A stunned goldendoodle, grinning from curly to curly ear, waits his turn in the parking lot of the McCordsville veterinary hospital, trying to poke his big black nose through the crack in his owner’s SUV window.
Meanwhile, a sleek black pointer comes out of the front door of the hospital, his master carrying a bag of drugs to be delivered to his mother who is waiting in the parking lot.
Car after car here to get treatment for furry loved ones for problems, vets say these pet owners probably hadn’t noticed before.
But as people hang around their homes due to the coronavirus pandemic, they are now noticing them.
“They spend more time with their pets and see things. ‘You know, he looks a little funny to me. His breath smells a little weird. He eats funny,” said Michael Graves, veterinarian. , owner and CEO of Indianapolis. Pet welfare clinics. “People tend to notice things with their pets a little faster, things they would have overlooked before.”
The good news for the animals is that they are receiving much-needed medical attention, said Anne Browne, emergency vet at VCA, Advanced Veterinary Care Center in Fishers.
“Some of the chronic issues that people have postponed care for,” she said, “they’re home, they’ve got the time, and they’re getting some of the care that kind of lingers in pets. for weeks and months. “
However, some of the medical issues vets are seeing are directly linked to the COVID-19 quarantine. Anxiety, injuries, no more fights.
“Dogs and cats are having more and more problems,” Browne said. “They’re not necessarily confined, so they have more to do. People’s animals actually disagree more.”
Beyond that, the dogs run, jump and play with the owners in the backyard.
“We’re seeing injuries because of this,” said Randy Cross, medical director and neurologist at VCA, which has a 24/7 emergency room, adding that beyond physical health of animals lie mental problems.
After all, pets are forced to put up with their humans.
Dogs and cats used to managing their homes must live with their owners day and night. As much as they love those scratches and pats, it can be stressful, Cross said.
“There is anxiety in animals because you change their entire schedule and their environment,” he said. “They’re used to you going to work and being away and away, but now they share (the house) all day.”
This can disrupt their sleeping patterns and induce unusual behavior. Some animals even take action, using the bathroom outside of the litter box or becoming cranky.
“It’s also a big change for them,” Cross said.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, many practices saw their revenues decline by an average of 20% in March. However, vets in many places, including Indiana, are now seeing a recovery.
“I follow the income coming in and right now it’s pretty much stable which is pretty amazing considering…” said Cross. Given the recession induced by the coronavirus.
Aaron Smiley said the most notable change for vets has been the way they view their patients.
“It’s not that they’re busier,” said Smiley, who practices at Anderson and is president of the Indiana Veterinary Medical Association. “It’s different.”
Telemedicine, roadside car tours and, rarely, allowing customers inside while their pets are being treated.
At McCordsville, owners are encouraged to bring their pets inside the first set of doors, where they are picked up by a member of staff. After examining the animal, a doctor calls the client, who remains in his car, to discuss treatment.
In other cases, when possible, care can be done virtually, over a phone call – especially if the animal has been recently seen – or by video conference.
“The biggest change and disappointment in some ways is our lack of interaction with customers,” Cross said. “We still have the patient interaction, but it’s amazing to forget how much personal interaction happens when seeing someone and looking at them.”
It can be difficult and frustrating not to have face-to-face contact with pet owners, Cross said, especially when something bad is wrong with the animal.
This has been the hardest part for Brenda Long, a receptionist at VCA, whose job during the coronavirus is to collect pets from cars and take them to hospital.
“It’s very different. Before they could enter the building they felt safe because they had the animal with them, they trusted the doctor because they were doing things with the client,” said Long. “Now they have to sit outside and wonder. “
Unless a pet is asleep or seriously ill, owners are urged to stay in the car. Long must have looked at those cars and seen tears fall.
“People are crying in their cars and we take them Kleenex which is put in plastic bags so they can have something to cry on,” she said. “You can’t kiss them. It’s a sad situation for sure. It’s hard on the client; it’s hard on us.”
On a happier note, however, is exhaustion, she said. Long spends most of his days battling these happy dogs in the hospital. Dealing with hissing cats. And just do what she always loved.
Be there for the animals.
“After it’s all over,” Smiley said. “We need to remember those staff and vets who were on the front lines of keeping the animals healthy during this time. Remember the compassion they showed.”
Follow IndyStar Sports Journalist Dana Benbow on Twitter: @DanaBenbow. Contact her by email: [email protected]