VCA Mission Animal Referral and Emergency Center

Emergency/Critical Care

The ICU at VCA Mission Animal Referral and Emergency Center is staffed 24 hours a day by trained critical care veterinary technicians and senior assistants, and there is a veterinarian available at all times. Patients receive around the clock monitoring and attention including oxygen support, IV fluid therapy, continuous EKG and blood pressure evaluation, drug infusions, and personalized nursing care.

Services provided in our ICU include:

  • Oxygen and respiratory support: O2 cage, nasal, mechanical ventilation, nebulization
  • Nutritional support: feeding tubes (esophagostomy, nasogastric, gastrostomy, jejunostomy tubes), total and partial parenteral nutrition.
  • Transfusion therapy: whole blood, blood components, blood typing and cross matching; nutritional support.
  • STAT laboratory evaluation: complete blood count, coagulation, blood gases, biochemical analysis. 
  • Advanced monitoring: EKG, blood pressure, pulse oximetry, end-tidal CO2
  • Pain management.

VCA Mission Animal Referral and Emergency Center state-of-the-art facility is designed and equipped to provide emergency and critical care for pets 24 hours a day, handling unexpected trauma, illness, and injury. Our ER service is staffed at all times by highly skilled, compassionate doctors and technicians capable of handling even the most complicated and demanding pet emergencies. In addition, the VCA Mission Animal Referral and Emergency Center team of board-certified doctors are on-call to assist in providing excellent, comprehensive emergency care.

We provide after-hours, weekend, and holiday emergency services for many veterinary practices. Appointments are not needed for emergency service, though it is advisable to call ahead so that we will be ready for your pet's arrival. Pets requiring ongoing care after initial presentation are encouraged to be transferred back to their regular veterinarian. If your pet is in an unstable condition, requires advanced resources or specialist care, we can arrange for continued hospitalization.

Your primary care veterinarian will receive a copy of your pet's emergency record. Please remember your veterinarian is an essential part of the good health of your pet and only with his or her participation does your pet receive the best continuity of care!

Emergency Preparedness

Emergencies rarely happen during regular business hours and are always unexpected. Make an emergency plan now so you can calmly tend to your pet should an emergency arise. Discuss your plans with your family veterinarian. Plot the most direct route to your emergency veterinary care facility and write out the directions. Put important phone numbers and other information where they can be easily found along with the directions. A phone call is recommended to assure that the hospital is open and to alert them to your arrival. 

What Is An Emergency and Critical Care Specialist?

A board certified specialist in emergency and critical care is a veterinarian who has obtained intensive, additional training in treating life-threatening conditions.

An emergency and critical care specialist can help in the following kinds of cases, among others:

  • Traumatic injury (including fractures, bite wounds, burns, lacerations)
  • Respiratory emergencies (including cases in which the use of ventilators is needed) Animals in need of blood transfusions Animals that are in shock
  • Animals with life threatening neurologic disease, such as coma or severe seizures

While your general practitioner veterinarian can diagnose and treat many health problems and handle many routine emergencies, certain situations may require the care of a doctor who has had specialized, intensive training in handling emergency and critical care for your pet. An emergency and critical care specialist typically works in tandem with your general practitioner veterinarian on a referral basis, as well as with any other needed specialists, until the emergency is resolved.

How Can I Find A Specialist in Emergency and Critical Care for My Pet?

If your veterinarian does not handle after hours emergencies, then he or she probably already has a referral relationship in place with a local or regional emergency hospital. You can also look for emergency specialists in your area on the the American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care (ACVECC) website.  In addition, you can also check with any veterinary schools in your area to see if they have a fully staffed and equipped emergency room. You can be assured that a veterinarian who knows when and where to refer you and your pet for emergency or critical care is one that is caring and committed to ensuring that your pet receives the highest standard of care for his or her problem.

When Does My Pet Need Emergency Care?

Any of the following situations can be considered an emergency:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Ingestion of a foreign object or unknown substance
  • Bleeding
  • Vomiting blood
  • Blood in the feces or urine
  • Swollen, hard abdomen that is painful to the touch
  • Serious wound
  • Suspected broken limb
  • Any injury to the eye
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures
  • Inability to move or sudden weakness
  • Unusual or erratic behavior
  • Signs of extreme pain, such as whining or shaking
  • Straining to urinate (especially a male cat)
  • Labor that does not progress
  • Signs of heatstroke

What Is Critical Care?

While an emergency is unfolding, or throughout recovery from a serious illness or accident, ongoing diagnostic and therapeutic care and constant monitoring of your pet's condition may be required. Many emergency and critical care facilities offer 24-hour supervision of critically ill pets and, just as in human hospitals, may have dedicated Intensive Care and Critical Care Units (ICU/CCU). Such facilities are equipped to provide oxygen therapy, cardiac monitoring, blood transfusions, and nutritional support. Such facilities also typically have advanced diagnostic capabilities onsite, such as ultrasound and echocardiography.

