Covid-19, Companion Animals and Veterinary Care
The past two years of Covid-19 has been a challenge for us all! We are now operating at a mostly normal level, with a few exceptions. We have elected to keep curbside check-in for two reasons. First, we are attempting to limit the amount of clients in the waiting room for safety’s sake. Second, we have noticed a drastic decrease in patient stress while waiting in the car as opposed to waiting in the reception area with other pets and clients. For these reasons, we are currently keeping that policy. We are no longer mandating masks for clients or staff. We have been allowing clients (although limited at the time) into the exam rooms since August of 2020 as opposed to full curbside care. We feel that there is too much of a barrier created when not being able to have face to face conversations and information can be lost or confused. We are also fortunate enough to have exam rooms which allow a 6 foot distance between staff and clients.
Current Daily Operation of CAC
A note about Appointments: Something that has not changed, is the availability of appointments. This is sadly something that veterinary clinics are struggling with nationally at the moment. Most people do not know that even prior to Covid, there was a shortage of Veterinarians and Licensed Veterinary Technicians. Each year the veterinary classes are smaller and smaller, in part to the crippling expense of veterinary school and the stress of the position. We were fortunate enough to add another wonderful veterinarian to our team in 2020, but it took nearly a year to find one! To compound the issue of less veterinarians, some areas had a high increase of pet adoptions, rescues and foster pets. Additionally, the restrictions that were mandated and put into place for safety during the height of the pandemic (which did not lighten or lift till recently in some places) slowed the pace that veterinary hospitals could work and still provide effective care, decreasing even more appointments. Here in New York, we were mandated to stop all routine care (even heartworm tests and nail trims) from March 23rd till the summer. We also had to limit the amount of staff in the building to comply with safety mandates. Imagine the backlog of patients that needed to be seen for routine care alone.
Where does that put us now? We are two years in after all, aren’t we? Hard to believe but yes, it has been two years since the start of the pandemic. Why are we still having difficulty getting appointments for pets? All the reasons listed above are still affecting us. Increased pets, extended time appointments due to extra steps that have to be done for safety, staff out sick, staff on quarantine, Covid exposures, etc. There was a staff shortage in this industry prior to Covid; after the stress, difficulties and hostility put on veterinary teams across the country in the past two years, people have hung up their scrubs and left this industry in huge numbers. Unfortunately there are very few qualified candidates to replace them, and even less that want to work in a veterinary hospital at the moment due to the high stress.
We want you to be aware of this because we truly understand that is stressful when we are unable to find you an appointment or we ask you to call back and see if there are cancellations. We have tried many times, with many variations (even with the input of other veterinary hospitals who have tried and failed) to keep cancellation lists but they do not work effectively here because things just change so rapidly. Although we do not keep a cancellation list, our receptionists are very in tune with who our most critical patients are and do their best to move things around when opportunity arises. Our experience has been consistent no matter how we tried it that we are constantly unable to get in touch with people on the list, we move on and fill the appointment with someone else only to find that the other people call back and are now angry that the spot was filled. Frequently the spots would end up being left empty because the lists were not effective. We have found the best way to make this work is to use cancellations on a first come first serve basis in the morning. We have spent years perfecting and constantly tweaking our schedule and protocols to ensure that our own patients could be seen. The lingering effects and outcomes of the pandemic have put us in a position where we truly do not have enough spots available and we are doing our absolute best to serve our patients. We continue to research and adjust ways to help as many as possible but we have resource limitations that are very real. There are some veterinary hospitals that do have more availability than us and that can be due to any number of reasons such as serving a smaller clientele or having more doctors on staff. Local emergency clinics are also so overwhelmed that they have been put in the position of turning away non critical cases. Please understand that while other industries have returned to normal, ours has not. We are doing our absolute best to adjust to the “new normal” with the difficulties listed above. Please know that every member of our team is working as hard as they can to help as many pets as possible and we are nearly always double booked (with less staff than normal).
We understand that these are extremely stressful times for everyone but we ask you to be patient and kind with our staff as we work through this. We currently have limited staff and limited resources as we are doing our best to accommodate a heavy patient load. The staff members that are here are working harder than ever to provide care for your beloved pet, so please treat them with nothing less than the kindness that they deserve. Over the last two years since Covid-19 has changed everyone’s lives, our staff have unfortunately have taken the brunt of many people’s frustration. Like everyone else, we have also been affected and many of the things people are frustrated about are out of our control. We are also tired and frustrated but it is unacceptable to be rude or yell at our staff and we will terminate our relationship with anyone who is abusive to our staff.
