'Include Veterinary Care in Christmas Plans,' Advises the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons

By Royal College Of Veterinary Surgeons, PRNE
Thursday, December 2, 2010

LONDON, December 3, 2010 - If you own a pet, remember to check your vet's opening hours in the run
up to Christmas, advises the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), the
regulatory body for veterinary surgeons. In particular, pet owners should
make sure they know what the arrangements are for emergencies when the
practice is closed.

"Despite owners' best efforts, emergencies can arise over Christmas, so
it's best to be prepared," says RCVS Vice-President Jerry Davies. "Pets
sometimes take a fancy to Christmas decorations - tinsel, for example, can
cause serious intestinal injuries if ingested, and broken glass baubles can
cause foot injuries. Whatever the emergency though, pets deserve prompt
veterinary attention."

Veterinary surgeons across the UK are required under RCVS guidelines to
make provision for out-of-hours emergency veterinary treatment, even at
Christmas. However, animal owners are responsible for knowing what to do and
where to go in an emergency, including over the Christmas and New Year
holiday period, when many practices will have reduced opening hours.

"The arrangements for providing emergency care when practices are shut do
vary, but practices should always be able to explain clearly what these are,"
says Jerry. "Some practices may provide emergency cover themselves, others
will team up with different practices to look after a bigger area, or
contract out to dedicated emergency service providers. Be prepared to travel
a little bit further if you are diverted to an on-call service."

There can be other festive hazards too. "This season often brings a lot
of poisoning emergencies" says Alexander Campbell of the Veterinary Poisons
Information Service, an organisation that advises veterinary professionals
about suspected poisoning cases. "Last Christmas, we handled over 50
telephone calls a day from veterinary practices. Some cases were serious and
a few had fatal outcomes. Wherever possible, pets should be kept away from
Christmas trees and decorations, festive plants, presents, batteries, foods
and snacks," he warns, adding, "The 'Pets and Poisons' leaflet we produced
with the BVA Animal Welfare Foundation contains helpful advice for animal
owners." [www.bva-awf.org.uk/resources/leaflets/]

Whether people acquire new animals at Christmas or any other time of
year, the RCVS recommends that owners register all their pets with a vet. The
easiest way to find practices in the UK is via the RCVS'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 under the
RCVS Practice Standards Scheme - a voluntary scheme that helps promote and
maintain the highest standards of veterinary care.

So, when making Christmas plans, pet owners should remember the

    - Check with your own vet what their emergency cover provisions and
      holiday opening hours are;

    - Use www.findavet.org.uk if you need to locate veterinary
      practices in your area or elsewhere in the UK;

    - Home visits are rare, even in an emergency, so be prepared to take your
      animal to a practice (which may be different to your usual practice),
      as that's where it can usually be treated best. The practice should be
      able to offer advice on local services that are prepared to transport

    - 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);

    - If you're leaving your pet with a friend or pet-sitter whilst you're
      away, remember to leave them details of your vet's emergency cover


1. The RCVS is the regulatory body for veterinary surgeons in the UK and
deals with issues of professional misconduct, maintaining the register of
veterinary surgeons eligible to practise in the UK and assuring standards of
veterinary education.

For more information please contact:

Claire Millington, Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons,
+44(0)20-7202-0783 / c.millington@rcvs.org.uk

For more information please contact: Claire Millington, Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, +44(0)20-7202-0783 / c.millington at rcvs.org.uk .

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