care?
While an emergency is unfolding, or throughout recovery from a serious illness or accident, ongoing diagnostic and therapeutic care and constant monitoring of your pet's condition may be required. Our hospital offers 24-hour supervision of critically ill pets and, just as in human hospitals, has a dedicated Intensive Care and Critical Care Unit (ICU/CCU). We are equipped to provide oxygen therapy, cardiac monitoring, blood transfusions, and nutritional support. We also have advanced diagnostic capabilities onsite, such as ultrasound and echocardiography.
Will My Regular Veterinarian Still Be Involved?
At VCA Shoreline, we work on a referral basis with general practitioners though emergencies are welcome on a walk-in basis at any time. In some cases, your veterinarian will refer your pet to our emergency service only for after hours care. In other cases, your pet may be in the care of the emergency and critical care specialist for the duration of the emergency and recovery, but then referred back to your general practitioner veterinarian for follow up and routine care.
How Can I Find A Specialist in Emergency and Critical Care for My Pet?
If you are out of the area and your animal experiences an emergency, any local veterinarian will be able to refer you to a local or regional emergency hospital. Before you travel, you can also look for emergency specialists on the ACVECC website so you have a number on hand to call should an emergency arise. (The ACVECC certifies veterinary specialists in critical and emergency care.)
Did You Know?
There are more than 125 board-certified veterinary emergency and critical care specialists in the U.S. today and it is the fastest growing specialty in the profession.