Frequently asked questions about our veterinary hospital and pet-related services.

We know that you may have questions about your dog or cat, especially when it comes to their health. Some of our most frequently asked questions about veterinary care are listed here, by category. We hope that this is a useful resource, but please do not hesitate to contact us if you still have further questions.

Paying for Veterinary Care

We accept cash, checks, all major credit cards, and financing through CareCredit and Scratch Pay.

As is customary in veterinary care, payment is required at the time of service. If your pet requires hospitalization, 75% of the projected hospitalization cost is due at the time of hospitalization, with the rest due at discharge.

We are happy to work with you to get the insurance reimbursement documents that you need. However, pet insurance most often deals directly with the owner instead of the veterinary team. It is the insurance company that decides which services, facilities, etc. will be covered so make sure you know your plan limitations before seeking care for which you expect reimbursement.

For your pet’s preventative care needs, our Wellness Plans are a great option to provide your pet the most important veterinary services for ongoing health, with the option of monthly installments if that is more convenient. [Note: these plans do not cover emergency and other services beyond those listed in the plan description, although they do allow a 10% discount on other services.)

We accept Care Credit: through them you may have the option of extended payment plans or 6 months interest free.

We also accept Scratch Pay: Scratch allows you to spread your payments over 12 months.

The need for diagnostic testing varies considerably from one patient to the next, making it impractical to set an exam price that includes the diagnostics. The exam fee covers the doctor’s time for evaluating your pet’s condition. The treatment plan that the doctor prescribes may include further services beyond the examination (diagnostics being one example) for which you will be charged depending on how you choose to proceed with your pet’s care.

Pet insurance payment is very different than the typical human health insurance plan. For pet insurance plans, the pet owner is required to pay for the full cost of services up front for which they may be reimbursed later. Since pet insurance companies do not typically contract with certain providers and do not provide veterinary staff with authorization options, it is important to learn, from the insurance company, in advance which services are covered and which limitations apply. If it is unclear if a service is covered on your plan we recommend contacting an insurance representative prior to seeking services.

We frequently provide complimentary snacks for our clients and their pets. These are intended to make your visit more enjoyable and will not be billed to you.

We do not offer discounts for pet rescue organizations at this time.

We do not generally offer discounts or coupons. Instead, we provide the highest quality medical care and customer service, competitively priced based on the value we provide. We recognize that for some pet owners, price is the most important factor for selecting services. In such cases we are probably not very well equipped to meet the client’s needs.


We do ask that you make an appointment for any wellness, general, or non-emergency needs your pet has. If you have an emergency, please just bring your pet to your closest 1st Pet Veterinary Centers location, any time of the day or night. We are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. If possible, do call ahead and alert us to your arrival and if you need assistance transporting your pet from the car to the hospital.

Our general practice veterinary team is available for extended weekday hours to allow many options for fitting veterinary care into your schedule. In most cases we offer appointments Monday through Friday starting as early as 8 a.m. and ending as late as 9 p.m. Please call to speak with one of our team members to discuss availability for specific days and times. For non-urgent needs you can also submit an appointment request here.

Retail Products

We stock most of the Hills Prescription line and have a large selection of the Royal Canin Veterinary Diet line. We are sometimes able to special order some other diets (such as the Purina Veterinary Diet line).

Although therapeutic pet diets are often referred to as ‘prescription diets’ they are actually not legally classified as such. Therefore we do not require a prescription to buy them. Some diets are not meant to be fed long term, so occasionally we may want to verify with your vet that the food is the correct one.

General Veterinary Practice


Regular physical exams help us assess the general health of your pet and rapidly detect minor changes over time. Physical exams can catch signs of disease early, often before the animal is showing any symptoms, which may allowfor better outcomes from treatment and a higher quality of life. In older pets, a physical exam every 6 months is recommended. Pets age much more quickly than humans resulting in accelerated age-related decline that requires frequent assessment.


Despite our best efforts to keep our cats safely indoors, we all know that some are escape artists, or other roaming ‘friends’ may come visit your doorways- both of which are opportunities to spread disease.Certainly other disease carriers, such as mosquitoes and fleas, can also spread disease.By keeping up on routine core vaccinations of your indoor cat, you will minimize your pet’s chances of contracting these harmful illnesses and best protect your family friend.

We recommend that puppy and kitten vaccinations be started at 6-8 weeks, and then be given every 3-4 weeks until 16 weeks of age.

