We all know that person who is eternally prepared: first-aid kit, water purifier, CPR certificate; this human swiss army knife is ready for anything. Unfortunately, even the most well-equipped person can’t plan for an unexpected pet emergency like when their Jack Russell gets into the neighbor’s rat poison or their Maine Coon decides to take on the neighborhood feral. The good news is that most emergency pet clinics are just a short drive away; the hard part comes when that emergency isn’t accounted for in your monthly budget.
Our team at Emerald City Emergency Clinic understands this unfortunate inevitability of pet ownership, so we ensure that all costs are clearly communicated with each client before any treatment or procedure begins. Since cost is a common concern, we’re opening the curtain to address some of the frequently asked questions about emergency care costs. Read on to learn more.
Why does emergency care cost so much?
If you compare the costs of an emergency visit against one to your regular vet, you’ll probably notice a difference. Like anything, you get what you pay for. So what exactly ARE you paying for?
- Around-the-clock care. Emergencies don’t always happen during office hours, so when your pet needs to be treated at 2 am, you’ll be relieved to find our clinic is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year (even on holidays!). However, being available around the clock means having trained staff on-site at all times — whether or not there’s a pet emergency. Plus, keeping the office running (lights on, waiting room coffee brewed, equipment up to par) all factor into the cost of our business.
- In-house expertise. When time is of the essence, you want your pet to be seen by an experienced and accredited tech, who’s skilled in diagnostics and industry best practices. Just like you wouldn’t want a beauty school dropout giving you that French bob, when it comes to treating your pet, you want the gold standard of care and ideally, it’s all in one place. Our team at Emerald City Emergency Clinic is committed to providing the best care and can handle most cases in-house, without referral to a specialist.
- State-of-the-art equipment. The best care requires top-of-the-line equipment so your pet gets treated quickly and effectively. For example, Emerald City Emergency Clinic maintains an in-house lab for fast blood work so you don’t have to wait days for results. We also offer radiology and ultrasonography services and regularly upgrade our medical equipment and protocols to ensure that your pets receive the best quality medicine with the most advanced techniques and technology available.
- In-house pharmacy. The last thing you want when your pet is suffering is to make another stop at the pharmacy for pain medication. Because we’re full service, we stock all those crucial medications whether it’s for a slim Siamese or a muscled Mastiff. In order to be prepared for the variety of animals we see and recommended treatments, we maintain a robust on-site supply that’s constantly monitored and replenished.
What kind of costs should I expect?
Just like every animal has their individual quirks and traits, their care and associated costs are just as unique, which means there’s no real way to provide an estimate over the phone or even in person until we conduct a nose-to-toes exam. However, we take the time to review your estimate with you before we begin any treatment. For the most part, you can expect the following components in your estimate:
- Diagnostic exam – this is the first step where we identify the problem and determine the best course of action. Our initial exam is $115 which is actually less than most emergency clinics.
- Procedures – we’re committed to providing the gold standard in care, so we always outline our full recommendations for the best outcome for your pet. This may include X-rays, IV fluids, hospitalization or other procedures.
- Medications – based on the diagnosis and recommended procedures, we may recommend medication that will either be administered in our clinic or your home.
Once we’ve completed our diagnosis, we’ll provide a written estimate for your review and won’t begin any treatment without your approval. We also encourage our clients to share their budget with us, so we can explore any alternative treatments that might reduce costs.
What kind of payments do you accept?
We understand that many pet emergencies may not be budgeted for, so we work with each client to find a payment plan that works, including:
- Pet insurance – the best, easiest way to cover any emergency service is with pet insurance. We work directly with a handful of pet insurance companies to offer our clients a direct-to-vet payment option, meaning we bill the insurance company at the time of service and you’re only responsible for any amount not covered. Of course each insurance company is different, so you’ll want to check your policy for their specific terms.
- Finance options – we are happy to accept both Scratchpay and CareCredit payment plans which are based on individual lending criteria. We have applications on-site and can usually get an answer within 10-15 minutes.
- Cash and credit cards – We currently accept cash as well as Visa, Mastercard, AMEX and Discover.
Is there anything I can do to prepare for these costs?
You know the saying, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure? The best way to avoid many pet emergencies is to make sure you’re managing your pet’s health, including regular check-ups with your vet, keeping up-to-date on vaccinations and ensuring proper diet and exercise. Another option is to establish a savings account or dedicate a credit card just for pet care. Even better if it’s one where that offers cashback savings or airline points.
Any last advice?
We do our best to provide clear, transparent communication and believe honesty really is the best policy! We also want you to feel comfortable sharing any financial concerns and often ask our clients to tell us their budget, so we can find ways to work within it without sacrificing the care your pet needs.
At Emerald City Emergency Clinic we’ve been taking care of your pets for 25 years. Our small, dedicated team is passionate about animals. Even though we like to joke that we hope we don’t see you again (we want your pet to stay healthy!), we value our relationships with our clients. We aim to provide our patients with an excellent standard of care and our clients with only the best customer service.