Welcome to the “New” Normal of Caring for Your Pets
By Arden Moore – The Pet Health and Safety Coach™
Raise your hand if you miss talking face to face with your veterinarian about your pet in the exam room. I know I do. Our Furry Brady Bunch includes three dogs and four cats. Like many of you, I spend more time in the veterinary clinic than I do at the offices of my doctor, dentist and eye doctor combined.
Before COVID-19 arrived this year in full force in March, I made four veterinary visits in 2020. They included:
- Treating stomach issues in Casey, my confident, certified therapy cat.
- Performing a dental cleaning under anesthesia for Kona, our friendly, smart terrier-mix.
- Giving head-to-tail wellness exams for Bujeau, our shy Bernese Mountain Dog-mix and Rusty, our just-adopted orange tabby kitten.
In each case, I was able to speak in person with my veterinarian, Dr. Debora Charles at length at the Casa Linda Animal Clinic in Dallas about each pet’s medical and at-home care needs.
Pet Parents Must Deal with New Safety Rules
But welcome to the new normal. Since health safety measures have been put in place due to this pandemic, I have spent 15 veterinary appointments between March and now inside my car at the veterinary clinic parking lot.
Each time, I now pull into the veterinary clinic parking lot and sport a face mask as I hand over my pet to a veterinary technician without being allowed to step a foot inside the clinic. I wait in my car for a phone call from Dr. Charles to let me know how the appointment went. Then I wait some more in my car for the next call from the front desk staffer to make a payment – again over the phone – before I am reunited with my pet.
Now, I wasn’t too concerned when these appointments were for routine vaccination boosters, but I miss being present to cuddle my pets and converse with Dr. Charles as she performs a complete wellness exam and shares any preventive tips.
And, I do feel powerless and nervous about not being in the exam room for the more serious issues in these pandemic times. They have included:
- A series of heartworm treatments for our “pandemic pup” Emma, who we adopted as a stray in March. She was young – maybe one years old – but very listless due to a dangerously high level of heartworms. Each time, I handed her over to a vet tech in the parking lot, I prayed Emma would still feel my love and support as the vet team worked hard to save her life.
- A nasty, stress-induced hot spot on Bujeau, our sweet big dog, who has noise phobia. Before COVID-19, I could keep Bujeau calm at the clinic by speaking in an upbeat, confident tone in the waiting room and in the exam room. I would also bring in happy Kona to keep Bujeau at ease. But I know she was scared and confused without me while her left hind quarter was shaved and she was given cortisone and antibiotic injections to treat her hot spot.
Now Is the Time to Be Adaptable
This pandemic has forced all of us to adapt and to be more proactive. For pet parents, it has meant stocking up on medicine, bathing products, quality food and treats and other necessities for our pets during a time where we all coped with a shortage of toilet paper, face masks and hand sanitizers.
I make sure to keep ZYMOX® Topical Spray in stock to apply to any skin issues surfacing on Bujeau or my other pets. It is formulated with combination of protein and enzymes plus skin-soothing aloe vera. Teresa Keiger, my friend and all-breed cat judge for The Cat Fanciers’ Association, keeps ample supply of ZYMOX Enzymatic Ear Solution to treat ear issues that flare up occasionally in her beautiful Russian Blue named Phoebe. Since COVID-19 surfaced, I use an online veterinary pharmacy company to order online all of my pets’ medicine to fend off fleas, ticks and keep them protected against heartworm instead of making multiple trips to my veterinary clinic.
Veterinary Telemedicine Is Increasing at a Rapid Rate
More and more veterinarians are now offering telemedicine care in which they talk ‘face-to-face’ with pet parents via ZOOM or other live, interactive video option.
“Veterinarians looked at telemedicine as a novelty before this (pandemic) and now, it’s become a necessity,” notes Jessica Vogelsang, DVM, a veterinarian shared in a recent JAVMA News article. She is also credited with creating the Veterinary Telemedicine Association, a private group on Facebook for 3,000-plus-and growing number of veterinarians adding telemedicine to their practices.
Like I said, welcome to the new norm in pet care. Gone is the convenience of a face-to-face veterinary appointment. Yet, I see a silver lining in this crazy, COVID-19 time. By paying closer attention to what’s normal in our pets’ behavior and appearances, we may be able to catch some issues early before they progress into more serious conditions.
We can better prepare by stocking up on our pets’ needed prescriptions and over-the-counter medications. And, finally, we can reach out to a growing number of veterinarians via telemedicine 24 hours a day. Help is now just a click away.
Arden Moore wears many collars in the pet world. She is a best-selling author, master certified pet first aid/CPR instructor, pet behavior consultant, host of the Oh Behave Show on Pet Life Radio and happy pet parent to a Furry Brady Bunch in Dallas. Learn more at www.ardenmoore.com.