Pets can get sick or injured anytime, whether your veterinarian’s facility is open or closed. Our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers of Jordan Ranch team in Fulshear, Texas, strives to form a close, personal relationship with you and your pet, so we can provide support when they have a medical issue, but our facility isn’t open 24 hours per day, seven days per week. If your furry pal gets sick when our office is closed, you may feel overwhelmed, worried, and unsure of how to proceed without our guidance. 

Determining which conditions are emergencies, which are urgent, and which can wait for a routine appointment is a challenge, and we understand that you may not always know the answer. Read our guide to learn about common emergency scenarios, the best places to seek care, and where you can seek advice when you aren’t sure whether your pet’s condition is an emergency.

Urgent versus emergency veterinary care facilities

Since the COVID-19 pandemic increased, demand for veterinary care, primary care veterinarians, and emergency veterinarians have been challenged to provide services for more patients than their hospitals have had the capacity to treat. Pets were waiting hours or days for emergency visits if they could get an appointment at all. During that time, the profession recognized the need for urgent care, which fills the gap between general practice veterinarians and emergency facilities.

Urgent care facilities for pets operate similarly to urgent care facilities for humans, generally offering extended evening and weekend hours, with a few hospitals providing care 24 hours per day, seven days per week. These facilities treat pets’ conditions that shouldn’t be put off for days or weeks but aren’t life-threatening. In contrast, emergency hospitals are equipped to handle severe trauma and other life-threatening situations and may have specialist critical care veterinarians on staff.

Emergency scenarios in pets

Any time your pet is ill feels like an emergency to you. After all, your four-legged friend can’t tell you how sick they are feeling, but not all pet illnesses are emergencies. Consider these common reasons a pet should visit an emergency veterinary hospital:

  • Respiratory distress
  • Severe wounds or bleeding
  • Trauma, including being hit by a vehicle or a fall from a height
  • Fractures
  • Inability to urinate, especially male cats
  • New seizures or more than one seizure in 24 hours
  • Severe pain
  • Unproductive retching
  • Severe vomiting or diarrhea
  • Extreme lethargy, depression, or mental dullness
  • Toxin ingestion
  • Weakness, tremors, or paralysis
  • Foreign object ingestion
  • Vision loss
  • Collapse
  • Heatstroke

Urgent care scenarios in pets

If your furry pal is experiencing a health emergency, they need immediate treatment. However, some conditions are severe enough that your pet should receive care within 24 hours. Consider these common reasons your pet needs same-day veterinary urgent care:

  • Blood in urine or suspected urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Coughing, sneezing, or nasal discharge
  • Squinting or eye irritation
  • Torn nails or other minor wounds
  • Mild to moderate pain
  • Sudden appetite loss

Routine and nonurgent veterinary care needs

Vaccines, parasite testing, dental care, nail trims, and other routine services can be scheduled in advance with our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers of Jordan Ranch team, as these are not urgent medical needs. Most urgent care and emergency care facilities do not stock the supplies needed for routine care, but these are needs our hospital can easily fulfill. You can also schedule sick visits in advance with our team for conditions that don’t require immediate or urgent attention, as we can usually see your four-legged friend within a few days. Consider these common reasons your pet needs nonurgent veterinary care:

  • Vaccines and wellness care
  • Itchiness, ear infections, or hair loss
  • Parasites
  • Weight or appetite changes
  • Dental concerns
  • Minor lameness
  • Occasional or recurrent vomiting or diarrhea

What to do if your pet needs after-hours care

If you have concerns about your pet, the first step should always be to reach out to our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers of Jordan Ranch team. We can advise you on the urgency of your pet’s condition and schedule a visit, sometimes the same day, when appropriate. When you have concerns after business hours, you may feel unsure how to proceed. In these cases, you can call our after-hours triage line. The veterinary professionals staffing this phone line will advise you on the type of care your pet needs, so you’ll know exactly what to do. If you know your pet’s situation is urgent, you can call the nearest emergency or urgent care facility to let them know you are on the way. If your pet ate something you aren’t sure about or they ingested a toxin, you can contact the Pet Poison Helpline or the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Animal Poison Control Center directly. 

Your pet’s health is in your hands, and you know them best. If you believe your four-legged friend is ill, don’t wait until our facility opens to seek the care they need. Contact our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers of Jordan Ranch during business hours and call our after-hours triage line any time day or night for assistance in determining the severity of your pet’s condition.