An emergency room visit for your pet can be frightening, overwhelming, and of course unexpected. However, there are important steps you can take to help your dog or cat avoid the ER.

1. Routine Exams

Regular visits with your primary care veterinarian are critical for your pet’s health. Annual “nose-to-tail” exams, vaccinations, parasite control, weight maintenance, and other preventative measures help keep your pet in top shape and may catch potentially life-threatening diseases before they gain a foothold. As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

2. Be Prepared

Did you know that pet insurance may cover some or most of your pet’s medical costs?  Many insurance policies offer up to 80-90% of coverage after a deductible. And, some plans will pay the clinic directly instead of reimbursing the pet owner that has paid at the time of service. To learn more about various insurance plans, click here.

In addition to pet insurance, it is recommended to set aside a budget or an emergency fund for your pet’s healthcare needs. As with emergency departments for humans, ER costs are higher than a clinic visit due to the additional equipment, skills, and experience of the medical team.


3. First Aid

It is essential to have a readily accessible pet first-aid kit at home (and another in your car) packed with all the essentials, including:

  • Medical history
  • Antibacterial ointment
  • A book covering first aid for pets
  • Gauze and gauze pads
  • Muzzles
  • Tweezers
  • Digital rectal thermometer
  • Waterproof and nonstick tape
  • Vetwrap – bandages for pets
  • Sterile wound wash

Not only is it important to have these items on hand, but also to know how to use them. Ask your veterinarian for instructions on their use and for additional recommendations.

It is also important to have the phone number of the nearest animal hospital readily available, so you can call them while you’re on your way. And be sure to add our number (757-935-9111) into your contacts on your mobile phone! Include a list of contact numbers in your first aid kit, including your primary care veterinarian’s office, in case you are not with your pet at the time of the emergency. Download our first aid brochure to help you assemble your kit and know what do in common emergency situations including snakebites, heat exhaustion, and seizures.

4. Keep your Pets Leashed

One common reason for visits to our ER is that a pet has been hit by a car. This is a terrifying experience for the pet and for you as the pet parent. To prevent an accident of this magnitude, it is important to ensure your cat remains indoors, or, if your dog or cat is outdoors, that they are fenced in at all times. When out on walks or exploring the outdoors, make sure your pet is on a tight leash. When you are not home, ensure your pet is either locked inside or in a secure yard so they can’t run away.


5. Use Caution Around Other Pets        

It can be fun to enjoy the local park with a dog. However, be cautious around other pets, especially a dog or cat you aren’t familiar with. Not all of them want to be friends and an aggressive dog can be dangerous. You would be surprised how many dogs and cats enter our ER after an unfriendly encounter with another animal. Again, keep your dog on a leash and be careful whenever dogs meet.

We hope these tips will help you to prepare – to stay out of the emergency room! Remember that if your pet does need emergency attention, The COVE is open 24 hours a day, 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.