How is it possible that many vets report an increase in the ailments normally associated with hanging out with other dogs – visits to dog parks and the like – in dogs stuck at home with their owners during the pandemic?
These include kennel cough, which is common on boarding and daycare, and leptospirosis, a bacterial infection associated with puddles and dirty water. Two things dogs love to wallow in in dog parks?
For example, multiple vets stuck at home frolicking in the backyard can simulate these very same conditions.
“Everyone is more at home, so they see more things, especially things they might not have noticed before,” says Jenni Grady, DVM, who works at the Community Medical Center, which is part of Tufts University’s Cummings Veterinary Medical Center up north is Grafton, Mass. “As more people have purchased pets during the pandemic, they are seeing behavior that they are not used to.”
In this context, pet owners have faced the occasion and filled veterinary practices and emergency rooms. If there were concerns that people would forego the most routine treatment during the pandemic – either because of the cost of layoffs and closings or fears of disease exposure in veterinary offices – it simply wasn’t.
“It’s just one chance in the setting we’ve seen for so long,” says Kerry Young, DVM, of the Rutherford Veterinary Clinic in Dallas. “They’re willing to go the extra mile because they see their pets as part of the family, so they want to make sure they’re healthy.”
By and large, veterinarians say, pandemic trends have included:
Continuing care, especially for heartworms and fleas. The owners did not stop giving treatments despite the cost. Dr. Grady reports that flea is currently still popular with cats.
An increase in some immunizations, especially for leptospirosis and kennel cough. Dr. Young says she advises patients to pay close attention to shots for their locations such as Lyme disease in the northeast.
Busy clinics and emergency rooms in some parts of the country. Traffic had declined by up to 25 percent at the beginning of the pandemic, reports the AVNA, but it recovered quickly. Dr. Young says she didn’t see this in Dallas, but Drew Sullivan, DVM, says it was common in his Chicago practice that is part of the University of Illinois Clinic. In the early days of the pandemic, restrictions meant veterinarians schedule fewer appointments, while an increase in puppy and kitten adoptions over the past year meant more patients were seen. Dr. Sullivan says, “We were crazy busy and that was a surprise.”