Hours, Appointments, & Drop-offs

Are you accepting new clients?

Yes! We are currently accepting new clients, as well as client referrals. If you would like to schedule an appointment, please visit our contact page by clicking here. If you are a veterinarian who is referring a client to our hospital, please click here to go to our Patient Referral page.

What are your hours?


Store hours
Mon–Fri 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Sat and Sunday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Scheduled appointments
Mon–Fri 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

What’s the difference between store hours and appointment hours?

Store hours refer to hours when owners and customers can come into the lobby to pick up/fill prescriptions, purchase food and other items, or pay bills. Appointment hours are when owners can bring their pets in for a scheduled appointment. Need to schedule an appointment? Please give us a call at (805) 466-3880.

Do you have an online store?

No, unfortunately, we do not have an online store. You can purchase items and prescriptions in-store.

Aren’t you a 24-hour clinic? Why can’t I schedule an appointment for a time not listed?

Atascadero Pet Hospital & Emergency Center accepts emergencies 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Scheduled appointments for wellness visits and general exams are not emergencies.

What’s a “drop-off”? What does that mean?

A drop-off is any visit that is not an immediate, life-threatening emergency but urgent enough that it can’t wait for a scheduled appointment, either through us or your regular veterinarian.

How long is my pet going to be with you for a drop-off?

A drop-off can take anywhere from one hour to half the day. It’s best to plan accordingly. Rest assured that all patients have vitals taken on admit and are triaged by our well-trained staff. The actual wait time for your pet to be seen will be influenced by several factors, such as the severity of illness/injury, the number of patients waiting, and staffing availability, to name a few. Emergencies will be placed ahead of your pet’s case since drop-offs are not immediately life-threatening.

Will my pet stay overnight if I bring them as a drop-off?

Not necessarily. It depends on when you drop them off, the medical needs of your pet, and how busy we are.

What time can we buy/pick up prescriptions?

8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays; and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends.

What time do you close?

Atascadero Pet Hospital & Emergency Center is open 24 hours for emergency services. So, technically, we never close. Here are our store and appointment hours:

Store hours:
Mon–Fri 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Sat and Sunday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Scheduled appointments:
Mon–Fri 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Are you an ER facility or can I bring my pet for a regular checkup?

We handle both emergency care as well as general wellness and routine care. Since we are a hospital, there is often a faster pace and more energy in the air compared to a smaller veterinary office. If you and your pet would prefer a quieter, slower-paced setting for your general wellness visits and non-urgent matters, we welcome you to visit one of our sister practices: Paso Petcare or Cuesta Park Animal Hospital.

Do you have a cancellation list?

No, we do not have a cancellation list. You are always welcome to call and check availability.

Why are you so booked out in advance?

Our ability to accommodate emergencies, transfers from other clinics, and other urgent cases does limit the number of appointments we have available for scheduling. We are better able to serve our clients and community when non-urgent appointments, wellness exams, and vaccines are scheduled in advance.

Can I come into the lobby now?

Yes, we are once again welcoming clients and their pets into our lobby. 

If your pet is showing signs of a potentially contagious disease (e.g., coughing, sneezing, vomiting, diarrhea) we ask that your pet remains in your vehicle and that you call to seek guidance from a staff member. 

How busy are you?

As one of two 24/7 emergency clinics in the county, it’s best to assume that we’re always busy. All patients will be evaluated quickly as part of a triage process and the most severe cases will be seen first. Actual wait times will vary and depends on the severity of illness/injury, the number of patients waiting to be seen, the time of day, and staff available.

If I come in during the middle of the night, will it be slower?

It may be, but we also have limited staffing on hand and ask that these hours be reserved for truly emergent situations. Visits between 4 p.m. and 9:30 a.m. are considered to be during “emergency hours” and will be charged as an emergency office call, which is more expensive.

Can I stay with my pet?

Yes. You’re more than welcome to stay with your pet. We don’t know how long each individual visit will take, so you could be here for a short time or a long time. If you do not stay with your pet, you must be readily available by phone. You will be called once your pet has been examined to discuss the diagnostics needed and/or your pet’s treatment plan.

Do you provide appointment reminders?

Yes! We’ll give you a call a day before your scheduled appointment to remind you.

Does my cat need to be in a carrier before I come into the lobby?

Yes. For both the safety or your pet and other animals in the lobby, please have your cat in a carrier before entering.

Does my dog need to be on a leash before I come into the lobby?

Yes. For both the safety or your pet and other animals in the lobby, please have your dog on a leash before entering.


How can I pay?

We accept cash, check, debit card, MasterCard, Visa, and Discover. While we are letting clients back into the building for appointments, payment can still be made over the phone. See our Payment Options page for more information on estimates, pet insurance, CareCredit, and Scratchpay.

Do you have payment plans?

