Animal Hospital or Clinic: What’s the Difference?

by | Sep 18, 2018 | Animal Hospital

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If you’ve caught a cold or stubbed your toe, you’ll likely visit your doctor’s office. More serious problems, however, may warrant a visit to the hospital. The same is true for your pets. There are differences between a veterinary office and a veterinary hospital in Chicago. Understanding these differences will help you get your beloved pet to the right place for the right treatment.

Diagnostic Services

Veterinarians use diagnostic tools, including blood and urine tests, to diagnose diseases and health problems in animals. At most veterinary clinics, the doctor collects samples and then sends them to an outside laboratory for testing, usually getting the test results in a day or two. Test results come faster at a veterinary hospital, however, as most have in-house labs located. This allows the hospital to get your pet’s test results in a matter of hours rather than days.


Veterinary offices usually have the ability to perform minor surgeries such as dental cleanings and cat declawing. Hospitals can perform these minor surgeries, as well, but have larger surgical suites and more equipment than vet clinics. This allows veterinary hospitals in Chicago to perform more complex surgeries and some orthopedic procedures. You can expect your pet to receive excellent surgical care at a veterinarian’s office, but your vet may refer you to an animal hospital if your animal needs an advanced procedure.

Supportive Care

Because they see more advanced cases, the nursing and support staff members at animal hospitals often receive more advanced training than those at smaller veterinary offices. The vet techs and others at every reputable veterinary office receive training and strive for excellence in what they do. A tech at a small clinic, however, may simply not have experience caring for pets with more complex issues, as these animals often get referred to hospitals. Hospitals are also more likely to be staffed 24 hours a day than smaller veterinary practices.

While it’s good to know the difference between a veterinary clinic and hospital, never assume that your vet’s office is an animal hospital. Some states have strict guidelines on which facilities may designate themselves as animal hospitals, but others don’t. If you’re looking for a veterinary hospital in Chicago, ask the facility what services they provide and confirm that they truly are a full-service hospital. At Portage Park Animal Hospital & Dental Clinic, we are a true animal hospital and can provide a wide variety of quality health care services to your pet. Visit our website at to learn more about who we are and what we do. Follow us on google+.

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