The number of vaccines that puppies and kittens need can vary depending on the region(s) where they spend time (both ongoing and during travel) and certain factors that make some pets more susceptible to disease. Vaccines that are recommended for nearly all pets are called Core Vaccines and include Rabies and DHPP (4-in-1 against Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus, Parainfluenza) for dogs and FVCRP (combination against Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, Panleukopenia) for cats. You can learn more about vaccines [here].

Spay or neuter

Spaying and neutering usually happens when your pet is 4-6 months of age, but can be done any age after that.

Dental Care

In a word, yes. Plaque and tartar build up on animal teeth, just as on human teeth. Removing that plaque and tartar not only keeps the teeth strong and healthy, but also helps keep infection away from the bones of the jaw. Additionally, all that plaque and tartar harbor lots and lots of bacteria – bacteria that travels into the rest of the pet’s body via the blood stream, compromising their immune system and introducing all kinds of disease including kidney damage, joint problems, and heart disease. A healthy mouth is more likely to lead to a healthy body.

Preventive Care

As the name implies, preventive veterinary care is primarily concerned with preventing your pet from developing certain diseases. It is impossible to prevent some diseases, but your pet can receive significant protection from others. Taking the necessary steps to keep your pet safe from these diseases is a worthwhile investment. Besides the fact that you do not want to see your pet suffer unnecessarily, preventing a disease it often much less costly and more effective than trying to cure the disease later. Regular exams are the foundation of successful preventive care. Since pets cannot communicate with words what they are feeling and are often skilled at hiding pain, the doctor relies on other approaches to help your pet have optimal health. During or in conjunction with your pet’s exam, the doctor may suggest running certain diagnostic tests (like lab work or imaging). Additionally, the doctor will recommend certain vaccines and medications to prevent the most common preventable illnesses (if your pet has not received them previously).

Veterinary Referral Services

We will work as part of your pet’s medical team, in cooperation with your primary veterinarian, for as long as your pet is with us. When we discharge your pet (and frequently while your pet is with us), either to you or to your primary veterinarian for further care, we will provide all medical records and discuss your pet’s condition with your primary care veterinarian.

Board-certified veterinary specialists have completed an additional 3-4 years after veterinary school in a residency program where they learned and performed highly extensive work within a specific medical discipline, such as surgery, emergency/critical care, or internal medicine. After this, board-certified specialists must pass arigorous multi-day examination something only a few ever obtain. These highly qualified and trained veterinarians are ‘certified’ by the medical board within their specialty. This means they have extended, focused knowledge about their chosen specialty, and continue to stay abreast of all the latest medical research and procedures in that specialty. If your primary veterinarian has recommended you see a board-certified specialist to help diagnose and treat your pet’s condition, you will be in the very best hands with our specialists here at 1st Pet.

You and your pet may be directed to one of our referral services for a number of reasons. For example, you may have requested or your doctor may have been interested in a second opinion about a diagnosis that is difficult to isolate or a treatment plan that has multiple options. Also, your regular veterinarian may be too busy to accommodate your pet’s needs in the timeframe that would be best for your pet’s health, requiring assistance from outside services. Finally, your regular veterinarian may feel that your pet’s condition would be treated more effectively by a specialist who has more practice treating certain conditions or performing certain procedures.

Following a visit with your regular veterinarian, the doctor may decide that your pet’s condition warrants evaluation from a referral service provider. This referral may take the form of written instruction or a verbal directive for you to obtain additional care. Whatever the case, it should also be accompanied by a copy of your pet’s medical record.

If your regular veterinarian is at 1st Pet, we already have your records in our system. If your regular veterinarian is outside of 1st Pet please ask the office team to fax or email the records. Alternatively, if these electronic options are not available, you can bring paper copies of your pets records with you.

Our Services

Every 1st Pet location can accommodate whatever services you and your pet need, whether it’s emergency or critical care, general wellness care, or the advanced services of a specialist. Our general practice appointments are available for extended weekday hours, but our veterinary centers are open 24 hours a day, 365 days per year so you can be sure your pet will be cared for, whatever happens. If you have to visit a 1st Pet location that isn’t your ‘regular’ location, rest assured we can access all your pet’s records through our networked electronic medical records software.


Pre-anesthetic blood tests are done to check on the overall health of your pet as another way to ensure they are safe to undergo an anesthetic procedure.We want to be sure your pet will have the best experience possible at 1st Pet, and by doing a physical examination as well as blood tests, we are doing all we can to optimize the best outcome for your family friend.Pre-anesthetic screens test organ function, such as the liver and kidneys, as well as check that blood counts are normal.Safety is our primary concern and we want to have all the information we can about your pet’s health so they can return home, heal quickly, and return to their healthy and happy life by your side!

