Locally-Owned in Oakdale and St. Paul, Minnesota

What to Expect at an Animal Emergency Clinic Part II

Have you read Part I of this blog yet? Read it here! Part I discusses the first half of an emergency visit from the initial phone call to waiting for the results from the doctor’s exam. Here’s what comes next:

The History

  • This is where we get to learn all about your pet! The most key information – What is the specific concern that prompted your visit? How long has it been happening? Is it improving or worsening?
  • Many of our patients receive regular and periodic medications for a variety of reasons. It can be very important to know the exact name, dose, frequency of administration, etc. For example, Prednisone 20mg once daily for the past 2 weeks is much more informative than Fido receives a steroid. Also, let your veterinarian know if there’s a new medication for recent health concerns (i.e. pain-relievers, anti-diarrheal, etc.).
  • We often see pets that were acting abnormally at home behave completely normally in the hospital.  Smartphones can be a quick resource to take a short video of the event. Good lighting is a must!

 The Plan

  • Based on your pet’s physical exam, health history and diagnosis your veterinarian will create a medical plan. A medical plan outlines anticipated diagnostic tests and therapy given all the current information. Sometimes a diagnosis is unclear and further testing is necessary before proceeding with specific therapy. For example, a pet can have a high fever for many different reasons; if your pet has a fever, he or she may require a variety of tests to determine the cause and the best treatment. Occasionally, your pet’s medical condition may change and require an adjustment in the anticipated care. In that situation, we will create a new medical plan for you.
  • Our veterinarians strive to provide a few potential options for your pet’s care, including outpatient and inpatient options. Outpatient care means that your pet may have tests and treatments performed at the hospital but go home with you that day or night. Inpatient care means that your pet will be hospitalized for further testing and care.

Hospitalized Pets 

  • If your pet is hospitalized, you can expect to hear from a veterinarian at AERC with updates. Routine updates are provided 2-3 times per 24-hour period. Occasionally, we need to call in the middle of the night if there is a major change in your pet’s condition.
  • You are welcome to call at any time for an update on your pet! Your pet’s technician will be able to provide an excellent update on your pet’s current comfort, appetite, behavior and vital signs. For a more in-depth medical update, we may ask you to hold on the line briefly to speak to your veterinarian.
  • Visiting your pet is encouraged! Your presence can be calming, reassuring and the best way to get your pet eating again. We often ask that you call us before an anticipated visit. This helps us prepare for your visit, especially during our most busy hospital hours, decreasing your wait time in the lobby.

The Payment

  • In the ideal world, Fluffy would have a Blue Cross Blue Shield card to cover the cost of the emergency visit.  Although there are many pet insurance providers, they require that the policyholder cover the initial cost of care. The insurance company will then reimburse the policyholder.
  • Payment is due at the time of service. The cost of emergency care can be a hardship for some cash, check and credit accounts. AERC and many local general practice hospitals accept CareCredit (www.carecredit.com) as a financial option to help offset the cost of emergency and follow-up care. AERC also offers an in-house payment plan to those who qualify.


  • All pets that leave our hospital go home with written discharge instructions. These instructions will include medication information, any dietary recommendations and when to follow-up with your primary veterinarian.

A first time visit to the emergency room can be a stressful experience. Hopefully, this guide will help alleviate some “fear of the unknown” jitters. We understand that emergencies happen, sometimes at the most inconvenient times. The Animal Emergency and Referral Center of Minnesota has two locations (one in St. Paul, MN and one in Oakdale, MN) that are open 24/7. If it’s daytime hours, please call your primary veterinarian first for advice. If it’s late night, weekend or a holiday, give us a call if you think you may have an emergency!

Watch this whiteboard video to learn more about bringing your pet to an animal emergency clinic:


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