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Emergency Visits in SE Missouri


I would protect and secure my children and spouse during a tornado warning before all else but likely would endanger my own well-being in order to protect my pets next. My adult children appear to have followed in my footsteps in their dedication to their pets. The youngest of the three of our daughters, living in Denver, was in the pet ER only one hour after her new puppy vomited with completed diagnostics including X-Rays within 2 hours. He was fine, BTW. The last time one of my own pets was ill my husband and I were in the hospital with him for 36 hours. Literally – in the hospital with him-- I have that luxury, as I am a DVM. Yes, we napped on cots next to his hospital kennel never leaving his side. He was very ill but fortunately recovered quickly.

What does a pet caregiver who is NOT a DVM in Cape Girardeau do when a pet emergency arises? I am compelled to address this question because the answer is – “it depends.” One would assume that a 24-hour urgent care clinic or emergency animal hospital is available. The closest Diplomate of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care providing emergency services is in the St. Louis area. We routinely recommend Veterinary Specialty Services (636-227-9400) when that level of care is indicated. Lakeside Veterinary Clinic in Carbondale provides 24-hours urgent care and can be an option also. Due to the travel time, neither of these two options are good for a true life-threatening emergency. Some, but not all, local veterinarians will see a pet after hours. As a pet caregiver you should ask your veterinary team what services they provide after hours. Many clinics will not see a non-client after hours. In other words, only if your pet has been seen by the clinic, usually within the last year or so, then the clinic will see you in an emergency situation. Weekend pet emergencies in our area are usually shared by groups of clinics, so don’t be surprised if you are seen by a DVM at a different clinic.

We routinely see pet owners who have been driving from clinic to clinic trying to have their pet seen by a DVM. How do you know who to call or where to go? When you call your regular DVM office number after hours you might get an answering service or hear a message instructing you to call a second number. Either way, you give your name and telephone number and a veterinarian will call you back within just a few minutes. You will then be advised where to be seen and what cost will be incurred.

What does an after-hours visit cost? Typical cost of the emergency office visit is $170 to $210. Cost of diagnostic tests and treatments are additional. That’s a bargain when you consider an entire staff is called in to provide individual attention and care for your pet. No clinics offer billing, and all will require a deposit to cover the full treatment not just the office visit. Most clinics accept Care Credit (carecredit.com) as well as other credit cards which can help when these unexpected expenses occur.

My words of advice: Ask your veterinarian what after-hours services are provided and what provisions exist for emergencies. Some clinics do not provide ANY after-hours services and others only until late evening which can leave you scampering to find a DVM. A few clinics will see non-clients after hours but don’t count on that. Be thoughtful; call when an emergency exists but save the routine calls for regular hours. Lastly, be prepared for unexpected expenses and if needed purchase pet insurance or get a Care Credit account.

Veterinarians are dedicated to keeping your pet healthy. Commonly, they have worked through the night before starting a regular busy day. Be sure and thank your team for being available!

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