As much of the country takes to self-isolating in order to avoid catching coronavirus or potentially exposing those more vulnerable to it, the knock-on effect of this is being felt in all manner of ways.
From toilet roll shortages in supermarkets due to unnecessary stockpiling to the closure of schools and businesses, the impact that coronavirus is having cannot be avoided; and over the coming weeks and months, will only become more acute.
However, whilst the danger of coronavirus and the very real impending threat it poses cannot be overlooked for a moment, this doesn’t mean that all of our other needs have disappeared in its wake; and for dog owners, one of these things is the need to seek veterinary treatment when required.
Many dog owners are concerned that vets, like many businesses, will close entirely because of coronavirus, or that they won’t be able to get an appointment if their dog gets ill.
With this in mind, this article will answer some frequently asked questions about coronavirus, vet appointments, and taking your dog to the vet whilst Covid 19 is a threat. Read on to learn more.
Are vets still open despite coronavirus? The simple or most basic answer to this is yes, but a simple answer doesn’t really suffice here.
Veterinary clinics have not been forced to close, or had a blanket closure policy placed on them (like the schools have in the main part).
Veterinary clinics are also businesses that, like supermarkets, understand the importance of the role they fulfil and that will almost universally stay open as best they can and offering the greatest range of services they possibly can for as long as they can.
Essentially, veterinary clinics are not closing pre-emptively or in principle. However, some clinics may be forced to close due to staff sickness or essential self-isolation, should this result in the individual clinic in question being unable to staff itself or provide its services.
In such a situation, the clinic’s customers will be directed to an alternative clinic, but this might potentially mean a lot of pressure on remaining clinics that may make getting an appointment harder than normal.
If you need to go to the vet whilst coronavirus restrictions are in place and people are being proactive about limiting its spread, you might find your vet operating rather differently to normal.
The type of appointments offered, clinic hours, and even where you are seen might change.
You should call your own vet in the first instance, and be prepared to follow direction from either a recorded message or the receptionist on how to proceed.
If your dog suddenly becomes ill or injured, proceed as you normally would by calling your vet in the first instance to get directions on what to do.
Their exact procedures may have changed; they might, for instance, send you to a different local clinic than normal, or instruct you to phone from the car park when you arrive instead of walking into the clinic.
However, in an emergency, proceed as normal and phone the vet; but never just go to the clinic in person without calling.
First of all, given the procedures clinics have in place to limit contact between the owners of patients in their clinics, you’re unlikely to see or come into close contact with other animals these days when you go to the vet.
Also, dogs, cats and other pets cannot catch Covid 19 or transmit the human form of coronavirus to and from humans.
However, pets may be able to carry coronavirus on their skin and fur, and so theoretically the virus could spread in this way; although the same is true for surfaces like door handles and more or less anything else too, and the risk is not caused by the pet itself.
If you are concerned about the risk of developing coronavirus as a result of taking your dog to the vet in person, there might be alternative options for you to explore.
In the first instance, always call the vet and see if they can make a suggestion; calling costs nothing and does not obligate you, and it is far better to get the facts and find out what you’re dealing with and what your options are than ignore a problem that might be getting worse.
Your vet might consider reissuing medications remotely, offer a video consult, or even be able to offer or suggest a pet taxi service that can collect your pet an bring them in without you needing to attend yourself, although this is something that not all clinics will consider and that is only just beginning to be explored by others.
You might also want to ask someone else to take your dog along in your place if you are in a high-risk group.
One thing you should never do is medicate your dog or follow internet advice in the place of your vet’s advice; nor consider herbal or natural medicines as an appropriate substitute for veterinary care.