Will My Regular Veterinarian Still Be Involved?

Many emergency hospitals work on a referral basis with general practitioners. In some cases, your pet will only be referred to the emergency service for after hours care. In other cases, your pet may be in the care of the emergency and critical care specialist for the duration of the emergency and recovery, but then referred back to your general practitioner veterinarian for follow up and routine care.

Did You Know?

There are more than 125 board-certified veterinary emergency and critical care specialists in the U.S. today and it is the fastest growing specialty in the profession.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Additional Training Does An Emergency and Critical Care Specialist Have?

Veterinarians who want to become board certified in emergency and critical care medicine must seek additional training to become a specialist and earn this prestigious credentialing. Specialty status is granted by the American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care (ACVECC). A veterinarian who has received this specialty status will list the initials, 'DACVECC,' after his or her DVM degree. Or, the veterinarian may indicate that he or she is a 'Diplomate' of the ACVECC. The word 'Diplomate' typically means the specialist has achieved the following:
 

• Obtained a veterinary degree (three to four years of college plus four years of veterinary school).

• Completed a one-year internship at a referral private practice or veterinary teaching hospital.

• Completed an additional three years of advanced training in emergency medicine, surgery, and critical care through a residency at a veterinary teaching hospital where the veterinarian will have trained with some of the best specialists in the field and obtained hands on experience. This training focuses on the most up to date techniques for the diagnosis and treatment of life threatening disease processes or injuries, not only for the duration of the emergency but throughout the critical care period right after.

• Passed a rigorous examination.


After completing and passing all of these requirements, the veterinarian is then recognized by his or her peers as a board certified specialist in veterinary emergency and critical care. When your pet faces an emergency, years of additional training and education will be focused on helping him or her to recover from injury or illness and enjoy the highest quality of life possible.
 

How Can I Plan For An Emergency?

Make sure you know ahead of time what your veterinarian's policy is regarding emergency care, both during regular practice hours and after hours. If your veterinarian does not have a referral relationship in place, then make sure you know the location of the closest emergency referral center for your area.

If your pet has an ongoing medical problem that could result in a sudden emergency, make sure you keep any pertinent medical records in a handy place so that you can quickly locate them and bring them with you to the emergency service or hospital in the event of a crisis.
Keep your veterinarian's phone number and any emergency phone numbers and directions next to your phone along with all other important emergency information for your family.
Know basic first aid tips for pets. Ask your veterinarian for these ahead of time during a routine wellness exam

How Can I Avoid An Emergency Situation With My Pet?

It goes without saying that the best way to avoid an emergency is to prevent it in the first place. To reduce the chances that you will experience an emergency situation during the lifetime of your pet, consider the following tips:
 

• Follow your veterinarian's advice regarding all relevant wellness care, including vaccinations, age appropriate health screenings, and parasite prevention.

• Prevent traumatic injury by keeping pets under your control at all times. Keep cats indoors and dogs fenced. When pets venture outdoors, keep them leashed at all times. If you do allow them off leash, limit this privilege to large enclosed areas away from traffic, other potentially aggressive pets, and wildlife.

• Invest the time in training your pet to obey simple commands, such as Come, Sit, Down, Stay, and No.

• Never leave your pet alone or unattended in a car, even with the windows open.

• Pet proof your home, removing all potential hazards from your pet's reach, much the same as you would do with an infant or toddler.

• Supervise your pet as much as possible. Puppies and kittens, just like human babies, like to explore with their mouths. Supervising them during playtime can prevent their ingesting poisonous substances or choking hazards.

• If your pet is coping with a chronic illness, carefully follow all of your veterinarian's recommendations regarding medication administration and check ups.
 

What To Do In An Emergency?

• Call your veterinarian immediately. Even if it is after hours, most veterinarians have recordings that explain how to obtain emergency help for a pet when the practice is closed.
• Call your veterinarian rather than attempting to obtain advice online. Do not leave a voicemail. In an emergency, your pet needs help immediately. Keep going until you get a live person on the other end of the phone who can connect you with a veterinarian or direct you to an emergency facility.
• If you are away from home, consult the yellow pages of the local phone book for the closest veterinary emergency facility.
 

How do I handle my injured pet?

Handle With Care

Pain, fear, and shock can make animals behave differently. When you are faced with a pet emergency, remember that even the most well trained and loving pet can behave differently when feeling ill or in pain. Also realize that even relatively small animals, such as cats or small dogs, are capable of inflicting serious bite and scratch wounds when they are disoriented and in pain. If this occurs, it is important not to take such actions personally, but to realize that it is an expression of the extreme pain or disorientation your pet may be experiencing at the time.

Approach all injured pets with caution. Despite your natural wish to comfort your ill or wounded pet, do not place your face or hands near his or her head until you can assess your pet's condition. If you feel you cannot safely manage the emergency situation, ask your veterinarian for advice on how to handle and transport your pet when you call to report the emergency. Sometimes wrapping small, injured pets in towels (taking care not to cause further injury or pain) or placing larger pets in crates or carriers for transport may be the safest option for both you and your pet.
 

