Critical Care for Pets
At Veterinary Referral Associates we have a team of highly trained veterinarians and nurses who make up our veterinary critical care department, working to stabilize and treat pets suffering from life-threatening trauma and systemic diseases.
Our point-of-care 24-hour monitoring capabilities include direct and indirect arterial blood pressure, continuous heart rate monitoring, coagulation parameters, blood chemistries, blood gases, lactate, and complete blood counts.
The critical care team regularly uses an ultrasound machine as a diagnostic and monitoring tool as well as an aid for procedures.
Our doctors also have the opportunity to send more specialized diagnostics to a variety of laboratories across the country. These diagnostic tools enable the staff to fine adjust fluid therapies and medication administration to meet individual patient needs.
The blood donation program at our animal hospital makes it possible to treat patients in need of a transfusion due to trauma, immune mediated diseases, coagulopathies, and other illnesses, as we are able to make specific blood products depending on the patient’s needs and call in donors on an emergency basis.
The Animal Critical Care Unit at Veterinary Referral Associates
You can trust that our critical care team will work with the utmost care, attention, and integrity when caring for your pets in their time of need. We are here when your pet needs us most.
While animals are hospitalized in our critical care unit, consultations are available with other specialists throughout the hospital. Daily cage-side rounds provide an environment for repeated case re-evaluation and discussion amongst our team of veterinary experts. Our onsite veterinary specialists provide advanced care in the fields of cardiology, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, radiology, surgery, anesthesiology, physical rehabilitation and more.
Critical Care Cases in Gaithersburg
An animal requires veterinary critical care services when they are experiencing a health issue that demands consistent monitoring, treatment and therapies over an extended period of time - whether that be hours, days or even weeks.
Any health condition that demands extended and complex treatments, drug therapies or 24/7 monitoring will likely fall under the purview of critical care. The following are some examples of health issues that may require the advanced care provided in our ICU:
- Respiratory failure
- Sepsis (extreme immune response to infection)
- Multi-trauma patients (severe physical injuries)
- Recovery from a major veterinary surgery
- Venomous snakebite
- Congestive heart disease
Veterinary Critical Care FAQs
Below are some of the most common questions our Gaithersburg veterinary team is asked about the critical care services at our hospital.
Can I call the hospital to check up on my pet in critical care?
Yes, you absolutely can get in touch with us to check in on your pet's health and status while they are in critical care at our facility.
Rest assured, though, that if there is any problem or change in your pet's condition, we will contact you promptly for information or updates about your companion's health.
How long will my pet have to remain in critical care?
A critical care unit at a veterinary hospital works somewhat similarly to a human hospital — while we may be able to provide an estimate of your pet's length of stay with us, factors may arise that impact that timeline.
We aren't able to predict if and when your pet's condition will change or a complication will occur, but rest assured we will communicate with you as much as possible about any changes in your companion's condition while in our care and what that means for the duration of their stay.
What is the difference between emergency and critical care?
While veterinary critical care and emergency services have some overlap — both deal with seriously ill or injured animals — there are some important differences between these two services.
Veterinary emergency services treat pets that are suffering from serious and acute illness or injury that requires intensive and immediate care.
In comparison, veterinary critical care services also deal with serious illness and injury, but do so in cases where animals require 24/7 monitoring, complex treatments and crate rest in a medical environment to help them recover.
So, while veterinary emergency services at our clinic may transfer our patients to critical care after initial triage and treatment, not all emergencies will require critical care.
Likewise, in situations where a pet has undergone major planned surgery, they will require critical care to remain stable and begin their recovery without ever having been a veterinary emergency case.
When do your critical care services operate?
The critical care services at Veterinary Referral Associates operate with on-site veterinary staff 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to help provide treatment and attentive monitoring of your companion's health.
Will you keep in touch with our primary care veterinarian?
Yes, we will keep your primary care veterinarian updated on your pet's conditions while they are undergoing critical care.
We will provide your primary care vet with your pet's medical history and files to ensure your pet receives seamless, integrated care when they return home and are seen by your vet for routine care and checkups.