All your questions answered on taking your pet to the vet under the new restrictions

As the UK’s leading pet emergency service, our priority is keeping pets, owners and our people safe, so we want you to know what to do if you suffer a pet emergency during the lockdown period.

While veterinary practices across the country are allowed to stay open under the current restrictions, face-to-face contact has been reduced and guidance from the veterinary surgeons’ regulatory body, the RCVS, says that the decision to provide veterinary care should be based on a risk assessment which considers the health and welfare of the pet and the safety of owners and staff.

Our emergency vets and vet nurses are still available for ill or injured pets who require urgent care, so for any non-emergency queries, such as vaccinations, flea treatments or worming, please either speak to your daytime practice or refer to our advice pages.

Here, we answer some of the most commonly-asked questions pet owners are asking vets during the Covid-19 crisis.

What should I do if my pet is sick or injured?

Pets should not suffer needlessly regardless of whether you have Covid-19 or not. Please follow the normal process of calling your usual vet for advice. If it’s during the day and your vet is closed, then follow any instructions left on their answerphone or website. If you are not currently registered with a veterinary practice, you can use the online RCVS find a vet tool.

If it’s in the evening or at the weekend, and your pet has a potentially life-threatening illness or injury, you should call your nearest Vets Now pet emergency clinic. As a pet emergency service, we do not offer routine vaccinations or flea or worming treatment and we cannot give advice over the phone on these matters either.

I've been advised to bring my pet to your clinic, what next?

If you have already spoken to our contact centre, and been asked to call the clinic or hospital on arrival, please select option 2. This will put you straight through to the veterinary team.

Unless a companion is necessary to keep your pet safe you should ideally come alone. This will enable us to ensure we maintain appropriate social distancing. If you do need someone to accompany you, perhaps for emotional support, to help you lift your pet, or to help you make decisions about care and finances, you should, where possible, ask a member of your household. Please ensure you have a charged mobile phone with you when you attend the clinic.

After your pet has been triaged (a short assessment of the severity of your pet’s condition) we will ask you to wait in your car as they undergo a more detailed examination. You will not normally be permitted to enter the clinic during this examination, and your pet will be separated from you to maintain social distancing. During the exam, our vet will call you by telephone to discuss your pet’s history and available treatment options. In this situation, we will take payment over the phone and safely deliver your pet to you at the door following discharge.

If you are displaying symptoms of Covid-19, follow the guidance below but do not take your pet to the clinic unless the vet instructs you to do so.

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What if I have suspected Covid-19 and my pet needs veterinary treatment?

If it’s non-urgent, you should wait at least seven days before you schedule an appointment with your vet. If you are in self-isolation but your pet needs emergency treatment, please contact us by phone and our team will make arrangements to treat your pet in the clinic or hospital. Please do not take your pet to a clinic or hospital unless we ask you to do so.

If you are in self-isolation or are at high risk of infection (elderly, pregnant woman, pre-existing health conditions), please allow a family member or friend to bring your pet in. If this is not possible then we will discuss alternative options with you on the telephone. It’s also worth bearing in mind that our Video Vet service offers peace of mind by allowing you to speak with a specially-trained Vets Now clinician from the comfort of your home.

I cannot get through to my daytime vet, can you help?

Vets Now is a pet emergency service. If your call is transferred to Vets Now outside of normal daytime hours, we will not be able to provide help or advice on routine issues. Please check your own daytime vets’ opening hours on their website and give them a call when they’re open. If your daytime vet is currently closed due to the coronavirus restrictions, you should use the online RCVS find a vet tool.

Image of a Vets Now clinician with a dog for Vets Now article on taking your pet to the vet during the coronavirus outbreak

Can you help me get prescription medicine for my pet?

As a pet emergency service, we are unable to offer help or advice on repeat prescriptions and we cannot prescribe medicines or drugs for any pre-existing illnesses or injuries other than those treated by our emergency vets. If your pet requires ongoing treatment or medication for an existing condition, please speak to your daytime vet. If your daytime vet is currently closed due to the coronavirus restrictions you should use the online RCVS find a vet tool.

What should I do about my pet's vaccinations?

As a pet emergency service, we do not provide routine vaccinations and are unable to advise on them over the telephone. If your pet’s vaccinations are overdue, please speak to your daytime vet. If your daytime vet is currently closed due to the coronavirus restrictions you should use the online RCVS find a vet tool. You can get advice on what to do about routine vaccinations here. The RCVS, the regulatory body for vets, has largely restricted veterinary care to urgent illness and injury only and to vaccinating pets who might be at risk of serious illness.

 

My pet has an existing condition, where can I go for advice?

If your pet requires ongoing treatment or medication for an existing condition, please speak to your daytime vet. If your daytime vet is currently closed due to the coronavirus restrictions, you should use the online RCVS find a vet tool. You should only call Vets Now if your pet is ill or injured and requires urgent care outside of normal daytime hours.

Where I can find directions to my nearest pet emergency clinic?

Our website has a handy tool for finding your nearest emergency vet. Enter your postcode here for directions to the clinic closest to you.

I'm eligible for help from the PDSA, what should I do?

It’s really important that you register at your local PDSA clinic before contacting us.  To qualify for free or subsidised treatment from the PDSA, pet owners must be in receipt of certain benefits, such as housing benefit or council tax support, and live within the catchment area of a PDSA hospital or clinic. If your pet is registered with the PDSA, and you require emergency treatment at Vets Now, please advise our emergency call handler. You will need to bring your registration certificate with you to the clinic. Proof of entitlement to benefits is not sufficient.

How should I pay for veterinary treatment?

All payments should be made by card rather than cash. Anyone handling cash should wash their hands immediately afterwards before touching anything else.