What should I expect when I visit VSH Hong Kong for the first time?
Pet owners may not know what to expect on their first visit to a specialty referral hospital. We’ve outlined some important points here.
1. You may be asked not to feed your pet breakfast.
Most of our patients are asked to come to their appointment with no food or water, or "NPO" - nothing by mouth. The reasons are centered around the patients' protection. Even if many diagnostic tests have already been performed, the majority of our new patients require sedation or anesthesia for further testing; this might mean a sedated ultrasound or x-rays to compare to previous imaging, or general anesthesia for a new set of biopsies. If a patient has eaten the day of a scheduled anesthetic, that anesthetic usually cannot be performed due to the risk of vomiting and aspiration (inhalation of stomach contents). Further, many pets become nauseous in the car, and an empty stomach helps to combat vomiting and nausea during travel. Keeping a pet with no food or water for less than 24 hours generally presents minimal risk, and in fact, a period of NPO is often used as a first line for treatment of gastrointestinal distress.
2. We will ask you to keep your pet on a leash, or in a carrier.
Our patients are kept on leash or, for small dogs and cats, in their carriers for their own comfort and safety. A loose pet in a veterinary hospital can run into any number of ways to experience injury or stress. For cats and small dogs, a carrier has familiar smells and sights that are closer to home. Many pets even prefer to remain in their carriers inside a cage when they're hospitalized, to allow them to feel more relaxed and calm. Pets generally become nervous and scared in new environments, and staying confined and controlled can help pets to feel more secure.
3. You may be asked questions you’ve already answered – a few times!
Obtaining a thorough medical history is a critical part of any veterinary visit. You and your family veterinarian know your pet’s long and short term history, but it is our job to carefully learn all relevant history from you when you first arrive. In addition to reading a written medical record, a complete medical history means asking specific questions and obtaining verbal responses. Often a first round of questions is asked by a qualified and experienced veterinary specialty nurse, or a veterinary intern who is training with our specialists.
4. There may be a wait to see a specialist.
Occasionally, our specialists may be tied up in an urgent procedure. We must always focus on the sickest, most critical pets before attending to the stable ones. While we do our best to see all patients in a timely fashion, sick patients must be prioritized and occasionally clients do need to wait. We try to provide as comfortable a waiting area as possible for you and your pet. Please be patient, and remember that your pet will also receive our undivided attention when it needs it most!
5. You might not get all the answers in one day.
Our specialists may recommend consultation from specialists in other fields, such as Veterinary Radiologists or Veterinary Oncologists. It may take a few extra days to obtain a report, but the information gleaned from other specialists is often invaluable to forming a treatment plan. There are currently no specialists in Oncology (cancer treatment), Radiology (imaging), or Nutrition in Hong Kong, so telemedicine consultations are often sought.
Sometimes, knowing what to expect is half the battle! We know that you're anxious about your pet's condition. Please do not hesitate to email or call us in advance of your visit with any questions you may have.