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Many pet owners may be concerned as to whether or not their local veterinary practices are still providing normal services during the ongoing restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

First published:
16 June 2020
Last updated:

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Vets are keen to reassure the public – domestic pet owners, agricultural businesses, horse owners and other animal keepers – that while some of the services they offer are limited, practices are still open and can offer help across all areas of their work.

Essential visits also continue to farms and other agricultural businesses in order to ensure animal health and welfare for continuity and safety of the food supply chain.

In order to make sure vets can continue to provide services during this time, animal owners are advised to take a few helpful measures:

  • Check practice websites or social media for any guidelines on opening hours, the range of services currently offered or arrangements to allow physical distancing.
  • Calling practices or opting for remote consultations (where practicable), rather than visiting in person.
  • Understand that practices will be operating in line with physical distancing requirements, and as such procedures may take longer to complete than normal – owners are asked to please be patient, and to respect that vets are working under increased pressure.
  • While practices continue to dispense medicines for pets, owners who require routine medications or repeat prescriptions are advised to make requests at least a few days in advance if they think their pet’s medication is running out, rather than waiting for current supplies to finish.
  • While many animal owners have been exercising in rural areas with their pets during current restrictions, they are advised that they should continue to observe any guidance to keep dogs on leads, or to stick to footpaths when walking, so as to reduce the risk to livestock
  • If expecting an on-site visit by a vet, farmers and owners of other agricultural businesses should make sure distancing guidelines can be followed; including when providing help with the restraint of farm animals etc.
  • Staying local and staying with local practices, as well as being in line with current regulations, will also help practices maintain workloads and ensure they stay viable during the current pandemic.

Advice on all of the above and more is available from both the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) and the British Veterinary Association (BVA). Owners are advised to regularly check the guidance offered by both bodies, which will evolve in line with Welsh Government regulations.

Christianne Glossop, the Chief Veterinary Officer for Wales, said:

At the start of lockdown, many practices restricted the services offered to essential emergency services.

But as restrictions have changed, in line with the Welsh Government’s three-weekly reviews, practices have been able gradually to resume other services, while still following the guidance on physical distancing and providing protective personal equipment to practice staff.

Professor Glossop added:

Animal owners who may be considering contacting their usual practice should definitely read the advice provided by the BVA and RCVS – it should give them peace of mind and help them decide what to do next, before calling the practice to discuss their concerns.

Ifan Lloyd, President of the Welsh Branch of the BVA, said:

Our advice to pet owners is that they check with their local practices for any guidelines or advice they may have.

Owners can’t just turn up with their animals and expect to be seen on the day, as they may have done in the past. But nor should they stay away completely or presume that practices have stopped offering services altogether.

The veterinary community has worked hard in ensuring services can continue, and the advice put out by practices – as well as the BVA and the RCVS – will be very helpful to owners when trying to decide over whether or not an issue requires addressing immediately, and if not, how they can plan to have the health needs of their animal seen to at another time.

Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, said

As a pet owner who has had to use my local practice a number of times during lockdown, I want to commend the efforts of vets who are continuing to provide vital services.

Those services are important not just in terms of the health of domestic pets, but have also played a vital role in maintaining the safety of food supply chains in rural communities throughout Wales, and the welfare and safety of agricultural animals.

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