AVMA News

Urgent care clinics starting to enter veterinary profession

Not quite emergency, not quite general practice, these practices look to offer another option for pet owners


By R. Scott Nolen
Published: 21 November 2023


When a pet needs emergency medical care that doesn't rise to the level of life-saving intervention, the owner typically has a few options. They could schedule the soonest available appointment with the family veterinarian or take the animal to the nearest veterinary emergency hospital, for example.

Another option, however, is emerging: the urgent care veterinary practice. Modeled after the walk-in clinics common within human medicine, veterinary urgent care offers around-the-clock veterinary care for minor injuries and mild illnesses, such as diarrhea, wounds and lacerations, and allergic reactions.

Urgent care practices can provide something between appointment-based primary care practices and emergency practices, explained Dr. Canaan Shores, an instructor and service head for Small Animal Urgent and Convenient Care at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine.

"Urgent care practices are intended to treat those pets who have urgent, but not emergent, conditions," Dr. Shores said. "These are conditions that are causing pain or discomfort, so they require prompt care, but do not necessarily require hospitalization or other major interventions."

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