Why can't I get my pet in today?
Vet appointments are getting harder to come by. This isn’t just the case here, but it seems like it is becoming a common problem. We are seeing vet clinics from all over Alberta posting on their websites and social media that their hours are shortening due to staff shortages and they are not able to provide prompt care to their clients or accept referrals.
But, what’s the problem? Why can’t you get your pet seen on short notice?
It is a multifactorial problem, that’s for sure. Here are the top reasons why:
- Alberta has a veterinary staff shortage
- According to THIS story by CBC, there are currently 370 open positions in Alberta for veterinarians
- Veterinary technologists are also highly sought after professionals and are very much in demand
- Currently, we would love to hire at least 2 more veterinarians and 3 more technologists at our clinic
- But why is there a shortage of veterinarians?
- Pet adoption has skyrocketed during COVID times
- Probably due to more people being home during quarantine and working from home, pet adoptions are way up
- We are seeing both first-time pet owners and families adding additional pets to their homes
- The number of patients that need to be seen is increasing
- Pet wellness has grown drastically in a short amount of time
- During the course of some of our careers, we have seen the transition of dogs going from mostly living on farm porches all the way to sleeping in our beds
- Cats have also become beloved members of many families, even though they mostly consider themselves as “roommates”
- We are seeing many more pets for many more medical issues than ever before
- COVID-type symptoms are causing more sick days for staff
- Because of provincially mandated isolation requirements, more staff members are having to stay home until they get a negative test result
- School closures, childcare provider closures and sick kids are keeping veterinary professional parents home as well
- This causes a backlog of care for patients that need to be seen
- Stress in the workplace
- We find ourselves in a unique time in our profession
- In our lifetime, dogs and cats have gone from farmyard animals to pets, and now are more and more being considered as “fur babies”
- Our profession has seen the evolution of providing basic veterinary care of animals to extensive, specialist referral care being available
- Unfortunately, there are many people that consider pet ownership to be a right and not a luxury, and some are unable to financially care for the well-being of their dog or cat when urgent care is required
- Many pet owners expect top-notch vet care for their pets but are not always prepared to deal with the financial responsibilities
- More often than we would like, we are held emotionally hostage and are accused of “not caring” and “just being in it for the money” when discussing the financial requirements of veterinary care with these owners
- This has attributed to a massive emotional toll and burnout in our industry
- COVID workplace restrictions have also added to the stress that we experience daily as not all clients appreciate the accommodations we try to make to still be able to provide them with veterinary care for their animals
- For more information about the struggles that the veterinary community faces, Not One More Vet is an organization that is shining a light on this issue
- In our workplace, we understand the toll of emotional burnout of employees and are taking steps to mitigate stresses where possible and provide a workplace that supports both its employees and its clients
Fundamentally though, what remains the same is why we got into this profession in the first place. We love animals. There isn’t a veterinary professional that I know of that is indifferent to animals. We love the challenge of caring for patients that cannot tell us how they are feeling. We love the relationships that we form with their owners. We love puppies and kittens, and we love watching them grow and mature. We grieve with our clients during the hard times too. We rack our brains and lose sleep when we can’t figure out tough medical cases, and we celebrate our peers who are able to. We do care. We love this community and all the pet owners and pets that live here.
So, our profession is struggling. What can you do to help?
- Book your routine appointments, refill your prescriptions and order food well in advance
- There are so many ways to get in touch with us to do so
- You can request an appointment, fill a prescription or order food via our website or on our app at any time of day or night
- These requests are usually handled within a few business days and are the easiest for us to accommodate
- You can book your next annual exam at the conclusion of your pet’s current annual exam
- If you are going on holidays, plan ahead to make sure your pet’s vaccines are up to date and that you have all the supplies you need
- Come in for annual veterinary exams, sometimes we can pick on on small problems before they turn into big problems
- We are doing our best to triage urgent and emergent cases
- We would love nothing more than to see your pet on any given day, but sometimes we can’t unless it is an absolute emergency (we will move mountains to try and accommodate our client’s true emergency cases)
- We are limited in the number of cases we can see in a day physically, mentally, and due to time constraints
- We are usually able to accommodate an appointment for our clients within a few days and are still often squeezing in urgent cases when we are able to
- We are trying our best to provide care to as many pets as possible
- When it comes to our staff, choose kindness, patience and understanding
- We know how upsetting it can be to see your pet not feeling well, please know we are trying to see them as soon as we can
- We don’t put COVID restrictions in our workplace to be difficult, we do so to help protect our community
- As pet owners, know your options and have a backup plan if we can’t see your pet immediately
- Consider a career in veterinary medicine
- If you or someone you know loves animals and are looking for a career change, consider becoming a veterinarian or veterinary technologist
If you have any comments, questions or concerns, please contact us.