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Veterinary Urgent Care Vs. Emergency Care: What's the Difference, and Where Should You Bring Your Pet?

Since its inception in 1760, veterinary medicine has grown leaps and bounds. It has grown in tandem with society's increasing value for pets and their care. In this journey, veterinary doctors and researchers continue to develop new techniques for treating pets. They are providing medicines for specific pet issues that were not previously treatable.


Nowadays, veterinary care is essential to a pet owner's life. Pet owners are anxious to give preventative care to their furry friends. Consequently, preventive care is seeing massive growth in the past few years and is now almost at par with human care.


With all these advancements, pet owners need to know what medical care their pet needs at what time. If a pet is in danger due to their health, there are two primary specialty cares that a pet owner can seek—veterinary urgent care and emergency care. Here is how you will be able to tell which of the two your pet needs.



Urgent Care Vs. Emergency Care



Both specialties of veterinary medical care deal with a form of a pet emergency. Urgent care deals with specific issues that require immediate medical attention but do not threaten the life of your pet. Some of these emergencies could be bite wounds or diarrhea in your pet. It would be best if you took your pet to a veterinarian qualified to deal with urgent care.


Pets require emergency care when they are in a life-threatening condition. Life-threatening conditions require a specialist hospital to handle where there is a specialist veterinarian. If your pet is experiencing choking, excessive bleeding, or heatstroke, it needs emergency care.



What Conditions Fall Under the Category of Urgent Care?



  • Vomiting or diarrhea.
  • Bite wounds.
  • Constipation.
  • Bloating.
  • Rashes or itchy skin.
  • Dehydration.
  • Hair loss.
  • Treatment of wounds.
  • Overgrown nails.
  • Limping or pain.
  • Overeating or loss of appetite.
  • Behavioral changes.
  • Scooting.
  • Abrasions and cuts.
  • Ear infections.
  • Issues with the eyes such as discharge, redness, or tearing.
  • Coughing, sneezing, or runny nose.
  • Pale gums.
  • Mites, worms, fleas, or ticks.
  • Urinary changes.
  • Urinating blood.
  • Swallowing a foreign object like a toy.
  • Ingesting toxic substances.


What Conditions Are Categorized As Emergency Care?



  • Paralysis.
  • Loss of consciousness or collapsing.
  • Choking.
  • Seizures.
  • Severe or persistent vomiting or diarrhea.
  • Bleeding excessively.
  • Penetrating wounds.
  • Fractures.
  • Heatstroke.
  • Allergic reactions to specific substances or foods.
  • Cardiac arrest.
  • Stopped breathing.
  • Distressed mother pet unable to deliver kittens or puppies.
  • Trauma from falling or being hit by a car.



Be Aware of Your Options



It is good to be aware of the medical options available to your pet. It would be best to have the contacts of a veterinarian urgent care facility and an emergency care unit. Sometimes, they may be one facility that offers both services and primary care.


Be observant of your pet's behavior to know which facility they need. It could mean the life of your pet if you take them to the wrong facility. This is because some emergencies are time sensitive, and your pet might not survive a transfer from one facility to another.


For more on veterinary urgent care vs. emergency care, visit Santa Monica Pet Medical Center at our office in Santa Monica, California. Call (310) 393-8218 to book an appointment today.

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