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Ontario Veterinary Medical Association

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Visitng your veterinarian during COVID-19: FAQs for pet owners


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Why is my veterinary clinic still not letting clients inside?

Some veterinary clinics may continue with curbside care to maintain public health protocols (e.g. two-metre distance between individuals). Veterinary clinics come in all shapes and sizes, and it can be difficult to ensure physical distancing in many of them. As with any other business, the risk of a positive COVID-19 exposure in a veterinary clinic can result in closure, which would prevent veterinarians from providing needed medical care for their patients. Curbside service is one way that veterinarians are delivering health care for pets while keeping clients and staff safe, to help ensure that clinics stay open. To find out what your clinic’s protocols are, visit its social media pages, website or contact your veterinarian directly.

Why do I have to wait so long to get an appointment with my veterinarian?

Veterinary medicine across Canada is facing an extraordinary challenge with increased demand and reduced access to care. This is due to a variety of factors, including:

• A drastic rise in pet ownership since the pandemic started.

• Pandemic-related staff shortages due to illness, caregiving responsibilities, etc., which can reduce a clinic’s capacity to provide a full range of services.

• Like human health-care workers, veterinarians have been deemed essential since the beginning of the pandemic and the profession is now experiencing high rates of burnout, stress, compassion fatigue and other mental health concerns.

Not being able to see pets right away is stressful for both veterinary clients and veterinary teams, who are committed to protecting animal health and well-being. To help meet demand, many clinics are prioritizing urgent cases and are using services such as telemedicine to consult with clients and to manage both triage and non-urgent cases, including prescribing medication. Clients can contact their veterinarian to see what options are available and are asked to book appointments as far in advance as possible.

What can I do if I need care but don't have a veterinarian?

If you don’t have a veterinarian, you can visit the College of Veterinarians of Ontario’s website ( and use the Find a Veterinarian search tool.

What should I expect if I visit my veterinarian?

If you’re planning a visit to your veterinarian, be aware that your clinic may be operating differently than usual. Veterinary clinics are implementing various ways of delivering health care for pets while keeping clients and veterinary staff safe. This could include curbside service, visitor screening, and restricting the number of people at appointments. Clinics are also following public health guidelines, which means that masks are mandatory indoors, regardless of vaccination status. For the smoothest service, follow your veterinary clinic’s guidelines. To find out what protocols your veterinary clinic has in place, visit its website, social media pages or contact your veterinarian directly.

What if my pet needs urgent care?

Due to an increase in demand for veterinary services, emergency clinics and referral centres are experiencing longer than normal wait times. If you have a concern about your pet’s health, don’t wait to access care – contact your regular veterinarian to find out if there are proactive measures that can be done before a crisis/urgent situation arises.

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