How long is the ER wait time near you at the moment?

well last night I came home very late, like 11 PM, and found my nine year old GSD lethargic, running a fever, with a paw three times its normal size. I also find him no longer wearing the bandage we put over the lick granuloma on that leg, which sucks because the reason he’s wearing a bandage is he can access it even with an E-collar on. He already had the lick granuloma on that leg, and already had an appointment to be seen Tuesday by his regular vet. But given that he was acting like he felt pretty crappy it was pretty safe to say he now has a serious infection.

So I did what you do and called around to the area ER vets, which unfortunately we have only three of. All of them had a 12+ hour wait and were dealing with multiple hit by cars/poisonings. Not surprising on a holiday weekend but sucks for me. This objectively is something that SHOULD be seen immediately since he’s lethargic and not weight bearing and running a fever, but is not something that is going to kill my dog in the next 12 hours, so I thanked them and said I’d deal with it and call in the morning.

So out to the barn I go. Found some SMZs (bactrim). Search proper dosage of SMZs for a deep pyoderma. SMZs turn out not to be the preferred antibiotic for this in a dog but after digging in some veterinary manuals and some research papers I find the right dosage. Give dog the SMZs and a dose of rimadyl before re-wrapping his leg in a bandage and then slathering the bandage in cribox so he can’t rip it off anymore.

Called again this morning. Clinics are still running a 10-12 hour wait. However dog’s paw is a lot less swollen, he’s weight bearing, and his behavior is back to normal so I’m thinking he’s gonna stay on bactrim until he can see his regular vet on Tuesday.

It sucks, and it’s not the vet’s fault there is such a long wait for services. But is this affecting anyone else’s area quite this badly?


Yes, our area (suburban/rural MD) has been very bad since Covid started. The regular vets are swamped as well (and of course many of them also moonlight at the ER.) I work for a vet surgical supply business and our orders have gone up significantly, too, so it’s not just a question of fewer vets, it’s also more pets being treated.

Yes, veterinarians are overbooked right now. Like all employers they’ve had people out sick and lost people. I haven’t had an emergency to deal with yet but just regular appointments are booked out months and the practice lost its associate vet who needed to care for a sick family member.

My vet says they are treating way more pets than they used to. Possibly people were stuck at home with their pets more and noticed issues they may have overlooked / not had time to deal with before? And maybe people bought/adopted pets for whatever reason during the pandemic.

A wait time at all would be an improvement over what we currently have here. I live within spitting distance of a major metropolitan area. When my GSD needed to be seen by an ER vet for a suspected dislocated tail several months ago, on a weekend night of course, we called every Animal ER in town and was told at most that they were “at capacity” and and to try the next clinic. One said they would only make an exception for cases in acute respiratory distress. One emergency room had simply closed and transitioned to a specialty practice.

We ended up driving to the next closest town 40 miles away on the promise doggo would be seen in under 4 hours only to be told when we arrived it was now a 12-16 hour wait and if we had not called ahead we would be turned away as well. When my Doberman, who has a number of conditions, had a case of bloat we did get prioritized but waited basically overnight. At this point you need a Winnebago to comfortably see an ER vet here as they are still not allowing people to wait inside at most clinics due to Covid. It’s a long cold night in a parking lot.

The clinics were all very apologetic and kind and I was at least able to speak to a vet tech who confirmed my dog(s) should be seen. They are doing the best they can in difficult circumstances but it is very troubling that ER vet care is now nearly impossible to come by.

My lovely regular clinic vet has began to see her patients for emergencies in an effort to fill the gap but I can tell she is starting to burn out. My clinic is now running three months out for “standard” procedures. It’s a bad situation for pet owners all around. Be kind to your vets everyone, I think this situation will get worse before it starts to improve.

We took my toy poodle due to a bad eye ulcer in February. We waited 8 hrs, since it wasn’t life threatening. Tucson AZ area

The ER vet in my area closed because of a lack of staff.
That one was about an hour from my house.
The next closest ER is over 2 hours away and typically at capacity.
It sucks.

Last weekend, the dog of a friend in LA (the Valley) was bitten by a rattlesnake during their evening walk. A vet tech ran triage in the ER vet’s parking lot. She said the lot was packed. They waited 7 hours to get into the vet. They couldn’t really tell what was wrong with the other animals waiting, but I would have thought a rattlesnake bite would have gotten higher priority?

Dog was hospitalized for 2 days. Doing well now, though still in the “collar of shame.”

Reading about the long wait times at vet ER clinics makes me really appreciate my local vet. I recently caught a feral cat that needed veterinary care (posted in another thread). When I caught him, I called the vet clinic, took him straight in, and they saw him immediately. It was less than an hour from the time I called until he was seen by a vet.


If my local vet is open, the vet I have a long standing relationship with where all my pets go, they will take me in immediately if I have an emergency.

After hours is where we now have a problem.

yeah, unfortunately this happened on a saturday on memorial day weekend :T Otherwise I’d have called his regular vet.

Doesn’t it always happen after hours though? In my experience that’s when my animals attempt to self destruct 100% of the time!

