Pandemics and Veterinary Medicine: The Perfect Storm

COVID has affected our society, our families and even us as individuals, in many ways. Eating indoors at our favorite restaurants, seeing movies in the theater, and even spending the day at an amusement park have all changed due to the virus. Unfortunately, veterinary medicine has also become a whole new world due to the pandemic.

Here at Cane Bay Vet Clinic, we have more than doubled our new clients and patients since the beginning of covid. This has been great for a growing business, but it has caused a number of headaches and growing pains along the way. Some of these, our clients and patients have experienced firsthand.

One of the biggest issues we faced during the peak of covid was availability of appointments. As our clientele increased, our availability subsequently decreased. This meant longer wait times for clients trying to get their pets in for preventative care services, such as annual exams, as we tried to accommodate the influx of sick patients we were seeing as well.

This growth and lack of availability can cause a great amount of stress for staff as they work to navigate the overwhelming demand. Doctors, technicians, assistants, and client care representatives alike find themselves being pulled in many different directions to meet the needs of their clients, patients and co-workers. Unfortunately, this stress can cause breakdowns in communication which leaves many owners feeling frustrated and upset.

For this reason, the majority of veterinary clinics also find themselves needing more staff members to accommodate their growing clientele. The problem that many of our clients don’t know is that veterinary clinics are notoriously understaffed as it is. During the pandemic clinics have found themselves struggling to hire and keep staff due to employee burn out from stress, a growing mental health crisis, insufficient wages, and demanding schedules.

Individual clinics aren’t the only ones suffering either. Vet med as whole is struggling to keep certain medications and equipment such as gloves and masks on the shelves. Many of these things are on back order, meaning what we used to be able to have ready for you in a few days, may not be ready for a few weeks or more.

To make things worse, not only are things harder to come by, but the price has gone up dramatically. A box of gloves that used to cost $7.00 is now $25.00. Medications and other supplies such as syringes, needles, and vaccines have increased as well. This means that many clinics across the country are having to increase their price of services to keep their doors open. So, while clients see this as veterinary staff only being in it for the money, the truth is, we do it so we can continue being there for you and your pet.

But how can you as a valued client and pet owner help?

Start a savings account for your pet or purchase pet insurance! It can be incredibly stressful to have a sick pet and you have no way to pay for it, which can cause tensions between well intentioned owners and a helpless veterinary staff. Having that peace of mind knowing your pet can be cared for under unforeseen circumstances is one less thing to worry about during a global pandemic.

Routine veterinary care can also become expensive (even when we’re not dealing with a global pandemic!) and during peak quarantine we found many families with a pet for the first time. Puppy and kitten visits add up quickly; throw in a neuter or spay and suddenly you’ve spent a thousand dollars. This can be off putting to someone who has never owned a pet. This also goes for multiple pet families as well. Can you care for multiple pets that may need care frequently? Keeping your pet up to date with routine exams can also save you money in the long run. It’s much easier to keep a pet healthy than it is to treat a sick one!

We are extremely blessed here at Cane Bay Vet Clinic with an amazing group of clients and patients. Many of you have been here with us since the beginning and stuck with us through a very uncertain time, and for that we’d like to say Thank You! If you are a new client looking for a vet clinic home in the Summerville, South Carolina area, we’d love to chat with you!

I’d like to close this out with a request; please be kind to your veterinary staff. They are doing their best to give gold standard medicine, love and compassion to your pets while meeting the needs of you as the owner. We all stumble and make mistakes, but in the end all we can hope for is a little understanding and kindness.