Update - May 25th, 2020
In-Home Visits and Non-Urgent Care Like Vaccines and Routine Check-ups Are Back On... With Some Catches
It’s been a long couple of months since COVID-19 first started to impact our in-home visits, and we’re happy to let you know that we will be slowly and carefully starting to return to normal operations in the weeks to come.
For now, we’ll be prioritizing patients in need of urgent care, and other cases already on our waiting list for things like vaccines and regular check-ups. It’s difficult to predict how long it will take us to get through the backlog of cases, but we appreciate you bearing with us while we do the best we can to catch up.
We of course also want everyone to stay safe as we start to ease back to normal. In that regard, we’ll be practicing using the following guidelines for the foreseeable future.
- If it’s possible to complete a visit outside, we’ll do so. It’s much easier to practice physical distancing that way, plus many of our canine patients feel outdoor exams are the best!
- When it’s not possible to conduct our visit outside (say with a feline patient or inclement weather), we’ll try to minimize time indoors by chatting in the driveway or on the phone first.
- When we do come into your home to examine your pet(s), we ask that everyone involved wear a non-medical grade mask. If you or a member of your household don’t have one, please let us know and we may be able to provide one for you.
- We’re happy to have you observe our interaction with your pet, but we ask that everyone respect the 2 m physical distancing guideline, whether indoors or out. This may take some creative thinking depending on the location, but as a group we can work together to find a solution that helps keep everyone safe.
Update - April 28th, 2020
It’s hard to believe it’s been over a month since our last post, but as life goes on amid COVID-19 we wanted to take this opportunity to update you on a few things.
First and foremost, we want to send out a big thank you to all of our members and clients.
We really appreciate both your support and your understanding during this challenging time. If it weren’t for you, we wouldn’t be able to continue operations. We consider ourselves very lucky to have such wonderful clients, and we look forward to seeing you all in person again soon.
At the same time, we realize this pandemic has affected everyone in our society and has imposed unexpected financial hardship on many. If you are anxious about being able to make your usual Treatwell monthly subscription payments please contact us to discuss how we can help.
For now, we’re continuing to operate in a way that is conducive to social distancing by emphasizing our telemedicine and delivery services and doing the occasional urgent curb-side exam. These services are open to both existing and new clients and you can find the full details under our March 25th update below.
More New Information on SARS-CoV-2 and Pets
In the last few weeks, you've probably heard a little bit about how SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) may or may not affect your pets. We wanted to give you our quick summary of what’s going on to cut through the noise:
- Researchers are finding out that the SARS-CoV-2 virus affects different species in different ways.
- There are now several cases where cats have been infected, and have shown positive test results. This includes several domestic cats (not to mention a tiger and a lion at the Bronx Zoo). In most cases, these animals had direct contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19, but in other cases, the link isn’t clear. It’s assumed asymptomatic human carriers played a role in infecting these animals.
- The affected cats have shown mild signs of upper respiratory tract disease, and have all recovered well.
- Dogs continue to seem less susceptible to the virus than do cats and humans, as well as other species like ferrets and mink who have also tested positive. Even though it seems dogs can be infected with the virus, there haven't been any cases of dogs getting sick from it yet.
- As of today, there haven’t been any documented cases of COVID-19 being transmitted from pets back to people. While no one can say this is impossible, it seems that the risk of this sort of transmission is exceptionally low.
How Can I Keep My Pet and Myself Safe?
- Remember, a pet-parent is much more likely to transmit the virus TO their pet, than to get if FROM their pet.
- Socially distancing your pets (just like yourself and the rest of the family) is a good idea. Keep them inside with you, and keep them under control outside to avoid interaction with other people.
- If you are sick, keep your pet in the house with you, but limit your direct contact with them as much as possible.
- If you’re worried about any signs of illness in your pet, please contact your veterinarian to discuss the details.
Update - March 25th, 2020
With the continued spread of the novel coronavirus (now officially labelled SARS-CoV-2) through the community, and an increased number of related illnesses, the new reality is starting to sink in. Effective social distancing is a must to help stop the spread of COVID-19, and we're continuing to adapt our practices to help, while still doing our best to provide excellent patient care.
In addition to the measures listed below in the March 17th update, we wanted to bring the following to your attention:
Veterinarians have been included in Ontario's list of essential servicesAs they should be! This means we're still open for business, serving the pets and pet-parents of Ottawa.