We do not offer payment plans, but pet care-financing companies like CareCredit and Scratchpay do. The application process is quick and can sometimes provide instant, same-day approvals.

What do I do if I have no money?

You can apply for third-party pet care financing. Credit companies such as CareCredit and Scratchpay offer lines of credit and installment loans to provide financial coverage for both emergency services and routine care.

Do you keep cards on file?

No. For the safety and security of our clients and their information, we do not keep cards on file.

Behavioral Training

Do you provide pet behavioral training?

No, we do not provide behavioral training. But a Google/internet search of “pet behavior training in SLO County” will yield many quality results.


What is the cost of an office visit?

The cost of an office visit during normal hours — 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. — is $129. The cost of an office visit during emergency hours — 4 p.m. to 9:30 a.m. — is $169.

How can I save money on my pet’s health?

Preventive care (wellness exams, vaccinations, annual bloodwork) is key to reducing the cost of your pet’s healthcare. Regular exams may assist in detecting problems sooner when they are typically less expensive to treat and usually result in a better outcome.

Example: A puppy vaccination series of three DALP (distemper-adenovirus-leptospirosis-parvovirus) vaccines would provide coverage against canine parvo for a cost of just under $100. Treating a sick puppy for parvo can cost over $1200 and some puppies may die despite even the most heroic and costly efforts.

Pet Insurance

What is pet insurance?

Pet insurance can provide coverage to help deal with the cost associated with emergencies, unexpected illnesses, accidents, and in some cases routine wellness care. It works much like other forms of insurance. Our hospital will provide the information necessary for owners to submit to their pet insurance company so they can be reimbursed for the cost covered by their specific plan. We do not bill insurance companies.

Do you offer pet insurance? Who offers pet insurance?

No, we do not offer pet insurance. Some companies that offer pet health insurance include Healthy Paws, Nationwide, ASPCA, and Embrace. You can find a complete list of pet health insurance companies on the California Department of Insurance Pet Insurance website.

Does pet insurance cover routine wellness visits?

Insurance can cover the cost of routine wellness and preventive care. Please consult with your insurance provider to determine the plan that best suits your pet’s needs.

Lost or Found Pets & Microchipping

Should I microchip my pet?

It is always recommended. A microchip provides a means of permanent identification and a link to contact information should your pet ever be lost or stolen.

What is a microchip? Does it track my pet’s movement?

A microchip is a chip placed under a pet’s skin and holds the owner’s contact info and the pet’s basic information. This tiny chip (about the size of a grain of rice) can be scanned at animal shelters and veterinary hospitals worldwide. If your pet is lost and brought to a facility, a microchip will dramatically increase the ability to reunite you with your pet. A microchip does not track your pet’s movements, it is not a GPS device. There are GPS collars that do provide tracking, however.

I found a dog; can I drop it off to you guys?

We can check for a microchip, but, due to a lack of capacity, we only take in lost/found pets if they are sick or injured. If you find an animal, be sure to contact the San Luis Obispo County Department of Animal Services. You can call them at (805) 781-4400.

I found a cat; can I drop it off to you guys?

We can check for a microchip, but, due to a lack of capacity, we only take in lost/found pets if they are sick or injured. If you find an animal, be sure to contact the San Luis Obispo County Department of Animal Services. You can call them at (805) 781-4400.

What do I do if I found a litter of kittens?

We highly recommend that you leave them. It’s not uncommon for the mom/queen to leave them behind while they go and hunt for food.

If you bring them to us, we will ask that you return them where they were if they’re not sick or injured. We do not have the capacity to board kittens that are not sick or injured. If they’re sick or injured we will treat them and then hand them off to the San Luis Obispo County Department of Animal Services. You can call them at (805) 781-4400.

Spay, Neuter & Pregnancies

At what age will my cat or dog go into heat?

The answer varies a bit between breeds and individuals. As a rule, larger dogs tend to go into heat later than smaller dogs.

Heat Cycle
6-18 months
1-2/year (spring & fall)
11-17 days
4-18 months
Every 14-17 days (spring & fall)
1-4 days

(Please be aware that while a female cat is in heat she can continuously go in and out of heat until she is bred or spayed. This means she could potentially be in heat every other week during the season.)

How long is my dog’s or cat’s pregnancy?

DOGS: 57–69 days, average: 60 days.
CATS: 55–65 days.

Note: Cats may give birth several days apart if they were bred several days apart.

When can I spay or neuter my pet?

We advise spaying/neutering early to reduce the risk of some cancers and unwanted pregnancies.

DOGS: 4–6 months. For smaller dogs, we recommend spaying after their adult canine teeth are in.
CATS: 4 months. Cats should have had at least two vaccinations for feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, and panleukopenia (FVRCP) before surgery.

Vaccinations & Vaccines

Why do you vaccinate so many times?

