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Help & advice

Coronavirus advice to animal owners

In light of the worsening pandemic situation across the UK, the UK government has instructed people to stay at home in order to control the virus, protect the NHS and save lives.

The UK government has said that animal owners may leave home for limited purposes, including to seek veterinary advice or treatment for animal health and welfare reasons.

Not business as usual

Although veterinary practices may remain open, they are not operating ‘business as usual’ and veterinary practices are mindful of the relevant guidance for members of the public by seeking to limit the amount of face-to-face contact they have with others.

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

As vets and vet nurses continue to do all they can to maintain animal health and welfare in these extremely challenging circumstances, we ask that you show patience when seeking veterinary care.

Essential veterinary care

Whilst practices currently may not be able to provide their normal range of services, please be reassured that veterinary teams 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.

To help you, we have answered some of the questions you may have about what to expect from your veterinary team.

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 meet the most recent government requirements they must ensure they carry out their work safely, in line with the UK governments’ message to 'stay at home'.

    This means reducing the number of face-to-face appointments as much as possible, and prioritising treatment that is essential for animal health and welfare. Some practices may also be able to offer certain veterinary services remotely. 

    Please be aware that we do not expect veterinary practices to offer business as usual for the time being.

    Vets will need to make difficult decisions in light of the very stringent travel and social distancing restrictions currently in force across the UK, taking into account the health of both their clients and their teams. 

    If your practice is unable to offer certain services remotely, or with social distancing measures, your vet is likely to decide that a procedure should not go ahead unless there is a real animal health and welfare risk. Even then, they will need to consider any additional risks and the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE).

    In light of this, please do not attend your practice unannounced. Please ensure that you call ahead so that your vet can make assess whether you need to attend in person or whether treatment can be delayed or dealt with remotely.

    Last updated:  14 January 2021

  • Your practice will be working hard to avoid any unnecessary risk to you, and to their team.

    As such, you should 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.

    If you are asked to enter the practice premises, please maintain at least a two-metre distance between yourself and others and ensure you wash your hands before, during and after your visit to the practice. 

    You should also wear a face covering at all times, unless you are exempt or have a reasonable excuse. You can view 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, wherever possible, only one person attends the appointment with your animal.

    Last updated: 14 January 2021

     

     

     

  • 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 things including the risk to your animal if the vaccination is not given (this will include local factors such as whether a particular disease is widespread in your area) and any unnecessary risks to their team in carrying out the vaccinations.

    Please be aware that we do not expect veterinary practices to offer business as usual for the time being.

    Unless your vet thinks a vaccination is essential for the health and welfare of your animal during the lockdown period, they may decide it is not appropriate to vaccinate your animal until the local/national restrictions are changed.

    Please respect your vet’s decision, and remember that decisions may vary between practices, and in different parts of the country, depending on the circumstances and the latest government restrictions/guidelines in place.

    Last updated: 14 January 2021

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

    You should call the practice so that your vet can decide whether they can assist remotely and, if not, whether they should physically see your animal or safely delay treatment.

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

    If your vet wants to physically see your animal, 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 January 2021

  • Check what arrangements your practice has in place, 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, especially in an emergency, and identify any family, friends or neighbours who might be able to help 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 January 2021

  • The four UK governments have published advice for people with animals, as follows:

    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: 14 January 2021