When an emergency happens with your pet outside of your veterinarian's normal business hours, you'll probably wonder if you can wait until the office opens back up again or if you should seek care from a 24-hour clinic. It's easy to get flustered if your beloved pet is seriously ill or has an accident, so take a look at some important things to know about visiting an urgent care veterinary hospital before you go.

1) There are a few different places to receive emergency care for your pet

The easiest way to help your pet is to find out how your primary vet handles emergencies. Be sure to ask the office what to do in case of an urgent problem. If your vet does not offer on-call services, he or she can give you the contact details for a partner clinic who will respond to an emergency situation. A 24-hour animal hospital may provide routine services in addition to critical cases, and some round-the-clock clinics even provide ambulance services to transport your sick pet to the clinic from your home. There are also special after-hours veterinary offices. These locations care exclusively for injured animals and are usually open at night, on holidays, and over the weekend. It's important to call the hospital first to give the doctor time to prepare for your arrival.

2) It will likely cost more to visit an emergency veterinary clinic

Seeing an emergency vet usually involves extra costs that you may not expect beforehand, so it's important to be aware of this when you come to the hospital. An on-call doctor wants to provide the absolute best care to your pet, but this care is often a specialized service that is naturally more expensive than what you'll pay for a routine visit. When you arrive at the clinic, a staff member will discuss the costs with you, and you'll have to sign paperwork and possibly pay a fee prior to treatment. While it's difficult to talk about a bill when your pet is in distress, this is still a crucial point to keep in mind.

3) The most injured pets will be seen by the doctor first

Similar to what happens in an emergency room that you would visit for your own ailments, the sickest individuals will be treated before those with less pressing situations. The emergency vets will focus on taking care of pets with the most urgent traumas first. If your pet has a situation that is not as serious as other animals in the waiting room, be ready to wait a bit longer to see the doctor. Additionally, to help make the most of your visit when it's your turn, bring any pertinent records (such as medications, previous surgeries, and vaccinations) with you, as an emergency vet will not be aware of your pet's medical history.

Since emergencies and accidents can occur with your pet at any time of day and on nights and weekends, creating an emergency plan is essential. Be prepared for every situation, and have the address and phone number of a 24-hour veterinary clinic on hand if you should ever need it.

For more information, reach out to a company like South Seattle Veterinary Hospital.