FAQs

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.

1st Pet Wellness Plans

What is a Wellness Plan?

A wellness plan is an annual package of services that includes the optimal preventive health care services that your pet needs to stay happy and healthy. Our wellness plans are based on the age and specific needs of each individual pet. Your veterinarian will make a plan recommendation after conducting a comprehensive examination of your pet.

Does my pet need a Wellness Plan?

Absolutely. From the time your pet is a puppy or kitten to her most senior years, providing your pet with annual preventive healthcare is the very best gift you can give. Keeping your pet on a wellness plan helps prevent diseases, and because our plans include two annual preventive care exams and diagnostic testing, if your pet does get sick it will be detected early on, which results in faster, more effective treatment.

Are Wellness Plans the same as insurance?

No. Wellness plans help you plan, budget for, and save money on the regular, foreseen preventive care your pet needs to stay healthy. They include only those services listed in the plan description. Insurance plans are intended for unforeseen illnesses. Wellness plans do not include services for illness, injury, or emergencies. Pet insurance DOES cover the costs associated with illness, emergency, or injury. We would be happy to provide recommendations for pet insurance or you can go to petinsurancereview.com for more information.

Does the 10% discount on services apply to all of your locations?

Yes. Your pet, while active on a 1st Pet Wellness Plan, is eligible for the 10% discount at any of our locations. Preventative Care services included in the plan should be used at the location where initially enrolled.

What happens if I move or need to discontinue my plan for some reason?

You can cancel at any time, however, since plans provide the convenience of spreading costs throughout the year you may owe money at the time of cancellation. If so, you will be responsible for the rest of the payments on the plan or the difference between what you have already paid and the full retail value of the goods and services you have already received (whichever is less).

Why should I enroll my pet in a wellness plan?

If you are already providing your pet proper preventive care then deciding to enroll in a plan should be as simple as asking yourself if you want to save money on the pet care that your pet will need anyway. For pets that have not been receiving the preventive care they need, this is a cost effective way to make sure that your furry friend is a part of your life as long as possible. Regular preventive care visits and services help extend the life and improve the quality of life of your pet as much as possible by allowing veterinarians to find and address potential health problems early on, resulting in faster, more effective treatment.

Are there any services not included in these plans?

Each plan only covers the services outlined in the plan description. All other services can be obtained at a 10% discount of their retail price for those pets currently enrolled in a plan.

Do I need an appointment for my plan services?

Yes. All services require a scheduled appointment. This helps us minimize the time that you and all other pet owners have to wait.

How can I pay for the wellness plan?

You have two options:

  1. Pay the monthly rate on the same day of the month that you enrolled through an automatic draft.
  2. Pay the complete plan total at the time of enrollment to receive an additional 5% discount.
Is there a membership fee?

Yes. There is a one-time enrollment fee of $35 for each enrolled pet. This fee is non-refundable in case of a cancellation and is not included in calculations when figuring out the retail value of consumed services.

What if I have not used all of the services at the end of the plan year?

Services not used by the one-year anniversary of plan enrollment will be forfeited on that date. Unused services cannot be carried over from year to year.

Can I transfer my plan to another pet, clinic, or owner?

No. Plans are pet-specific and can only be redeemed for services performed for the enrolled animal. Regular preventive care should be scheduled and received at the location where enrolled. However, in the case of moving, we will work with you to transfer your plan to a different 1st Pet location, should the need arise.

What is included if I add spay/neuter to my plan?

The addition of a spay/neuter option covers costs associated with a routine castration or ovariohystorectomy. It includes the surgical procedure, pre-anesthetic blood work, pre-anesthetic medications, anesthesia and monitoring, intra-operative IV fluids, disposable surgical supplies and to-go-home pain medications. Other things that some pets need, and that are often scheduled to be done at the same time, are deciduous tooth extraction, declaw removal, retained testicles (cryptorchidism) and umbilical hernia repair. These procedures are NOT included, but the 10% plan discount would apply.

Paying for veterinary care

What are the payment options for veterinary care?

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

When is payment due?

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.

Do you accept pet insurance? Why do I need to pay for this visit if I have pet insurance?

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.

Do you offer payment plans?

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.

Why are diagnostics not included in the exam fee?

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.

Why do I need to pay for this visit if I have pet insurance?

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.

Will I be charged for the snacks?

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.

Do you offer discounts for pet rescue organizations?

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

What discounts do you offer?

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.

Appointments

Do I have to make an appointment?

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.

When are you available for general practice appointments?

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

Which prescription diets do you have available?

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).

Do I need a written prescription to buy the food?

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

Examinations

Why does my pet need an annual exam?

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.

Vaccinations

Why does my indoor cat need vaccines?

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.

At what age should my pet be vaccinated?

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.

How many vaccines are needed for puppies/kittens?

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

At what age should my pet be spayed or neutered?

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

Dental Care

Does my pet really need a dental exam?

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

What is preventive veterinary 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

Will you keep my regular veterinarian informed about my pet’s condition?

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.

What is a board-certified specialist and why does that designation matter?

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.

Why was I referred by my regular veterinarian for my pet’s treatment?

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.

How do I obtain a referral?

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.

How do I transfer records from my regular veterinarian?

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

Which services are available at the 1st Pet location nearest me?

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.

Surgery

Why does my pet need a blood screen before surgery?

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

What is a veterinary internist?

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.

What does an internal medicine specialist treat?

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).

How should I prepare for my pet’s internal medicine appointment?

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

Rehabilitation

Which rehabilitation services do you offer?

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

Hydrotherapy (underwater treadmill)
Acupuncture
Therapeutic Massage
Therapeutic Exercise
Cold Laser Therapy
Passive Exercise
Joint Mobilization
Thermotherapy
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.

Why do I need a consultation with the rehabilitation therapist before treatment begins?

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

If I know what is wrong with my pet, why do I need to pay for an exam?

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.

How does an emergency animal hospital work?

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.

How long will I need to wait for my pet to be seen by the doctor?

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.

Can I visit my pet if it needs to be hospitalized?

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.

How will you update me about my pet’s condition and how often?

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.

What are your emergency hours?

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

Additional Services

Is 1st Pet a boarding facility?

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

Do you offer grooming services?

We do not offer grooming services.

Lost or stray animals

Do you scan stray animals for microchips?

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

Communication

What should I do if I have additional questions after I leave my appointment/emergency visit?

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.

Can I get advice over the phone?

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

Poisoning: Why do I have to call poison control? Doesn't the doctor know what to do?

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

What happens to my pet’s body after it passes?

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.

Can you come to my house to put my pet to sleep?

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.

What is euthanasia?

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

Where are you located?

We have 3 hospitals in the Phoenix metro area:

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

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

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

How long have you been in business?

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.

Is 1st Pet corporately owned?

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.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION