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As another year begins I think that we had all hoped for a better start to 2021 than it is turning out to be. There seems to be light at the end of the tunnel with the roll out of the COVID-19 vaccination programme but we are a long way from normality. So until COVID-19 cases fall significantly and the majority of the population have been vaccinated we will have to continue with social distancing, face coverings and hand sanitiser. We have all been impacted in one way or another by the current pandemic both at home and at work. In the veterinary profession we have had to significantly adapt our way of working, something that will have been very apparent to any of you that have had to bring your pet to your local veterinary surgery in recent months.

The first and most obvious change is that you are not able to accompany your pet into the practice building and we have all had to adapt to “car park consulting”. We find out all the relevant information about your pet either by a mobile phone call or by a socially distanced conversation in the carpark. You may then wonder what is going on “behind the scenes”. First and foremost when your pet comes into the surgery without you we offer reassuring words and encouragement. Although there are exceptions, the majority of dogs trot in quite happily with us and I believe that it is frequently more stressful for owners left waiting outside than for their pets. I will then go to a quiet consulting room and in many cases I will be able to do much of the examination on my own while I chat away to the dog as if they were my own. Many pets without the presence of their owner will come to me to seek reassurance, snuggling up to me and enabling me to perform an examination in a calm and stress-free way. For slightly more anxious patients, or those that are very full of beans, the help of one of our invaluable veterinary nurses may be needed. Our feline patients are often much calmer because they have waited quietly with their owner in the car rather than in a busy waiting room.

You will probably have noticed that all the clinical staff (veterinary surgeons and nurses) wear full PPE. We wear face masks, aprons and gloves all day plus a visor or protective goggles when we are not able to social distance, for example when a nurse is holding a pet for one of the vets to examine or when we are performing operations. This all took a bit of getting used to but is obviously a necessity and has now become second nature.

With the current lockdown and the government instructing us to stay at home apart from essential journeys, we have had to restrict some of the non-urgent and routine cases that we see but we will always see an animal that is unwell or injured and in need of veterinary attention.

The day when we can welcome pets together with their owners back into the practice cannot come soon enough, especially with the dark evenings and winter weather. We realise how miserable it is waiting outside in the cold, worrying about your pet and want to reassure you that as soon as it is safe for you and veterinary staff we will go back to a more normal way of working. In the mean time we appreciate your patience in these difficult times and hopefully in the weeks to come we will start to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

If you have any queries then please contact us at www.facebook.com/eastgatevets