Pet Emergency & Specialty Care FAQs

Many pet owners have similar questions about our animal hospital and the emergency and specialty services we provide. Below we have compiled a list of the most commonly asked questions for quick reference.

If you have any questions that you don’t see the answer to, please don’t hesitate to call us directly at (415) 566-0540.

Jump to the FAQs you’re looking for:

General FAQs

What is AIMSS/AES?

We are a locally owned, 24-hour emergency, critical care, and specialty veterinary hospital located in the Inner Sunset district of San Francisco. We work with local family veterinarians to provide veterinary care for pet owners after their regular veterinary office has closed. AES stands for Animal Emergency Services, the after-hours and weekend emergency part of our practice, while AIMSS stands for Animal Internal Medicine and Specialty Services and is the specialty part of our practice.

Where are you located, how do we contact you?

We are located in the Inner Sunset district of San Francisco at 1333 9th Avenue, San Francisco, California. Our phone number is (415) 566-0450. Fax number is . Our email address is staff@aimss-sf.com .

Is there parking at the practice?

Yes! Our hospital parking lot is right next to our facility, on the southern aspect of our building. There is also metered street parking in the neighborhood.

Can you give me medical advice for my pet over the phone?

We cannot give specific medical advice for your pet without meeting you and your pet and following an exam by our doctors. If you have a concern about your pet, our advice is usually to bring your pet to the hospital for evaluation.

What forms of payment do you accept?

We accept cash, Visa, MasterCard, cashier’s check, and CareCredit.

What information do I need to bring to the hospital?

Past medical records, a list of medications your pet is currently receiving, and his or her current diet are helpful for our doctors.

What are your hours, do we need an appointment, how long will I wait?

We are open for emergencies 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. No appointment is necessary for emergency cases. We triage the emergency cases so the most life-threatening conditions are seen first. We will provide all pets with the care they need as quickly as possible.

Can AIMSS/AES be my regular veterinarian?

We do not offer routine preventive care such as vaccines, dental cleanings, and spays and neuters. Our hospital acts as an extension of your family vet, and we work closely with your vet to ensure the best veterinary care for you and your family.

I found a stray animal, what do I do?

Please call:

San Francisco Animal Care and control
1200 15th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 554-6364 Tel, (415) 557-9950 Fax, (415) 554-9704 TDD

Do you offer euthanasia and cremation services?

Yes, in the unfortunate event that your pet cannot survive his or her current illness, we offer painless euthanasia services 24 hours per day. You can be with your pet if you wish. You may choose communal or private cremation for your pet’s remains. Our staff will explain all of your options to you at the hospital, so you can make the best choice for your family.

Emergency FAQs

How can I tell if my pet needs emergency care?

You know your pet best, and if you believe your pet is sick or hurt, please bring you pet in for evaluation. Types of common emergency situations include:

  • Bite wounds
  • Bleeding
  • Collapse or fainting
  • Changes in behavior
  • Difficulty or noisy breathing
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Trauma, such as being hit by a car or falling out of a window
  • Ingestion of any medications not currently prescribed for your pet (please bring container with you!)
  • Ingestion of any toxins (please bring container with you!)
  • Seizures
  • Sudden changes in ability to walk or paralysis
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Trouble giving birth
  • Any changes to your pet’s health that concern you

My pet just ate something potentially poisonous, what do I do?

If you are concerned that your pet may have ingested a possible toxin, we recommend calling the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 for specific information about the potential toxin. There is a nominal fee for their services, payable by credit card. If Poison Control instructs you to bring your pet to the hospital for treatment, they will provide you with a case number that will allow our veterinarians to contact them for further information about treatment. Please bring this case number with you to the hospital.

What happens when I arrive to your hospital with my pet?

You will be asked about your pet’s symptoms, and your pet will be triaged by one of our veterinary technicians. If your pet is assessed as critically ill, your pet will be taken to the treatment area for immediate assessment by our medical staff. You will be asked to fill out a check-in form with information about yourself and your pet. Once the veterinarian on duty assesses your pet and meets you, a treatment plan for your pet will be generated and discussed. An initial estimate of cost will be provided, allowing you to discuss your questions and concerns with the front desk and medical staff.

