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Taking your dog to the vet on Christmas day is of course something that most of us are anxious to avoid doing, and yet Christmas day can be quite risky for dogs if their owners aren’t vigilant (and sometimes, even if they are) about protecting them from themselves! Christmas day is in fact one of the busiest days of the year for vets as a whole.
Most dog owners know that taking their dog to the vets out of normal practice hours in the event of an emergency is something best avoided but occasionally necessary, as we cannot always predict when something will go wrong and our dogs might become sick or injured.
How any given veterinary clinic handles out of hours emergencies at any time can be very variable across different practices, but on Christmas day, how any clinic handles out of hours emergencies might even be different to their normal emergency provisions at other times too.
With this in mind, this article will provide some advice on what to do if your dog needs to see the vet on Christmas day, how it works, and the factors you’ll need to bear in mind.
Hopefully you’ll never need to put it into practice, but it is worth remembering for future reference just in case!
First of all, if you have decided that your dog needs to see the vet on Christmas day and there is no debate about it, do not just bundle them into the car and head for the clinic.
Always contact the clinic first, as if you just turn up you might find no one there, not enough staff to help you as they’re all busy and have not had prior warning to call for back-up, or even that you should have gone to a different clinic entirely.
Additionally, even if the clinic is manned and staff are ready to help, the time you spent getting there could have been used by the clinic to prepare for your dog’s arrival, ensuring they got treatment faster.
In the first instance, phone the number you normally use for your dog’s clinic
On Christmas day and during any other out of hours periods, always call the usual phone number you use to access your own local clinic. Be ready to tell them about your dog and their symptoms, but bear in mind that you might not actually get through to a vet; it may be a call centre or even a recorded message, so listen carefully when the call is answered and don’t just start firing off information!
Some vets will use a professional veterinary call centre to handle and assess Christmas dog emergencies, and others might have their out of hours coverage coming in from, or provided, elsewhere.
This means you should have a pen to hand to make a note of any alternative number you’re asked to call, or to note down any information you’re told by the advisor, such as where to take your dog.
On which note, if nobody present is fit to drive due to having had a Christmas drink, you will need to make alternative provision for transport. Trying to find a taxi service operating on Christmas day isn’t always easy, so try to find numbers of firms that work over Christmas and that will carry pets in an emergency ahead of time.
If you’re not sure if your dog needs to see the vet and are borderline about if there is anything wrong with them at all, or if their symptoms are mild and you think they could possibly be left for a couple of days without a problem, always call your local clinic for advice.
This is totally free, even on Christmas day.
As mentioned earlier on, you may get a recorded message to call another clinic, or be routed to a veterinary call centre rather than speaking to your own vet directly, in the first instance, but you will always be able to access veterinary advice, whatever the time is or whatever holiday is being celebrated.
If you won’t be within range of your dog’s own vet at Christmas, find a vet in the area you’re going to and make a note of their number. If possible, find out in advance how they’re handling out of hours emergencies at Christmas, and what their protocol is for new patients and temporary registrations.
Ask your own vet for a copy of your dog’s notes and veterinary history to take with you too, as this can save time and provide the new vet with all of the information they need to treat your dog promptly in an emergency.
If your usual clinic is part of a chain or a group and there is another member of the same chain in the area you’re visiting, this will generally be the best clinic to pick, as they will almost certainly be able to access your dog’s full records from the partner clinic faster and more easily than they would be able to get their notes from an unrelated practice.
Finally, stay vigilant about your dog’s welfare at Christmas and plan in advance to supervise and keep your dog safe on Christmas day, and hopefully you’ll never have to put this information into practice yourself!
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