COVID-19 - Some Frequently Asked Questions

We thought it would be helpful to share a few of the questions we are being asked at the moment. Please note that as the situation changes, these answers may have to change too so please check back regularly!

Updated 7/7/20

Will you be open throughout this pandemic?

We are committed to being there for you and your pets. We are following the guideance of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and work inside the practice is being carried out 'behind closed doors'. Please read the rest of the page for details of the services being offered and how we can help you and your pets.

We are trying to keep our opening hours page updated. Our phone lines are extremely busy with limited staff to answer - please consider whether your call is really urgent. There are options for placing orders online below that may help you save time.

Currently our farm veterinary team are operating as normal - please call the usual number.

Why are you working 'behind closed doors'?

Over the average week we see lots of different owners with their pets and our staff work across different shifts so that we can offer our services for longer, more convenient hours (and an out of hours emergency service). This means that our team are exposed (at close quarters – consultation rooms are not large and whilst you hold your pet, the vet or nurse get pretty close!) to lots of different people across the day and then that is replicated across the week. If just one person visits one of our team not knowing they are infectious with COVID-19 and passes it on, then our team could pass it on to lots of the local community and across our entire team, potentially causing us to need to reduce services or even shut for a period of time, not to mention the obvious risk to everyone’s health!

A recent survey reported by the BBC (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-52637008) showed that, under normal circumstances, out of a list of 359 different jobs, vets are the 9th most likely to be exposed to disease and the 8th most likely to get into close proximity with other people.

Therefore, in order to continue to provide as normal a service as possible, we have to continue to provide it in a very different way, for the protection of all our staff and you, our clients. We thank everyone who is supportive of this.

Video Consultations

Our new video consultation service is now live and the RCVS have temporarily relaxed the guidance on allowing vets to prescribe POM-V medications without always physically examining a pet - this will obviously be on a case-by-case basis and we may still need to see your pet. However, this service will allow you to discuss your concerns with a vet without leaving the safety of your home and should be used for all non-emergency first line consultations.

Book Your e-Consultation

My pet’s vaccination is due – are you still doing this?

Recently updated guidelines from the RCVS and the Government allows us to restart our vaccination service although in order to keep with social distancing guidelines, your pet will need to be handed over to one of our team. 

Given that the world is in lockdown because of one disease for which there isn’t yet a vaccine, we know that everyone will understand how important their pets’ vaccinations are! 

We are now taking bookings for booster vaccinations at either Great Western Park, Cholsey or Benson - bookings can be made online here or call our Telephony Team who can assist.

Any new puppies should start their vaccination course at 8 weeks with a follow up at 12 weeks (we would recommend that a new puppy stays in its new home for a minimum of 5 days before coming to the vet although obviously do contact us if you have any concerns during that period).

Kittens require two vaccinations which can be started from 8 weeks of age; the second is given 3-4 weeks later (the 2nd vaccination must be given at 12 weeks of age).

Rabbit vaccinations should be booked for their due date. 

Horse vaccinations can be booked via the Farm Office on 01491 651479 - each visit will be subject to a Health & Safety assessment.

If my pet is due a repeat prescription check, what do I do? Will you give me a repeat prescription without seeing my pet in the current circumstances?

This will depend on your pet’s condition, the medication and how stable they are on the medication. Ordinarily we are required by law to see an animal every three months in order to prescribe medication – these are not ordinary circumstances and we will need to review any exceptions on a case by case basis.  If your pet does need a repeat prescription check – we may be able to do this via a video consultation.

Are you still doing home visits?

We are currently unable to send our staff to any home visits. Please liaise with our team where we will discuss your needs on a case by case basis to work out how we can help.  If you are in self isolation – we are happy for a neighbour or friend to bring your pet to the practice (as long as transferring your pet to your helper doesn’t risk you or your helper becoming exposed). 

Are all your branches open?

No - currently only Didcot, Cholsey, Great Western Park and Benson are open. Opening hours are available here. Benson and Great Western Park are open for pre-booked vaccinations only. The teams there are unable to deal with any walk-in enquiries or pickup of any medication/food.

How can I pay my bill?

Payment can be made in the following ways:

Using a credit/debit card over the phone or via our website using a secure link to Barclaycard.

Or via BACS into our bank account: Sort Code 60-22-19 Account 67375782 (Account name: Larkmead Veterinary Group Ltd). Please use your pets full name as a reference to help us reconcile your payment to your account. 

Will you post drugs out to me or can I still collect them?

Usually we can send drugs out using the Royal Mail Signed For service. 

However, during the current pandemic we will not be able to do this except for those elderly/vulnerable or self isolating. For everyone else, we are offering a collection service from Didcot or Cholsey. Order your prescription online and allow 4 working days before you come to collect from your chosen location.

Once you arrive for pick-up please go to the door - we can only allow a limited number of people into the reception area at a time so you may need to wait for a space - please let the greeting Receptionist know that you are here to collect food/meds and you will be directed where to wait whilst your items are brought out. Anyone entering the practice must wear a face covering. If you need to speak to someone regarding your order, please call the usual numbers. 

