Behind the Scenes: What Your Pet's Overnight Vet Visit Is Like


PetMD Editorial

Published Mar. 20, 2017

So your beloved pet needs to spend the night at the animal hospital. Who will it be harder on? You or your pet? Depending on the type of hospital you are admitting your fur baby to, she may have a variety of experiences. But all are safe, comfortable, and trustworthy. A veterinary facility will never put your pet in harm's way, and will always do its best to keep every patient as comfortable and happy as possible. Though nothing beats the comfort of your own home, here is what is offered to help ease your mind.

Preparing for Your Pet's Procedure

Upon arriving to the hospital, you will check your pet in, whether it be for surgery, boarding, or testing. The check-in procedure will include a set of questions for you to answer. This is your time to inform the veterinary team of any special needs and concerns. Be sure to be clear about any special feeding instructions or medications that your pet is on. 

Take this time to ask any questions you may have about your pet's procedure. A veterinary nurse will be happy to explain any details to you or offer any assistance. You can even ask to speak to a doctor if you have questions about a surgery or medical test. You can also ask to see where your pet will be housed overnight, where she will be walked, and what she will be fed. This is a scary situation for both you and your pet, and the more comfortable you both are, the easier it is on the veterinary staff. We are trained to accommodate you and educate you, so ask away.

If your pet is being admitted for surgery, she should be fasted beforehand. If she is staying for boarding or observation, and can be offered food, be sure to bring some of her own food from home. This will make it easier on the staff, so that there is no mistake in feeding, and it will be easier on your pet's belly. (Sudden food changes can cause an upset stomach.)

While we're on the subject of bringing things from home, feel free to bring your pet's favorite toy, blanket, and even bed. Keep in mind, you may get it back soiled, though.  Sometimes, when pets are in the hospital overnight, they don't always act as well behaved or potty trained as at home. They may get their belongings a little dirty. Many times, this means that their baggage will end up in the hospital laundry, and then all bets are off. You know those laundry fairies that like single socks at your house? Well, in the veterinary hospital, they love pet's personal blankets and toys. Hopefully, this doesn't happen, but it's always a possibility. 

A Safe, Comfortable Place for Your Pets

Now that you have checked your pet in, she will be admitted into the hospital ward. She will be situated in her own, individual crate. She will be provided with food and water, if her procedure allows for it. She will be given blankets, towels, and toys to keep her comfy and occupied. She will be prepped for any testing or procedure accordingly. You may be asked to drop her off a few hours before her procedure if certain pre-operative testing needs to be done, or an IV catheter needs to be placed and fluids given beforehand. 

Depending on the type of facility, your pet may or may not have 24-hour supervision. If you veterinary clinic is open 24 hours, that means that doctors and nurses will be available around the clock. Every hour, patients are checked on. Depending on their medical status, vital signs will be taken, they will be monitored, medications will be administered, and treatments performed. 

Many hospitals are not open 24 hours, so no human is in the facility from closing time until the staff returns in the morning. Every pet is walked, cleaned, and fed before the staff leaves the hospital for the night, and secured in the crates and tucked in. Most times, they are used to sleeping overnight, so once the lights go off, they settle right in. 

Sometimes 24-hour care facilities may actually be less restful, since the staff is always in and out of the wards, doing rounds and checking on patients, much like in a human hospital. But you may feel better knowing that someone is in the building to monitor your pet, and choose a 24-hour care hospital. 

If your regular veterinary hospital is not 24 hours, you can see if it offers an overnight nurse for hire. Many times, a client can hire a veterinary technician to stay at the hospital overnight for an additional fee. This is common in critical care patients, or post-operatively, so that medications can be administered throughout the night.

If there is an option for overnight care, rest assured that your pet will get the best care possible. She will be walked, fed, medicated, and snuggled. She will be constantly cleaned up after, monitored, and played with. When the veterinary team is at work, the patients become their own personal pets. We miss our fur babies when we are hard at work, so we treat yours as if they were our own. A doctor is on call as long as there is staff in the hospital, so you can rest easy that the best medical care will be given. And although it won't be as restful as their own bed at home, a veterinary hospital is a safe, comfortable place for your pets to be overnight.

Natasha Feduik is a licensed veterinary technician with Garden City Park Animal Hospital in New York, where she has been practicing for 10 years. Natasha received her degree in veterinary technology from Purdue University. Natasha has two dogs, a cat, and three birds at home and is passionate about helping people take the best possible care of their animal companions.

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