New Bolton Center Kennett Square, PA
Emergencies & Appointments:
Ryan Hospital Philadelphia, PA
Penn Vet Emergency Service Waiting Area

Penn Vet Emergency Service – What to Expect


  • You can call us for updates on your pet throughout their emergency service stay. If your pet will be transferring to a different service in the morning, the veterinarian on that service will provide you with their personal contact information for continued updates. That veterinarian will call you in the morning once they have had a chance to review your pet’s full history and perform a full examination.
  • Emergency Service: 215-746-8911

Coming to the emergency department can be a stressful and confusing time. Here's a quick rundown of what you can expect during your visit.

Four Important Steps

  • Triage

    Upon arrival, your pet will be seen by a triage nurse or veterinary student who will prioritize care needs based on symptoms being experienced and how sick or injured your pet is.  You will be asked for a brief history of what the problem is. Often times the nurse will bring your pet to the treatment area for evaluation by a veterinarian or for continuous monitoring until the veterinarian can speak with you directly.  If your pet needs immediate medical care, you will be asked for permission to start treatment immediately.  This is called CONSENT FOR STABILIZATION.

  • Registration

    A registration clerk takes information about you and your pet (name, address, age, breed, etc.), and your regular or referring veterinarian.  After registration, the patient’s information (medical chart) is brought to the veterinary team.

  • History

    History is extremely important for the veterinary team to be able to correctly diagnose and treat patients properly.  You will be taken to a room where a veterinary student (or veterinarian) will ask you many questions.  Often times the veterinarian will ask you additional questions for clarification.  The veterinary team will need to know what the problems are, how long they have been present, what medications your pet is taking, and any pertinent medical history including previous illnesses, injuries, or surgeries, diet, exposure to other animals, and preventative care history.

  • Medical Care

    Every pet is assigned a veterinary student and specially trained veterinarian; however, we are all here to help you, so do not hesitate to ask anyone for help.  The veterinarian will perform a physical exam on your pet, review the medical record and history that was provided, and then spend time discussing the concerns that you have.  During this consultation the veterinarian will discuss the plan for diagnostic tests (such as bloodwork and x rays) and will recommend specific medical care.  If your pet is well enough to go home, you will receive verbal and printed out discharge instructions.  If it is recommended that your pet be hospitalized, you will receive an estimate of the costs of care that is expected, as well as contact information so that you may call and check in on your pet.  You will be asked to sign forms to consent for treatment as well as provide emergency numbers so that we can reach you at any time.

After the visit your veterinarian will send a letter to your primary or referring veterinarian explaining the details of the visit.

Prioritizing Patient Care

Sickest Pets First: If you notice that other clients are being seen before you, it's because we need to treat the sickest pets first.

Feel Forgotten? If you think you've been overlooked, please ask someone for help. We will update you as often as possible.

If Your Pet Is Worsening: If your pet is waiting with you in the waiting area and you think your pet is worsening, please ask to speak to a nurse for a re-evaluation. If your pet is worsening, we will take your pet to the treatment area for closer monitoring and possibly start treatment immediately.

Who's Who

You'll meet many different members of our medical team in the emergency department. Each person plays an important role in helping our patients at such a critical time.

  • Veterinary Nurses

    Our skilled veterinary nurses will be the primary caregivers to your pet. They will ensure that your pet is comfortable throughout their stay with us. They will monitor your pet for signs of nausea, pain, or distress and will notify the veterinarian if anything is wrong. They will take your pet for walks outside to eliminate, and will make sure your pet is eating and drinking (when safe to do so). They perform the diagnostic tests and procedures that are ordered by the veterinarian and monitor your pet’s vitals regularly.

  • Veterinary Students

    Our veterinary students have already completed 3 or more years of veterinary school including coursework as well as hands on patient care.  Like our nurses, their goal is to make sure your pet is comfortable and receiving the highest quality care.  They perform diagnostic tests, treatments, procedures, and follow up calls to check up on you and your pet.

  • Interns and Residents

    Interns and residents are veterinarians who have already graduated from an accredited veterinary school. Some have already practiced veterinary medicine at other hospitals prior to coming to Penn Vet to advance their education.  Our residents, who specialize in Emergency and Critical Care Medicine, will complete four years of undergraduate training, four years of veterinary school, one year of internship, and three years of residency training.

  • Senior Clinicians

    The senior clinician is in charge of all patients in the emergency service.  You may not see them or speak with them directly, but they are part of the veterinary team that will develop the final diagnostic and treatment plan for your pet.  Our senior clinicians are leaders in their field, lecturing at international conferences, performing cutting edge research, and publishing research articles in internationally recognized journals.

If Your Pet is Admitted to the Hospital

  • Once you have discussed and agreed to a medical plan for your pet, you will need to sign consent forms as well as leave a deposit for care. 
  • Once the receptionists have completed this process they will ask you if you would like to visit with your pet.  Some owners know that their pet will become more upset seeing them leave so choose not to visit. 
  • If you wish to visit your pet we will bring you to the treatment area to visit and see where your pet will be staying. Alternatively, sometimes one of our nurses can bring your dog out front to visit, depending on the medical status of your animal.
  • Make sure to to give us any medications that you have brought with you and don't forget to take your cat or dog carrier as well as your leash and collar home with you.

Client Checklist

Please make sure to bring with you:

  • A copy of any radiographs, bloodwork, and medical record from all hospitals your pet has been treated at.
  • All medications that your pet is taking.  This is especially important if the medications are compounded.
  • If your pet has ingested a toxin, it is VERY important that you bring the packaging so that we can read the chemical name from the label.

If your pet will be hospitalized:

  •  Double-check your phone number, especially if it has been a while since you were here last.
  • Bring all of your pet’s belongings home with you, including the pet carrier.  These items can become misplaced and difficult to locate in our large hospital, especially if your pet will be treated by the different services we have available.