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What is animal critical care?

As a pet owner, you might wonder what qualifies as critical veterinary care and when your pet's injury is considered an emergency. In this post, our veterinarians in Leighton explain what's involved in animal critical care and discuss what circumstances are categorized as a critical care emergency. 

What is veterinary critical care?

Similar to humans, pets have access to emergency hospital services in the event of serious injury or trauma. At some veterinary hospitals, intensive or critical care for animals is a service similar to the emergency wing of a hospital where ambulances take patients. 

Generally, critical care is available 24 hours a day in animal emergency hospitals. A pet emergency can be very distressing, so owners must be aware of their options in this situation. 

Who can offer critical care to pets?

Critical care is a specialized veterinary service that requires particular qualifications to be performed. Some veterinary hospitals have essential specialists of care trained to care for pets with severe illnesses or injuries that need emergency care. 

Critical care veterinarians have the knowledge and tools needed to provide critical care for animals in need. Your vet may assess your pet and decide to keep them overnight or provide detailed after-care instructions for you to follow at home, depending on your four-legged friend's condition. 

It's important to remember that not every animal hospital offers emergency or critical care services, as critical animal care requires a specialization.

Therefore, it's crucial to know which animal hospitals provide emergency and 24-hour services in your area, especially if your pet is having a medical emergency. Even if you see that an emergency animal hospital offers 24-hour care, it's always best to call ahead to check that a veterinarian will be available to take care of your pet when you arrive. 

Cases That Require Critical Care

When seriously ill or injured pets arrive at the emergency clinic, staff and emergency vets work to stabilize the pet's condition. Next, they will typically run a series of diagnostics to determine the overall condition of the pet and provide a diagnosis. At that point, a treatment plan is created. 

Pets that arrive at emergency veterinary hospitals suffering from severe health conditions, such as poisoning or multiple serious injuries, may not be well enough to head home once stabilized. These dogs and cats will be transferred to an intensive care unit (ICU) for ongoing observation, treatment, and 24-hour care from trained veterinary professionals.

Other animals are transferred to critical care following complex surgeries, or if they are at high risk of complications following surgery, such as very young pets, senior pets, or those with other health concerns.

Another example of pets that benefit from the intensive medical care provided in a veterinary critical care unit are those being cared for at home but suffering from chronic terminal illnesses, such as cancer. If the pet's condition suddenly deteriorates, hospitalization may be required.

What to Expect in the ICU

The Animal Intensive Care Unit (ICU) is a caring and compassionate environment for critically ill animals, providing advanced monitoring and treatment of injuries and ailments.

During your pet's stay in the ICU, several services are available, depending on your pet's condition. These services include

  • CPR
  • Arterial Blood Gas Test
  • Multimodal Analgesia
  • Continuous Chest Drainage
  • Long-term Mechanical Ventilation
  • Status Epilepticus Treatments
  • Transfusion Therapy
  • Vasopressor Therapy
  • Parenteral Nutrition
  • Peritoneal Dialysis

Critical care teams will take care to choose the best treatment method for your pet. 

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Has your pet experienced a trauma or injury? Contact our Leighton vets and we can advise you on how to stabilize your pet's condition and if they require veterinary critical care.

All Patients Welcome

Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Leighton animals. We currently only take pets by walk-in, so bring your pet to us today and let us help ensure their well-being.

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Contact (256) 446-8888