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Dear easipetcare friends,
We are urging pet owners to take extra care of their pets during the coronavirus outbreak, to minimize risk of disease. Vet practices across the country have been faced with the challenge of suspending all but emergency and urgent care for pets since the government announced national lockdown. We have been advised to suspend all routine procedures to minimize the risk of spreading the coronavirus. In order to provide ongoing pet care, our easipetcare practices are offering virtual vet consultations and remain open for emergencies only.
Like most businesses, vets were asked to immediately suspend all non-essential face-to-face contact from March 23rd. Most routine procedures and preventative care have had to be postponed during lockdown. In addition, we have had to slim down our teams and furlough staff to reduce all but non-essential travel. We are advising all pet owners to call us to discuss if your pet needs to be seen before leaving your home.
However, suspending preventative treatment would increase the risk of infection, the BVA (British Veterinary Association) had warned. Despite an initial period of suspending vaccinations at the start of lockdown, vets are once again vaccinating to protect pets. We’re in the difficult position of wanting to provide the best care for pets, while protecting our frontline staff from contracting the virus, and minimising the risk of spread. We’re following the guidelines from the British Veterinary Association and the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, while wanting to ensure pets are also protected against common infections.
We are therefore now advising that if you had your pet’s vaccines postponed, that you should contact the practice to discuss when an appointment is recommended. Advice will vary depending on the individual pet, and if anyone in the household is under self-isolation restrictions. Until then, the advice is to avoid other dogs on walks, and also avoid contact with standing water due to the risk of leptospirosis. Cats – especially kittens – should be kept indoors if possible. In most cases delaying vaccination by a few weeks is not a problem, and sufficient immunity should remain to protect pets. However, if the lockdown period is extended on 16th April we have concerns pets would be increasingly susceptible to infections. Like everybody, we’re having to quickly adapt the services and advice we offer in response to the government’s recommendations. We ask owners to visit our website for updates, and always call the practice before visiting, while restrictions are in place.
For anything which is not an emergency, video consultations are being carried out. While vets have historically relied on hands-on examination for picking up subtle clinical signs and symptoms, virtual consults have some advantages. Being able to observe a pet in the home can offer more insight into how they are behaving, which is sometimes harder to assess in the consulting room. Strict regulations around remote prescribing of medicines have been temporarily relaxed in the face of the outbreak. For the first time, and in exceptional circumstances, vets can now prescribe medication following a video consultation. This means we can even post out treatment for an animal we haven’t physically seen within to reduce unnecessary travel. Our guidance is to only do this for the minimum period of time until we are able to see the animal, and as a last resort.
Owners whose pets need to be examined should still observe the government’s advice regarding social distancing. The BVA has advised vets to ask owners to wait in the car/outside and call on arrival. A member of the vet team collects the pet from outside the practice to be taken in for examination. Discussion with the owner then happens over telephone or video call. Our team are following the social distancing, strict biosecurity and wearing of PPE at all times to reduce risk of spreading the virus. We do ask that if owners have symptoms of coronavirus, or live with someone who is showing symptoms, please tell us before visiting the practice. We also ask owners to make sure their phone has plenty of charge so we can discuss treatment while your pet is in the building.
So remember, if you’re self-isolating we’re still here for your precious pet. Arrange a video consultation from the safety of your own home today.
With very best wishes,