Hey, doctor. We need to talk about this coronavirus thing.

And by “we,” I mean you. To your clients.

It’s now been a week since a dog in Hong Kong tested positive for the coronavirus. Now, as someone in the veterinary field, you can read that sentence, react, and then ask, “But what does that really mean?” Then you find your trusted sources and learn that ok, the dog may have been exposed, he may or may not have an infection, but that doesn’t mean he is infectious and is not showing clinical signs.

We understand how to parse these details and read them calmly. Your clients, however, do not. If they were to google “dogs coronavirus,” it is very likely that they have to get to at least the second page of Google results before finding something written by a veterinary expert. We all know most people don’t do that. So, what links are they clicking on?

Maybe it’s the New York Times. Or CNN. Some random person at Rover, or Buzzfeed. And God help us, good old Wikipedia. This is where people are getting their information. From there, or from their friend on Facebook.

They need to be getting it from you.

Most people don’t have the time, knowledge, or health literacy to be able to figure out that WSAVA, WHO, and OIE have the most up-to-date data on pets and coronavirus. If they do, they may not know how to interpret it. They’ll read whatever is convenient and seems somewhat responsible, and maybe they will get good information, and maybe they will not.

Be the person they look to for the bottom line.

It’s not enough for one person or two people or the AVMA or VCA to be out there. People want their own veterinarians, the ones they trust, to be telling them what they should be doing. Every vet who has patients should be posting on social and their blogs, even if we’re all sharing the same information. Especially if we are sharing the same information. Because consensus is comforting.

The opposite of consensus is confusion and panic. People can and will abandon, injure, and exterminate their pets if they start to panic, and that is an absolutely avoidable worst-case scenario.

This is what I’m telling people who ask me for advice, and I strongly suggest you pass this same easy information on your blogs and social media. It is very simple:

Anatomy of a Vet Coronavirus Post

  1. There is NO evidence dogs can pass coronavirus onto people.
  2. The one dog who did test positive is not ill.
  3. Follow all the same basic instructions you always do and wash your hands a bunch. If you’re sick, you should minimize contact with pretty much everyone until we know more. That doesn’t mean we think there’s a problem, we just like to be cautious.
  4. I will update you if things change.
  5. Here are the trusted sources I look to:
    World Organisation for Animal Health
    CDC
    WSAVA
  6. Please contact me with any questions or if you see something weird on the internet.

 

Busy? You can even cut and paste what I just wrote and throw it on your Facebook page or IG. Easy peasy.

You may think people kind of know all this already, but they don’t. You may think they don’t need to hear it from you, but they do. You may think this is overly simple, but it’s not.

If history is any indication, there will soon be a slew of misinformation, quackery, and snake oil peddling that can put your clients and their pets at risk. Don’t wait to advocate.