Frequently Asked Questions

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How many animals can the ICU treat at once?
We currently have physical space and staffing to care for not more than 12 animals at a time.

What is the technician-to-patient ratio?
One extensively-trained ICU veterinary technician provides dedicated care for between one and three patients at any given time.

What is the average length of stay for a patient in the ICU?
Some pets are in the ICU for only a few hours, while others may be hospitalized for several weeks. On average, a typical patient spends about two days in the ICU.

Why would my pet be admitted to the ICU and not the general wards?
If your pet is critically ill and needs minute-to-minute evaluation and treatment adjustments it will need to be in the ICU where the technicians can be completely focused on your animals well being. The ICU clinicians will remain with your pet (night or day) until it is stable. If your animal requires intensive monitoring such as heart or blood pressure monitoring, oxygen therapy, blood transfusions, or advanced pain control options, your veterinarian will direct your pet’s care to the ICU.

Is there a veterinarian in the ICU all night long?
The primary veterinarian who directs the care of an ICU patient is not always at its cage side, but there is a doctor in the hospital at all times. Our specially-trained veterinary technicians are always in the ICU. The ICU residents and faculty fully evaluate all the ICU patients twice a day, every day of the week, and are available 24/7 to provide patient care as needed.

What does ACVECC mean?
American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care. This is the specialty college that certifies veterinarians with advanced training in the veterinary medical specialty needed to provide intensive patient care and emergency medicine to dogs and cats.

What does it take to become board certified by ACVECC?
A specialist in emergency and critical care is a veterinarian who is dedicated to treating life-threatening conditions. They undertake specialized training after graduation from veterinary school following a minimum of a one year internship, often more. Specialized training involves a three-year ACVECC residency training program following which the veterinarian must then pass a difficult board certification examination given by ACVECC. Upon successful completion of the residency and passing the examination, the veterinarian is a Diplomate of the ACVECC, is termed a “specialist,” and is board certified in veterinary emergency and critical care.

Do you have an ACVECC Residency Program?
Yes. Our residents are graduate veterinarians who have chosen to have additional training in the specialty of emergency and critical care. This intense program is highly competitive and focuses on the most up-to-date techniques for diagnosis and treatment of life threatening disease or injury. The emergency and critical care residency is supervised by mentors who have completed similar training and are themselves board-certified Diplomates of the American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care.

How do I know if a veterinarian is a specialist in emergency and critical care?
You can ask the veterinarian or look for the ACVECC credential (DACVECC). You may also check the ACVECC web site ( where all ACVECC Diplomates are listed.

How do I know if my pet needs a specialist veterinarian in emergency and critical care?
First, ask your veterinarian. Any pet that is seriously ill might benefit from this type of care. Animals that have sustained trauma or bite wounds are an obvious example, but a number of other problems are commonly treated.

The following is a sampling of the type of patients that routinely benefit from care by an ACVECC Diplomate:

  • Trauma patients, including those hit by cars, or those having sustained bite, bullet, burn, or other injuries
  • Any animal that is having trouble breathing
  • Animals that need a blood transfusion
  • Any patient that is in shock (signs of shock can include weakness, pale gums, cold feet, and an abnormal heart rate)
  • Animals that are having trouble urinating, or are not producing urine
  • Dogs and cats that need specialized nutritional support because they are unwilling or unable to eat on their own
  • Animals in which an abnormal heart rhythm or heart function is causing problems
  • Animals with life-threatening neurologic disease such as coma or severe seizures that are not responding to medications
  • Patients that have had surgery and are not recovering well from anesthesia or are having trouble in the first few post-operative days