4 Things to Expect When Your Pet Is Hospitalized
Wed, April 21, 2021

4 Things to Expect When Your Pet Is Hospitalized



Lindsay Patton of One Green Planet, an online guide to help people, animals, and the planet, owned two busy and curious dogs. Her puggle consumed a lot of ibuprofen after her coonhound-mix snatched it from the counter for the former. 

Her dog had to be hospitalized for one week, which is not uncommon for pet owners. Animals are curious, getting into dangerous situations that may lead to an unexpected trip to the veterinarian. Hospitalization is also not for at-home accidents. If you have a senior pet, you might need to visit your veterinarian a couple of times, as well as purchase medications to keep it healthy. So what should you do if your pet needs to be hospitalized?  


Survey On Medical Updates and Appointment Confirmations (2019)

All 1,031 respondents owned a dog (44.6%), cat (23.9%), or both (31.5%) that had to stay in a veterinary hospital for at least four houses (72.6%), according to Lori Kogan, Regina Schoenfield, and Stacee Santi of biomedical and life sciences journal PMC. 72.6% had a pet who did not stay overnight, on the other hand. When asked to state the length of their pets most recent stay at the veterinary clinic, the respondents answered one night (40.7%), four to eight hours (34.5%), two nights (9.8%), more than two nights (8%), and more than eight hours but not overnight (7%).

75.8% of owners said their veterinary clinic (veterinarian or staff) had given them updates while 24.2% said they did not receive updates. 47.6% said they received updates once per day and two times a day (40.2%). Owners said they also received updates three times a day (8.1%), more than three times a day (3%), and other (1.2%). The “other” responses were when seven clients called, one for every two hours, and when one worked at the hospital.

Those who received updates cited the following modalities in which they received the updates: phone (90.4%), text (13.3%), email (5%), video (1.3%), and other (3.1%). The latter consisted of “in person” (17), “photo” (1) “website” (1) “voice mail” (1), “Facebook” (1), “text pictures” (1), and “client returned call” (2). Most owners said they liked the updates (strongly liked: 51.8%; liked 37.7%), while other owners answered “dislike” (1.4%) and “strongly dislike” (0.5%). 78.1% said the updates were very important, 20.9% said they were somewhat important, and 1% said the updates were not important.

Owners who said that the updates were at least somewhat important to them, 46.2% said they would not be willing to pay for updates whereas 23.7% said they would be willing to pay an additional 3% of the total cost of their pets’ procedure.  20.1% said they would be willing to an additional 5% while 10% would pay an additional 10%.  When clients were asked how they receive appointment confirmations, they answered via phone messages on their home/cell phone (56.5%) and text (25.2%).




What to Expect When Your Pet Is Hospitalized?

1.      Providing You With Treatment Plans and Estimates

Your veterinarian will provide you with treatment plans that will include an estimate of the cost, said the Central Hospital for Veterinary Medicine, a hospital founded by 1975 by several local general veterinary practitioners from Greater New Haven, US. Having discussions about treatment options and finances can be unfamiliar territory for you, but rest assured that your veterinarian will help you decide which plan suits your financial capability and your pet.    

2.      Waiting For Your Vet’s Call

Your veterinarian knows what they are doing, and they also have other pets to attend to. If you have the habit of calling them constantly, then you are taking away your veterinarian’s time from taking care of another client’s pet. Don’t worry, your veterinarian will provide you a summary of your pet’s progress at the end of the day as soon as they are done tending to other pets. You can also ask your veterinarian a rough estimate on the time they plan to call you.



3.      Visiting Your Pet

Visiting hours are for pets who are hospitalized for intensive care. While there are cases when interaction with family aids in your pet’s recovery or when you need to cope with its hospitalization, it is not recommended as it will take time for your pet to adapt to the hospital environment.

Visiting your pet may interrupt their acclimation process and it may become over-stimulated and excited during family visits.  Further, leaving your pet after visiting it may increase its stress levels. It may even be traumatizing for your pet and they might act out, interrupt the staff, and make other patients upset. Hence, it is better to keep visits to a minimum or none. If your pet underwent an anesthetic procedure, it is recommended to give your time ample time to recover from anesthesia before visiting.  

4.      Preparing Your Home for Discharge

Your veterinarian or an assigned staff will inform you when your pet will be discharged from the hospital, stated VCA Hospitals, an operator of over 1,000 animal hospitals in the US and Canada. The staff will also tell you if need to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian or a technician if your pet needs to receive after care instructions.

If there are any changes in the original treatment, your veterinarian will inform you of any additional and/or unforeseen changes that may have incurred. The estimate you received prior to hospitalization was made in “good faith” effort to ensure that the estimate is at least 15% accurate. This happens when the balance due is less/more than your original estimate. Payment methods may also vary between hospitals.

Get your home ready when your pet comes back. Ensure that your pet has treats, your pet’s favorite toy (or a new toy), and someone to snuggle with after a rough time in the hospital. Spend as much time as you can with your pet as they missed you and were scared in the hospital. If your veterinarian prescribed medications, fill the prescriptions before taking your pet home so you can administer its medicine immediately.


Hospitalization can be a stressful experience for pets and distressing for owners. Owners should ask questions about each treatment plan their veterinarian offers. The final bill may differ from the original estimate if the treatment incurred additional and/or unforeseen changes.