Our hospital closely follows vaccination guidelines based on published studies and recommendations made by universities and veterinary task forces to keep your pets safe. Vaccines chosen by our facility are selected to maximize effectiveness and safety. The protection provided by vaccinations greatly outweighs the risks of potential side effects and prevents deadly diseases.

When should my pet be getting their vaccinations? Do they need vaccinations even if they’re older?

Vaccinations are highly recommended for your pets’ health and are meant to be administered at specific life stages. For information on vaccinations and when your pet should be receiving them, please refer to our Vaccination Schedules.

When do you recommend vaccinating for Canine Influenza or Bordetella if they’re not “core vaccines”?

Non-core vaccines are given depending on your dog’s exposure and risk. Your pet’s lifestyle may pose an increased chance of exposure and contraction of canine influenza or bordetella (kennel cough). These vaccines will be recommended if your pet visits the dog park, groomer, boarding facilities, or if they travel frequently.

How bad is Parvo? Is it contagious?

Canine parvovirus is highly contagious and deadly, causing life-threatening disease in under-vaccinated dogs. The virus is spread by body fluids from an infected dog, usually from diarrhea. It can live for very long periods of time (even years) in dirt and other surfaces and is resistant to many common disinfectants. This is why we strongly advise that you do not take your puppy out into public areas nor have unvaccinated dogs come in contact with your puppy until they have completed all of their puppy series vaccinations. Just one vaccination is not enough to protect your puppy; under-vaccinated adult dogs may also contract parvo.

Note: Please be aware that fall is a notoriously high season for parvo.

Can I utilize the urgent care/drop-off service for vaccinations?

No. Vaccinations are considered preventive care and are neither an emergency nor an urgent matter. You’ll need an appointment to get your pet in for vaccinations. If you’d like to schedule an appointment, please give us a call at (805) 466-3880.

Do we have to make an actual appointment for vaccines?

Yes, an appointment during our regular office hours is required for your pet to receive vaccinations. Emergency hours and drop-offs are reserved for urgent matters. Please give us a call at (805) 466-3880 and a client service representative will assist you with scheduling.

Boarding & Grooming

Do you provide boarding services?

In short: No. We only provide boarding to current patients with a medical necessity that prevents them from boarding in a standard boarding facility. This would include diabetic patients, those requiring medication administration, nursing, or bandage care. Please call us at (805) 466-3880 to determine if your pet meets our boarding requirements.

One of our sister clinics, Cuesta Park Animal Hospital in San Luis Obispo, does provide kennel boarding services. You can reach them at (805) 543-0956.

Do you provide grooming services? Do you shave matted fur?

No, we do not provide grooming services.

Can you trim my pet’s nails while they are with you?

If your pet is here for a routine wellness visit, we’ll be happy to add a nail trim for an additional charge. Nail trims can also be scheduled as a veterinary-technician visit. In those instances, you and your pet do not need to meet with a veterinarian and the visit is typically cheaper than a normal office appointment.

Diet, Nutrition & Food

Can I feed puppy or kitten food to my adult animals?

Animals require different nutrition based on species and age. As a rule, puppy and kitten diets are higher in protein and fat than maintenance diets and can cause weight gain or eventually contribute to other issues such as diarrhea, allergies or even kidney disease. Please follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Will you feed my pet while they are there?

If your pet is in medical boarding or is staying overnight, yes, we will feed your pet. It will be a diet that is appropriate for its age and reason for visit.


Can you prescribe/diagnose over the phone?

By law, we cannot diagnose or prescribe your pet medication over the phone. You and your pet would have to come for an in-person visit.

Can I call to refill a prescription?

Yes. We ask that you allow us at least 48 hours for the refill to be approved by a doctor and be ready for pickup.

Will you text/call me when my prescription is ready?

We do not currently have a texting service and will only call you if we have a question or if the refill has been declined. Please allow at least 48 hours for the refill to be approved by a doctor and be ready for pickup.

Medical Questions

My pet seems a little sore. Can I give him some of my Advil/Tylenol/Naproxen, etc.?

No! Dogs and cats are very different from people in how they process medications and their smaller size makes it very easy to overdose on otherwise safe drugs. Even very small doses of certain human drugs can kill a cat or do serious damage to a dog. Do not use human medication unless authorized by your veterinarian! We will be glad to help you find the best veterinary-approved medications for your pet’s individual needs.

You can visit the ASPCA Poison Control page for more information. Experiencing a potential poison-related emergency? Call them at (888) 426-4435.

My dog/cat ate X. Should I be concerned?

If your pet is showing signs of a true emergency, you should come straight in. Those signs could include choking, difficulty breathing, nonstop coughing and gagging, coughing up blood, or persistent vomiting and/or persistent diarrhea.  

