Saskatchewan

Vets practicing 'curbside veterinary medicine' for animals during the COVID-19 outbreak

Veterinarians are considered essential services during the COVID-19 pandemic but they still need to ensure they’re staying safe and not getting sick.

Veterinarians limiting some services with personal protective equipment in short supply

There’s no research to suggest that pets can get sick from the COVID-19 virus but they might be able to carry it in their fur, says Kent Weir, president of the Saskatchewan Veterinary Medical Association. (Katherine Holland/CBC)

Veterinarians are considered essential services during the COVID-19 pandemic but they still need to ensure they're staying safe and not getting sick.

"A lot of veterinarians are certainly choosing to kind of scale back the services they're providing right now," said Kent Weir, president of the Saskatchewan Veterinary Medical Association.

Another way vets are protecting themselves is by doing "curbside veterinary medicine," where they'll chat with owners on the phone about the problem and then go outside to get the pet from the owner's car.

This curbside approach helps them minimize interaction and lower the number of people in the clinic.

Many vets are also limiting the types of procedures they do that require protective gear.

"The personal protective equipment — masks, gloves, those kinds of things — are really, really in short supply right now nationwide and globally even," Weir told The Afternoon Edition.

He said vets are still making calls to farms, though.

"In those situations, I'm typically interacting with one other person, maybe two other people. There's nobody else around for literally miles and miles and miles."

Can viruses be passed on through pets?

There's no research to suggest that pets can get sick from the COVID-19 virus but Weir said they might be able to carry it in their fur.

He says pets might act like fomites — objects that can carry an infection, like doorknobs, telephones or debit machines.

"If I were to be infected with COVID-19, sneeze on my dog and then you start nuzzling up to my dog and kissing it all that sort of thing, you are definitely at risk of contracting the virus," he said.

About the Author

Ashleigh Mattern is a web writer, reporter, and copy editor with CBC Saskatoon and CBC Saskatchewan, and an associate producer with Saskatoon Morning. She has been working as a journalist since 2007 and joined CBC in 2017. Email: ashleigh.mattern@cbc.ca.

With files from The Afternoon Edition

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