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What is proper pet protocol during Level 4?

Have you caught a whiff of your cat’s breath and thought ‘I need to book him in for his dental treatment when lockdown is over?’ Or looked at your dog’s vaccine chart and noticed she is due for her yearly vaccinations? While during Level 5 of lockdown veterinary practices and clinics were only open for emergencies, now that we have moved into Level 4, veterinary restrictions have been relaxed with new guidelines in place.

“What most pet parents don’t know is that you can now take your pet to the vet, even if it isn’t an emergency. So, any issues you may have been postponing, or have put off over the last couple of months, due to the heavy lockdown restrictions, can now be attended to,” explains Hill’s Pet Nutrition veterinary advisor Dr Guy Fyvie. This includes all non-emergency cases such as vaccinations, sterilisations, routine check-ups, and treatments like dental.

The South African Veterinary Council (SAVC) outlines the Level 4 guidelines in detail on their website, however, Fyvie highlights some of the important points for pet parents:

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  • Phone your vet ahead of time and schedule an appointment for your pet. Walk-ins, with the exception of emergencies, will not be allowed during this time.
  • An employee from the veterinary practice will fetch your pet from the car and take them inside for their appointment. You will need to remain in your car unless otherwise asked to go inside by the vet. The car, or carpark, is now the waiting area.
  • Both employees and pet parents need to wear a properly fitted mask at all times.
  • At least 1.5m distance needs to be adhered to at all times.
  • Payments need to be made electronically.

Some pet parents may still be wary to leave their homes during this time, and that’s understandable, notes Fyvie. “It goes without saying though that prevention is always better than cure and it’s much less stressful taking

your dog or cat for their yearly check-up or routine treatment now, even during level 4, versus them having to go through scary treatments in the future that will ultimately require a lot more vet visits and may be costly.”

Tempting as it may be for a pet parent to self-diagnose, or treat their pet at home, and avoid a vet visit, this isn’t ideal. “There is a lot of misinformation on the Internet and looking at your pet’s symptoms in isolation can be dangerous. The experience of a veterinarian allows for a holistic and comprehensive approach that can never be replaced.” As long as pet parents are careful, and adhere to the COVID-19 safety guidelines, these are processes that can be effectively managed with very little disruption to both the pet parent and pet’s lives.

For more information visit the Hill’s Pet Nutrition website

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