Your Visit

Preparing for Your Visit

As you prepare to bring your pet to the medical center, the following are some good guidelines to follow:
  • As a general rule, please do not feed your companion animal for 12 hours prior to the appointment - unless it has diabetes or is a very young or small animal. This is important as blood work and radiographic imaging typically need to be performed on a fasted patient. Please consult a receptionist if you have any questions regarding fasting your pet.
  • Do not restrict water, as we do not want your companion animal to become dehydrated.
  • When scheduling an appointment, please tell the receptionist about any medications that your companion animal is taking - some medications may need to be discontinued prior to your appointment
  • Please make sure that you bring all of your pet’s medications and special diets with you. It is also very helpful for you to bring all results of previously performed diagnostic tests such as laboratory work and radiographs if your regular veterinarian has given you copies. If you have any further questions regarding your pet's preparation, please consult your regular veterinarian or one of our surgeons.
  • Be prepared to leave your pet. We typically perform needed pre-operative diagnostics on the day of your appointment and perform surgery the following day or when diagnostic tests have been completed.
  • If for any reason you are detained or unable to meet the prearranged appointment, please call 515-294-4900 to cancel or reschedule as soon as possible.

Arrival for Your Appointment

Upon your arrival at the VMC for a scheduled appointment, you will check in with the small animal receptionists. Please let them know if you require assistance with your pet.
Once your check-in is complete, you will be directed to the waiting area. A senior veterinary student will meet you in the waiting room and take you to one of the available examination rooms. The student will obtain a complete history of your pet and perform a thorough physical examination. It obviously is important for you to be able to tell us about the nature of your pet’s primary complaint as best you can, including duration of the problem, symptoms that you have noticed, progression of the problem, and response to previous treatment. Please also be prepared to tell us about any other problems that your pet may have been treated for in the past or continues to be treated for, even if it seems unrelated to the reason for your appointment.
After the initial physical exam and consultation, one of our doctors will perform a physical examination and may ask additional questions regarding your pet’s history and disease and will then recommend a diagnostic and/or treatment plan. Diagnostic tests are usually performed in the afternoon of the day of your appointment, although all testing may not be able to be completed the same day and diagnostic workup may have to be completed the following day.


Since surgical procedures are not performed routinely on the same day as your appointment, hospitalization will most likely be needed for your pet. The duration of hospitalization varies greatly depending on the exact surgery performed, speed of recovery, and development of any complications following surgery. We will try our best to provide you with an estimated timeline for the release of your pet from the hospital. 

A permission form for the hospitalization will be provided, along with a cost estimate form. This estimate is not a quote and may be changed as the result of diagnostic testing changes the plan for treatment. Any changes in your initial estimate will be discussed with you prior to performing any additional procedures, unless an emergency situation arises.

Both forms will be taken by the small animal receptionists and copies will be provided to you. A deposit of 50 percent of the cost estimate is required at the time your pet is admitted to the VMC. The balance of the charges is required at the time of your pet's discharge from the medical center. If you have any concerns regarding the estimated cost, please ask to discuss it with the business office.

We are required to ask for your wishes regarding performing CPR in the case of a major complication leading to cardiac arrest. Please ask your attending clinician if you have any questions regarding making this decision.

The veterinary student who performed the physical exam will most likely be assigned to your pet throughout its medical center stay. (If the hospitalization is lengthy, the student may change due to their clinical rotation throughout the hospital.)

  • The student or attending clinician will contact you daily unless you discuss other arrangements. Please provide all pertinent phone numbers so that we will be successful in reaching you.
  • We will not provide information to others concerning the status of your companion animal unless we have prior permission to do so.
  • Please feel free to call the reception desk at (515) 294-4900 if you need to reach the clinician or student. Our clinicians and students make every effort to take your call. If they are busy with procedures or patient care, they will return your call as soon as possible.

All surgeries are performed by clinicians of the Soft Tissue Surgery Service with the assistance of students and technicians.

Your student or attending clinician will keep you updated on your pet’s recovery and progress following surgery, on any complications arising, and on a time for your pet’s release from the hospital. At the time of release, the student and attending clinicians will give you instructions regarding your pet’s aftercare, medications needed, and follow-up. You will receive written release information that summarizes your pet’s tests, treatments and home care instructions, a copy of which will also be sent to your regular veterinarian.