VCA Veterinary Specialists of Northern Colorado

Emergency/Critical Care

Our Emergency and Critical Care units can assist in all of the following situations:


• Evaluation and treatment of walk-in patients and referred cases, 24-hours per day, 365 days per year
• Initial diagnostics (digital radiographs, brief ultrasound, ECG, blood pressure)
• Arrangement of further diagnostics and consultation with other internal specialties
• Initial stabilization and therapy for variety of trauma and medical illnesses
• Continuous care and therapy for hospitalized patients, including case coverage for specialty services overnight and on weekends
• Surgical repair of minor wounds and other injuries
• Emergency soft tissue surgery such as GDV/gastropexy, enterotomy, resection/anastamosis, pyometra, Cesarian section, splenectomy
• Oxygen therapy and respiratory support
• Nutritional support: enteral and total parenteral
• Advanced pain management
• Transfusion therapy including blood typing, cross matching, plasma, packed red cells, cryoprecipitate
• Arterial and central venous blood pressure monitoring
• Pulse oximetry
• Blood gas evaluation and monitoring
• End-tidal carbon dioxide measurement
• Electrocardiography (ECG) continual monitoring

Our ICU’s specialized services and equipment:

• 24-hour care and monitoring by veterinarians and veterinary technicians
• Complete diagnostic lab for immediate test results
• Blood gas analyzer
• Emergency surgery
• Small animal ICU equipment
• Digital radiography and ultrasound
• Oxygen therapy
• Pulse oximetry, end-tidal CO2, blood pressure and continuous ECG monitoring
• Continuous rate infusion for IV fluids and medications
• Advanced pain management
• Video-endoscopy
• Nutritional support

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 Units (ICU/CCU). Such facilities are equipped to provide oxygen therapy, cardiac monitoring, blood transfusion, and nutritional support. Such facilities also typically have advanced diagnostic capabilities onsite, such as ultrasound, echocardiography, CT scan and MRI.

Will My Regular Veterinarian Still Be Involved?

Most 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 appropriate specialist for the duration of the emergency and recovery, but then referred back to your general practitioner veterinarian for follow up and routine care.
 

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
     
Can I make payments instead of having to pay all at once?

Unfortunately, we do not offer payment plans. Payment is due at the time of service. We do offer Care Credit, a medical credit card, that offers a number of interest free and extended payment options.
 

You may apply at www.carecredit.com or in person at our hospital.
 

We also encourage you to explore the option of pet insurance or a medical savings account for your pet. Pet insurance plans still require you to pay the hospital up front and wait for reimbursement, so being prepared is key.
 

Do I need a referral from my regular veterinarian to see a specialist?

While we encourage you to always involve your regular veterinarian in the decision to seek specialty care, you are not required to have a referral in order to make an appointment. We will contact your veterinarian to obtain your pets recent medical records.
 

Whether you have been referred, are seeking a second opinion or need services your regular veterinarian doesn't provide, we would be happy to help.
 

Veterinarians in Emergency/Critical Care

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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 >

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Emergency Care

We are available 24/7 for emergencies.

Please remain calm and call (970) 278-0668 to get advice on your pet's particular situation. We will give you instructions on how to handle your pet while enroute and give you directions to the hospital. Be aware that even a loving pet, when injured and scared, may try to bite. If in doubt, gently place a towel or blanket over the head making sure to provide good air circulation for breathing. This will help settle the animal.

What Is An Emergency?

Bring your pet in to see us if any of the following occur:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Unstoppable bleeding
  • Inability to urinate/defecate
  • Heatstroke
  • Bloated/distended abdomen
  • Inability to deliver kittens or puppies
  • Loss of balance, unconsciousness, or seizure
  • Pain
  • Major trauma/Injury
  • Shock
  • Poisoning
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Lameness
  • Eye injuries, sudden blindness, cloudiness or abnormal discharge.
  • Allergic reactions
  • Diabetic issues
  • Severe lethargy
  • Temperature greater than 104�F
  • Anything else that concerns you
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