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Help & advice

Coronavirus advice to animal owners

The government's ongoing guidance to the public, which varies by nation and region within the UK, includes measures that require people to stay at home, except for very limited purposes.

In its guidance to business, the government has also stated that 'it is important for business to carry on'. So, like other businesses that are able to stay open, veterinary practices are seeking to limit the amount of face-to-face contact they have with others in order to comply with this guidance.

As the veterinary profession does all it can to maintain animal health and welfare in these extremely challenging circumstances, we ask that you show patience when seeking veterinary care.

We appreciate that you will be concerned about how the health and welfare of your animal(s) will be maintained at this time.

Whilst practices will not be able to provide the level of care you may be used to, please be reassured that veterinary practices throughout the UK are doing their best to ensure veterinary care is provided where essential for animal health and welfare, whilst prioritising your safety and that of their teams.

In order to assist you, we have sought to answer some of the questions you may have. Please click on the FAQs below.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Coronavirus advice for animal owners

  • Although veterinary practices are not required to close, in order to comply with the most recent government requirements they must ensure they carry out their work safely.

    This means reducing the number of face-to-face appointments as much as possible, and in some locations, providing emergency or urgent care only, and observing social distancing wherever they can. Some practices may also be able to offer certain veterinary services remotely over the phone or online. 

    Please be aware that our current guidance does not in any way represent 'business as usual' for veterinary practices. Veterinary surgeons will need to make decisions in light of the current very stringent government restrictions, in their respective locations, and advice for social distancing, taking into account the health of both their clients and their teams. 

    If your practice is unable to offer certain services remotely, or to meet the social distancing guidelines (which include giving thought to limiting non-essential travel), your vet is likely to decide that a procedure should not go ahead unless there is a real animal health and welfare risk, and only then when consideration has been given to additional risk assessment factors and availability of personal protective equipment.

    In light of this, please do not attend your practice unannounced. Please ensure that you call ahead so that the practice can make an assessment of whether you need to attend in person or whether treatment can be delayed or dealt with via remote means.

    Last updated: 2 November 2020

  • Your practice will be trying to avoid unnecessary risk to you, and to their team.

    As such, please maintain at least a two-metre distance between yourself and others and follow government guidance on hand hygiene before, during and after your visit to the practice. In addition, you will be required to follow government guidance on the wearing of face coverings when entering a veterinary practice, which is mandatory and enforceable by law in England. You can view the rules applicable to your region in the UK including exemptions on wearing face coverings.

    In line with government guidance limiting contact with others, you should ensure that only one person attends the appointment with your animal.

    You should also be prepared to wait outside the practice or even in your car while your animal is examined to ensure safe distances are maintained. The consultation with you may then take place over the telephone.

    Last updated: 9 September 2020

  • Your vet will use their professional judgement when deciding whether or not to administer primary and/or routine vaccinations. They will base their decision on a number of factors including the risk to your animal if the vaccination is not given (this will include local factors such as the prevalence of a particular disease in your area) and whether social distancing can be effectively maintained.

    Please be aware that our current guidance does not in any way represent 'business as usual' for veterinary practices. If your practice is unable to meet the social distancing guidelines (which include giving thought to limiting non-essential travel) your vet may decide that it is not appropriate to vaccinate your animal until such time as local government restrictions are downgraded/lifted. 

    Please also bear in mind that decisions may vary between practices, and in different parts of the country, depending on the circumstances, and the government restrictions/guidelines that are in place at that time. Some practices may be limited to providing emergency only services.

    Last updated: 2 November 2020

  • Do not attend your veterinary practice if you are self-isolating.

    You should call the practice so that an assessment can be made as to whether they can assist remotely and, if not, whether the animal needs to be physically seen or whether treatment can be delayed.

    You should also inform the practice that you and your household are self-isolating.

    If you are advised that your animal should be physically seen, you should make arrangements for another person (not from your household) to take your animal to the practice.

    If this is not possible, you should inform the practice so that alternative arrangements can be made if possible.

    Last updated: 14 April 2020

  • Check what information is available from your practice regarding coronavirus and the services they are providing so you can plan ahead as much as possible.

    Think about what you would do in the event that your animal needs to attend the practice in the coming weeks and identify any family, friends or neighbours that might be able to assist if you are unwell or self-isolating.

    Please respect your vet's decision if they decide that it is not appropriate to carry out a particular procedure or treatment at this time. You can discuss with them when it might be possible to review this decision at a later date.

    Last updated: 14 April 2020

  • The UK government has published advice for people with animals

    The British Veterinary Association has published guidance for veterinary practices in providing essential veterinary care.

    Finally, Public Health England continues to update its guidance on the coronavirus on a regular basis, which includes general advice on social distancing and how you can protect yourself and others.

    We will continue to review and update this page as the coronavirus outbreak develops.

    Last updated: 2 November 2020