I fear that what is happening to sick people is happening to sick pets in equal numbers, but it is unreported. In the UK – and possibly in other developed countries – people with chronic, serious illnesses such as cancer are putting off going to hospital for various reasons such as, (1) the government have put people off because they believed that Covid-19 patients would swamp the NHS putting it under severe strain and (2) ill patients who should go to Accident and Emergency (ER in America) were scared to do so through a fear of catching Covid-19 and (3) the government encouraged sick people to stay at home and self-isolate if they had flu-like symptoms even if those symptoms need urgent treatment and were not associated with Covid-19. The NHS hospital swamping with Covid-19 patients never occurred, incidentally.
All-in-all admissions to hospital decreased sharply storing up big problems for the future both for the NHS and citizens. The doctors are now actively trying to get patients to come to A&E!
As far as I know veterinary clinics are open for emergencies only as set out in Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons’ guidelines. Combine that barrier with nervousness over going to a vet clinic because of the potential of catching Covid-19 and I am convinced that many pet owners are putting off treating their companion animals which may make matters worse, much worse in the future.
We are seeing a number of cases of more advanced disease which have been left because owners have been nervous to come in and see us. Obviously, these cases become more challenging to treat if treatment is not prompt. – Clinical director of Avonvale Veterinary Centres in Warwickshire, UK.
I am sure that veterinary clinics are taking all the measures they can to make it safe for clients and patients. In Teddington I saw a vet tech hand a customer pills on the pavement to avoid the customer’s need to enter the building where she may have been infected. But pet owners should not put off going to the vet’s. Realistically it takes very little to put a person off going to the vet’s because no one wants to go during the best of times anyway. The whole experience is nerve wracking for animal and human.
The decision to take a cat or dog to a vet during the cornonvirus lockdown is based on risk. One risk concerns humans and the other aniamls. There is a very slight risk the person might be unfortunate enough to be infected with Covid-19 which you have to set against the risk of their cat or dog becoming more seriously ill because of a delay in taking them to a veterinarian. In these scenarios it is often the animal who loses the decision.
Perhaps veterinary clinics might do more to make the experience less stressful in the long term such a separating out waiting room for cats and dogs.