Coronavirus advice for veterinary professionals
Veterinary services during Covid-19
Throughout the Covid-19 crisis veterinary professionals have been able to work, in line with the UK government's advice to business. Initially, this work was limited to urgent and emergency services, and services to maintain the food supply chain. Practices then transitioned to providing services that are essential for animal health and welfare or public health, including to relieve pain and suffering.
As the UK begins to ease lockdown restrictions, veterinary practices will begin transitioning to providing as full a range of services as possible, whilst working safely. This does not mean a return to pre-Covid 'business as usual' ways of working.
All veterinary services must be provided in a manner that supports social/physical distancing and good hygiene and biosecurity.
Updated guidance on working safely during Covid-19
We've developed a guide for vets in clinical practice to help you and your team to work safely during Covid-19. This replaces previous guidance on assessing essential veterinary care and supports practices to start transitioning to providing as full a range of services as possible, whilst working safely and within government guidelines.
Please note: This advice is intended as guidance only. Veterinary practices will vary in their approach due to individual circumstances. Veterinary professionals must also continue to exercise their own clinical judgement in risk assessing cases.
Webinars - Covid-19 and the veterinary profession
We’re running a programme of webinars, in partnership with The Webinar Vet, to help keep you up-to-date on the restrictions, what they mean for veterinary work, and our lobbying efforts to secure support for veterinary businesses. The sessions also provide an opportunity for you ask your questions direct to our President, Daniella Dos Santos.
Sunday 31 May: Covid-19 and the veterinary profession #10
Sunday 17 May: Covid-19 and the veterinary profession #9 Please note that some guidance or information will have changed since the webinar was broadcast.
Sunday 10 May: Covid-19 and the veterinary profession #8 Please note that some guidance or information will have changed since the webinar was broadcast.
Sunday 3 May: Covid-19 and the veterinary profession #7 Please note that some guidance or information will have changed since the webinar was broadcast.
Sunday 26 April: Covid-19 and the veterinary profession #6 Please note that some guidance or information will have changed since the webinar was broadcast.
Sunday 19 April: Covid-19 and the veterinary profession - #5 Please note that some guidance or information will have changed since the webinar was broadcast.
Sunday 12 April: Covid-19 and the veterinary profession - #4 You can also download a PDF of the slides and speaking notes for this webinar. Please note that some guidance or information will have changed since the webinar was broadcast.
Sunday 5 April: Covid-19 and the veterinary profession - #3 Please note that some guidance or information will have changed since the webinar was broadcast.
Sunday 29 March: Covid-19 and the veterinary profession – an update Please note that some guidance will have changed since the webinar was broadcast.
Sunday 22 March: Covid-19 and the veterinary profession. Please note that some guidance will have changed since the webinar was broadcast.
Sunday 29 March: Covid-19 and the veterinary profession – an update
Sunday 22 March: Covid-19 and the veterinary profession. Please note that some guidance may have changed since the webinar was broadcast on Sunday 22 March.
Resources for veterinary practices
Resources for veterinary practices
Download our social media graphics and poster to help you communicate the key Covid-19 messages to your clients.
Contact tracing across the UK
In May and June the four nations of the UK launched contact tracing programmes to move from blanket lockdown restrictions to a more targeted approach, in line with strategies to ease lockdown restrictions.
Although slightly different across the UK, each programme is asking those who test positive for Covid-19 to identify people they have been in recent contact with and those people will be contacted and asked to self-isolate for 14 days. Relevant contact appears to be spending more than 15 minutes within 2m of another person or being in direct face-to-face contact (less than 1m) with them. At present, the schemes are voluntary, but may become mandatory at a later stage.
- Northern Ireland: Test, trace, isolate, support
- England: NHS Test and Trace
- Scotland: Test and Protect
- Wales: Test Trace Protect
Employees in self-isolation are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay for every day they are in isolation, as long as they meet the eligibility conditions. Further roll out of testing may enable people to return to work sooner that 14 days if they receive a negative test.
Behavioural specialist advice
As we change our behaviour during this coronavirus lockdown, animals can be affected too. As a vet, you may see an increase in queries about animal behaviour. This guidance for veterinary practices on dealing with queries about animal behaviour during the Covid-19 lockdown will support you to provide advice to animal owners.
