From daily walks to proper socialization, you do a lot to make sure your dog is healthy and able to live a long fulfilling life. Whether your dog is from a local rescue or a champion breeder, an important component of keeping your dog healthy is annual vet visits.
At these appointments, your vet gives your dog a physical exam, vaccinations, preventative prescriptions, and tests for parasites such as fleas and ticks. Like many things, when COVID-19 spread to the United States and spurred shutdowns across the country in March 2020, annual wellness check-ups were put on hold. While the start of shutdowns was about a year ago, veterinarians are still seeing the effects of this.
The Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) is making recommendations to clinical teams and dog owners to ensure that all dogs are getting the proper care they need during these unusual times. We talked to CAPC representatives about their recommendations. Here’s why they suggest.
Move Up Appointments
With the onset of the lockdowns, there was a lull in annual veterinary visits throughout March and April. Because of that pause in visits, there were lapses in critical annual parasite testing and preventative dispensing for diseases, including heartworm and Lyme disease. When vet offices opened, there was a rush to get appointments and longer wait times for appointments.
Now that it’s time for annual visits for many dogs whose appointments were affected by the lockdown, it’s important to make sure those lapses don’t occur again.
“We believe that every pet needs to be tested annually and receive parasite preventives in a timely manner,” said Dr. Chris Carpenter, president, and CEO of CAPC. “Our concern is that the delayed veterinary visits in 2020 may cause difficulties in pets getting access to healthcare in 2021.”
To avoid long wait times, scheduling backups, and potential lapses in care, the CAPC suggests that pet owners reach out to their veterinarians — rather than wait for an automatic reminder — and schedule their 2021 annual appointments as soon as possible.
To account for the influx of appointments, vet appointment software reminder systems will automatically schedule annual exams later in the year, which will likely result in scheduling difficulties and inaccurate scheduling. That’s why CAPC is also asking clinical teams to review the scheduling system and move-up appointments manually.
“Patients whose care was delayed during March and April 2020 contributed to overwhelming our schedules last summer and fall,” said Dr. Rick Marrinson, a practitioner in Florida, and CAPC board member. “To prevent both a lull in our spring 2021 schedule and an overly busy summer and fall, we are manually adjusting appointments, where applicable, back to March and April of 2021.”
With the challenges from the past year, many vet clinics across the country had to make protocol adjustments to continue caring for pets.
Many teams have been in survival mode since the start of the pandemic. The CAPC hopes that moving up appointments and proactively clearing up potential scheduling conflicts will make life easier on clinical teams.
“We’re now shifting gears to prepare for the annual cycle of 2021 wellness visits,” said Cathy Michaelson, partner at Aumsville Animal Clinic and director of operations for CAPC. “By reaching out to clients to proactively schedule, we can minimize the anticipated backlog of appointments in the summer and fall. Ultimately, we want to lessen the pressure on our dedicated veterinary team while ensuring all of our patients receive timely preventive care.”
The AKC is here to help owners with questions and concerns about COVID-19 and dogs. Find answers to your questions, plus at-home activity ideas, training tips, educational resources, and more on our Coping With COVID-19 hub.