Emergency and Critical Care FAQs

Emergency room hallway shotWhat is Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care?

Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care is a veterinary specialty that could save your pet’s life! A specialist in emergency and critical care is a specially trained veterinarian who is dedicated to treating life-threatening conditions. An ACVECC Diplomate is a graduate of a College of Veterinary Medicine with an additional 3 to 5 years of advanced training in emergency and critical care medicine and surgery. An ACVECC Diplomate provides primary case management or supervision and guidance of the veterinary emergency doctors in the evaluation, specialized monitoring, and intensive care of critically ill and injured pets.

If your pet should become injured or suddenly develop an acute, life threatening disease, he or she will need prompt veterinary emergency care. In addition to requiring initial emergency treatment, many days may be needed for the disease process to run its course before recovery occurs. During this time, close monitoring and life support measures in the veterinary intensive care unit (ICU) may be needed. A vigilant team lead by a veterinarian who is specialty trained in emergency and critical care will improve the quality of care your pet receives during this crucial time, improving his or her chance for a good outcome

How do I know if my pet needs a specialist veterinarian in Emergency and Critical Care?

First, ask your veterinarian. Any pet that is seriously ill might benefit from this type of care. Animals that have sustained trauma or bite wounds are an obvious example, but a number of other problems are commonly treated. The following is a sampling of the type of patients that routinely benefit from care by an ACVECC Diplomate:

  • Veterinary trauma patients, including those hit by cars, bite, bullet, knife or burn injuries
  • Any animal that is having trouble breathing
  • Animals that need a blood transfusion
  • Any animal that is in shock (signs of shock can include weakness, pale mucous membranes in their mouth, cold extremities, and an abnormal heart rate)
  • Animals that are having trouble urinating, or are not producing urine
  • Dogs and cats that need specialized nutritional support because they are unwilling or unable to eat on their own
  • Animals in which an abnormal heart rhythm is causing problems
  • Animals with life-threatening neurologic disease such as coma or severe seizures that are not responding to medications
  • Veterinary patients that have had surgery and are not recovering well from anesthesia or are having trouble in the first few post-operative days


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