The British Veterinary Association (BVA) is asking all pet owners to respect their veterinary teams and their professional judgements as the nationwide lockdown continues.
The announcement comes after members of the BVA have reportedly received abuse or “undue” pressure from frustrated clients.
Since the nationwide lockdown began on 23 March, veterinary practices have only been offering essential, urgent and emergency care or working to maintain the food supply chain.
The BVA warned this has had a “significant effect” on practices who have put staff on furlough and rearranged rotas in order to significantly reduce human contact and practice social distancing.
Following the release of updated veterinary guidance to support veterinary teams at this time, the BVA would like to warn that “this is not a return to business as usual”, and that pet owners should still expect non-essential treatments to be delayed.
Vets will still have to risk assess each individual case and “exercise their clinical and professional judgement” to decide whether face-to-face treatment is essential.
The BVA said that such assessments will vary across the country due to local disease risks, as well as vary between clients due to individual circumstances.
BVA president Daniella Dos Santos said: “Vets across the UK are working hard to provide essential care for animals in difficult circumstances. Many are working with reduced teams due to furloughing and self-isolation.
“Worryingly, our members are telling us that they’ve received abuse and undue pressure from clients. This is unacceptable. Vets are exercising their clinical and professional judgement in order to balance animal health and welfare, public health, client safety and the safety of their teams.”
She added: “The veterinary profession is playing its part in reducing the spread of Covid-19. This means that they will be assessing and prioritising cases, and clients should expect non-essential procedures to be delayed.
“Veterinary decisions will vary between practices and in different parts of the country. Just because certain vaccinations are considered essential in one area, does not mean that they are needed in another over the next few weeks.”