If you haven’t needed to take your dog or cat to the vet lately, consider yourself lucky. Pandemic vet care is a whole new world that takes some getting used to for all of us. Thankfully, our vet heroes are doing a great job keeping everyone safe and our pets healthy. Here’s what vet visits look like in the age of Coronavirus.
Stories from the Frontlines of Pandemic Vet Care for Tripawds and Other Animals
Going through the amputation journey is hard enough. Do it during this Coronavirus pandemic situation and you (and your vet!) deserve a Medal of Honor. It’s hard to imagine the stress that people have felt while going through major vet surgeries like amputation.
“I never got to meet Roman’s oncologist or the surgeon who removed his leg. I had to hand him off to a tech in the hospital parking lot while I watched him look around, confused, while knowing this was the last time I would see my baby on 4 legs.” — Roman’s mom
“Getting vet appointments at local oncology clinics during the COVID 19 pandemic was not easy. Some turned us away entirely (not taking any new patients) and others had long waiting times for appointments.” — Dexter’s Mom
“Due to the pandemic, I attend the vet appointments via Zoom in my car or not at all; he goes in and comes out an hour later and I have limited information.” Quincy’s Person
So far, not a single Tripawds member has reported a bad experience about pandemic vet care procedures. This is not a surprise. As soon as the Coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S., the veterinary community quickly put safety procedures into action.
Most vet practices are delaying elective and non-urgent procedures like spays and neuters. But our vet heroes are still here for us. Thanks to telemedicine and “curbside vet care” our pets can get great health care. Let’s give our vets a round of applause for everything they’re doing during these difficult times!
What a Pandemic Veterinary Visit Looks Like
Veterinary care changed faster in the last two months than in the last two decades. The pace at which procedures were implemented is mind-blowing. As usual, the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) is at the forefront of helping all of us adapt to changing times.
“Because of the important services veterinary hospitals provide in keeping pets healthy and safe as well as protecting public health, most veterinary practices will continue to provide as much of their regular services as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic,” says the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) in their article “Can I Still Take My Pet to the Vet?”
“However, don’t be surprised if you aren’t allowed inside the building. Many practices are only offering telemedicine—having appointments over the phone or using videochatting platforms—while others are limiting their appointments to “curbside services.”
Telemedicine is an Option During the Pandemic
If your pet has a non-urgent health situation, you may be able to see your vet through a telemedicine visit. “The rules about how much a veterinarian can do in a telemedicine appointment are constantly changing,” says AAHA. State and Federal veterinary medicine rules have been relaxed because of the pandemic, and telemedicine is in full swing.
“In some cases, you may not be able to receive full services from a new veterinary hospital if your pet hasn’t been treated there before, so call and ask them,” continues the AAHA article. “Even when there is no pre-existing relationship, exceptions might be made for emergency care where there will likely be follow-up appointments with the same veterinarian.”
Tripawds’ First Telemedicine Vet Visit
In April, pandemic vet care hit close to home when we had an excellent telemedicine vet visit with the Orthopedic Medicine and Mobility (OMM) team at Colorado State University. Our Tripawds Spokesdog Wyatt Ray was originally supposed to see the team in person before the pandemic hit. When it did, the OMM team offered a telemedicine consult instead. Since we are sheltering in place in Oregon, we jumped at the chance.
During the one hour online visit, Wyatt not only got to “see” his regular veterinarians, but was also prescribed canine rehabilitation exercises specific to his current needs as a senior Tripawd dog.
The online visit was as close to in-person as we could get during these confusing, uncertain times. It brought such peace of mind to us! The OMM team brainstormed about recent developments with Wyatt’s osteoarthritis challenges, crafted a strategy for dealing with these issues, and even prescribed pain management medications. Our next check-in is supposed to happen during Fall. We hope it’s in person but if not, we are grateful for the telemedicine vet visit option.
A Look at Curbside Vet Visits
Most clinics are still seeing patients for urgent situations or when a veterinarian needs to do a hands-on exam. But things are much different with curbside vet visit protocols in place. This is what a pandemic vet visit now looks like this once you book an appointment.
- After arriving at the clinic and parking your car, you phone the reception desk to tell them you are waiting. A member of the clinic staff will check you in over the phone to review your pet’s recent medical history, symptoms, etc.
- Next, you will get a phone call to let you know that a staff member is walking outside to retrieve your pet.
- You put on your face mask, leash or crate your pet, then get out of your car to meet clinic staff.
- Next, you hand your pet off to the clinic team member who takes your pet inside without you, and then you wait for them to call with their findings.
Unbelievably, two days after Wyatt’s telemedicine consult with Colorado State, we got to experience a curbside vet visit for ourselves. Soon we will share what happened to Wyatt in a follow-up news blog post about pandemic vet care in 2020.
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