These are unfamiliar and difficult times that we all find ourselves in during the current coronavirus outbreak. Here at Hampton Park, from an early stage we have been monitoring the situation and making changes to ensure the health and safety of both our clients and staff, whilst also continuing to provide essential care to our patients.
Regulations and guidance from the UK Government, WHO (World Health Organisation) and the various veterinary governing bodies (RCVS, BVA & WSAVA) form the basis of the measures we have implemented at the clinic.
New recommendations and rules are being introduced regularly, with increasingly stringent restrictions being imposed. We would like to thank our clients for their patience and understanding whilst these changes have rolled out over the past couple of weeks, and in advance for the weeks and months of disrupted service ahead of us. Just like every facet of our lives, we will adapt and get through this together.
The biggest changes imposed on veterinary clinics nationwide have come in the wake of the Prime Minister’s address on Monday 23rd March and the subsequent commencement of lockdown across the United Kingdom, except for essential services.
The way our clinic is now having to run and provide health care is very alien to most of our clients and as a result we have received a lot of similar queries. In response to this we have tried to lay out answers to the most common questions below. Naturally, guidance is subject to change, so please follow us on social media and check our website for any further updates.
Q. What services are currently being offered?
At present and until further notice we will only be offering non-routine and emergency appointments. These include:
- Breathing difficulties
- Severe bleeding
- Difficulties urinating
- Non-weight bearing lameness
- Severe vomiting
- Distended abdomen (particularly in large breed dogs)
Unfortunately, we will not be booking routine appointments such as vaccinations, anal gland expression, weight clinics etc. All routine surgery such as castrations, spays and elective surgical procedures are also being postponed. This is following both government and Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) guidelines to stop unnecessary contact/journeys by members of the public. If you are uncertain as to whether your pet’s needs are routine, then call and we will advise you. The rules are not flexible and are there for everyone’s benefit, so please don’t get upset with our staff if they advise you that your request cannot be fulfilled.
Wherever possible and appropriate, we are offering video consults to further reduce unnecessary social contact. If you feel that your pet has a health concern then please contact us by phone. You will be triaged on the phone by a nurse or vet to decide whether your pet needs to be seen at the clinic or have a video consult with a vet arranged. If your phone call is for a routine consult, then you will be advised to call back when restrictions have been lifted.
What if my dog, puppy, cat, kitten, rabbit needs vaccinations?
At present we are unable to offer any vaccinations, except some primary courses for puppies, kittens on a case-by-case basis – call us for advice.
If your pet is annually vaccinated and they are currently due, then there is a 3-month grace period before the vaccinations are technically deemed overdue. During this time your pet is not at any increased risk of disease. Dogs can be walked normally but be aware of the lockdown and social distancing rules.
If your dog or cat is overdue vaccinations by 3 months plus, then their risk for contracting the diseases we vaccinate for increases if they go outside. Modifying your pet’s behaviour in this instance is recommended where possible. For cats that may mean keeping them indoors. For dogs it may mean limiting them to the garden only. If you do not have a garden or these suggestions don’t fit your circumstances, then a short walk close to home to an area not regularly frequented by other dog owners to minimise the risks is suggested.
Puppies and kittens that have never received vaccinations are at the greatest risk, and we recommend not letting them out, in the case of cats, and only into the garden for puppies. Strictly no contact with unvaccinated or unwell animals.
Those owners with unvaccinated rabbits or those with overdue vaccinations should consider keeping them inside. Rabbits can make good indoor pets with the right precautions.
If you need further guidance then contact the clinic to talk with a member of staff.
What if my pet is sick?
We ask that ALL owners contact the clinic by telephone prior to attending the clinic. Our staff will discuss the case over the phone and triage whether an emergency appointment at the clinic is needed, or whether a telephone or video consult with one of the vets would be more appropriate.
A video consult will typically last the same period as a regular in-clinic consult. The vet will take a full history and may ask for images of the pet to be shared. In some instances, the vet may ask you to check certain clinical parameters, such as a breathing rate. If you are uncomfortable with any request please advise the vet you are speaking to. Under new rulings medications can be prescribed where appropriate following a video/telephone consultation, meaning that your pet can still access treatment if needed.
However, non-urgent medications cannot be provided at present.
What to expect/do if asked to visit the clinic for an appointment?
In light of government advice, we have made some changes to how we are running in clinic consults:
- Only 1 owner per pet. Please leave children at home.
- When you arrive please wait in the car and call reception. We request that you wait outside the practice or in the car until we are ready to see you.
- We may opt to examine your pet without you present. Be prepared to hand over your pet at the car or reception if requested and for the history/plan to be relayed over the phone.
- We are currently only accepting card payments over the phone rather than cash or chip and pin, to protect you and our staff.
- Hand sanitiser will be available in the clinic. Please use it, especially if directed by a member of staff.
- If you do come into the clinic please maintain social distancing rules where possible.
- If you are unwell, self-isolating or have been in contact with someone who is, then see the advice below and inform a member of staff prior to the coming to the clinic.
What should I do if I am self-isolating or at risk of COVID-19 coronavirus?
Are you …
- At an increased risk of COVID-19 due to your age or underlying health issues?
- COVID-19 positive?
Please advise a member of staff during the initial phone call if you are in any of these 3 categories. You will initially have a video/telephone consult with a vet to decide on the best course of action. We will make every effort to avoid an in-clinic consult, but if it seems unavoidable we will discuss what additional precautions/steps will be needed.
If you are COVID-19 positive or self-isolating then you should not be leaving the house under any circumstances. You will need someone who is not in any of the 3 categories above to bring your pet in your absence.
Can my pet catch/spread COVID-19?
There are multiple strains of coronavirus that can cause illness in dogs and cats (including canine respiratory coronavirus which causes kennel cough, feline enteric coronavirus which causes diarrhoea). However, these are different to the COVID-19 coronavirus.
There is currently no evidence that pets can become unwell with COVID-19, or spread the disease to other pets or humans.
There are reports of two dogs in Hong Kong owned by owners infected with COVID-19 who have tested positive for COVID-19 coronavirus. Neither dog showed any clinical signs and there is no evidence to suggest that they were the source of infection to their owners. Sadly, one of the dogs has since died. However, the dog was 17 years old, and the cause of death is not proven to be related to the COVID-19 coronavirus. There are also early reports of an infected cat in continental Europe; however, infection has not yet been confirmed.
The virus COVID-19 is known to be able to persist in the environment and this potentially could include the fur of animals. So, there is a potential risk for people contracting coronavirus after touching the coat of a pet owned by a COVID-19 positive patient. The solution is hand washing after touching any animal and avoid touching your face.
We would like to thank all our clients for their support at this difficult time; remember, we are only a phone call away if you need us.