Your Visit

dog laying in grass

Preparing for your visit

As you prepare to bring your pet to the medical center, the following are some good guidelines to follow:
  • As a general rule, please do not feed your cat or dog for 12 hours prior to the appointment - unless it has diabetes or is a very young or small animal. This is important as blood work and radiographic imaging typically need to be performed on a fasted patient. Please consult a receptionist if you have any questions regarding fasting your pet.
  • Do not restrict water, as we do not want your companion animal to become dehydrated.
  • In most cases, you do not need to stop pain medications prior to your appointment. If you have any questions, please ask the receptionist.
  • If for any reason you are detained or unable to meet the prearranged appointment, please call 515-294-4900 to cancel or reschedule as soon as possible.

Please make sure that you bring all of your pet’s medications and special diets with you. It is also very helpful for you to bring all results of previously performed diagnostic tests such as laboratory work and radiographs if your regular veterinarian has given you copies. If you have any further questions regarding your pet's preparation, please consult your regular veterinarian or one of our surgeons.

At the ISU Orthopedic Service, your pet will be examined multiple times, by students, residents, and faculty, and your appointment will likely take longer than at your local veterinarian. Please plan to spend at least a half-day at ISU LVMC for your first visit. Recheck appointments may be shorter.

Arrival for your appointment

Upon your arrival at the VMC for a scheduled appointment, please check in with the small animal receptionists. Please let them know if you require assistance with your pet. The receptionists will obtain any additional information that may be required of you and they will let us know that you have arrived.

Once your check-in is complete, you will be directed to the waiting area. A senior veterinary student will meet you in the waiting room and take you to one of the available examination rooms. He or she will obtain a complete history of your pet and perform a thorough physical  and orthopedic or neurologic examination.
While you wait, the senior student will review and discuss your pet with a clinician, who will then re-examine your pet in the exam room. Once your pet has been examined, the clinician will discuss possible causes of your pet's condition and additional diagnostics may be recommended. Diagnostic tests are usually performed in the afternoon of the day of your appointment, although all testing may not be able to be completed the same day and diagnostic workup may have to be completed the following day. If surgery is indicated, it can often be scheduled for the following day and your pet would typically spend that evening in the hospital.
Regardless of whether surgery is performed, we will be in contact with your local veterinarian to inform him or her about our findings and recommendations. In some cases, follow-up care can be performed with your local veterinarian.


Most animals requiring surgery need to be hospitalized. For most elective surgeries, your pet would stay at Veterinary Medical Center the night before surgery and one to two nights after surgery. The duration of hospitalization, however, can vary greatly depending on the exact surgery performed, speed of recovery, and development of any complications following surgery. We will try our best to provide you with an estimated timeline for the release of your pet from the hospital. Estimate and consent forms for treatment will be provided and a deposit of 50 percent of the high end of the estimate is required prior to admission to the hospital.

Our patient housing area consists of medium to large kennels and larger runs for large and giant-breed dogs. Cats are housed separately in a specialized Cat Ward. Blankets, towels, dishes, and food are provided. You may leave a blanket or toy with your pet, however, we discourage leaving valuable and sentimental items, as they may get misplaced.

While hospitalized, a senior veterinary student is primarily responsible for your pet's care. This includes, walking, cleaning, feeding, and assessing your pet's needs. Surgery residents and faculty evaluate your pet several times daily as well. The student or clinician will contact you with updates on your pet approximately twice daily. If you have questions about your pet while he or she is hospitalized, please feel free to contact us through the front desk at 515-294-4900. Please understand that sometimes we are unavailable - either in surgery or with another patient - and we will return your call as soon as possible.

At the time of discharge from the hospital, the senior veterinary student and attending clinician will give you instructions regarding your pet’s aftercare, required medications, and follow-up. You will receive written release information that summarizes your pet’s tests, treatments and home care instructions, a copy of which will also be sent to your regular veterinarian.