Internal Medicine

Veterinary internists are specialists in internal medicine. Their specialized training focuses on the body’s internal body systems and on non-invasive treatment and diagnosis.

Internal medicine involves the treatment of internal body systems. Our internal medicine team frequently provides chronic disease management (IBD, Cushing’s disease, Addison’s disease, renal disease, liver disease, heart disease, Lymphoma, immune-mediated hemolytic anemia (IMHA), immune-mediated thrombocytopenia (ITP), valley fever, and immune mediated diseases).

1. Medical Records: If this is your first appointment and your pet receives regular veterinary care somewhere besides 1st Pet, please ask your referring veterinarian’s office to send over medical records related to your pet’s condition (exams, lab work, x-rays, etc.). If we have treated your pet before but additional lab work or diagnostics have been done outside of 1st Pet, please have those records sent over as well.

2. Fasting: In most cases, your pet should be fasting prior to internal medicine appointments. If you are unsure or your pet is diabetic, please call us for further instruction.

3. Medications: Bringing all the medications that your pet takes helps ensure that everyone is on the same page about the medication name, strength, and formulation.

Critical Care


Our rehabilitation therapy staff is trained and equipped to provide the following services:

Hydrotherapy (underwater treadmill)
Therapeutic Massage
Therapeutic Exercise
Cold Laser Therapy
Passive Exercise
Joint Mobilization
Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation
Orthotics / Prosthetics

You can learn more about each of these as well as our team members on our Rehabilitation Therapy page.

Rehabilitation treatments are highly individualized to the specific needs of each pet and based on your availability. The rehabilitation therapist will perform a thorough exam before treatment begins to make sure that the treatment plan is tailored to provide your pet the best possible chance for recovery.

Emergency Veterinary Care

In the case of providing treatment or medication, it is required by law. The laws governing veterinary medicine prevent prescribing medication or performing treatment without a proper exam. And while you might be right about your pet’s diagnosis, there are many times that pet owners inaccurately assume that their pet has one condition when it actually has another. Additionally, the diagnosis of one condition does not take away the possibility of other conditions that may not be as readily apparent. Proper diagnosis through examination and diagnostic testing is necessary to address pet health appropriately.

Since veterinary emergencies are usually unpredictable, there are no appointments available or necessary for emergency services. In the case of emergency, please bring your pet in right away. You are welcome to bring your pet in without an appointment for non-urgent conditions as well, but please be aware that your wait time could be very long. To promote the best outcomes for the largest number of patients, we must treat the sickest pets first. This frequently means that you will not be seen in the order you arrived and wait times can suddenly increase dramatically if a more serious case arrives at the hospital. We will attempt to keep you informed about new situations that might affect your expected wait time.

We do not like to make anyone wait, but the reality of emergency services wait times is that it depends on how many other emergencies are at the hospital, and how critical your pet’s condition is. We do our best to see everyone as quickly as we can, but critical cases that require immediate intervention must be seen before stable cases, just as in a human emergency room. Please be patient, and understand that if your pet was in critical condition, we would offer you the same option for immediate treatment. If your pet’s health status changes while you are in the waiting or exam room, please inform 1st Pet staff immediately so we can reassess your pet.

Generally, yes. If your pet becomes very agitated as a result of your visit, we may ask you not to visit for your pet’s health and safety, until its condition is more stable. Our regular visiting hours are 9am-9pm, although other visitation may be approved at the discretion of the doctor on shift. Since our treatment areas can get congested, we do limit visits to two visitors, and 15 minutes.

We know that having your pet hospitalized is scary, and we do our best to keep you up to date on their condition. You are welcome to call anytime to get a status update. The veterinarian may not be able to speak to you directly if they are working on another case, but can usually relay a message through our staff. The veterinarian on your case will contact you at least daily to inform you of how your pet is doing, and if anything about your pet’s treatment changes you will also be consulted.

We never close. Emergency veterinary staff is available onsite 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, 365 days per year.

Additional Services

1st Pet does not offer general boarding services. We do offer medical boarding for health conditions that require ongoing medical supervision.

We do not offer grooming services.

Lost or stray animals

Yes, we will scan any stray pets, free of charge.


Please feel free to contact 1st Pet Veterinary Centers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your pet’s condition or recovery. We are here to help 24/7.

