How to plan your no-contact visit to your veterinary clinics

COVID-19 is predominantly transmitted from human to human, especially during prolonged, close physical contact. By encouraging no-contact visits, veterinary clinics help eliminate or minimize physical interactions between pet owners and staff, while allowing each patient to receive the care they need. Here’s how a no-contact visit typically takes place.

No-contact visit guidelines vary from clinic to clinic and over time

In Canada, veterinary medicine is overseen by each provincial government, so public safety guidelines vary from coast to coast. Just as countries across the world are dealing with the pandemic using distinct strategies, no two clinics apply the exact same measures. Things can change on short notice, depending on how the situation evolves.

Accordingly, it’s best to phone your veterinary clinic ahead of any visit, especially if several weeks have passed since your last appointment. Explain your pet’s needs and ask how you should proceed.

Ask about telemedicine and remote services

If your pet is already a patient at a clinic, their veterinarian is allowed to practice telemedicine which means they can provide the same service normally done in-person, but using virtual tools like videoconfering or specialized software. It’s up to each clinic to implement telemedicine as they see fit, so ask them what’s possible. While it should mostly be considered a temporary solution during the pandemic, telemedicine has the benefit of being a true no-contact approach, since you don’t even need to leave your home.

If this would be your pet’s first veterinary appointment, ask your clinic what are the requirements, as these vary from province to province. Finally, veterinarians are always allowed to act in case of emergency, so don’t hesitate to contact a clinic if your pet’s life may be at risk. 

Consider curbside appointments

Remaining physically outside the clinic is the next best thing to a no-contact visit. By calling first, you may arrange for staff to prepare any food, supplements or medications your pets needs ahead of time. Once you arrive at the clinic, your order may be brought to your vehicle, or it may be left for you at the lobby entrance. Payment can take place over the phone, using a mobile point-of-sale terminal or through electronic means, depending on each clinic.

Similar measures can be used to transfer your pet. A staff member may come outside to lead your pet using their leash or to transport their carrier, or you may be asked to leave your pet just inside the building entrance, either securing their leash to a wall hook or putting their carrier on the floor. You’ll then be asked to wait inside your vehicle or to return home until the appointment is done, and to remain available to speak with your pet’s veterinarian over the phone.

If you must enter the clinic, follow the instructions

Some situations may still require you to be physically present with your pet. By now, you know the routine: wear a mask, disinfect your hands when entering and leaving, remain 6 ft away from others, pay attention to signage and follow instructions.