We know that when your pet is sick or injured, you worry about them. You may be even more worried if you have to take them to an emergency hospital, which brings long wait times and curbside care, making an already stressful situation more uncertain.

So to help, we want to share some of our insights about how to avoid the ER altogether, as well as what to expect if you do need to visit The COVE’s 24-hour emergency animal hospital.

Keeping Your Pet Out of the Veterinary ER

One of the best things you can do to help your pet stay healthy – and avoid the ER – is to establish routine care. This means visiting your primary veterinarian for regular wellness exams and preventive care, including vaccines, flea, tick, and heartworm preventives, and regular blood and urinalysis testing. By doing this, your veterinarian can learn what is “normal” for your pet, assess their ever-changing health, monitor any developing conditions, and adjust their preventive care as needed.

The second thing you can do, is to know your pet. The more attention you pay to their daily habits, the better you can spot changes that could indicate a problem. Are you refilling the water bowl more often than usual? Noticing the litter box isn’t being used as much? Is your dog reluctant to go for her daily walk or get out of bed? Subtle signals like these could mean your pet could use a checkup, and getting ahead of any conditions early means a better chance of avoiding the need for emergency care.

Third, we strongly encourage our clients to protect their pets with pet health insurance so that if they do need urgent care, they can have financial assistance in covering the bills. Insurance can help cover the cost for unexpected illnesses and injuries – the exact kinds of things that can land their pets in the emergency room – but the policy needs to be activated before an emergency occurs. Read more about how pet insurance can help your family in this blog.

If Your Pet Needs Emergency Care

Of course, some accidents, injuries, and medical emergencies can’t be avoided or prevented. If your pet needs urgent care, here’s what we recommend:

  • Understand what is and what is NOT an emergency: Review this page on our website with a list of symptoms that may indicate a serious problem. Not sure? You can always call (757-935-9111) and speak with us about what your pet is experiencing before deciding to leave the house. If it’s during your primary care veterinarian’s business hours, please call them first.
  • Call ahead of time: This enables us to prepare our team for your pet’s arrival, and instruct you on any forms or documents we need to have filled out. There’s also a chance that, after hearing your pet’s symptoms, we might tell you it’s not an emergency after all.
  • Understand the triage system: Upon your arrival, we will assess your pet’s condition. If your pet is stable, you may be asked to wait while we treat patients with more serious injuries or illnesses – including those who arrive after you.
  • Expect to wait: You may initially be told your wait will be short, but please understand that your place in line is subject to change. If pets suddenly arrive who need lifesaving care immediately, we have to treat them first. Pets experiencing non-life-threatening symptoms may have to wait until more critically ill patients can be stabilized before being seen. This can draw out wait times.
  • Understand your financial responsibility: Unless you have pet insurance (which if you do, we will happily assist you in processing), this visit will likely be an unexpected out-of-pocket expense. Be prepared to pay upfront, and expect higher fees than you’d see at your primary veterinary office. To avoid surprises, a personalized medical plan will be provided for your review and approval, and then payment or deposit (if your pet is staying at the hospital) will be taken. Click here for our accepted payment options, including links to CareCredit, a low-cost credit card exclusively for health care expenses, and ScratchPay, another low-cost financing plan only for pet health care (both are subject to credit approval).

Here for You 24/7

Please know that our staff is tirelessly working as quickly and carefully as possible while providing personalized care for every patient. We appreciate your cooperation, kindness, and patience as we continue to operate during these challenging times.

If you have any questions, we’re just a phone call away at (757) 935-9111 – at any time, day or night, 365 days a year.

About Us

The COVE’s veterinarians and staff wholeheartedly embrace the core values of community, collaboration, commitment, compassion, and integrity. This focus ensures that pets, the people who love them, and their primary care veterinarians have as positive and affirming a healthcare experience as possible, regardless of the circumstances that bring us all together.