Can I take 3 months supply of my pet’s medication?

Again, this will depend on your pet’s condition and the medication. Please speak to one of our team who can review your pet’s circumstances.  Generally, it is still best practice to prescribe only 30 days of medications at one time (for some medications we are required by law to only provide 30 days).  Please remember, if you are elderly/vulnerable or self isolating, we will be able to post medications to you if you are unable to collect them from the practice. 

Can I still order flea and worming treatments or other medication?

Yes - this can be done via the online medication order form. Please allow 2 working days before coming to collect.  Opening hours are available here

Once you arrive for pick-up please go to the door - we can only allow a limited number of people into the reception area at a time so you may need to wait for a space - please let the greeting Receptionist know that you are here to collect food/meds and you will be directed where to wait whilst your items are brought out. Anyone entering the practice must wear a face covering. If you need to speak to someone regarding your order, please call the usual numbers. 

Can I still order pet food?

Yes, we currently have a very good supply of pet food on a daily basis.  Please order your food online here as our phone lines are extremely busy, we would ask that you collect any orders promptly (2 working days after ordering) to help with storage space.

Collection is currently only available from Didcot and Cholsey only. Once you arrive for pick-up please go to the door - we can only allow a limited number of people into the reception area at a time so you may need to wait for a space - please let the greeting Receptionist know that you are here to collect food and you will be directed where to wait whilst your items are brought out. Anyone entering the practice must wear a face covering. If you need to speak to someone regarding your order, please call the usual numbers. 

It's time for my pet to be neutered - can you help?

The latest guidelines allow us to perform the following:

  • Spay and castration of any cats to prevent a surge in unwanted pregnancies.
  • Spay of bitches (after their first season) for prevention of mammary carcinoma. 
  • Rabbit neutering so they can be kept in social groups.
  • Any other medical requirements for neutering of all species.

Any other routine neutering is not currently being undertaken but please call us to discuss your individual requirements. If it is not something we can currently undertake, we can keep details to contact you as and when guidelines from the RCVS change.

What is happening at your branches that are open?

We have increased the frequency of cleaning and disinfection within the branches, including contact surfaces, and our team are used to regular, thorough hand washing. We are still able to admit pets that require hospitalisation but unfortunately, visits will not be permitted except in exceptional circumstances.

If you are asked to enter the practice please follow instructions from our staff regarding your visit and thoroughly wash hands on arrival and departure.

Should I keep my cat indoors?

Please read the advice from the BVA regarding the article on the BBC news site today: https://www.bva.co.uk/news-and-blog/news-article/bva-statement-on-cats-and-covid-19/

The headline of the BBC article suggested that veterinary advice was to keep all cats indoors, but BVA has explained this advice is only in relation to cats in infected households or where people are self-isolating.

Ultimately, you should judge how friendly your cat is with other people and whether he/she visits other people’s houses.  Taking steps to ensure neighbours cats do not come into your house and not petting them seems like a sensible precaution for everyone. However, there are some considerations you will need to bear in mind if you choose not to let your cat outside at all:

  • This is a major change to their lifestyle that they will not understand
  • The stress can lead to health complications – in particular you should watch out for signs of straining to urinate, frequent small amounts, any blood in urine or lack of urine production
  • Rather than keeping them inside could you restrict your cat to entering only a small area of your house on return from roaming to limit risk?
  • If you decide to move your cat indoors follow advice carefully to try to make it as happy as possible (https://indoorpet.osu.edu/cats/felinelifestressors/bringing-cats-indoors)

There is some great information for cat owners on the iCatCare website (https://icatcare.org/covid-19-advice-for-cat-owners/) and the Ohio State University of Veterinary Medicine (https://indoorpet.osu.edu/cats/basic-indoor-cat-needs)

Can my pet get Covid-19?

Coronavirus is a term for a collection of virus' that range from the common cold to more serious conditions. They are zoonotic which means that they can sometimes transfer between humans and animals and it is not uncommon to see poorly pets in practice with a form of Coronavirus - for which we have strict quarantine and barrier nursing protocols in place.

Early on during the outbreak there was a report of Covid-19 (the new current strain that is all over the media) being found on a dog in Hong Kong following a weak positive test. Public health and veterinary experts in Hong Kong and The World Health Organisation (OIE) have been consulted and agree that the results suggest the dog has a low-level of infection and it is likely to be a case of human-to-animal transmission. The dog did not show any clinical signs of disease related to the virus. 

Currently there is no evidence of COVID-19 circulating in the UK pet population, only very limited evidence for transmission from humans to pet dogs, and none to suggest onward transmission from pets to humans. So at the moment there is no information to indicate that pets are involved in the epidemiology of the disease in humans.

This information was taken directly from the British Small Animal Veterinary Association website on the 12th of March.

One of the major laboratory testing facilities (Idexx) which is also used by Larkmead, has issued a statement saying that it has tested thousands of pets without any positive results seen so far.

https://www.idexx.co.uk/en-gb/about-idexx/no-covid-19-cases-pets/

Please also view our page: https://www.larkmead.co.uk/news/2020/covid-19