What Type of Equipment Do Emergency and Critical Care Specialists Use?

High Tech Help

Much of the same high tech equipment that human doctors use to help critically ill humans is also available to help save injured or seriously ill pets. Emergency and Critical Care specialists are more likely to have access to the following cutting edge equipment or capabilities to help your pet recover:

  • Supplemental oxygen delivered via oxygen cages or nasal tubes
  • Pulse oximeters
  • Blood gas monitoring
  • End tidal carbon dioxide measurement
  • Colloid oncotic pressure measurement
  • Continuous ECG monitoring and telemetry
  • Ultrasonography
  • Endoscopy
  • Blood pressure and central venous pressure measurements
  • Blood transfusions
  • Advanced imaging techniques, such as CT scans and MRI
     
Commonly Asked Questions

Visiting hours

Our visiting hours are 6:30am-7:00am & 6:30pm-7:30pm, or by appointment with the attending doctor. Thank you in advance for your understanding.

Can VCA Mission be my regular veterinary clinic?

No, our hospital only provides emergency and referral services. We do work directly with your primary care veterinarian on a referral basis. Referrals make it much easier for the VCA Mission team to coordinate the utmost care for your pet.

How do I get a referral?

If you have an initial concern about your pet, please contact your regular veterinarian. He or she will determine whether a visit to our hospital is necessary.

If your pet's condition is an emergency, you or your veterinarian should contact our hospital immediately to arrange the appropriate care needed.

Will my regular veterinarian be updated about my pet?

Yes. Our doctors will keep a constant stream of communication in regards to your pet's condition(s). A faxed report and a follow-up phone usually takes place.

Commonly Asked Questions

Visiting hours

Our visiting hours are 6:30am-7:00am & 6:30pm-7:30pm, or by appointment with the attending doctor. Thank you in advance for your understanding.

Can VCA Mission be my regular veterinary clinic?

No, our hospital only provides emergency and referral services. We do work directly with your primary care veterinarian on a referral basis. Referrals make it much easier for the Mission MedVet team to coordinate the utmost care for your pet.

How do I get a referral?

If you have any initial concern about your pet, please contact your regular veterinarian. He or she will determine whether a visit to our hospital is necessary.

If your pet's condition is an emergency, you or your veterinarian should contact our hospital immediately to arrange the appropriate care needed.

Will my regular veterinarian be updated about my pet?

Yes. Our doctors will keep a constant stream of communication in regards to your pet's condition(s). A faxed report and a follow-up phone usually takes place.

Veterinarians in Emergency/Critical Care

CLOSE CLOSE

General Practice

We have over 600 animal hospitals in 41 states and 4 Canadian provinces that are staffed by more than 3,000 fully-qualified, dedicated and compassionate veterinarians, with more than 400 being board-certified specialists.

The nationwide VCA family of general practice hospitals give your pet the very best in medical care, providing a full range of general medical and surgical services as well as specialized treatments such as wellness, spay/neuter, advanced diagnostic services (MRI/CT Scan), internal medicine, oncology, ophthalmology, dermatology, cardiology, neurology, boarding, and grooming. Services may vary by location.

Our family of pet hospitals stands out by delivering the greatest resources in order provide the highest quality care available for your pets. By maintaining the highest standards of pet health care available anywhere, we emphasize prevention as well as healing. We provide continuing education programs to our doctors and staff and promote the open exchange of professional knowledge and expertise. And finally, we have established a consistent program of procedures and techniques, proven to be the most effective in keeping pets healthy.

Find a VCA General Care Animal Hospital near you:

 

See all VCA Animal Hospitals >

CLOSE CLOSE

Emergency Care

VCA Mission Animal Referral and Emergency Center '" 913-722-5566

In a life-threatening emergency situation, take your pet to an emergency facility immediately. Heavy or difficult breathing, weakness or collapse, pain/vocalizing, seizures, protracted vomiting or diarrhea, and unresponsiveness are just a few signs that warrant immediate attention. If your pet has ingested a poison or medication not prescribed for it, call one of the emergency numbers below. You may be instructed to make your pet vomit. Do not induce vomiting unless instructed to by a veterinarian. Bring the poison or medication container with you.

ASPCA Poison Control '" 1-888-426-4435

Use caution when moving an injured, painful, distressed, or disoriented pet. A fearful or painful animal may bite, regardless of its normal temperament. Speak soothingly and calmly, move slowly, and wear gloves. Your pet should be moved as little as possible. An injured pet should be transported on a stretcher or board, or, in the case of smaller animals, a carrier or box with sturdy base. A muzzle may be useful if your pet is painful but should not be used if your pet is having difficulty breathing. Covering your pet with a blanket or towel may help prevent heat loss and may encourage calmness. Most importantly, stay calm and drive carefully. 

CLOSE CLOSE