Update 17 November, 2020: The British Veterinary Association's updated COVID-19 guidelines for the second national lockdown in England (Thursday 5 November to Wednesday 2 December) states that veterinary practices are essential and will stay open. However, practices must continue to work under COVID-safe ways (e.g. clients might be seen outside of consulting rooms).
Update 7 July, 2020: In May, all four UK governments announced plans for easing lockdown restrictions. However, the British Veterinary Association's updated COVID-19 workplace safety guidance states that these plans didn’t give clear direction for the vet industry. Therefore, it was decided that vets will continue to work within the COVID-19 guidelines by Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS).
Given the current UK Government advice about COVID-19, Felcana gives vet advice to help keep you and your pets safe and healthy during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. In this post, you’ll learn more about:
- What normal vet services are now permitted after the easing of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions
- Whether routine pet vaccinations are allowed during COVID-19 outbreak
- What’s considered a vet emergency during the COVID-19 outbreak
- What to expect during a vet appointment amidst COVID-19 outbreak
- Tips on being prepared for pet emergencies and keeping your pet healthy at home
- Advice for walking your dog safely throughout the COVID-19 outbreak
- How Felcana can keep your pet healthy at home
We know your dogs and cats are bringing you comfort and cuddles during this uncertain time.
While vet practices are moving towards a more normal range of vet services, Felcana will be giving supplementary vet advice to help make sure your pets are as healthy as possible.
What normal vet services are now allowed to be provided for my pet after the easing of COVID-19 restrictions?
Because of different government guidelines across UK nations, and even within each nation e.g. Leicester’s localised lockdown as of 30 June 2020, the range of normal vet services each vet clinic can provide may vary.
RCVS guidelines state that vets can flexibly decide what services to resume. This decision is based on their own circumstances and availability of resources. This means that any routine or elective procedure which allows the vet staff to follow the social distancing workplace guidance can be performed, subject to the capacity of that vet clinic.
Hence, Felcana advises to contact your local vet to find out which normal vet services have resumed. Please understand that there may be a delay in the clinic seeing healthy animals for routine services, due to the need to prioritise the non-emergency cases involving pets who have been unwell during the lockdown but were unable to come in for clinical examination.
Routine pet vaccinations during COVID-19 outbreak
Previously, routine pet vaccinations were considered non-essential during the lockdown. But recently, according to the BVA’s updated coronavirus FAQs, recognising the increased risk of disease outbreak over a longer period of time has caused some pet vaccination services to become available again. The advice is as follows:
- Primary vaccinations and year 1 boosters in dogs and cats are now allowed.
- Annual leptospirosis vaccination could potentially go ahead due to the zoonotic risk (possibility of transmitting leptospirosis from animal to human). Decision is based on local risk assessment.
- Any additional vaccine components which are due at the same time as the core vaccine can also be administered.
- Rabbit vaccinations could go ahead due to the seasonal disease risks.
- Rabies vaccinations could be carried out if required for certification reasons (for example, repatriation of a family overseas).
What’s considered an emergency for my pet during the COVID-19 outbreak?
While it is now becoming possible to see a vet for non-emergencies, there is a high chance that the clinics near you are, understandably, still getting back into the swing of things. Additionally, minimising non-essential trips to the vet should still be a priority to reduce risk of contracting COVID-19.
Therefore, Felcana recommends for you to follow these infographics to decide when it’s necessary for you to get some vet advice, be it online or in person. The examples in these infographics are not exhaustive and if in any doubt, please contact your local vet.
Suspend and delay non-emergency appointments for duration of lockdown
Get online veterinary advice for routine checkups, or moderate and persistent symptoms
Visit vet clinic immediately for emergencies involving severe life-threatening symptoms
Together with these infographics, it'd also be useful to check out some techniques to spot the signs of pain in your pet.
For free online vet advice about milder conditions that don’t need to be seen urgently, check out our articles about reasons your pet might be itchy or read up on signs your dog might have an ear infection. We’ve also prepared some common reasons for dogs vomiting and information about diarrhoea in dogs, advice on how to relieve symptoms of these, and what to tell your vet via the Felcana App on your Apple or Android device.
