Critical Care

VSH has board-certified specialists who are highly trained in providing treatment for critically ill patients. Critical care patients often come to VSH due to trauma, the development of an acute life-threatening illness, or immediately following a major surgery.  The critical care service carefully evaluates each patient and creates a custom monitoring plan- measuring variables such as blood gas analyses, pulse oximetry, ECG, and/or blood pressure (non-invasive or direct), among others. Our board certified specialists are experienced in providing critical care during these crucial times and work closely with the other departments within all three VSH locations to provide customized treatment plans tailored specifically to meet the needs of each patient. In addition to standard treatments- such as IV fluid therapy, antibiotics, and symptomatic treatments- the critical care team provides life-saving interventions, including thoracocentesis, pericardiocentesis, packed red blood cell and/or plasma transfusions, and oxygen supplementation as needed. The service also maintains a pool of canine blood donors so that fresh whole blood transfusions can be given when indicated. After each patient stabilizes, our critical care doctors recommend a follow-up plan involving the patient's primary care veterinarian to optimize the chance of a successful long-term recovery.

We are excited to announce that we now have mechanical ventilation services for ICU patients! This life-saving intervention has expanded our ability to save the lives of patients with severe dyspnea, severe hypoxemia due to pulmonary disease (such as pulmonary contusions, non-cardiogenic pulmonary edema, or pneumonia), or hypoventilation due to toxicity or neurologic disease. Mechanical ventilation services are available in our Cary location, where critical care specialists are present seven days a week.

What is a board-certified critical care specialist?

A critical care specialist has undergone additional training after veterinary school including an internship and residency in emergency, surgery and critical care. This additional training takes between 3 and 5 years to complete.  The specialist must also pass rigorous examinations to achieve board certification from the American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care (ACVECC).

Meet our critical care specialists:

Dr. Ben O'Kelley

Dr. Scott Wells

Dr. Christine Culler