We are operating mostly through Our telemedicine and Delivery ServicesThis is by far the best way to maintain social distancing, and these services are open to members and non-members alike. Have a concern about your pet's health? Call, email or chat with us and we can connect any way you like.
we have decided we will no longer be entering client's homes until further noticeThis was an incredibly hard decision to make, and we realize it compromises our ability to care for certain patients (especially our feline friends and those in need of end-of-life care). We've made this tough call in the interest of keeping our other services running as long as possible, and to ensure the safety of our clients and team members. If your pet has a condition we aren't currently able to treat, we can still help direct you to the appropriate resource so please don't hesitate to call.
We're Still doing curb-side exams for Many (Mostly Canine) patientsIt's a little different from our usual routine, but we're getting used to it. When we arrive at your home we'll call you on the phone to discuss your concerns and the broad plan. If it's a nice day we might have a chat in the driveway instead. We'll then ask you to pass us your dog on a secure leash so we can perform the appropriate exam/treatments on the spot before leaving you with the prescriptions and/or other care instructions you need.
Expect delays on the delivery of foodThe supply of both pet food and medications is still very good, but our supplier has responded to the wave of increased demand by limiting the amount of product sold to each clinic. They're prioritizing the delivery of medication, and are catching up on the backlog of food orders. At this point we're seeing delays of 5-7 days, and we expect that should improve, but it's difficult to promise specific dates at this time. We'll do our best to get your food out to you as soon as possible.
WE'Re Changing our Hours TemporarilyIt seems that most people are now at home most of the time (excellent social distancing people!), so we've had less demand for evening appointments than usual. We'll be moving to a daily 8am - 4pm schedule until further notice as a result to help us spend more time with our families. That being said, if you require an evening appointment please let us know and we will make arrangements for this.
New Information on SARS-CoV-2 and Pets
Please see our original March 13th post below to answer the question "Can Pets Get Infected with the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) Virus?" The information there is still accurate, although there have been some new developments:
- There are now 2 dogs in Hong Kong who have tested positive for COVID-19 viral material, and both of them are thought to have acquired the virus from their owners who tested positive themselves.
- There is still no evidence that either of these pets became sick due to having the virus, or that they are able to spread it to humans. Please see these statements from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) for more details.
- That being said, the absence of evidence isn't the same as evidence of absence. There is still a lot we don't know about the role pets (and livestock) may or may not play in the transmission of COVID-19, either through getting infected themselves or through acting as fomites. At current, it seems the risk of pets transmitting the COVID-19 virus is very, very low, but please check out this post from Dr. Scott Weese at the Ontario Veterinary College for a more nuanced overview.
- It's also worth mentioning here that the first dog who tested positive for the COVID-19 has died, although its death is thought to be unrelated to the virus. The dog was a 17-year-old pomeranian with multiple pre-existing health concerns, and successfully cleared a 14-day quarantine prior to passing away 2 days later. As part of clearing quarantine the dog tested negative for the virus prior to its death, but the owner declined to conduct an autopsy so there was no precise determination on cause of death.
- Out of an abundance of caution, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other animal health authorities are recommending you should restrict contact with your pets, as you would with any family member, only if you are confirmed to have COVID-19, and especially during the time you have active symptoms.
Update - March 17th, 2020
This is hard. The spread of the COVID-19 virus has put a huge strain on all of us, both in terms of the rapid changes to our daily routines, and the anxiety and stress we are all feeling as a result. We know caring for your pets is a top priority, and we will continue to provide care, but we also need to make some changes.
As Ottawa starts to see some community spread of the COVID-19 virus, Treatwell Pet Care and the Mobile Veterinary Services of Ottawa will be taking additional precautions to help keep our clients, our staff and our loved ones safe. These precautions will allow us to continue our high level of care while being part of the community effort to "flatten the curve" and protect those most vulnerable in our society. All of the following are effective as of today:
We'll be postponing all non-urgent medical visits until further noticeThat being said, we are still happy to book remote consultations by phone, video chat or even by email. Just let us know which way you prefer to connect!
For urgent medical needs, we'll be assessing things on a case by case basisWe may conduct most of the conversation part of the visit over the phone, and will then arrange to provide adequate in-person care in a way that maintains good social distancing practices. If you have been travelling, are self-isolating or have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 please let us know in advance of your appointment.
need food or medication? Don't worry - we have you coveredThe delivery aspect of our business will continue to operate with a few minor tweaks. We will be contacting each client to arrange a way to leave products on a doorstep, mailbox or other safe area. For clients who live in apartments, we may ask you to meet us outside your building. Also, we'll be focusing on processing payments using card numbers on file (members) or by other electronic means (non-members). Flea and tick season is coming up, and we know you have enough to worry about already - if you'd like us to leave a refill of preventive medication in your mailbox just let us know.
