The Wokingham Paper

PETS & VETS: What to do in a veterinary emergency


As staff in a veterinary practice we find ourselves in a bit of a conundrum most days.

All of the staff: vets, managers, nurses, receptionists and support staff love animals dearly and want them to be happy and healthy, enjoying life with their loving human clan. But in reality we spend a lot of our day dealing with the opposite. The acutely ill, the traumatic injury, the older animal approaching the end of its life. The unexpected bad news.

As with most practices, at St Vincents Vets we spend a lot of time helping owners prevent problems occurring with their pets. This includes discussing which vaccinations are appropriate, parasite protection, nutrition and providing a safe and healthy environment for the pet.

Nonetheless, unexpected problems can occur necessitating veterinary intervention sometimes urgently. The most important thing for owners is to be prepared for such events. Have your vets contact details stored in your phone. Check with your vets what their arrangements are out of hours.

When I first started as a veterinary surgeon it was common for the local vets to be on call overnight and on weekends, and I often found myself seeing emergencies on my own with no veterinary team to back me up. These days we employ the services of a dedicated out of hours team to look after our patients while we are closed. VetsNow are a nationwide group that find an existing veterinary hospital to host their clinics.

The staff at these hospitals also go home at closing, and VetsNow rebrand the hospital as an A&E type clinic, providing a full veterinary team to deal with any emergencies overnight, on weekends and over Bank Holidays. The patients are then returned to their main practice the next day once fit to travel.

We recommend that owners add VetsNow details to their emergency veterinary contacts on their phones.

They can also provide advice over the phone out of hours.

Not only do VetsNow train their out of hours team to a high standard, but member practices like ours are invited to send staff to their Emergency and Critical Care workshops.

This week Michael and his nurse Claire attended a full day course in Basingstoke covering intensive management of emergency cases.

Staff at our practice, as well as VetsNow, are trained to recognise what situations require urgent appointments and which ones are less so. Constant updated training is necessary to be prepared in these situations.

An animal that has eaten a possible toxin, a sudden collapse or seizure, bleeding wounds or sudden onset extreme pain are a few examples of cases which would be rushed straight into the practice. In all cases where your animal is injured or ill you should contact your practice as soon as possible as early intervention is often associated with the best outcome.

While it is not always necessary for an owner to recognise the severity of an illness or injury with veterinary advice available 24/7, at St Vincents we do like owners to be as prepared as possible for any eventuality.

With this in mind this summer we will be running a series of owner focussed first aid courses, covering topics including wounds and other trauma, ocular emergencies, snake bites, poisonings, seizures and heart attacks, heat stroke and many more issues.

The idea is for owners to be prepared to react to events in a calm and focussed manner increasing the chances of a positive outcome for that illness or injury. If you are interested in attending one of these courses please register your interest by providing your contact details and a list of your current pets at

Should you have any specific concerns about your pet’s health please call the practice on 0118 979 3200.

St Vincents

Michael Morrow owns and runs St Vincents Veterinary Surgery, an independent family owned veterinary practice providing personal care for pets in and around Wokingham. With more than years’ experience as a vet Michael and his team are ready to aid with you with all facets of caring for your pets. Find out more at

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