While we can sometimes guide you to resources about your pet’s needs and answer some general questions, we are simply unable to give medical advice over the phone. Giving medical advice without seeing the pet not only violates laws that govern veterinary practice, but can also be dangerous for your pet’s health. Physical examination is the best way for our doctors to accurately diagnose and treat your pet’s condition.

Commonly Treated Conditions

While our doctors are skilled at treating the symptoms of many diseases, with so many potential toxins it is impossible for them to stay on top of all of the most current recommendations for treating poisoning from the limitless number of dangerous substances. This is the job of Toxicologists (poison experts), who focus specifically on poisons and how to treat them. When you call to talk to a toxicologist at a poison control center, they will advise you of any immediate actions you may need to take and will also guide our doctors through the best method for medically treating the poisoned patient.

End of life

Following your pet’s passing you have several options based on your needs and preferences.
1. Home Burial: If there is a spot of land where you would like to bury your pet, you are welcome to take the body with you for burial.

2. Special Cremation: This is one of two cremation options. Your pet’s ashes will be returned to you in cedar urn following a special cremation.

3. General Cremation: This is the other cremation option. A general cremation does not allow for your pet’s ashes to be returned.

Unfortunately, that is not a service that we offer at this time. A quick online search will bring up a few local options if this is important to you.

Euthanasia is a medically-assisted, pain-free method of ending a pet’s life. When a pet is in pain from a disease or condition that cannot be reasonably treated, pet owners may consider euthanasia to put an end to their pet’s suffering. There may be other reasons that someone might consider euthanasia, which you can discuss with our team.

Company Information

We have 3 hospitals in the Phoenix metro area:

1233 W. Warner Rd., Chandler, AZ 85224
(480) 732-0018 (Learn More)

1423 S.Higley Rd. #102, Mesa, AZ 85206
(480) 924-1123 (Learn More)

520 W. Union Hills Dr., #105, North Phoenix, AZ 85027
(623) 849-0700 (Learn More)

Dr. Randy Spencer, owner of 1st Pet Veterinary Centers, purchased American Pet Center in 1989. Since then the hospital changed names a couple of times, moved across the street, was remodeled, and added 2 additional sister hospitals. Learn more about the history of first pet here.

1st Pet is a privately-owned company. The owner and many of its managers are veterinary professionals, not just business people. This is important because it allows us more flexibility to focus on providing the highest quality veterinary care above all else.

Blood Bank

The donation process usually only takes about 10 to 15 minutes. However, we ask that you drop off your pet in the morning and return to take your dog or cat home later in the afternoon. This allows plenty of time for your pet to get comfortable prior to donation and for us to observe, examine, run a blood count on, and provide extra attention to your pet. We also need time to monitor your pet after the donation and provide food and treats for a job well done.

Both canine and feline blood donors can safely donate blood every 6 to 8 weeks. However, we schedule pet blood donations about 13 weeks apart. This schedule allows for 4 donations per animal annually.

Blood donation is a very safe process. Typically, the only possible adverse side effect is a small chance of a little bleeding at the donation site after the donation. A pressure wrap is applied to the venipuncture site, following donation, to prevent any bleeding.

The satisfaction of helping other animals recover and return home to their families is tremendous. Additionally, donor pets are eligible for other, more tangible benefits:

  • Physical examination on each donation day
  • Annual blood work to screen for diseases
  • Vaccinations
  • Heartworm preventative medication
  • Flea/tick preventative medication
  • Paws of Life donor bandana
  • Recognition on the 1st Pet website and Facebook page

Most dogs tolerate the blood donation process very well. We help them have a great experience by providing extra petting and attention during donation and lots of treats and food afterwards. In rare instances, we may provide sedation, if needed, to keep the canine donor and team safe.

As cats tend to be less tolerant of the donation process, we give a light sedation to all feline donors prior to the donation.

  1. Pet arrives on the morning of donation day
  2. We take a small sample of blood to make sure that the blood count is high enough for safe donation
  3. The doctor provides an examination to ensure good health
  4. Our team uses antiseptic techniques to shave and clean the area around the venipuncture site
  5. Blood bank staff insert a collection needle into your pet’s vein while providing extra love and attention as a distraction
  6. The blood flows into a collection bag
  7. We remove the needle
  8. A pressure bandage is placed over the venipuncture site, for at least one hour, during observation
  9. Your pet enjoys treats, their favorite food, and hydration during observation
  10. You take your pet home later that afternoon