What to expect during a vet appointment amidst COVID-19 outbreak
If your dog or cat has an emergency or requires an essential vet service during the outbreak, Felcana recommends referring to the guidelines below to keep both you and the vet staff healthy and safe:
- Make sure to call the vet clinic to make an appointment before leaving home: If you arrive without phoning first, your vet may not be able to accommodate your emergency or provide the essential vet service at the time, and would have to refer you to a different practice. This could lead to delayed treatment.
- Upon arrival, wait in your car or outside the vet clinic and call the clinic to let them know you’ve arrived: The vet staff will then take appropriate safety measures in preparation of you and your pet’s arrival.
- During the appointment: your dog or cat will be collected outside by a staff member and owners should ideally remain outside while the patient is examined by the vet inside the vet clinic.
- After the initial exam, treatment plans and next steps will be discussed with you: To follow no-contact or reduced contact guidelines, the staff may call you to do so.
- If you need urgent prescriptions for your dog or cat, vets can issue an online prescription electronically: online pharmacies can send the medicines to you in the post.
Being prepared for emergencies and keeping your dog healthy at home
Make sure you’ve got Felcana's website on hand so you can quickly access our Symptom Checker (coming soon) for specific vet advice tailored to your pet's symptoms and our Learning Hub for free online vet advice.
It’s also a good idea to keep your vet's contact details on your phone and in an obvious location at home e.g. on the fridge in case of an emergency. As a precaution, you should locate your nearest emergency vet and ask if they’ll be available during the COVID-19 outbreak just in case your normal vet isn’t.
It would be wise to keep a pet first aid kit at home and in the car. Here are the top items Felcana recommends you to pack in your pet’s first aid kit:
- Blunt-ended scissors
- Cotton wool
- Wound wash/antiseptic wipes
- Tick tweezers
- Wound dressings
- Self-adhesive tape
- Vinyl gloves
- Foil blanket
- Cloth blanket to use as a stretcher
Don’t forget to double check that your house is pet-proofed - be careful of candles and portable heaters! If you have extended family or friends staying with you during the COVID-19 outbreak, you might want to paste our article on the most common dangerous foods for dogs on the fridge so that everyone knows what’s bad for your pup. Another of our articles reports that cases of dogs eating chocolate increase during festive periods like Christmas as families spend more time at home, so while your pets will be pleased that loved ones are together during these tough times, make sure that everyone’s playing their part in keeping your pets safe!
Keeping healthy when walking your dog during COVID-19 outbreak
Current UK government restrictions allow you to walk your dog during the COVID-19 outbreak. Here are Felcana’s key pointers to help you stay safe when walking your dog:
- Stay in your local neighbourhood.
- You, and your dog, should keep a two-metre distance away from others.
- Although there’s no evidence pets can spread the disease, it’s advised to avoid petting other dogs. Just like human hands, pet fur can potentially carry viruses.
- Wash your hands after touching pets and when you arrive home after walks.
- Ensure you have sufficient supplies for your pet such as food and medications, so that you only make essential trips to pet supply shops.
Trying to stay fit during quarantine, but want to include your pup? Check out our 8 top tips for running with your dog!
If your neighbour is self-isolating or is a highly vulnerable person, it’s important to offer help and support like walking their dogs or taking their pets to the vet.
If you’re walking a self-isolating person’s dog, here are some helpful tips from our vets at Felcana to keep everyone safe:
- Wash your hands before and after collecting the dog.
- Maintain a two-metre distance away from each other and while out on your walk.
- Ask the isolated person to bring the dog into a safe, contained space and then go back inside their home. You can then enter and clip your own lead onto the dog’s collar. Carry out the same process when you return the dog to his home.
How Felcana can keep your pets healthy during COVID-19 outbreak
Until vet clinics can return to their pre-COVID state, we know it'll be difficult to receive veterinary advice when you need it. That's why Felcana aims to produce free online advice in the form of articles to keep you well-informed, and your pet healthy.
In the face of stressful times, we’re lucky to have our fluffy companions to bring us endless laughs and cuddles while we’re stuck inside. Eventually this will pass, so appreciate the extra time you get to be home with your pets: make it fun by playing games, teaching them new tricks, or spending extra time snuggling them on the couch!