New Bolton Center Kennett Square, PA
Emergencies & Appointments:
Ryan Hospital Philadelphia, PA
Ryan Veterinary Hospital

What to Expect When You Come Here

If you are facing the possibility of surgical treatment at Ryan Hospital, we are here to help explain your pet’s individual case, diagnostic results, and surgical options. That way you will be ready to make the best decisions for your pet and your family.

Preparing for Your Appointment

About Medications and Food

  • Make a list of your pet’s medications and bring this with you to your appointment.  Include the name of the medication, the size (mg) of the tablet, and the amount your pet takes per day.  For liquids, note the concentration (mg/ml) and the volume (mls) your pet takes per day.  
  • Note the name of your pet’s food and how much s/he eats per day.
  • Bring a list of any supplements that you are feeding your pet.
  • Be prepared to tell us if your pet has any allergies to food or medications, or if they have had a past reaction to a certain medication or vaccine.  We’ll also need to know if your pet has a history of any problems with sedation or anesthesia.
  • Please FAST your pet prior to their initial consult appointment, in case any additional imaging or sedation is needed.  This means no food after 10 pm the night before their visit.  Water is fine to continue.
  • Please check with us ahead of time regarding special instructions if your pet requires any medications with food in the morning, or if your pet is diabetic.  

About Medical Records

The best way for us to understand what's happening with your pet is for us to have as much information as possible. Be sure that we receive records from your primary care veterinarian. 

  • Generally we request records from the past year, especially any blood work, imaging, or pathology results leading up to your pet's diagnosis. 
  • If your pet had diagnostics performed by multiple veterinarians, please make sure we have all pertinent records to review. 
  • Remember to ask your veterinarian to send images (x-rays, ultrasound, CT or MRI images).  If these can’t be sent by email, please pick up a disk or the film radiographs to bring to your appointment.
  • Bring a copy of your pet’s vaccination history.  Vaccine reminders are often printed on the most recent invoice from your primary care veterinarian.  

Appointment Handouts

We've included the 'veterinarian referral form', which you will need to have your primary veterinarian fill out so that we can know as much about your pet as possible prior to your visit.

What Will Happen at Your Appointment

When you arrive at Penn Vet, you will be greeted by the senior veterinary student assigned to your pet.

Information Gathering

Your veterinary student will begin your consultation by taking a detailed history.  We always review records from your pet’s primary veterinarian prior to your appointment, but we will likely ask additional questions to better understand what happened leading up to the diagnosis, as well as information about your pet’s past medical history.  As part of our history, we may ask some of the following questions:

  • When did you first notice a problem?
  • Are there any changes in your pet’s activity or energy level?
  • Does your pet seem to be in pain? 
  • If medications have been prescribed for pain, are they helping? 
  • Are there any changes in your pet’s appetite?
  • Is your pet drinking and/or urinating more or less frequently than normal?
  • Has there been any vomiting or diarrhea?

The Physical Examination

Following the history, your pet's veterinary student will perform a detailed physical examination.  Sometimes people ask about coming for a consult without their pet, but it’s very important for us to examine your pet to offer our best opinion on treatment options.  Besides, we enjoy meeting your pet!

A Team-Based Approach

Once your pet's veterinary student has taken their history and physical exam, they will leave the room to discuss your pet's case with the veterinary team assigned to you and your pet. This includes the house officers (residents and/or interns) and the senior attending veterinarian. 

Discussing Your Pet's Case: We ask our students to review their findings, and then develop a specific problem list, list of differential diagnoses, and diagnostic/treatment plan for your pet.  This discussion may take 15-30 minutes, and often involves quizzing our students and reviewing your pet's disease process.  The veterinary team will then return to the exam room with the student.  We may repeat some of the same history questions or ask them in a different way, and we will also repeat the physical exam.


The next step in your appointment with us is to use various tests to get the best and most precise diagnosis of your animal's condition. We will evaluate your pet’s body to determine if and where surgical intervention might be the appropriate clinical approach. Depending on your animal's condition, diagnostic tests may include:

  • Minimum Database (complete blood count, chemistry panel, urinalysis)
  • Digital Radiographs (x-rays)
  • Ultrasound
  • CT scan or MRI

These diagnostic tests can often take several hours, especially if imaging tests are needed.  We always give a time estimate based on our diagnostic recommendations, but plan to spend at least three hours at Penn Vet on the day of your first consultation.  In some cases, it may be possible to leave your pet with us for a few hours, and meet again at the end of the day to discuss diagnostic results.

Treatment Recommendations

Once we have all of the information above, we can make specific treatment recommendations for your pet and provide information on potential treatment, prognosis, and cost.  We try to discuss all treatment alternatives so that you can  make an informed decision on what will work best for your pet and your family.

There is no pressure to make a decision on the day of your appointment.  Many families take information home and consider all of the options before electing to start treatment.  We are always happy to answer questions that you may think of after your appointment.  Our primary goal is to help you and your pet, and we are here to help guide you through treatment with compassionate care and quality medicine.  

About Our House Officer Team Members

As a teaching hospital, PennVet takes great pride in training the next generation of veterinary specialists.  All of our house officers – our residents and interns – have earned their veterinary degrees and are practicing veterinarians. They are always supervised by attending specialists who are board-certified in surgery.  

Even if you are primarily communicating with a house officer, rest assured that your pet has also been seen by one or more of our board-certified specialists, and that your pet's case has been reviewed in rounds with the entire team.

It is important to remember that specialization is optional in veterinary medicine; not all veterinarians seek this additional training, which often encompasses 3-5 years beyond the 4-year veterinary degree program.  Specializing in veterinary surgery is highly competitive.

About Emergencies: We're Always Open

Penn Vet's Emergency Service is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days per year, including holidays.  If you are concerned about your pet after hours, please call the Emergency Service at 215-746-8911, or bring your pet directly in for evaluation.  

If you need to bring your pet to a different Emergency Service that may be closer to you, they can also call this number for access to your pet's records.  It is helpful to keep copies of your pet's most recent discharges from Penn Vet readily available in case you need to visit a different hospital on an emergency basis.

The Surgery service is open Monday-Friday.  Routine appointments are seen Monday-Thursday.  Please contact the Ryan Hospital Appointment Desk at 215-746-8387 and ask to speak with a doctor if you are concerned about your pet during normal business hours. After hours, there is always a doctor on call for emergency questions.