The outbreak of coronavirus continues to cause concern and anxiety for many of us. At the VCMS we understand that the current situation has affected nearly every walk of life and is a challenging moment for us all. In today’s blog, we provide an overview of how clients can support their vets and keep their pets safe and healthy at this difficult time.
Vets across the country have been following government and NHS guidance. The British Veterinary Association (BVA) initially advised that veterinary practices should only offer emergency treatment during the first three weeks of restrictions from 23 March to 13 April.
The BVA has now stated that it is appropriate that some essential work, beyond urgent and emergency care can now be considered to help protect animals and maintain their welfare during the extended period of restrictions. It has advised that vets should continue to use their professional judgement and risk assess individual cases.
Vets should continue to provide services in a manner that supports social distancing, while ensuring that animals are only seen face-to-face where absolutely necessary. As a client, it is important to liaise directly with your vet directly if you are unsure whether your pet requires urgent treatment.
As a client, it is important to remember that there may be slower response times (emails) or busier than usual phone lines delaying an answer. What’s more, when dealing with clinical issues, it may be difficult for the professional to provide clear answers without examining the animal in question.
Towards the beginning of the outbreak, before the UK entered lockdown, there were widely reported shortages of food and other essential items – including pet food. Many pet stores and food suppliers in the UK are now starting to operate at pre-lockdown levels ensuring that there is a constant and consistent supplier of pet food products. It is recommended that, before visiting a pet shop, to speak directly with the owner with your questions about their supply levels.
If you’re planning on ordering pet food online, pet stores are experiencing high demand and deliveries may take longer than usual. You should ask about current stock levels and delivery plans as this can help you plan ahead.
One thing that is important it to avoid panic buying to make sure that there is enough pet available for all owners, include those working on the frontline of the health service.
In the first three weeks of restrictions, the BVA advised veterinary practices in the UK to postpone all routine, elective and preventative treatments, such as general health checks, jabs, nail clips, neutering operations and dental treatment.
This has now been revised slightly. Its guidance says that following a risk assessment both for animal health and welfare and with regard to COVID-19, primary vaccinations can go ahead, due to the increased risk of disease outbreak over a longer period of time. However, vets have warned this may not be possible for all pets.
The BVA has encouraged vets and other prescribers and retailers of veterinary medicines to continue with normal ordering patterns to maintain appropriate stocks of veterinary medicines.
Pet owners should plan to have extra monthly preventative medication for conditions like flea, tick and heartworm along with prescription medication.
Vets have been advised to risk assess each case and exercise their clinical and professional judgement.
Keeping regular communication with your vet is important and you should call them to discuss treatment plans if you have any concerns. Check whether arrangements can be made for any repeat prescriptions to be posted to you or collected from outside the vet practice.
As we begin to move through coronavirus it is important to remember that the impact of the outbreak is very much apparent in all walks of life – vets included. Many vets will be facing the same challenges and worries as the public and we urge understanding and communication in order to help us all through these times.