As we adapt to the “new normal” during the COVID-19 pandemic the way we go about our daily activities continues to evolve. Veterinary clinics are no exception. Based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control, curbside veterinary care is a model that has been adopted by many veterinary clinics. Curbside care allows clinics to continue providing care to companion animals, but also helps keep veterinary healthcare teams and pet owners protected and healthy by reducing the number of people entering the clinic.
While it may seem different and not what pet owners are used to, curbside care provides a number of benefits to you, your veterinary healthcare team, and ultimately your pet.
Under normal circumstances, veterinary clinics are busy places, with staff and pet owners coming and going all day long. Most veterinary clinics and examination rooms are small and can’t offer proper physical distancing room of 6 feet (or 2 meters). A single COVID-19 positive person coming into a busy veterinary clinic could trigger a local outbreak in the community. To help prevent this from happening, curbside veterinary care lowers that risk and protects pet owners, veterinary healthcare teams, and even your pet! If your veterinary clinic has to temporarily close due to COVID-19 exposure, you will have to find an alternative clinic or emergency hospital to provide care for your pet. While a curbside care appointment may look and feel a little different from a “normal” appointment, what goes on behind the scenes is still the same—your pet will still receive the same level of care as she does when you’re in the examination room with her!
Curbside appointments may look a little different from one clinic to another, but generally they all follow the same general steps.
- When you make an appointment, the front office staff will take a summary of the concerns you have with your pet. You may also be asked to fill out a history form in advance of your pet’s appointment. If you weren’t given a form to fill out, feel free to make notes about your pet’s condition and any concerns you have – the more detail you give, the better.
- When you arrive at the veterinary clinic for your appointment, you will call the reception desk to let them know you’ve arrived.
- A member of the healthcare team will meet you at your vehicle to get your pet.
- Your veterinarian will perform a physical examination and administer vaccines or perform any diagnostic tests that were agreed on beforehand (heartworm testing, fecal tests). You may be asked to return later in the day depending on what your pet’s appointment is for, or you may be asked to wait in your vehicle.
- Your veterinarian or veterinary technician will call you with an update on your pet’s health and recommendations for tests or treatments. Additional authorized diagnostic tests or treatments will be performed after the call.
- Your pet will be returned to you and payment will be collected.
Curbside care extends beyond veterinary healthcare visits for your pet. Even picking up supplies such as prescription diets, flea, tick, and heartworm preventives, and prescription renewals are being done under a curbside pickup model in many cases. Many people actually find it more convenient and faster to order their supplies either online or over the phone and then pick up the order at a predetermined time.
While curbside veterinary care looks a little different, it really is the best for everyone! Your pet is receiving the best care and at the same time it’s helping to stop the spread of COVID-19.