If you are unsure and are concerned that the substance may be poisonous to your pet, the most accurate and detailed response can be provided by ASPCA Poison Control. They can be reached at (888) 426-4435. Please take note of their case number if treatment is recommended.  

You can find more information on pet emergencies here: AVMA’s 13 animal emergencies that require immediate veterinary care

Why do I have to test my pet for heartworm every year, even though I use Heartgard all the time?

Although we highly recommend yearly testing for any dog who has had a break in heartworm prevention, pets who have been on uninterrupted heartworm prevention are still encouraged to test yearly. Not testing annually voids the manufacturer’s warranty and they will not cover pets who don’t have documented annual tests.

Is a foxtail an emergency or can I wait?

It’s absolutely something that should be handled sooner rather than later. The longer you wait, the more likely the foxtail will make its way further into your pet’s body. The farther it goes, the harder it will be to retrieve, and therefore more costly an issue to fix. Not to mention it increases the risk of complications from intervention.

Do you have antivenin?

Yes. As a 24-hour emergency hospital we always have antivenin on hand.

What do I do if my pet is bitten by a rattlesnake?

If you suspect your pet has been bitten by a rattlesnake, get to your nearest veterinary emergency hospital as soon as possible. Please note that the rattlesnake vaccine does not change the timeframe in which veterinary care should be provided.

I saw something that looks like little rice grains around my pet’s bottom. What the heck is it?

Tapeworms are a likely culprit. They do not show up in regular fecal tests so we commonly diagnose and treat when clients notice the parasites on their pet or in their pet’s stool. The presence of tapeworms indicates a current or prior flea infestation. Flea control is essential in preventing reoccurrence. If you see tapeworms on your pet, please speak to your veterinarian about appropriate treatment and long-term management.

When do I need to bring in a fecal sample?

Please bring a fresh fecal sample when your pet is being seen for the following: 

  • A new puppy or kitten exam, so we can screen for intestinal parasites. 
  • Your pet is experiencing gastrointestinal issues, such as diarrhea.
  • Your pet is scheduled for a wellness visit and you would like to complete a routine screening for intestinal parasites. 

When bringing a fresh fecal sample, please have it in a sealed container. Please note that only a small amount of stool is needed. (Approximately one teaspoon.) 

What is a normal temperature for my pet?

Normal vital parameters can vary based on breed, size, and health. Rectal temperatures are still the most accurate method of temperature-taking in both dogs and cats. The wetness or dryness of the nose is not an indicator of health.  

Normal vital signs:

  Temperature: 100.5–102.5 rectal
  Pulse: 70–140bpm
  Respirations: 10–30/min 

  Temperature: 101–102.5 rectal
  Pulse: 120–180bpm
  Respirations: 10–30/min 

Why do I need to bring in my pet for an annual wellness visit?

Annual wellness examinations are very important for your pet’s health and happiness. Wellness exams allow our veterinarians to discover any potential health risks and/or problems that may otherwise go undetected. Our veterinarians approach each wellness exam based on the age, breed, and gender of your pet. Veterinarians are also required by law to keep an established annual veterinary-client-patient relationship to treat, prescribe medications, and fill preventatives such as flea/tick/heartworm prescriptions. Atascadero Pet Hospital & Emergency Center is devoted to ensuring that your animal companion(s) lives the healthiest, happiest life they can. 

End of Life

My pet is getting very old and sick and I want to prepare for having to put him to sleep. What should I expect?

Euthanizing a pet is an emotional experience for the entire family, and we are committed to providing as much comfort as possible during this challenging time. You have the option to bring your pet in during our urgent drop-off hours, which are from 9:30 AM to 4 PM, Monday through Friday, and from 9:30 AM to 2 PM on Saturdays, for end-of-life care. It’s important to note that the cost for this service is the same as a scheduled visit.

We invite you to call us to initiate discussions, as our staff is exceptionally well-trained to have these sensitive conversations. We understand the difficult decisions that need to be made before proceeding with euthanasia. During the process, you’ll be asked to sign a euthanasia consent form, specifying your preferences for the procedure and how you’d like us to handle your pet’s remains. After you’ve made your choices, we’ll efficiently handle the payment and paperwork, allowing you to focus entirely on your pet.

Our compassionate veterinarian will consult with you, addressing any questions or concerns to ensure the procedure is as comfortable as possible for your pet. You have the option to stay with your pet during the euthanasia or step out of the room.

As fellow pet owners, we deeply understand the emotions and challenges you face when making this difficult decision. Every member of our team is here to support you and your family through this challenging time.


How do I get a health certificate for travelling with my pet?

Prior to traveling with your pet, consult the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service guidelines. These vary based on the location that you are traveling to, both domestic and international. We do not provide health certificates at our hospital but our sister practice, Paso Petcare, would be happy to help.