Our pets are playing an increasingly important role in our families. Adoption of pets has increased since the start of the pandemic and as we spend more time away from other people, we spend more time with our pets. Thankfully, our pets can help us deal with stress and anxiety, and the human-animal bond can be mutually beneficial. That bond also makes separation even more challenging, including visiting the veterinarian. But what goes on when your dog or cat is out of your sight during a pandemic vet visit? And how can you make that curbside vet visit as successful and stress free as possible?
Did you know that veterinary care is considered essential? There are many diseases and parasites that can be transmitted between animals and humans. Large animal veterinary care is important to our food supply and agricultural system. Veterinary services need to continue now to prevent more serious diseases across populations in the future. Because of this, vet hospitals have remained open throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to serve our communities and pet parents. Doing so puts our staff at risk of infection as we encounter many people throughout the day. Reducing exposure and ensuring safe practices is one way your vet can stay open and be there for your pet family.
A curbside vet visit can mean different things, depending on how your veterinarian’s hospital is built, the type of practice, and your concern with your pet. Many hospitals have systems in place that allow for a safe transfer of your pet to the veterinary staff within the lobby or building, and then communicate with you, the pet parent, via phone and technology. The goal in this system is to keep you, the pet owner, and the clinical staff as safe as possible while caring for your pet.
WHAT TO EXPECT DURING A CURBSIDE VET VISIT
We understand how hard it is to be apart from your pet, especially when they are sick or injured. We want to get your furry friend back home with you as quickly as possible. Here are some ways to help make the process smooth and efficient.
- Read ahead: check your vet’s website and look for communication from your vet ahead of your visit to know what to expect. Make sure you have your phone charged and available. Fill out any questionnaires or intake forms when they are sent.
- Send records: if this is your first visit to a new vet, or if you have medical history that may have information about your pet or concern, be sure to send them well ahead of your visit. This gives the veterinary team time to upload and review the information to be prepared for your visit.
- Be available: stay close by and answer your phone during your visit. As your veterinarian finds concerns, they will want to speak with you, discuss options, and get permission for treatments.
WHY THE DELAY?
We understand how frustrating it can be when you arrive for your appointment and have to wait. Due to the curbside model, the typical vet visit can take more communication and time, depending on what the concerns are. Emergencies also cause delays during the day. Many times, a pet is more ill than anticipated or needs immediate attention. Your vet’s team is trained to triage and administer treatment to save lives and stabilize patients. This may mean an appointment for preventative care may take longer, but we know you would want the same for your pet if they were experiencing a crisis. If you feel it is taking too long, ask if you are able to drop-off your pet for a few hours. This will allow you to continue your daily tasks, while your veterinarian is able to deliver essential care as needed. Be sure to ask what time you need to return and stick to that time so that your vet’s office can finish the day and get home to see their families, too.
YOUR PET’S EXPERIENCE DURING A CURBSIDE VET VISIT
Your vet LOVES animals. That seems obvious, right? But it is an important thing to remember as you hand off your pet for care. The veterinarian, veterinary techs and assistants, and the client care professionals are all there because they love pets and their people, and they have a passion for providing medical care. They experience the same stress at home, with bills, family, and pandemic fatigue – and still show up to care for pets daily. And they do the same whether you are with your pet or waiting in the car, I promise. These are just a few ways that we make your pet’s visit easier when you are not there with them.
- Preparation: by having those records, history, and full check-in form, your vet team can have vaccines, tools, and tests ready ahead of time. This shortens the time your pet waits in the hospital.
- Low-stress handling: we use quiet rooms with dimmed lights for frightened felines and calming pheromones on warm towels to reduce anxiety. If your pet is very nervous, your vet may discuss a sedative or medication to make your pet’s visit easier on everyone.
- Positive reinforcement and distraction: your vet’s treatment area is likely stocks with yummy treats like spray cheese, peanut butter, treats, and rewards. We use these to take your pet’s mind off the vaccine or nail trim, which makes them more comfortable for the next visit, too!
- Snuggles and pets: of course, there are the snuggles. You can rest assured that your vet team has typed many a record with a puppy or patient nestled in their lap.
We all hope to be able to welcome our pet parents back into exam rooms soon. Your vet team misses the ability to connect with you and be there with you while we do our exam on your pet and show you what we find. We understand how scary it can be to leave your pet. Together, we can keep you and our veterinary hospital teams safe. And together we can make these curbside vet visits as successful and quick as possible to keep your pet healthy and home with you.