Pet Care During COVID
In a previous post “Social Distancing and Veterinarian Visits” I discussed what this new world meant for me as a pet parent taking my dogs for a veterinarian visit.
What I once took for granted, walking inside the vet’s office, physically being with my pets during their exam, and talking to our vet in person, is not necessarily the case anymore. Yes, some vet clinics are now allowing you to be present during your pet’s exam, but physically distancing practices are still in place for the safety of all.
But what does COVID and social distancing mean for veterinarians? How has it affected them, the business, the clinic’s staff, and importantly, their physical and emotional health?
On this episode of “Vet Chat” I have asked my friend Dr. Ryan Llera to give us a look inside the veterinarian clinic since COVID, how veterinarians, clinics and staff are handling it, and what we as pet parents can do to keep our pets healthy during these unprecedented times.
Dr. Ryan Llera:
We certainly are living in interesting and challenging times. As COVID continues to plague the world, veterinary clinics and our patients are not immune to the effects. Allow me to give you a little insight on some things you can do to help your pets as well as what kind of experience those of us working in a veterinary clinic are having.
Veterinarian Clinics are Busier Than Ever
Despite everything, vet clinics are busier than ever. Some of this may be due to the fact that people are home more with their pets now and therefore they may be noticing things sooner. They may also be finally catching up on some of those pet health concerns that may have been getting delayed due to other reasons. The other side of it is with many people being home they are also getting new pets.
All of these factors can make it difficult to get in to see your preferred family veterinarian. You may be calling around to find any clinic that can see your pet. Sometimes it isn’t possible for even a same day or even the same week appointment, even though most veterinary clinics have been able to and gracious enough (often giving up their lunch or the chance to use the bathroom) to squeeze in one more emergency. This is where having a good, regular relationship with your veterinary clinic can come in to play as it allows them to more easily understand the full details of your pet’s medical history. It does make it harder if you’re going to a new clinic and having to re-explain or start everything all over again, which may be why some clinics just aren’t able to take on new clients or patients right now.
What You Can Do For Your Pet’s Health
Some other things you can do for your pet’s health:
1) Follow any directions that you have been given regarding ongoing medical treatments or long-term care.
2) Don’t let medications run out so that you need a refill 5 minutes before the clinic closes for a weekend.
3) If your vet asked you to call with an update or come in for a recheck, it’s for a good reason so that we can stay on top of things and make sure that your pet is getting the best care possible and that their problems can be fully taken care of and resolved.
In this time of curb-side service, it can really help if you email your vet clinic a list of questions or history well ahead of time so that they can be ready to help you more efficiently. It’s also helpful to address the most pressing problems first, and unfortunately not try to cram every solution into one visit.
Curb-side Veterinarian Medicine
Curb-side veterinary medicine takes a lot longer than regular in clinic appointments. Potentially, your clinic may also use telemedicine. This means that your clinic may allow you to do appointments over the phone or video chat. There will likely still be a fee involved but this can save you the time of driving to the clinic and waiting outside (this may be a bonus with winter coming). Not all patient cases can be handled in this way however, and you should ask your clinic if this is something that can be useful for your pet and your concerns.
What’s Happening Inside the Vet Clinic
On the other side of the coin, things are a lot different inside the vet clinics than they used to be just six months ago. While some hospitals are letting one family member in with a pet, some clinics are exclusively curb-side. I can assure you that even if you are not in the building with your pet, they are receiving just as much care, attention, and love as if you were there; in some cases they’re even getting extra love and treats because we know this can be a scary time for them too.
The Toll on Veterinarians and Clinic Staff
There’s also a situation in the clinics that you may not realize or see, but is taking a toll on all of the staff from the receptionist to the veterinary technicians to the veterinarians themselves. Client behaviour in some cases has gotten a lot worse. There is no reason for anyone to be yelling at, threatening, or becoming violent towards the animal care staff. Understand that we are doing the best that we can in these times and that many of us are working short staffed and have not had more than a weekend off in six months. We know that you love your pets and it can be an emotional time, but behaving like this is not going to help anyone and may result in your need to find a new clinic.
I’m not sure when and if things may return to normal. This may be our new normal for at least the next 1 to 2 years. As we have done for the past six months, we will continue to adapt so that we can put our best foot forward to help your pets and you.
Thank you to Dr. Llera for taking the time out of a very busy schedule to help us better understand how we can help our pets and our vets during these difficult times.
Be sure to follow Dr. Llera’s blog, Drryanllera.com for more more pet health tips. Tweet with him on Twitter, DrRyanLlera ,on his Facebook page, Dr.Ryan Llera and of course, on Instagram where he shares adorable photos of his patients, DrRyanLlera
October 16, 2020
My regular veterinarian had “pets only” for the first three months of the pandemic lock down here in Kansas. Then, around the first week of June, they began letting owners in, ONE person at a time, with pets. You must mask, no questions. For a while, they allowed only one appointment in at a time, but that was so limiting, they went back to multiple doctors and sanitized frequently.
Now, we are able to wait in the waiting room with our pets, and I have observed (I am going almost weekly with my diabetic dog, Fritzi) that people are social distancing and sitting far apart on their own. The staff is still behind a fiberglas screen, and masked.
The Animal ER which I use still requires you to turn over your pet at the door and they take it into the building. I have had as much as a five hour wait in their parking lot during the summer… I cannot use it now unless I absolutely MUST. (I used it probably six times over the summer). I am diabetic, as well, and waiting for so long is almost impossible for me. I understand why they are doing it, but it is very hard on the owners and the animals. My greatest fear at this point is that Fritzi will have a crisis… be taken into their clinic… and won’t come out, having to be euthanized without me holding her.