Covid-19 or the coronavirus is affecting every single one of us at the moment and the veterinary industry is no exception.
The most important thing to stipulate is that your pet cannot catch covid-19 neither can they transfer it to you.
At the moment, you can still exercise your dog daily. Care needs to be taken to avoid crowded areas, you should not drive to a beauty spot and then walk but walk locally from your house. Care should be taken to observe the 2-metre self-isolation zone when walking and only walk with members of your own household. Don`t be tempted to meet for group walks with friends. The more rigidly we follow these rules the slower the virus will spread and the sooner we can get back to normal.
Although not currently considered key workers, most veterinary surgeries remain open. However, measures have been taken to reduce the health risk to veterinary staff whilst still maintaining a service for you and your pets.
Whilst we are in strict lockdown, we have cancelled all routine appointments such as vaccinations, 6 monthly health checks or nail clips. This is under the guidance from the British Veterinary Association (BVA).
Obviously, we will always see emergencies such as a road traffic accident, collapse or profuse bleeding. In an emergency telephone your vet so they can advise of any altered procedures about seeing the vet. When attending the clinic for an appointment we are asking clients to remain in their cars and call us. The vet will then come out and collect the dog whilst taking any details of the condition outside in the car park, the dog is then taken into the surgery for examination and any necessary treatment is administered. Your dog is then returned (or admitted for hospitalisation if the condition is serious) and you are asked to telephone reception to settle your account by card.
We are trying to do as many consultations as we can over the phone or by email. Normally we have strict guidelines to only prescribe medicines once an animal has been examined by a vet. The BVA has relaxed these rules temporarily allowing us to prescribe things such as antibiotics without physically seeing the animal. If you can take a photo of a lump, sore ear or eye and email or text it over to the surgery the vet can assess it and advise whether it needs to be seen in person, can have treatment prescribed or if it is ok to be left at the moment. You could take a video of any lameness and again this can be assessed remotely-we may advise rest for a few days or if we feel it necessary we could prescribe anti inflammatories, again something that the BVA has given special dispensation to do under these difficult circumstances.
For dogs on long term medication we would normally have to perform a health check every 6 months to confirm the animal is under our care. These strict rules have been relaxed so we can continue to prescribe without physically examining the animal if the owner is not concerned.
If your dog has diarrhoea but is bright in itself, it is generally fine to leave. You could try a bland diet for a few days. If the diarrhoea becomes bloody, continues for over 48 hours or vomiting develops then the dog will need to be seen.
If you have tested positive for Covid-19 or have symptoms and your dog really needs to be seen, then make veterinary staff aware when making the appointment and protective clothing can be worn to reduce risk of transferring the virus.
We have cancelled all non-urgent operations so oxygen supplies are prioritised for the NHS but again emergencies procedures will be carried out as necessary.
This is a fluid situation and guidelines are changing all the time, but we will always try and maintain at least an emergency service for your dog if at all possible.