Dr Marvin Firth, the London-based vet of County Equine, travels far and wide for his clients. Specialising in the rehabilitation of both small animals and horses, he speaks with Quintessentially’s Head of Equestrian Services, Catherine Mills, about the current situation and what treatment—if any—we can still offer our pets…

CM- How has lockdown impacted vets on a day to day basis? 

It has been a difficult time for everyone, and very much so for veterinary surgeons and practices which are client-facing. Whilst animals themselves can’t develop COVID-19 symptoms, they can act as objects to pass the virus between people. As such, we have had to take measures to reduce client contact where possible and prioritise which conditions we actually see in person. We are now providing more telemedicine services via online consultations and over the phone. Despite this, should your pet need to see a vet, it is definitely still possible.

What treatments are you personally still able to do? 

For animals exhibiting pain and immobility, I am still providing advice and consultations. If these consultations are with the animal, then safety procedures are used to minimise any potential spread of the virus. This includes first screening the household with some questions ahead of making the appointment about their health status. Then, if they come in, using adequate facilities to examine the animal either alone or with just one person in the household, and trying to think of potential ways in which we can maintain social distancing. As before, some consultations can be performed online after getting an appropriate history; the Royal College has allowed us to issue prescriptions during this time over telemedicine as well. 

I have seen some conflicting advice regarding equine flu jabs—are vets allowed to carry out these routine vaccinations still to keep in line with competition rules? 

This is still a developing area, and each week we are getting more information from the British Veterinary Association and the Royal College. The British Equine Veterinary Association is hoping that with appropriate measures, we may be able to perform routine procedures—if we can still adhere to social distancing. It is an international issue, and the competition world will ALL be affected. 

However, we have to keep human health as our priority and help the national efforts to minimise disease spread. I would suggest that clients contact their veterinary surgeons and look out for statements released by the British Veterinary Association to give them the most up-to-date information. 

Due to lockdown, it’s been a while since my horse had her routine physio session. What is the current advice on whether vets or other physios can carry out this work during lockdown? 

Again, this may not be essential work and should be discussed individually with your vet or physio. Despite practices likely having fewer staff members on at the moment, there should be the option to discuss cases with them, with a decision made as to whether it is vital. If the welfare of an animal is considered to be compromised, veterinary professionals should be able to use their judgement to make a plan of action for you and your animal. 

Lastly, I understand that you are involved with a fun dog show, can you tell us a little about this? 

Every summer, I am involved in charity and family fun dog shows—for me, it is quintessentially British and in good fun. I felt that during this period, I wanted to celebrate the role that dogs have played in helping keep us sane and comforted, involving the whole family in an activity in which everyone can participate. 
I came up with the idea of the @stayathomedogshow, which will have four novel classes. These include National Hound Service (the dog who has provided most assistance during the COVID-19 lockdown), best trick, best-styled duo and best artistic interpretation of your dog (painting or model).

Anyone can enter, and it is free to do so; all you need is access to Instagram. We have four judges who will make the initial shortlist in each of the classes, and then the general public will be the judge to select the overall winners! We have some fantastic prizes and can’t wait to see everyone’s entries. 

For any Quintessentially members who have any questions for Marvin, please contact Marvin directly on info@countyequine.co.uk, or for further info on Quintessentially's Equestrian Programme, please reach out to us here.