Updated on December 30, 2010
Reasonable Expectations Part III: Access to Round-the-Clock Care
This is the third part of an ongoing series describing how people are developing new expectations when it comes to veterinary care for their pets.Parts one and two can be found at www.speakingforspot.com/blog.
If your dog is sick enough to require hospitalization or has just undergone a major surgical procedure, how will he or she be cared for overnight and on weekends? As much as the mere thought of this makes me cringe I must advise you that even though your dog or cat is “hospitalized”, in some veterinary clinics this will involve no supervision whatsoever from closing time at night (perhaps 6:00 PM) until early morning when the first employees arrive back at the hospital. What if your dog manages to slip out of his Elizabethan collar and chews open his surgical incision? What if your kitty begins experiencing pain during the night? What if your dog vomits and aspirates the material into his lungs? All these “what if’s” are what make me crazy whenever I think about a hospitalized animal left alone for 8 to 12 hours at a time. And here’s what makes me even crazier- some people don’t think to even ask how their beloved family member will be supervised when the clinic is closed, likely because they cannot fathom the possibility that adequate supervision would not be provided.
Please know that it is perfectly reasonable for you to expect that your hospitalized family member receive round-the-clock care. There are a few different ways this can happen. While a 24-hour hospital staffed with a veterinarian is ideal, this simply does not exist in all communities (but if it does exist in your neck of the woods, by all means take advantage!). Here are some other viable options:
-A veterinarian comes into the clinic multiple times during the night and on weekends to check on the hospitalized patients (some vets prefer to take their patients home with them to help make monitoring and supervision more convenient).
-A skilled veterinary nurse (technician) comes into the clinic multiple times during the night and on weekends to check on the hospitalized patients and has access to contacting the vet should the need arise.
-Your dog or cat comes home with you, but only after you receive thorough monitoring instructions along with a way to reach your vet should questions or concerns arise. As scary as this might sound, this remains a better option than leaving your best little buddy left completely unsupervised overnight. Just imagine how you would feel lying in a hospital bed, hooked up to intravenous fluids, and no one entering your room to check on you for twelve long hours!
How would your dog or cat be cared for overnight and on weekends should the need arise? Please do tell. And if you’re not sure, no time like the present to find out.
Now here’s wishing you and your four-legged family members abundant good health.
Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association 2009 Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, 2009 Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, 2009 Eukanuba Canine Health Award
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Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.