Are vets open during lockdown?

vets open lockdown
Rusty, the cat with at least nine lives

The simple answer is yes, vets are open during lockdown, but not in the usual way. Government regulations allow vet surgeries to remain open but with much reduced contact with owners. According to British Veterinary Association advice vets can fill prescriptions, provide food and sell routine treatments such as worming tablets and provide emergency care. This includes euthanising sick animals.

Usually a vet can’t write a prescription for an animal without having seen it, but this regulation has been lifted during lockdown. The situation is being monitored. Some vets are still offering routine puppy and kitten vaccinations, microchipping, and boosters. Neutering and nail clipping though are not considered essential and many practices aren’t offering it at the moment.

Alternative ways of ‘seeing’ animals

Many vets are using alternative ways of ‘seeing’ animals and their owners. This includes telephone and video consultions. If an animal does need to go to the practice the owner is not usually allowed into the building. Often an owner arriving by car isn’t allowed out of the car but will have the animal taken from it by a member of staff.

After treatment if appropriate your vet might ask you to send photos so that progress or healing can be kept under review.

What to do if your animal needs treatment

So what do you need to keep in mind if you think your pet needs to see a vet? Firstly not all practices are open, so don’t just turn up – ring them and check how they are working at the moment. Secondly, if anyone in your household has symptoms of Covid-19 you should not take your sick animal to the vet. Again, ring the surgery and ask them how they deal with this situation. Some vets do home visits in these circumstances, taking extra precautions.

Speak to your pet insurance company if you think you will need to make a claim. Many insurance companies don’t cover the consequences of notifiable diseases, and Covid-19 is a notifiable disease.

vets open lockdown
Rusty enjoying a sunny day


If the worst happens and your pet needs to be put down, what can you expect? It will vary from practice to practice, but Jen from Birmingham, one of our earliest Petflap customers, got in touch to share her experience when Rusty, her mum’s 18 year old tabby, was very ill.

Mum put Rusty in her carrier and drove 20minutes to the vets. She was under strict instruction to leave the carrier on the doorstep of the vets, ring the doorbell and step back to the marker (3m away) and then a very friendly and sympathetic vet nurse picked up the carrier and told Mum that she will personally cuddle Rusty until the end. Mum had put one of her jumpers in the carrier for Rusty to be held with so that Rusty could be put at ease by Mum’s scent.

Mum was told to return to her car and wait for her empty carrier to be placed outside the door. Mum spent the full 20minutes sobbing in her car until the carrier was placed outside the door.

So in this case rules were in place about what could be in the carrier with the cat – just one type of material eg a jumper or newspaper – and the carrier had to be freshly cleaned. The usual social distancing rules were observed. Apart from minimal contact with the nurse at drop-off all communication was over the phone. In fact this story has a happy ending. Jen again:

Mum went to collect the carrier and in total shock and disbelief, Rusty was still in there. The Nurse said that the vet will be phoning her momentarily to discuss. In pure amazement the vet had decided now was not the time for Rusty and instead took blood and gave her a 10-day antibiotic shot.

So great news for everyone, and we could all use some good news at the moment.