SOME FOOD DELIVERIES MAY BE DELAYED BY 3-5 DAYSWhile there is still a healthy supply of all our usual products, our supplier has seen increased demand in the last few days. They are currently prioritizing the shipment of medication over food, but we will do our best to get any product to you in a timely manner and will notify you directly of any delays.
We're continuing to follow the advice of public health officialsWe are continuing to wash/sanitize our hands and equipment before and after every interaction. We are also disinfecting products we are sending out for delivery as best we can given their packaging. Following the recommendations of public health officials, you will not see us wearing face masks at this time. We have made sure our staff know the symptoms of COVID-19, and if any of us start to show signs we will self-isolate and re-evaluate our ability to continue service.
Update - March 13th, 2020
The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is at the forefront of everyone’s mind these days. There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding what will happen in the weeks to come, so we wanted to take this opportunity to answer a few questions you might have about how this could affect the health of your pets, and how that relates to your health and that of your family and friends.
What is a Coronavirus and How Did This Happen ?!?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that includes infections like SARS, MERS and now SARS-CoV-2, which causes the disease known as COVID-19, or Coronavirus Disease 2019. The term “novel” which is being used to describe COVID-19 simply means this is a new virus that hasn’t been previously documented.
Coronaviruses are generally zoonotic, which means they can be transmitted from animals to people. Current research shows that the COVID-19 likely originated in bats and may have been transmitted to people in the live-animal markets of Wuhan, China.
SARS is also thought to have originated in bats, and MERS is thought to have originated in camels. Currently, there are no human coronaviruses that have come from dogs or cats.
Can Pets Get Infected by the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) Virus?
Both dogs and cats have their own respective coronaviruses that can affect them, but these are not transmissible to humans, and they are not the current COVID-19 virus causing widespread disruption in our society.
So far, there is a single dog in Hong Kong that has tested positive for COVID-19 viral material but the dog is healthy and only low levels of the virus were found in his system. He’s a Pomeranian if you were wondering, and he likely acquired the infection from his owner who also tested positive. This is a very unusual case, and the World Health Organization (WHO) confirms there’s no evidence to suggest pets can become ill from COVID-19, or that they can spread it to other animals or humans.
The WHO also advises that there is currently no evidence that COVID-19 can infect cats.
If I Am Diagnosed with COVID-19 How Do I Protect My Pets?
While there is no evidence that you could transmit COVID-19 to your cat, and transmission to your dog is highly unlikely, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is recommending caution. They suggest you should restrict contact with your pets, as you would with any family member, only if you are confirmed to have COVID-19, and especially during the time you have active symptoms.
If you must care for your pets while you are sick, they recommend washing your hands before and after contact with them and wearing a face mask.
What are Treatwell Pet Care and the Mobile Veterinary Services of Ottawa Doing to Protect Staff and Clients Against COVID-19?
As of today, there are a few confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa, and there will be more to come. Due to the nature of our in-home care model we interact directly with a low number of people on a daily basis, so we will continue business as usual, with a few exceptions:
- We have always tried to leverage the power of telemedicine to treat our member pets remotely when appropriate. At a time like this, we’ll try to emphasize this aspect of our care even more - if your pet has a non-urgent health concern get in touch and we’ll see if we can solve the problem without an in-home visit.
- We always practise good hand hygiene to prevent the spread of any illness between our patients, but we’ll be doubling down on this, as well as the frequency with which we disinfect our equipment.
- No offence, but we’ll be passing on handshaking for a while. Please consider the "Wuhan Shake" (i.e. foot tap) as a nifty alternative!
- We have also made sure our staff know the symptoms of COVID-19 infection and instructed them to stay home and follow the recommendations of Ottawa Public Health if they become ill with any respiratory symptoms.
Where Can I Find Out More About COVID-19?
Things are changing pretty quickly, and there can be a lot of misinformation and unnecessary fear online. Please make sure you’re getting your information from credible sources like the following:
- Contact Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000 or your local public health unit if you think you’re experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.
- Check out Ottawa Public Health for up-to-date, local information.
- Visit the World Health Organization for all definitive Coronavirus facts.
- Check out the Worms & Germs blog by Dr. Scott Weese of the Ontario Veterinary College for the most informed perspective on the zoonotic perspective of this disease.
If you have any questions or concerns, wash your hands, then call (613-230-2106) or email us. Then wash your hands again just to be safe!