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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Emergency Services On Call for Furry Patients

MTOgneva, left, extracting one of Ksyusha's teeth on a house call, which several veterinary firms in Moscow offer.
Pets are supposed to relieve stress and improve the mental health of their owners, but when your cat, dog or parakeet falls ill, it can be enough to turn your hair gray. Luckily, there are several around-the-clock information services in Moscow that can help distressed animal lovers.

Vet-Art (721-8266) is a 24-hour information and emergency service that provides advice over the phone for free and will dispatch a team of professional veterinarians to your house for 3,000 rubles ($110). On-the-spot surgery runs to 3,500 rubles. Discounts are available for regular clients. They do not provide English-speaking veterinarians, so make sure to have an interpreter if you don't speak Russian.

The 911 Rescue Service (937-9911, or 0911 from a mobile phone) also has a veterinary squad, making house calls for between 3,000 rubles and 3,500 rubles. Another service, Av-Gav (494-3623), charges 1,000 rubles for checkups and more for surgeries.

Both Vet-Art and 911 employ telephone operators who can recommend the best course of action, as well as the nearest appropriate clinics and hospitals.

Animals that travel abroad with their owners must have a veterinary passport to leave Russia. Such a passport should list the dates the animal was de-wormed and cleaned of other parasites, as well as certify that the pet has been vaccinated against rabies and other diseases. All the necessary paperwork must be obtained at the local state SBBZh, or veterinary station -- plan ahead to get it done.

Most Russian stores now stock pet food, but keep an eye out for healthier brands. Svetlana Ogneva of Av-Gav recommends Hill's, Nutro and Purina, adding that Royal Canine is all right for "healthy, nonallergic animals." Vet-Art veterinarian Yulia Milenina warned against buying pet food at smaller stores: "It's best to shop at major stores because in the small kiosks and pet stores, there are many fakes and expired food packages and drugs."

Large pet store chains, such as Beethoven (near Leninsky Prospekt, Belyayevo, Maryino and Bibirevo metro stations) and 38 Popugayev (near Yuzhnaya, Tyoply Stan, Medvedkovo and Krylatskoye metro stations) can be counted on to stock a variety of products and brands. The veterinary drugstore at 58 Oktyabrskaya Ulitsa is conveniently open 24 hours, but it is currently surrounded by inconvenient construction detours.

Most procedures and exams can be performed by vets in your own home -- anything that doesn't involve artificial pulmonary ventilation, Ogneva said. For more complicated procedures, such as X-rays, you might want to head to your local clinic. A 24-hour clinic is located at 11 Tsvetnoi Bulvar, building 1, where all procedures are available through the night (X-rays are 300 rubles apiece) and lines are short at 3 a.m. -- perfect if you need to bring in a scaredy-cat nervous in unfamiliar environments and around strangers.

Many clinics employ a staff oncologist, but two institutions specialize in cancer: the veterinary clinics at 24 Kashirskoye Shosse, building 10, and at 3 2nd Botkinsky Proyezd (at the Gertsen Oncology Institute). Both clinics are located on the campuses of human cancer research institutes.

Milenina advises that owners keep a first-aid kit for their furry friends. Recommendations include analgin, a simple pain reliever; cramp relievers (No-Shpa, Papaverine); and allergy medications such as Suprastin. "Pets very frequently have allergies," she said, "and allergic swellings can develop within minutes." Never give your pet aspirin, which thins the blood and can kill an animal within hours, she added.

Sometimes asking for an emergency house call is preferable to transporting your pet to a clinic yourself. For instance, a common problem among dogs is gastric torsion. "The stomach swells and turns on itself. If you abruptly pick the dog up by grabbing under the belly, the stomach or the spleen might rupture," Milenina explained, adding that in such cases, the dog might die on the way to the clinic.

"Worriers' pets live longer," Ogneva said, reminding owners to always get their pets all the necessary shots, such as rabies and hepatitis, and to get them treated against ticks in the spring (late April through mid-June) and in September. "This is probably one of the few peculiarities of the Moscow region -- tick-borne canine babesiosis, which takes the lives of thousands," she explained.

If the worst happens, and the pet dies or has to be put to sleep, you must have it cremated, as burials are forbidden within city limits. Vet-Art will do a pickup for cremation for 4,000 rubles to 4,500 rubles, depending on the size of the animal. If a pet has to be put to sleep because of suspected rabies, lab tests will be performed posthumously.