Vet visits during lockdown

Nothing is ‘normal’ during lockdown – not even a visit to the vet is what it used to be. In case you’ve been wondering whether you can still go and see your vet, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind.

Is it really necessary?

Before even considering a vet visit, ask yourself if it is crucial. If it is just a routine visit with no health issues, rather move the consultation to after the lockdown period. But, if you really need to visit the vet, contact them beforehand and make an appointment. Ask your vet what his or her procedure is during the lockdown period.

The South African Veterinary Association (SAVA) recommends that patients contact the vet when they arrive to let them know that they’re in the parking lot. Someone at the practice will then let you know when they are ready to see you.

“If animal owners are concerned about the health of their animals, it is important to first call the veterinary clinic to discuss the concern and see whether it is deemed necessary by the consulting veterinarian to take the animal to the clinic. Social distancing must be maintained at all times. Both animal and owner welfare are important in these uncertain times, particularly as companion animals may be a critical support mechanism to many people. Veterinarians will guide their clients as to when and how they will consult,” a recent media statement from SAVA suggests.

Telemedicine

In cases where the pet owner cannot get to the vet, but needs to consult a vet urgently, there is another solution, according to the statement. “Telemedicine (also referred to as ‘telehealth’ or ‘e-health’) allows healthcare professionals to evaluate, diagnose and treat patients in remote locations using telecommunications technology.

“Telemedicine allows patients to access medical expertise quickly, efficiently and without travel. South African veterinarians have started using Medici.md. The application allows clients to make contact with veterinarians in a secure portal, sharing videos and images and keeping an electronic health record of the animal. Ask your veterinarian for more information.”

Gert Steyn, managing director of SAVA, says: “The health and welfare of animals, livestock and domestic pets is at the forefront of our business. During this period of the global pandemic, SAVA will continue to assist its members in upholding the highest set of standards, and we believe that our approach is to prevent any adverse impacts on animal welfare, from food safety to domestic care.”

Be prepared

The statement further recommends that pet owners stock up on pet food before it runs out, and the same with chronic medicine prescriptions – pre-arrange with the veterinary clinic for a pickup time or ask for delivery where possible.

Until we’re out of lockdown, stay safe and stay home as much as possible!