Do I need an appointment to see one of the doctors?

While we do understand that emergencies aren’t scheduled and we do everything in our power to accommodate an emergency situation, we do request that you call ahead to schedule an appointment for your pet. By calling in advance it will ensure that your pet is seen at a time that is convenient for you and by the doctor you prefer. It also allows our Doctors and staff to be prepared for your visit and if we can let you know if we need any additional information (such as a vaccine or medical history) or if you should bring anything (such as a fecal {poop} sample).

Having said that, we do appreciate your understanding if your appointment is delayed due to an emergency with another pet. We know that if it was your pet with the emergency, you would be grateful for being able to be seen right away.

What should I bring with me to the appointment?

If you are a new client to our Hospital or you have a new pet, it is helpful if you bring any medical records you might have, including vaccination history and any medications or supplements your pet is currently taking. Knowing if there have been any allergic or other reactions to drugs or vaccines in the past is very helpful too, and may save time when making decisions about treatments.

If your pet has been experiencing diarrhea, please bring a FRESH (less than 24 hours old) fecal (poop) sample. If it is going to be more than 4 hours between the collection of the sample and your appointment, please keep it refrigerated. We don’t need more than 2 tablespoons (but we do need at least 1 teaspoon) for the sample. If you need to refrigerate it, a small glass or plastic container works well, but Ziplock or sandwich baggies work just fine.

For the safety of everyone in the exam room and out in the parking lot, we respectfully request that all pets are controlled. This means all dogs must be kept on a tight leash (not with an extendable leash that isn’t locked) and all cats in a carrier. We don’t want to be dealing with a loose cat or dog in the parking lot running away and being hit by a car!

What forms of payment do you accept?

We accept credit including MasterCard, VISA, and Interac. We prefer not to accept cash at this time. We do not accept cheques or American Express and we do not offer payment plans. For health exams and vaccinations, our front staff can give you a rough idea on the phone what the cost will be. Our Doctors will prepare a detailed estimate for any surgery or more complicated testing. If at any time during your pet’s visit to our Hospital you have concerns about costs, please bring it to the Doctor’s attention right away.

Are the Doctors' hours the same as the Hospital?

The Hospital is open earlier and stays open later than a Doctor is available to see scheduled appointments.

Can I speak to a Doctor over the phone for advice?

If your pet is currently under the care of one of our Doctors and you have a concern about the condition of your pet or other questions, the attending Veterinarian will be more than happy to speak with you on the phone. If the Doctor is seeing other appointments or in surgery you will need to leave a message and she will call you back as soon as she can.

If you have a general question about your pet, one of our Registered Veterinary Technicians can probably help you over the phone. Nobody can make a diagnosis over the phone no matter how smart we are, so if the problem is more serious you will be advised to schedule an appointment for your pet with one of our Doctors.

What do I do if there is an emergency with my pet?

If the emergency happens during regular office hours, it is BEST if you call ahead to make sure we have a Doctor in the building and that we know you are coming down and for what kind of emergency.

If the emergency happens when the office is closed, we suggest 2 Emergency Clinics, both of which are very good and we trust to take the best care of your pet. The Emergency Clinic of the Fraser Valley is located in Langley and is a short hop across the Fraser River via the Golden Ears Bridge(604-514-1711). The other emergency clinics we recommend are the emergency service at Canada West Veterinary Specialists (604-473-4882) and the Vancouver Animal Emergency Clinic (604-734-5104). These 2 clinics are staffed with real emergency doctors and veterinary technicians and are equipped to handle any serious problem you might have at night, on a Sunday, or a long weekend. There are other clinics that call themselves “emergency” but we cannot vouch for their level of care.

You have several Doctors, but can my pet see the same veterinarian each time?

Just like your own family doctor or dentist, everybody is happier when you get to see the same veterinarian each time you come in. When you call to schedule an appointment for your pet, you can request that it be with your usual doctor. (Or if you want to try someone new, you can request that as well!) The doctors have their own schedule for surgery and appointments so hopefully we can accommodate your request. If your pet is SICK and really needs to be seen that day and your preferred vet isn’t available, PLEASE don’t wait! See the doctor that is on shift at that time! We all talk to each other and collaborate on cases.

The doctors also prefer to follow up on their own cases as well. This ensures the problem is fully resolved and makes us feel good seeing your pet feeling better. And if the problem hasn’t been resolved, then further diagnostic or treatment steps can be followed as per the original doctor’s plan.

Where can I find out more information about my pet's illness on the web?

Everybody loves “Doctor Google”! And it’s true there is some excellent information available on the internet, but there’s also a lot of misinformation out there too. Doing a google search on vague clinical signs often isn’t helpful and in some cases can cause needless worry or offer harmful advice.

If you are looking for reliable information we suggest 2 sites to start with: veterinarypartner.com and healthypet.com

Should I have my pet tattooed or microchipped?

We feel it is very important that all pets have some form of permanent identification, even cats that are supposed to be 100% indoors. Things can happen – if there is a break-in and your pet escapes, there will be no way to identify it if someone finds it.

There are differences between the tattoo and microchip, and neither is necessarily better than the other, so many people opt to have both done.

