With current restrictions on business openings and the focus on essential services, many industries have had to make changes to how they work – veterinary care is no exception.
“As vets our role has always been one of protecting animal health and welfare,” says Alan Hill, one of the directors at Parkside Veterinary Group.
“We also have a duty to protect human health and during the current coronavirus crisis we have had to take the difficult decision to alter our working practices to stop routine appointments and to focus primarily on emergency care.
“This allows us as vets to care for the pets that need it the most while trying to prevent the spread of the virus and support our tremendous NHS.”
They may have changed their working practices for the time being, but they’re still here to look after your pets and address any concerns you may have.
That’s why Parkside Vets have put together this Q&A to help provide answers to all your urgent questions.
1. What is Covid-19?
Covid-19 is a new, infectious disease caused by the most recently isolated coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illness in both humans and animals. In humans, coronaviruses cause illness such as the common cold, SARS and Covid-19. This new disease began in Wuhan, China in December 2019
2. Did Covid-19 originate in animals?
Yes, we think this virus originated in animals and mutated to allow infection in a new species. This would be similar to what happened with, for example, SARS-CoV which was associated with civet cats and MERS-CoV which is transmitted by dromedary camels. Possible animal sources of COVID-19 are being investigated currently.
3. Can my dog or cat catch Covid-19?
We currently have no evidence that dogs, cats or any pets can catch the disease or spread the virus between either other pets or on to people. There have been two dogs who have tested positive for COVID-19, both of which had been in very close and regular contact with an infected person. Neither dog developed symptoms and we do not currently believe that pets can be a source of infection or that the virus can lead to illness in pets.
4. I’ve been diagnosed with Covid-19 or advised to self-isolate, how should I care for my pets?
Where possible, ask another member of your household to care for your pet. Ideally, you should reduce all contact with your pet; if this is not possible then you should wash your hands before and after any interaction with them. We would stress again that while there is no evidence that pets can be infected or spread the virus, sensible hygiene precautions are recommended. This will help to reduce the risk of you contaminating the pet with the virus.
5. Are vets open during the lockdown?
Following the prime minister’s address on Monday 23rd, all vets have been advised to switch to providing emergency care, fulfilling urgent prescriptions and aiding in maintaining the food chain. To help reduce face-to-face contact with pet owners, we have put steps in place at Parkside Vet Group to start using remote technology to allow us to perform video consultations, which have been a great success. These allow us to assess the patient and where possible prescribe suitable medications. Our Barnhill and Arbroath surgeries are temporarily closed however in the event of an emergency we have a dedicated team on hand at our Kings Cross Road surgery to deal with emergency cases who can be reached on the normal number 01382 810777. During this period, routine health checks and booster vaccinations are being delayed.
6. My pet needs veterinary treatment and I have suspected Covid-19?
In this situation then non-urgent issues should be delayed at least 14 days before seeing your vet. In an emergency situation, then please contact your vet. You would need to arrange another person to bring your animal to the vet to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to other people. Vets have steps in place to deal with these situations and clear communication of your condition with the practice is essential to ensure that safe procedures can be followed by all members of the veterinary team.
7. What if my pet is sick or injured and I’m in the high risk group for Covid-19?
In this type of scenario we would advise that a friend or family member brings in the pet. Ideally those at higher risk such as pregnant people, elderly people or those with pre-existing health conditions should remain at home. The vet can phone the owner directly to discuss the case once the pet has been assessed in the clinic.
8. Can I still get my pet vaccinated?
The current lockdown period is for 3 weeks and the vast majority of pet vaccinations would not be deemed to be urgent so adult boosters must be postponed during this period. Primary vaccination in puppies and kittens should also currently be delayed in order to minimise travel and help restrict the spread of Covid-19. In the event of the lockdown continuing beyond the 3 week period we will have to review this decision, but ultimately the more people who stay at home the better chance we have of beating Covid-19 and protecting human health. In the meantime, unvaccinated puppies should be exercised only in the garden and not be taken outside. We understand this is frustrating and will look to reinstate primary courses as soon as it is deemed safe to do so.
9. Can I catch Covid-19 from touching a dog or cat?
There is no evidence to suggest this, pet hair is fibrous and porous which means it will not be conducive to transfer of the virus, however it remains sensible to wash hands after playing with your pet.
Check the Parkside Veterinary Group website for more general information, or speak to their friendly team directly on 01382 810777 for advice.