If you have an appointment with your pet:
- You will receive a link to our appointment instructions page with your appointment reminder. You can also view the instructions here.
- Please do NOT enter the building unless you are specifically instructed to by the staff
- Please do not come in for an appointment if you have respiratory symptoms or a fever.
- If you have potentially had a Covid-19 exposure, please alert our staff to discuss alternate care options
As of 3/2/2022, the mask requirement for both staff and clients has been lifted.
- All individuals are asked to still check in via phone or text from their cars until further notice.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can my cat or dog become infected with Covid-19 (SARS-Cov-2) and transmit it to humans?
At this time the research is limited but the current thinking from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) based on research regarding the recently positive, cats, tiger and dogs states; “Nothing in these research articles provides conclusive evidence that cats, ferrets, or other domestic animals can be readily infected with SARS-CoV-2, nor do they demonstrate that cats, ferrets or other domestic animals transmit the virus under natural conditions. Despite the number of global cases of COVID-19 surpassing the one million mark as of April 2, 2020, we have only seen examples of two dogs and one cat in Hong Kong, and a tiger in New York, that had positive results of tests for infection. None of the dogs or cats determined to be positive showed signs of illness consistent with COVID-19. The two dogs and one cat lived closely with one or more people with a confirmed diagnosis and clinical symptoms of COVID-19. No conclusions can responsibly be drawn regarding the cat in Belgium because of questions surrounding collection and analysis of samples for testing for SARS-CoV-2 and the absence of an evaluation of that cat for other, more common causes for its clinical signs. The tiger was said to be exposed via contact with a zoo employee who was actively shedding virus, and some other large cats at the zoo that were apparently housed in proximity did exhibit signs of respiratory disease, but are expected to recover. There have been no reports of pets or livestock becoming ill with COVID-19 in the United States. At this point in time, there is also no evidence that domestic animals, including pets and livestock, can spread COVID-19 to people. (Click here to see reference.)
2. If my pet is showing respiratory signs should it be tested for Covid-19?
No. Veterinary Laboratory IDEXX announced the availability of a test on March 13, but neither the CDC, AVMA, nor IDEXX is recommending pets
be tested at this time. In announcing the availability of their test, IDEXX indicated that thousands of canine and feline
specimens had been evaluated during their validation of the test and none had come up as being positive. These results
align with the current expert understanding that COVID-19 is primarily transmitted person-to-person and supports current
recommendations against testing pets for the COVID-19 virus. Dogs or cats with respiratory signs should be evaluated by a
veterinarian for more common respiratory pathogens, before looking to evaluate them for COVID-19. New York State issued an order that testing in pets would only be allowed through the state health department.
It’s important to remember there is currently limited evidence that pets can be infected with SARS-CoV-2. There is no
evidence to suggest that pets can spread COVID-19 to other people or other pets.
3. I have/have been exposed to Covid-19. What special precautions do I need to consider for my pet?
Per the AVMA “Out of an abundance of precaution and until more is known about this virus, you should restrict contact with pets and other animals, just as you would restrict your contact with other people. When possible, have another member of your household or business take care of feeding and otherwise caring for any animals, including pets”.
4. Can pets transmit the Covid-19 virus the way other contaminated objects or surfaces might?
Because your pet’s hair is porous and also fibrous, it is very unlikely that you would contract Covid-19 by petting or playing with your pet. However, because animals can spread other disease to people and people can spread diseases to animals, it’s always best to wash your hands before and after interacting with animals; ensure your pet is kept well groomer; and regularly clean your pet’s food and water bowls, bedding material and toys.
5. What should I do to prepare for my pet’s care in the event I contract Covid-19?
Identify another person in your household who is willing and able to care for your pet. Make sure you have an emergency kit prepared, with at least two weeks worth of your pet’s food and any needed medications. Please make sure this person is an authorized agent on your account with us otherwise we cannot give them access to your pet’s records.
Trusted Resources to Follow
Below are links to reputable resources for Covid-19 information. Again, there is limited information available in regards to animals and Covid-19 but as new resources become available we will post them here for you.
American Veterinary Medical Association
American Animal Hospital Association