Plan ahead for holidays with pets Print E-mail
News - Rubrieke
Sunday, 24 April 2016 19:08
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Dr Liesel van der Merwe is a small animal medicine specialist. Send her your questions: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Dr Liesel van der Merwe

I did a locum for a friend of mine in a small practice in the Western Cape over Easter.

You know, trying to get some good time in the beautiful Cape while still earning a few Rands . . . Well, was I ever mistaken. This was no holiday.

I have always worked in larger institutions where you were either at work, on duty or off. There was no being ‘on call’ over the long weekend. Over and above the normal consulting I was called out to eight emergencies, four of them life threatening. I had to perform three after-hours surgeries. 

When you are on call you feel stressed if you even travel 30 minutes away from the practice. You are nervous to plan out a day, as it will probably be interrupted. And then sometimes, the case could have been dealt with earlier, the day before or that morning during consulting hours, if the owners just had their act together, or had been more observant.

Yet, on the other side of the coin, there is the satisfaction in being able to help these clients and fix their pets. We only lost one after-hours patient as his condition was too advanced to recover. All the others recovered and are doing well.

My friend has been on call for 16 years. I take my hat off to him. To have any time free, even a weekend to spend with his family, he has to arrange for a locum. Often we are unaware of the stresses involved in the lives of others. Walking a mile in another person's shoes does really give perspective. It takes truly dedicated people to man these small town clinics.

I was stressed and tired after this locum. I really earned my money this time, but I was also filled with the happiness of what made me want to be a vet in the first place: The ability to stop animals from suffering, be it through euthanasia or treatment.

The clinic is at a holiday spot, so holidays and weekends bring an influx of people and many come bearing pets. The majority of the patients I saw as emergencies were from out of town.

If you are taking your pet on holiday with you, you need to plan ahead a little:
Make sure you know where the nearest vet is and what the contact details and consulting hours are.

Not all vets are available after hours and sometimes the after-hours clinic may be a distance away in another suburb.

If your pet needs special medication, make sure you have enough for the duration of the holiday. Vets don’t always keep all types of medications on the shelf. The same applies to special diets.

If your pet may need specialised care when on holiday, for example those on chemotherapy or diabetics, make sure you have a script or a letter from your normal vet, which explains the situation, or make sure your normal vet contacts the vet in your holiday town.


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