COVID-19 epidemic has affected veterinary care along with the rest of the departments as well. In veterinary practice, the “community-based curbside service” started out as an unusual and uncommon way to provide patient care, but is now almost normal and quite essential.
You may have heard this expression- curbside animal care while visiting your vet in the past few months. Many veterinarians currently offer this service, for a number of reasons. Not only does curbside veterinary service protect you from COVID-19, but it also protects the veterinary team and ensures that the hospital can remain open to manage pets.
Curbside animal care is currently recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as a means of achieving social distancing and controlling the spread of COVID-19.
What is curbside animal care?
The hospitals that provide curbside care have reorganized their practice to avoid the need for customers to enter the premises to get examined. This is designed to promote physical/social distancing and reduce the spread of COVID-19.
While every curbside visit may look a little different, the typical pattern is as follows:
- You call a veterinary hospital to arrange an appointment and give a brief summary of your concerns.
- You may be asked to complete a form before the appointment of your pet.
- You arrive at the veterinary hospital during your appointment and call the reception desk to let them know you have arrived.
- A veterinarian or veterinarian comes to your car to find your pet.
- Your concerns and the medical history of your pet are being reviewed. If you bring a written letter to a group of animals, that can be very helpful in conveying detailed information. If you do not bring a written list, a veterinarian can speak to you briefly in your car or drive you inside the building for an in-depth discussion.
- A veterinarian examines your pet. Depending on how the appointment is arranged, you may be asked to wait in your car during your pet visit, or you may be given a free download later in the day to feel free to leave the parking lot.
- A veterinarian or veterinarian will review your pet’s health and provide a limitation of any recommended services.
- Diagnosis and treatment are done as authorized.
- Your pet is returned to you and money is collected.
Curbside service is not the only way the vet’s practices have been corrected. Many practices now experiment with desert telemedicine.
This service allows established clients to be tested and treated for minor issues in their homes (or in their cars, on the beach, wherever their laptops or mobile devices can receive a good signal).
Most of the cases doctors see are skin or ear problems (usually a result of allergies), painful/arthritic problems, urinary problems, or severe stomach problems. Sometimes clients just want to know if they should import pets for the problems they see; they appreciate having a meaningful, well-thought-out recommendation before proceeding.
Reach out to your veterinarian to see if they offer telemedicine; and if so, what days and hours this service is available, what are the costs involved, and how does that amount affect the need for future hospital visits if necessary (some practices will provide credit for the next office consultation). It is also worth asking if the veterinarians who make the calls are your veterinarians or those employed by a third-party provider. And if the veterinarians working in your vet are going to handle cases, are you allowed to ask a veterinarian? All the good details you should know ahead of time. If your vet does not offer telemedicine, find out if they are intended – even if they have suggestions/recommendations on where to use such help.
Telephone consultation is best suited for non-emergency non-emergency cases. Visits can be accomplished through a simple messaging session, or by video chat if necessary. With major medical problems, a true visit to a veterinarian is almost always the best option. Go to a vet’s office for problems such as:
- Eye problems (especially those involving one eye injury)
- Severe weakness or laziness
- Loss of appetite or other intestinal problems for more than 48 hours (or if the stomach is swollen, which should be physically checked as soon as possible)
- The weight of the lightweight carry
- If you are unsure which way to go, do not hesitate to go to the “old school” and actually call your veterinarian – on your phone – for guidance and recommendations.
What are the benefits of curbside care?
Curbside care offers many benefits for you and your pet.
First, by providing curbside care, your veterinarian eliminates the need for you to enter the veterinary field. Veterinarians are busy centers, with many staff and customers coming in and out of the reception area and daily testing room. Unlike grocery stores and other big-box stores, animal hospitals are also often smaller, offering less air than you would get from a large retailer. One good client or job may cause a major outbreak of COVID-19 in a busy animal habit.
Second, curbside care protects a group of animals as well, and your pet. Many veterinary hospitals had to be temporarily closed during the epidemic. If a large number of employees are sick with COVID-19 or need to be separated due to exposure, the hospital cannot remain open. When these hospitals are closed, they are unable to care for their patients, who must be referred to an emergency hospital or other veterinary facility. Curbside care increases the likelihood that your pet group will continue to be available for your pet.