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While your general practice veterinarian can diagnose and treat many health problems and handle many routine emergencies, certain situations require 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 practice veterinarian on a referral basis, as well as with any other needed specialists, until the emergency is resolved.


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 injuries of all kinds:

  • Respiratory emergencies
  • Poisonings
  • Animals in need of blood transfusions
  • Animals in shock
  • Coma or severe seizures
  • Diabetic Crises
  • Acute or severe illness

How Can I Find A Specialist in Emergency and Critical Care for My Pet?

If your veterinarian does not handle after hours emergencies, then he or she probably already has a referral relationship in place with a local or regional emergency hospital. You can also look for emergency specialists in your area on the ACVECC website (acvecc.org). You can be assured that a veterinarian who knows when and where to refer you and your pet for emergency or critical care is one that is caring and committed to ensuring that your pet receives the highest standard of care for his or her problem.


When Does My Pet Need Emergency Care?

Any of the following situations can be considered an emergency:

  • Difficulty breathing or severe coughing
  • Ingestion of a foreign object, drug, poison or unknown substance
  • Bleeding or unexplained bruising
  • Blood in vomit, feces or urine
  • Severe vomiting, retching, or diarrhea
  • Swollen, hard or painful abdomen
  • Serious wound
  • Suspected broken limb
  • Any injury to the eye
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures
  • Inability to move or sudden weakness
  • Unusual or erratic behavior
  • Signs of extreme pain
  • Straining to urinate (especially a male cat)
  • Labor that does not progress
  • Prolonged heat exposure, overheating or heat stroke
  • Snake bite

If you are concerned about your pet at any time, please contact us. We are happy to counsel you on the best course of action.


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 are required. Many emergency and critical care facilities offer 24-hour supervision of critically ill pets and, just as in human hospitals, may have dedicated Intensive Care and Critical Care Units (ICU/CCU). Such facilities are equipped to provide oxygen therapy, cardiac monitoring, blood transfusions, and nutritional support. Such facilities also typically have advanced diagnostic capabilities onsite, such as ultrasound and echocardiography.


Will My Regular Veterinarian Still Be Involved?

Many emergency hospitals work on a referral basis with general practitioners. In some cases, your pet will only be referred to the emergency service 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.

Emergency & Critical Care

Whether a patient is admitted for hospitalization through our emergency room or is receiving care through one of our specialty departments, our critical care staff is available to evaluate the care plan for patients facing serious conditions. Led by two board-certified criticalists, Dr. Tom Day and Dr. Josh Smith, our critical care staff works out of our emergency room and is often employed for high risk procedures. They help to provide the highest level of care available to our critically injured or ill patients. In addition to emergency and critical care, Dr. Tom Day is also board-certified in anesthesia and analgesia.

What constitutes an "Emergency"?

In any situation or case that occurs when your regular veterinarian is unable to see you. This could be a result of your clinic being closed, lack of an open appointment, or due to the severity and complicated nature of the medical issues of your pet.

Examples:

If your pet has been involved in a life threatening accident such as:

  • Hit by a car
  • Long distance fall
  • Massive Bleeding from a wound

If your pet is experiencing a sudden illness such as:
  • Collapse
  • Seizure
  • Poison ingestion
  • Respiratory distress

If your regular veterinarian has already treated you during the day but now it is the middle of the night and the situation has gotten worse.
  • Surgical complications
  • Vaccine reactions
  • Wound care

How do you get an appointment?

Regular veterinarians refer most of our patients to Veterinary Emergency Service & Veterinary Specialty Center. However, you do not need a "referral" to schedule an appointment or bring your pet to VES/VSC.

To better serve you, we ask that you call us in advance. This allows our staff to prepare for your pet's specific medical issues. However, we realize that sometimes there is not time to call. In these cases we welcome walk-ins. Both our Middleton & Madison locations are fully staffed 24/7 and equipped to treat all of your pet's initial needs and to monitor their condition throughout the night. Our Janesville location is available weeknights and 24/7 over the weekend.

Special Note: If there has been toxin ingestion, please bring the product and its container with you to our clinic. We will also need to know how long it's been since ingestion.

What happens when I get there?

You will be greeted by a staff member who will verify your information and will perform an initial assessment to determine whether or not your pet is stable. Patients are treated in order of severity, and pets determined to be in stable condition may remain with their owner until a veterinarian is available. Patients who need urgent care will be moved immediately to the treatment area for further evaluation and care. To allow maximum safety and efficiency in providing care to critically ill or injured pets, the treatment area is restricted to employees only. During this time a trained member of our triage staff will meet with you to obtain your pet's history. Your pet will then be examined by one of our emergency room veterinarians or a critical care specialists depending on their condition. Based on that examination, our veterinarian will propose a treatment plan and will provide you with an estimated cost of care.

Our Emergency & Critical Care Services

Aggressive Analgesia
Cardiac Output Monitoring
Central Venous Pressure Monitoring
Continuous ECG Monitoring and Telemetry

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