By Dr. Roger Krogstad, DVM
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC
As veterinary graduates pursue specialty degrees, a new crop of veterinary emergency doctors and emergency centers is popping up. These are mostly in high density urban areas, but some are in smaller rural communities and service a wider region. One of these is the Animal Emergency Center (Paw Health Network) in Mosinee. This specialty facility is fully staffed from 6 p.m. until 8 a.m. weekdays and 24 hours on the weekends and holidays.
A short drive for many but a long one for some, the Animal Emergency Center provides on-site diagnostics, critical care, and surgical options for the critically ill or injured in addition to overnight medical monitoring. Many general practices now refer after hours cases to these types of facilities as the emergency on-call demands on doctors and staff become overwhelming. The benefit to your pet is that special training and equipment are available at emergency centers for the rapid diagnosis and treatment of those in need.
Upon arrival a tentative diagnosis and treatment plan are prepared. The pet owner has the option to proceed or not based upon prognosis and financial constraints. Fees are in general higher than private practice, and payment is expected at time of service. There is no extended credit arrangement, and others are not charged more to cover those that cannot pay.
The sad reality of veterinary medicine and a tragic burden for veterinarians to bear is the choice to euthanize in lieu of treatment for severe injuries or illnesses. Many people just do not have the hundreds or thousands of dollars for advanced medical care, orthopedic surgery, etc. At least that option will be presented honestly, and you will not be criticized for having to make such a difficult decision.
One option to help offset costly fees is pet health insurance. Though it is more popular in the U.S. coastal regions, where veterinary costs are significantly higher, it is still quite helpful to anyone faced with the financial stress of emergency veterinary care. It comes in many forms and fee structures from multiple companies. You can purchase plans that range from full preventive coverage to catastrophic injury or illness. Visit petinsurance.com to view different policies and insurance companies available for our region.
Care Credit (carecredit.com) is another option to help qualifying pet owners spread the cost of veterinary care over a period of months, making an emergency situation easier to manage. Application is simple and available online. Check with your local veterinarian and emergency center to see if they accept Care Credit.
The best emergency plan is still prevention. Keep pets on a leash; keep vaccinations current; use effective tick, flea, and heartworm products; and keep your pet in good physical condition. Ask your veterinarians about their emergency policy so that if your pet is injured or ill after regular office hours, you know where to go.
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC is located at 210 Airpark Road in Marshfield and online at wildwoodanimalhospital.net.