What Would You Do if Your Dog Got Sick on Holiday?

If you are holidaying with your pet this summer, remember to find out about the arrangements for out-of-hours emergencies at a local veterinary practice before you go, advises the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS).

Veterinary surgeons across the UK are required under RCVS guidelines to make provision for out-of-hours emergency veterinary treatment, a commitment they have recently re-affirmed. However, it is the responsibility of animal owners to know what to do and where to go in a veterinary emergency, something which is particularly important when travelling away from home.

“Thankfully, the most eventful thing about a holiday for a pet is usually all the new and exciting places to explore,” says RCVS Vice-President Jerry Davies. “However, if an emergency does arise, pets depend on receiving prompt veterinary attention, so owners need to know in advance what to do and where to go.”

The easiest way for animal owners to find practices local to UK holiday destinations is via the College’s free online ‘Find-a-Vet’ service (www.findavet.org.uk), which can be searched by town or postcode. This also shows whether practices are accredited by the RCVS under its Practice Standards Scheme – a voluntary accreditation scheme which helps to promote and maintain the highest standards of veterinary care.

“Outside normal practice hours, the provision of emergency veterinary treatment can vary and might well be different from that which owners are used to at home,” says Jerry. “Practices may provide emergency cover themselves, team up with other practices to look after a bigger area, or contract out to dedicated emergency service providers.”

“Practices should always be able to explain their arrangements clearly for the times when they are closed, so it’s best to give them a call beforehand to double check,” he advises. “Your usual veterinary practice may also be able to help you target a suitable practice at your holiday destination.”

So, before setting off on holiday, animal owners should remember the following:

* Use www.findavet.org.uk) to locate a local veterinary practice and find out what its emergency provisions are, or ask your own vet for advice;
* Take any medication with you that your animal might already be on and the instructions for it’s use;
* Home visits are rare, even in an emergency, so be prepared to take your animal to the practice as that’s where it can usually be treated best;
* A ‘holiday’ practice will need to see your animal’s clinical records, so take your usual vet’s contact details with you;
* There is no NHS for pets: emergency treatments out-of-hours will often be more expensive (although vets are required to obtain clients’ consent for any non-emergency treatment);
* Even if you’re leaving your pet with a friend or pet-sitter, it’s still worth contacting your usual practice to double check that their arrangements for veterinary emergencies haven’t changed.

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