We live between 2 cities-50 miles in either direction. As far as I can find out there is not an animal ER in either city. Cornell Companion Animal Hospital is about 2 hours from me, bit even they will tell you the wait in the ER is hours-once you get there. However, when we brought in our vomiting 18 mo old dog, who had not been eating, drinking, peeing or pooping for several days, they saw her right away and admitted her immediately. We had been treating her for gastroenteritis (multiple regular vet visits over 6 weeks). Turned out to be a rare and aggressive cancer. :frowning:

Yes…it is horrible. I had a cat that was having little weird breathing episodes but was fine 98% of the time. I called to get her in with her primary care vet and they gave me an appointment 6 WEEKS out.
They did call and change it to 4 weeks. Yippee :roll_eyes:. Due to the same lack of staff, most vets around here were not taking new clients. Therefore, the ER’s are getting dumped on.

Well Emmy deteriorated and I had to take her to someone. We have an urgent care vet. So we went there first and I was praying they would give her some steroids and send us home. We didn’t have to wait there. They deemed her unstable and sent us to one of the local ER’s. We didn’t have much wait because of her respiratory distress and the referral from the urgent care. She spent 2 days in ICU. She did stabilize and I got her home but over the ensuing 2 weeks, despite a ton of drugs and inhalers, she got worse again and was just burning up her meager body weight with the work of breathing. I had her euthanized. The differentials were asthma or cancer. The ER vet wanted me to leave her to have bronchoscope but the internal medicine vet that took over her case said it wouldn’t tell her that much and by then, the bill was already nearing 5K! I suspect cancer. Oh to have been able to get into her regular vet when she first started with these episodes. I know it would have not cost so much and she wouldn’t have suffered as much :cry:.

Same cat had an ER visit back in July of 21 for diarrhea and vomiting and she had an 8 hour wait. I left her there as you couldn’t go in the building with them and I wasn’t sitting in the parking lot for that long.

Anyway…yes, for both primary care and the ER’s around here have had horrible wait times. It is so frustrating when you have a sick or injured animal.


I don’t know on the small animal vets…I do know that our large animal (horse) vet technically has 24/7 coverage, but based on the periodic gaps, that they are always good about advertising, their coverage is the same 2 vets that are responsible for the regular practice and for much of northern/northwestern CT. In other words, you are going to wait; possibly quite a long time if the horse can’t be trailered.

@IndysMom @Kyrabee
So sorry to hear about your dog and kitty. Heartbreaking. :cry: :kissing_heart:

My vet’s office is still on-call 24/7 if we need them, thankfully. I don’t know about the ERs specifically in our area - we can go 60 miles in one direction, or 65 miles in the other direction.

My vet is booked solid on most procedures - spays and neuters are being scheduled about 6-8 weeks out right now, but they worked in my feral female today. I got her caught, and took her in, and they said they weren’t sure it would be today, but they will just keep her until they can get to her. (Perhaps getting ferals spayed constitutes an emergency? It does to me!) Now to get her brother in the crate . . .

I’m in Northern VA… 50/50 shot on whether an ER vet will even let you in the door here because they are so full. A couple months ago I was turned away by six ER vets within a 90 minute radius… dog had a severe puncture wound over a joint. My friend’s dog was hit by a car and in severe distress, she had to travel a substantial distance to find an ER that would see her dog.

I had a rabbit that suddenly became very ill. The main exotic vet in the area was scheduling appts over 5 weeks out. They suggested a second vet, and I had to settle for an appt two weeks out. I was warned by the first vet not to come to the ER because I would be turned away due to an overloaded case load. Thank god my dog/cat vet, who doesn’t normally treat rabbits, was willing to squeeze us in and see what she could do to hold us over.

The veterinary field is incredibly short staffed. It definitely makes me extremely concerned about finding care when needed on an urgent basis.

In some ways I’m thankful my dog is expected to live less than 1 year due to Cushings and lymphoma. There will be no extreme measures and most likely no surgeries unless it’s a simple fix. I just hope to have expedient euthanasia when we reach that point. And as much as I’d like to bring a new dog into the household, quite a few factors are working against that including difficulty obtaining vet care. At least, that’ll make one less client to bog down the system.

My vet’s office is only open MT-TF. Sometimes a staff member checks voicemails on a weekend. We have 3 ERs within an hour of us and neither me, my vet, nor any pet-parent I know trusts any of them. Many of the vet clinics around us also aren’t very good at treating anything other than very simple health issues. My vet was actually hired as a consultant by some of the local clinics to help improve them and the stories he shared with me were pretty bad - including sharing contaminated needles between different animals :dizzy_face:. I definitely don’t feel comfortable with not having a good ER/weekend clinic nearby, but in a worst case scenario, I could text my vet and get his recommendation.

ETA: Local ER wait times are usually 6 hours+

I am impressed that where you live there are six ER vets within a 90 minute radius. Sad that they are over burdened, but wow, six.

my friend had a plugged cat last week ( a genuine emergency) it took her 1 1/2 days to find someone who would take her. 6 emergency clinics turned her away ( phone) . Her regular vet turned her away as well as other open hour clinics. The vet who works with her on her wildlife rehab turned her away ( lack of skill set / facility)

Thankfully kitty is home and doing OK so far.

The clinic that took him in deserves praise