Lack of emergency pet vet overnight

Our local pet vet (not equine) hospital no longer is open overnight. If you have an emergency with your dog or cat you can drive 60+ miles to another city or pay $50 for vet “telemedicine”. We’re all dreading that night when we have an emergency as happened to my friend last night. Her dog may have had a seizure but is okay today. Anybody out there dealing with similar conditions? Yes we know there is a widespread shortage of vets, and corporations aren’t required to keep operating services they find unprofitable. The emergency hospital is corporate owned. Any ideas for us?

As small animal vet med culture changes, I think this will become more common. I think as pet owners we need to be more self sufficient and this would include euthanasia. Unfortunately, I think we also have to change our mindset i.e. how we view and value our pets. Sad but it’s reality. Human medicine is facing a similar issue. Capitalism and healthcare aren’t good bedfellows.


Emergency care 60 miles away is a hike, but not untenable except for those very emergent situations. Tele triage makes sense.

I’m curious how you see this working? How do you think people should be able to euthanize their pets? Are you envisioning using a firearm? Or…how? It’s not like any vet is going to be dispensing euthanasia drugs, or more than a miniscule fraction of owners have the wherewithall to use them.


Firearm would be the quickest and easiest. There are other methods as well. If folks want details, common sense and Google will help you out. This would be for those emergency situations that typically occur over holidays, weekends, nights. Obviously, those who live in more rural areas or deal with livestock will have more resources and ability to dispatch an animal. It’s not a question of a vet dispensing euthanasia drugs; they wouldn’t nor would I ask.


There is an emergency clinic in my area, but they’re not open 24 hours every day. If there was an emergency during one of the days or nights they’re not open, I would have to do a longer drive. There are 2 clinics that are 24/7 and they’re both about 1 hour away.

There was a time I had to take a cat to one of the farther away clinics. The care was fine but it was a very long wait. The whole visit (arrival to departure) took about 8 hours and there was the drive on top of that. I’m sure the long, stressful day wasn’t a good thing for my kitty that was sick.

When we had a 24/7 E-vet it was an hour from my house so to me an hour drive to an E-vet is normal and typical and not a huge deal.

That E-vet closed and only does regular hours now.

The next closest E-vet is a couple of hours away and from what I hear it is always at capacity and not taking anyone else.

This is a problem everywhere and I hate it.

To clarify something, I do not live in the middle of nowhere. I just happened to live in a suburb on the other side of the city from what was the E-vet and the drive, even in the middle of the night, took an hour.

My horse vet, that I use for all things horse, is an hour away too.

Edit to add - I understand why this change is happening. Does not mean I like it.
I feel for the vets at my small animal practice because they are not stuck with the need to do late emergency care on animals that previously would have already been taken to the E-vet.
I can not imagine how stressful it is to go to work on a Monday morning at the typical small animal vet office where there is no accessible E-vet anymore.


There’s any thread titled the great veterinary shortage which goes into a lot of this. It’s a multifactorial issue that can’t just be laid at the feet of “corporate” takeover. ER with is often extremely frustrating and unrewarding. Rising costs of business and rising cost of employees coupled with people who expect first rate care on a shoestring budget for their pandemic puppy can make for extremely toxic situations. Look up the case of a clinic in the northeast who offered relinquishment because a owner couldn’t afford emergency sx and advanced care and then got death threats via social media when the owner spun the story.

Also ER work is not for everyone. I’m a vet and I hate ER. A year of equine work and on call and I realized I didn’t want that life. I also hate the types of cases that come in on ER.

An hour drive is a big number in an emergency but overall a better situation than a lot of people.


A frightening situation, which has become a reality in many areas. I have consequently decided not to add to my four legged friends family.

Good Luck to everyone ~

@HPFarmette ~ I hope your friend’s dog is recovering without complications ~ Jingles & AO ~

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It’s definitely common all over. I’m in Ontario, the closest 24/7 small animal vet is about 40 minutes from me. For my sister and inlaws the closest emergency vet is a good hour and half drive. My parents decided not to get another dog since they’re about two hours from an ER.

The large animal vet that services the area that my parents live in will probably retire in the next 10 years. Once she retires my mom will have to decide whether she wants to board her gelding further south where I live, or be prepared to have my dad euthanize in an emergency. That aren’t strangers to this situation. For many years they lived on an island, water access only, about 30 minutes from the nearest town. A firearm was the kindest end for a few dogs in those years.