Thanks to Sarah Heath FRCVS, Daniel Mills FRCVS, Lorella Notari MRCVS and Rachel Casey MRCVS, recognised specialists in behavioural medicine for producing this guidance.
Key worker status
Following the government advice on ‘key workers’, we’ve issued joint guidance with RCVS, which aims to help you decide whether or not you can claim ‘key worker’ status and ask for your children to continue to be taken into schools. We encourage you to carefully consider the wider societal picture and ensure that you only claim ‘key worker’ status if absolutely necessary.
The BVA legal helpline is available to all members with any questions about the impact of Covid-19 on your business or employment rights. You may also want to take a look at the helpline Coronavirus FAQs.
Changes to RSPCA out-of-hours
RSPCA have made temporary changes to their out-of-hours provision, which may have an impact on veterinary professionals. Full details of these changes, what impact they may have on vets, and who you can contact at RSPCA are available for members to view in this resource.
Coronavirus and animals
There have been a number of reports of dogs, mink and cats (both domestic and large) testing positive for SARS-Cov-2.
The OIE states that now SARS-Cov-2 infections are widely distributed in the human population, there is a possibility for certain animal species to become infected through close contact with infected humans.
Although several animal species have been infected with SARS-Cov-2, these infections are not a driver of the Covid-19 pandemic; the pandemic is driven by human to human transmission. Studies are underway to better understand the susceptibility of different animal species to SARS-Cov-2 and to assess infection dynamics in susceptible animal species.
However it is important to recognise that there is no evidence to suggest that animals that have been infected by humans are playing a role in the spread of Covid-19 back to humans.
It is also the case that animals may act as fomites, as the virus could be on their fur for a short period of time in the same way it is on other surfaces, such as tables and doorknobs. That’s why our main advice for animal owners continues to be to practise good hand hygiene by washing their hands thoroughly (for 20 seconds with soap and water) after touching their pet. Vets should continue to take the usual precautions when handling animals and animal products in line with good biosecurity protocols.
More detailed reports on SARS-Cov-2 infections in animals that have been reported to the OIE can be accessed at the OIE’s Findings in Animals page.
Tests for Covid-19 in animals are now available in the UK but have to meet strict criteria. More information is available in our FAQs.
Advice if pet owners have Covid-19 or are self-isolating
The OIE recommends that people who are sick with Covid-19 limit contact with companion and other animals until more information is known about the virus. Read the OIE Questions and answers on Covid-19 in full.
Government advice is that owners of pets in households with confirmed or suspected Covid-19, who think their pet may need veterinary treatment, should make contact with the practice first and alert them to the household’s status. Read the Defra Covid-19 advice for people with animals.
Our advice for pet owners diagnosed with Covid-19 or self-isolating with symptoms is:
- Restrict contact with pets as a precautionary animal health measure until more information is known about the virus.
- If your pet requires care, wash your hands before and after any interaction with them and wear a face mask if possible.
- Keep cats indoors if possible, and only if they are happy to be indoors, and try to arrange for someone else to exercise dogs, taking care to restrict any contact with the person walking your dog and making sure they practise good hand hygiene. This is to reduce the likelihood of your pet spreading the disease through environmental contamination on their fur – there is no evidence that pet animals can pass Covid-19 to humans.
- If your pet shows clinical signs, please do not take it to the vet but call the practice for advice and alert them to the household’s status.
- If your pet requires essential treatment, call the practice for further advice. Do not take your pet to the surgery unless the vet instructs you to. You may need to arrange for someone else to transport your pet for treatment.
Additional veterinary resources and guidance
- British Cattle Veterinary Association
- British Equine Veterinary Association
- Society of Practising Veterinary Surgeons
- Veterinary Management Group
- British Veterinary Nursing Association news
- BVNA Members Advisory Service
- BVNA Daphne Shipman Benevolent Fund
- British Small Animal Veterinary Association
- Commonwealth Veterinary Association
The Veterinary Defence Society has a number of advice notes available to VDS members relating to VDS professional indemnity insurance policies