What is the cost of an emergency visit?

We start with the emergency exam charge. Once the veterinarian on duty examines your pet, we will generate an estimate for treatment costs, such as X-rays, lab tests, blood work, and hospitalization. After you have approved the estimate, we ask that you leave a deposit for your pet’s care at the time of admission.

What forms of payment do you accept?

We accept cash, Visa, MasterCard, cashier’s check, and CareCredit.

Do you have a payment plan?

We offer CareCredit, a medical credit card that is accepted by many veterinary offices. The card offers varying payment options with low interest or interest-free payment options. You can apply for CareCredit at home or at our hospital.

Do you have an ambulance service?

Yes, we have a fully stocked ambulance that is available to transfer critically ill pets, including those needing oxygen, to our facility from local veterinary practices. The ambulance is generally available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Please call us for information and availability.

My family vet is transferring my pet to you for overnight care. What do I need to bring?

Often, your family vet will have called us about your pet and given us important information about your case. Copies of the medical records, especially about the recent treatments and tests, are helpful. We will fax all copies of our medical records, treatments performed, and results of tests back to your family vet in the morning, as well as contact your vet’s hospital in the morning with a telephone update.

Am I allowed to visit my pet during hospitalization?

We encourage visits from owners. We ask that you call us first to let us know that you are coming. We will make every effort to accommodate you and your family while visiting your pet. Please understand that you may wait a short time to see your pet if our staff is involved with a serious emergency.

Can I leave personal items with my pet such as a favorite blanket or toy?

Yes, but we cannot guarantee it will be returned so valuable items need to be taken home. We will do our best to keep track of your pet’s items during his or her stay. If your pet is on a special diet, you can leave the diet with us.

Will my pet be alone?

We are staffed with both veterinarians and veterinary technicians 24 hours per day so your pet is monitored frequently and receives the care he or she needs. We pay special attention to pets’ pain levels and use the most advanced pain control available to keep them comfortable. If your pet’s condition changes overnight, the veterinarian caring for your pet will call you.

How do I find out how my pet is doing while in the hospital?

The doctor in charge of the case will update you daily, usually in the morning. If your pet is critically ill or your pet’s condition changes significantly, the veterinarian will call you immediately with updates. You are welcome to call us anytime, 24 hours per day, for updates on your pet. At the time of discharge from the hospital, you will receive written instructions about your pet’s care and medications to go home.

Where do I take my pet for follow-up care?

We consult with your family veterinarian to provide the best comprehensive care for your pet. Depending on your pet’s condition, your family vet’s desires, and the treatments needed, your pet may be sent home with medications, may be transferred back to your family veterinarian, or may stay in our hospital for follow-up care with one of our specialty veterinarians. After each visit to AES/AIMSS, we will send an update to your family veterinarian to keep them informed. If you do not have a family vet, we are happy to refer you to a local veterinarian if appropriate.

Specialty FAQs

What does “specialist” mean?

A veterinary specialist is a veterinarian with additional years of training in their field after the completion of veterinary school. Typically, veterinary specialists complete a one-year medical/surgical internship after graduating from veterinary school, and then go on to complete a residency in their specialty, often three to four years of additional training in a specialty center or veterinary school.

Why see a specialist?

Veterinary specialists have tremendous experience and knowledge in their field. They can provide the most up-to-date information about diagnostics and treatments for specific conditions. Often, family vets will refer cases to specialists when they need assistance in diagnosis of complex conditions and therapy.

What does “board certified” mean?

A board-certified veterinary specialist has completed all the requirements needed to become a full-fledged specialist. This means successful completion of several years of intensive training in their specialty field (a residency), publication of literature in their field in peer-reviewed journals, and passing very difficult examinations in their field.

How do I make an appointment to see a specialist?

Call our friendly front desk staff at (415) 566-0540 and they will help you.

Is a specialist more expensive?

Specialty medicine is more technically demanding and more labor intensive. We always give our clients an estimate for initial services before we perform testing or treatment. Often we can diagnose complex problems in a short amount of time, which saves money in the long run.