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Coronavirus: COVID-19 Pandemic Veterinary Procedures Update

This information was last updated on 27/07/20

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, caused by SARS-CoV-2, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) and British Veterinary Association (BVA) have regularly issued updated guidance to help vets decide what types of work are appropriate to carry out..

As always, all decisions have been made in order to help slow the spread of COVID-19, protect the NHS and save lives. Our top priority remains public health, including the safety of our team members and clients, as well as animal health and welfare.

  • We are able to discuss cases by phone if you do not wish to come into the surgery, phone consultations for specific conditions and requiring medication will incur a consultation fee.
  • Where you are asked to attend the hospital, strict rules on social distancing will apply
  • We will continue to be mindful of prudent use of PPE and oxygen; your and our health and safety.
  • Vets are not returning to business as usual, and no businesses are likely to return to the pre-lock-down normal in the foreseeable future. Please bear with us through these difficult times. We will do our best to look after your pet to our usual high standards while minimising the risk to human health, both for you and to ensure we can keep the clinic open with healthy staff. The last thing that any of us need is not to be able to provide a service for you and your pets due to a COVID-19 outbreak.

At Heathside Veterinary Surgery we recognise that there is a real risk to animal welfare if we continue to delay some procedures. We have resumed most vaccinations and neutering procedures where there is clinical justification for this to go ahead. This includes kitten and puppy vaccines, rabbit vaccines, some cat and dog boosters. At the moment we are working through the backlog of vaccinations caused by the inability to perform these for nearly three months.

Once again us please be patient with our staff who are trying through difficult times to vaccinate those most at need and the past-due vaccination boosters. The BVA/RCVS and vaccine companies have stated that it is safe, at this time, to allow vaccines to run ‘past-due’ by up to two months. Once we get to the three-month stage we are running a vaccination amnesty to allow a second vaccination to back up to date at no charge to yourselves. Our staff are all working very hard to contact you as we work through our list; additional ‘vaccine only’ clinics have already started and are very popular. If you cannot make the appointment given, please do not waste it, there are many others who would like this slot, do make us aware with plenty of time if you cannot attend.

If you have a further query please contact the practice to discuss your pet’s individual situation. Our Client Care team is working exceptionally hard to ensure everyone can access care as soon as possible. We thank you for your patience and understanding.


What do I do if I think my pet needs to see a vet?

Please contact our Client Care team as normal. If it is a life-threatening emergency, they will arrange an urgent appointment for you at Heathside Veterinary Surgery.

No-one who is in a household that is self-isolating due to symptoms should visit the practice. Please discuss this with the client care team who will advise on a method to transport your pet to the hospital as our team will need to wear additional protective equipment. Please also advise the client care team if you are self-isolating to protect your own health.

If you are advised to come to the practice, we ask all clients to stay in the car and call us when you are in the car park. We have dramatically reduced the number of people entering the building and therefore a vet or nurse will collect your pet from the car, perform an examination or treatment and then update you via phone or from a safe distance in the car park. In the rare instance you are advised to enter the building, please use the hand gels on entering and leaving, wear the face mask provided and comply with instructions on social distancing.
We are taking all payments via telephone to minimise contact. If absolutely necessary we have protocols in place to handle cash.  Medication will be brought out to the car park for you.

It does take significantly longer for us to treat your pet in this way (twice as long as usual and each examination now also requires a nurse in attendance) so we will be spacing our appointments out through the day. Please bear with us and some waiting may be unavoidable.


What do I do if I need to collect medication, food, or flea/worming treatments?

We understand that pets still need their medication, food and preventative treatment. If your pet does require this, please call and give us at least48 hours’ notice. When your medication, food or flea/wormers are ready, we will call you and take payment over the phone before collection.
Upon collection, please call us when you are in the car park. A member of our team will then bring them out and place the medication by the car for you to collect once the team member has moved away.

If you are unable to leave the house, please speak to reception about postal and delivery options.


What do I do if my pet needs their vaccination?

The new guidance issued by the BVA has enabled us to ease some restrictions. Please contact our client care team who will be able to give further guidance if required.

  • Puppy and kitten vaccines including their first booster at approximately 15 months of age are our current priority. These patients represent the highest risk for animal welfare protection. Please contact the hospital to schedule an appointment.
  • Rabbits vaccines are important as there is no evidence that protection lasts longer than 12 months and keeping a rabbit indoors will not prevent infection from these life-threatening conditions.
  •  Adult Cat and Dog Boosters – During the lockdown period a delay of 2 months and even up to 3 for boosters is unlikely to cause a significant risk to your pet.

These services are not immediately urgent and enough capacity will be reserved for emergency care of patients. Priority will be given to existing clients.


What do I do if my pet needs neutering (spay or castration)?
  • Cats – we will be neutering cats in order to reduce the risk of unwanted pregnancy, infectious disease transmission and undesirable behaviour.
  • Rabbits – we will neuter rabbits where there are risks of unwanted pregnancy or behavioural problems.
  •  Dogs – we may choose to delay canine neutering except in exceptional circumstances.

These services are not immediately urgent and enough capacity will be reserved for emergency care of patients. Priority will be given to existing clients.


What if I have been diagnosed with Covid-19 and have pets?
  • Restrict contact with pets as a precautionary animal health measure, until more is known about the virus.
  • If your pet requires care, wash your hands before and after any interaction with them and wear a face mask if possible.
  • Keep cats indoors if possible, without causing unnecessary stress to them and try to arrange for someone else to exercise dogs, taking care to restrict any contact with the person walking your dog and making sure they practice good hygiene. This is to reduce the likelihood of your pet spreading the disease through environmental contamination on their fur.
  • If your pet shows clinical signs, please do not take him or her to the vet but call the practice for advice.
  • If your pet requires emergency treatment, call the practice for further advice. Do not take your pet to the surgery unless the vet instructs you to. You may need to arrange for someone else to transport your pet for treatment.

Further advice can be obtained by contacting us by email or telephone.

We would like to sincerely thank all our clients for working with us in these very difficult and unprecedented times. We will endeavour to keep you updated as and when anything changes.

We would also like to take this opportunity to once again to thank all those involved in human health, social care and other essential services. From one healthcare profession to another we can only begin to imagine what it is like to do what you do. We are truly grateful.

Please be kind to our staff and all those in other Healthcare professions who are working under exceptional circumstances and doing their very best to help you in a world that is very different to only a few months ago.

In the meantime, stay well and stay safe,
Jeremy Giles (Director) and the Heathside  Team.