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Veterinarians' perceptions of COVID-19 pandemic–related influences on veterinary telehealth and on pet owners' attitudes toward cats and dogs

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  • From the Department of Research, College of Veterinary Medicine, Western University of Health Sciences, Pomona, CA 91766.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To gather and evaluate veterinarians' perspectives about the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the use of veterinary telehealth and on cat owners' versus dog owners' attitudes toward transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus from their pets.

SAMPLE

93 respondent veterinarians (47 in primary care practice and 46 in specialty practice).

PROCEDURES

An online survey was conducted between June 15 and July 15, 2020, and included 21 questions concerning demographics, use of telehealth before and after the onset of the pandemic (before March 15, 2020, and between March 15 and June 15, 2020, respectively), changes in caseloads, and perception of clients' concerns about potential for transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus from pets. Reported zip codes informed the collection of census data.

RESULTS

The level of poverty was significantly lower in zip code areas for respondents who reported telehealth services were (vs were not) offered before the pandemic. The percentage of respondents who reported their practice offered telehealth services increased from 12% (11/93) before the pandemic to 38% (35/93) between March 15 and June 15, 2020. Although most respondents reported owner-expressed concerns over SARS-CoV-2 virus transmission from their pets, most also reported increased caseloads, seeing newly adopted pets, and few discussions of surrender of pets for reasons related to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Findings indicated that caseloads increased and telehealth services expanded during the pandemic but that there was no evidence of differences in respondent-reported owner concern for SARS-CoV-2 virus transmission from cats versus dogs.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To gather and evaluate veterinarians' perspectives about the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the use of veterinary telehealth and on cat owners' versus dog owners' attitudes toward transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus from their pets.

SAMPLE

93 respondent veterinarians (47 in primary care practice and 46 in specialty practice).

PROCEDURES

An online survey was conducted between June 15 and July 15, 2020, and included 21 questions concerning demographics, use of telehealth before and after the onset of the pandemic (before March 15, 2020, and between March 15 and June 15, 2020, respectively), changes in caseloads, and perception of clients' concerns about potential for transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus from pets. Reported zip codes informed the collection of census data.

RESULTS

The level of poverty was significantly lower in zip code areas for respondents who reported telehealth services were (vs were not) offered before the pandemic. The percentage of respondents who reported their practice offered telehealth services increased from 12% (11/93) before the pandemic to 38% (35/93) between March 15 and June 15, 2020. Although most respondents reported owner-expressed concerns over SARS-CoV-2 virus transmission from their pets, most also reported increased caseloads, seeing newly adopted pets, and few discussions of surrender of pets for reasons related to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Findings indicated that caseloads increased and telehealth services expanded during the pandemic but that there was no evidence of differences in respondent-reported owner concern for SARS-CoV-2 virus transmission from cats versus dogs.

Supplementary Materials

    • Supplementary Appendix S1 (PDF 85 KB)

Contributor Notes

Address correspondence to Dr. Griffon (dgriffon@westernu.edu).