Ask the ER Vet!
By Mark O’Hanlon, DVM – Animal Emergency & Specialty (AES) 

Dear AES: Every year, I make New Year’s Resolutions for myself. Are there any resolutions that I can make to keep my pets happier and healthier year-round, too (and maybe also help me with my motivation)?

~ Resolute in Renton

Dear Resolute: How thoughtful of you to include your pets in your resolutions! Below are a few pet-friendly suggestions. Some may help your pets avoid visits to the ER or make ER visits less stressful when they occur.

Pets are family!

Pets Are Family! Make sure your pets are licensed and microchipped, and that your information is current. Each year, Good Samaritans and police officers bring many found pets to our hospital. Reuniting pets with their families is much easier with proper identification and registration.

Squirrel Away
Consider purchasing pet insurance or setting up a savings fund for your pet. The last thing you want to worry about when your pet is in the ER is finances.

Preventive Care
An apple a day won’t keep the ER vet away, but regular checkups with your pet’s family veterinarian can! In case of an ER visit, it may be useful to have a medical history and baseline test results from the family veterinarian, too.

Diet – The Four-Letter Word
Be sure to measure your pet’s food intake—both to monitor appetite and to avoid overfeeding, which can lead to obesity. Minimize or eliminate “people food” from your pet’s diet to reduce the risk of inadvertently making your pet ill.

Eric O’Grey and Jake spending some quality time together.

Quality Time
Who couldn’t benefit from regular exercise and playtime? Just don’t over-do it with elderly or obese pets or choose an unusually warm spring day to start. Otherwise, an ER visit might be needed. Old dogs (and some cats) can learn new tricks! Try teaching your pet a new command. If nothing else, you will have spent quality time together. Set up play dates with fellow pet lovers. Well-socialized pets are less likely to get into injury-causing fights.

Give Back! If your pet is pet-friendly, consider fostering a rescue pet or volunteering with a rescue organization. We are lucky to live in an area with many pet-friendly fundraising events throughout the year. Good luck and happy New Year!

AES is the premier, family-owned, 24-hour referral veterinary hospital, located in Kirkland. We specialize in Emergency & Critical Care, Surgery (Orthopedic and Soft-Tissue), and Rehabilitation services. If you have concerns about your pet’s health, feel free to give us a call at 425.827.8727. We will help you determine whether your pet needs to be seen right away or can wait until your family veterinarian is available. We are always here for you and your pet, even on holidays!

To submit a question for the Ask the ER Vet! column, please email In case of a pet emergency, please call 425.827.8727.