The tattoo is put on the inside of the pet’s ear. It’s a series of letters and numbers; the letters identify the clinic and year, and the number is unique to that pet. Tattoos are traceable within the province they are applied and don’t need any special equipment to view. So if you never plan to travel with your pet, a tattoo might be a good choice. Your pet must be anesthetized for the tattoo to be applied so we normally do them when they are having their spay or neuter done. Tattoos can fade over time so sometimes they need to be touched up which can be done anytime your pet is put under anesthesia (for example at a dental procedure). Because the tattoo is traceable back to the vet clinic, it’s important that your contact information is up to date. If you move and change clinics, you still need to let the clinic which originally did the tattoo know your new phone number.

A microchip is a small piece of plastic and metal that is injected under the skin, usually right between the shoulder blades. The needle is a little bigger than a vaccine and most pets, even small puppies and kittens, don’t even notice it happening and no anesthetic is required. Microchips require a reader to get the number which is then traceable back to the owner of the pet. When the microchip is implanted, we take care of the registration for you and then you will get instructions on how to update that information. If the information kept on file isn’t up to date and your pet is located, there will be no way to get it back to you. The type of microchips we use are called “ISO standard” which means they are readable anywhere in the world.

Why does my cat or dog need dental care?

Our pets are living longer than ever and because of that dental disease is extremely common. Some breeds of cats and dogs have more problems at a younger age and so require care sooner or more often.

Plaque builds up on the teeth and then when calcium in the saliva mixes with it, it hardens into tartar. Tartar accumulations cause inflammation of the gums (gingivitis) which can be painful. Extreme gingivitis leads to loosening of the teeth, tooth root abscesses and loss of teeth. Once the tooth is loose in the jaw it can’t be saved. Teeth are important for more than just eating – in fact, dogs and cats can eat perfectly well without any teeth at all! But the loss of a tooth leads to loss of bone density in the jaw which can then lead to fracturing of the jaw bone. Cosmetically, teeth help the face look “normal” – they keep the lips and tongue in position. We want your pet to have a long, happy, pain-free life with you, and so when one of our veterinarians is recommending a dental prophylaxis it is for good reason.

A dental procedure is so much more than just a cleaning. There are many groomers and other people that are advertising “sedation-free dentistry” but this is not dentistry. It is only a cosmetic cleaning of the exposed part of the tooth. If your pet has only a small amount of plaque, that’s probably good enough. If you can brush your pet’s teeth daily with pet toothpaste, you are going to do a good job. Teeth are like icebergs – there’s a lot going on below the gums that can’t be seen and certainly can’t be helped without anesthesia. During a proper dental treatment procedure, your pet’s teeth are cleaned above and below the gum line. Pockets in the gums are measured and charted. Digital x-rays may be needed to assess the health of the roots, especially important with cats. Any diseased teeth or lesions on the gums need to be addressed. Once any extractions or other procedures are finished, the teeth are polished which buffs out the tiny scratches made by the scaling instruments and helps to slow down the re-accumulation of plaque. None of this can be done in the awake pet. If you have concerns about anesthesia for your pet please discuss it with our Doctors and she can explain in more detail how we make it as safe as possible.

My pet is healthy, why should I bring it in for a check up?

Regular physical examinations are important for your pet! It allows us to keep track of the weight, listen to the heart, check the skin and coat, assess the teeth, and address any other concerns you might have. Getting a clean bill of health is peace of mind. And if we find something that you hadn’t noticed, such as dental disease, a new heart murmur or a small lump, having that taken care of sooner rather than later when it becomes a really serious problem is always better for everybody.

We can also discuss things like behaviour issues, answer questions about diet or travel, and make sure your pet is on an appropriate parasite control regimen.

Once your pet has reached 1 year of age, then yearly visits are recommended. Over 6-8 years, we may request a visit every 6 months. And if your pet has a medical condition we are monitoring, then we will make individual recommendations for follow-up visits.

What is a titre?

A titre is a blood test that measures the level of protection your pet has against certain diseases. Titres can be run on almost any viral or bacterial disease in cats or dogs. Some countries require a Rabies titre for entry with your pet.

We are able to do an in-clinic test for your dog to see if it needs to be vaccinated every year. The titre test we run measures antibodies against Parvovirus, Distemper and Adenovirus. If the test results show high levels of antibodies, then your pet doesn’t need to have vaccines that year, or maybe even for 3 or more years.

Titres can be done for cats as well, but the test has to be sent to our local lab. We don’t typically titre against Rabies unless you are needing it for travel, as the test is extremely expensive and can take up to 6 weeks for the result.

If you have concerns about the vaccinations or questions about if a titre test is appropriate for your dog, please discuss it with the Doctor at your pet’s next visit.

Is Health Insurance available for my pet?

Yes, absolutely! There are a number of companies that offer private health insurance for pets, with different levels of coverage and different monthly premiums. Some companies even offer a free trial and waive sign-up fees if you convert to a full plan. Talk to any of our knowledgeable staff if you have any specific questions about health insurance.

My pet passed away at home, what do I do now??

This is never an easy situation to deal with and almost always comes unexpectedly. If this happens, please call us to arrange care of the remains. The pet cremation company that our hospital uses is called Until We Meet Again, they are a family-based business out of North Vancouver. You have the choice of either a general cremation (no return of ashes) or a private cremation (return of ashes). There are other memorial options available for you; our staff can answer all questions and go over all details when you are in the hospital.


We are accepting new patients!

Need a veterinary clinic in Port Coquitlam or a vet serving Coquitlam? Contact Riverwood Veterinary Clinic today to make an appointment. Emergency fees may apply.