Emergency vets say one of the things that hurts most is the lack of personal contact with pet owners. Dr. Calabro, 44, says during normal times, she watches an owner’s body language and facial expressions when she explains a dog or cat’s prognosis. She can read whether the owner understands the flurry of information. Harder to do over the phone.

The worst is when the news is bad. On a recent Friday, Dr. Klippen examined a dog that had collapsed at home with a catastrophic abdominal infection. The owner remained outside while Dr. Klippen, calling from the office line, told her that her dog would suffer if not euthanized.

Normally during euthanasia, Dr. Klippen and family members are side-by-side, at a table or on the floor, so close they touch as she injects a sedative and then a drug to stop the animal’s heart. She often hugs family members when it’s all over.