It’s not always legal to discharge a firearm in, say, your suburban backyard. And those “other methods” may be considered animal cruelty.

I don’t disagree that the shortage of emergency vet care leaves a gap. But expecting that people–just the general population–to be comfortable with or have the resources to or even be in a physical location where it is LEGAL to euthanize an animal is … wow, just so unlikely.


Hey, we’ve had lack of emergency care for humans. It’s an extension of the situation our “civilization” is currently in. Is it gonna get better? I don’t know. I hope so, but am not sure that it will. Yes, a lack of emergency pet care 24/7 is something that we who own animals are having to deal with. There is not always someone available to help you, with your pets, or with your human family. This is the current reality of our civilization. Animals will die as a result. So will humans. Good luck, everyone. Welcome to the reality of our current situation.

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I’m with you. Both my equine vet and small animal vet work 9-5 only now. I am very lucky to have a back-up vet for the horses, but the only option now for the cats is the ER. I’ve been to the ER probably 4 times in the past 3 years and it was terribly stressful on the animals. And me. We had a couple of complicated cases and during covid, you could not go in to the office and had to wait in the car. I lived 1/2 hour away yet they would not let me leave and I spent 6 hours mid-winter sitting in the car. They had my CC# and cell but refused to let me leave. I think they changed this policy since then.
Anyways, it’s become too problematic to have pets so we are on our last ones.


What a first world problem. Having lived and worked where EMS for people is 2 to 4 hours away, vet EMS is laughable. Learn first aid for people and animals. Read books. Coordinate and train with your neighbors. How do you think all the people that grow, ranch and catch your food manage? Watch the Deadliest Catch for inspiration.


Pretty much everything on this whole forum is a first world problem.

Lack of emergency vet services is a real problem. Maybe not for you, but for lots of people.


I’m having nightmare thoughts imagining my 85 year old neighbor stumbling around in hysterical tears, trying to cock a .22, and euthanize her ancient cat herself.

A more realistic version of events is that both she and her cat would spend an agonizing weekend of suffering until regular vets opened up.

I guess the best those without medical EMS can hope to do is stockpile a hearty supply of painkillers. :woman_shrugging:t2:


So your regular vet does no after hour calls?

We have no emergency clinics that I know of (I guess) because our vets still have a service who takes emergency calls. We just meet them at the clinic if it was after hours.

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Also, not every animal first aid issue is treatable even by a knowledgeable layperson. Vets have diagnostic equipment everyday pet owners don’t have, and some symptoms like seizures can be due to a variety of causes. The point of going to a vet is an accurate diagnosis by a trained professional. Sometimes knowing what you don’t know and going to the vet is the best thing to do.


A few years ago I was burning log piles and to my horror a spooked jackrabbit jumped straight into the flames. I was horrified. Why didn’t a wild animal recognize danger? It was so hot I knew the rabbit wouldn’t survive. Until I came around the other side of the pile and saw a completely hairless rabbit. His eyes were opaque because they had been burned. I was beside myself. The only tool I had handy was an axe and yes, I killed that rabbit. It was awful and I just sat down in the field and bawled. Would that method have been animal cruely? Would it have been kinder to allow that horribly burned rabbit to die a prolonged agonizing death?

I hope I never again have to do something like that to any animal, much less a beloved pet. But when you have seen and experienced some of the horror out there, well, your perspective can change.


I honestly cannot believe that I have to say this, but yes, attempting to euthanize a pet with an ax could be classified as animal cruelty either dependent on the outcome or perhaps at all dependent on the local laws.

Can you really not see how that could go terribly, terribly wrong? Do you think every pet owner out there has an ax in the garage? Do you think most pet owners can even identify what is end of life vs what is not?

What was the right thing for the rabbit in that moment and what’s appropriate for the average family dog at the end of it’s life are world’s apart for most people.


This spring I tried no mow May, and then when attempting to mow over a foot of grass in the garden, I massacred a nest of baby bunnies :sob: A couple didn’t get fatally shredded, but we’re mangled… they were so small, all I could think to do was put them in a feed bag and crush them under the truck wheels.

I don’t think I could’ve done that to/for a pet. I could give some sort of injection IM but not IV, maaaaaaybe I could use the .22 on a pet…maybe. I’d rather not have to make the choice.

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