Exploring the impact of COVID-19 on veterinary access and care for dogs

University of Liverpool researchers are seeking the views of UK dog owners to learn how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted their experiences of accessing veterinary health care and caring for dogs with chronic health issues.

Chronic conditions, such as osteoarthritis, epilepsy, diabetes, dental problems and obesity, have been identified as a priority welfare concern for dogs in the UK, as they affect the greatest number of dogs and cause poor welfare.

Social-distancing measures introduced to control the COVID-19 pandemic led to a decrease in the number of veterinary consultations, changes in how consultations are run and suspension of visits for these conditions. Veterinarians have expressed concerns that these changes may lead to long-term changes in how these owners engage with veterinary healthcare.

Dr Carri Westgarth and Dr Sara Owczarczak-Garstecka are leading the study, aims to compare dog owners’ experiences of seeking and accessing veterinary-healthcare during COVID-19 and to explore their experiences of caring for a range of chronic health problems before and during the pandemic (even if they didn’t seek veterinary help) and their future care-plans.

The survey is open to anyone aged 18 years or over, living in the UK and who owned a dog during the pandemic. It can be accessed at: https://bit.ly/37k2lQ6 and will remain open until Monday, 25 January.

The study is funded by the Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF). AWF is a fundraising and grant giving charity (charity number 287118) directed by veterinary and animal welfare professionals, which uses veterinary knowledge to improve the welfare of animals through science, education and debate. More information can be found at www.animalwelfarefoundation.org.uk