Ad­vis­ing pet own­ers dur­ing lock­down

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - FRONT PAGE - —STORY BY MARIEJO S. RAMOS

A group of vet­eri­nar­i­ans is of­fer­ing free online con­sul­ta­tion for an­i­mal lovers whose pets have health prob­lems. Through a Facebook group, Dr. Cissy Ramos and her col­leagues an­swer ques­tions from pet own­ers un­able to leave their houses be­cause of the Lu­zon quar­an­tine. Since its cre­ation on March 18, the so­cial me­dia page has at­tracted more than 2,000 mem­bers, keep­ing Ramos and her team busy.

With few vet­eri­nary clin­ics open amid the Lu­zon-wide lock­down, a grow­ing com­mu­nity of an­i­mal lovers has found an ex­pert voice online to help them cope with their pets’ health-re­lated woes.

When ve­teri­nar­ian Cissy Ramos of Vets in Prac­tice re­al­ized how many pet par­ents were stress­ing about the health and well­be­ing of their pets dur­ing the en­hanced com­mu­nity quar­an­tine, she thought of putting up the “Pet First Aid” Facebook group to pro­vide free online vet con­sul­ta­tion.

“I had time on my hands given the stay-at-home rule and thought it bet­ter to ease other peo­ple’s con­cerns de­spite the lim­ited in­ter­ac­tion through Facebook,” she said.

With the help of her fel­low vet­eri­nar­i­ans Ka­rina Bern­ert and Har­ick Cuenca, Ramos has been an­swer­ing queries from wor­ried pet own­ers who can­not step out of their houses to con­sult a doc­tor.

Since it was cre­ated on March 18, the page has at­tracted more than 2,000 mem­bers, keep­ing Ramos and her team busy.

“The group only started last week, but in­quiries have been pour­ing in,” she said. “We’ve had to limit mem­ber­ship and post­ing though, be­cause some peo­ple keep on re­ply­ing with dan­ger­ous home reme­dies.”

15 posts daily

On aver­age, Ramos said they re­ceive 15 mes­sages and 20 posts on the group page daily.

Di­ar­rhea, vom­it­ing and skin is­sues were the most com­mon health con­cerns among pet own­ers, she added.

Some of the more se­ri­ous cases were dogs hav­ing seizures or go­ing into la­bor. Ramos said she had rec­om­mended that the pets be taken to the near­est vet­eri­nary clinic.

“We usu­ally take a his­tory of the pets so we get a clearer pic­ture of what may be caus­ing the prob­lems but I al­ways express that since we have lim­ited in­ter­ac­tion with the pets, our med­i­cal ad­vice may be lim­ited as well. We do not give out pre­scrip­tions online,” she said.

Dif­fer­ent pur­pose

Ac­cord­ing to her, the group was ini­tially cre­ated for some work­shops on pet nu­tri­tion and first aid that were sched­uled be­fore the quar­an­tine and even­tu­ally can­celed.

A 2016 grad­u­ate of vet­eri­nary medicine from De La Salle Araneta Univer­sity, Ramos said she was of­fer­ing free con­sul­ta­tion as her way of be­ing more pro­duc­tive and help­ful to the com­mu­nity dur­ing the quar­an­tine.

“I’ve been read­ing about so many peo­ple do­ing vol­un­teer work and I fig­ured that this is the only way I could help while at home,” she said.

The doc­tor is a proud pet owner her­self. She has four shih tzus, a si­amese cat, six res­cue cats and an adopted red-eared slider tur­tle.

Ramos and her sis­ter Teena also rec­og­nized that pet es­tab­lish­ments would have lit­tle to no in­come dur­ing this time so they cre­ated a map of vet clin­ics and pet sup­ply shops that re­main open.

“We’ve been able to pop­u­late it with the con­tri­bu­tions of many. For some of the en­tries there, we called or mes­saged di­rectly to con­firm,” Ramos said.

De­spite the lim­ited re­sources for their pets at home, Ramos ad­vised own­ers not to panic dur­ing the lock­down.

“If they have con­cerns, they may contact us or ac­cess the map of vet­eri­nary clin­ics open for emer­gen­cies,” she said. “I am pray­ing that this pan­demic will end soon.”

—PHOTOGRAB FROM PET FIRST AID FB PAGE

ONLINE HELP DESK Ini­tially set up for some work­shops on an­i­mal health-re­lated is­sues, the Pet First Aid FB page has be­come a site where one can get pro­fes­sional ad­vice for their sick pets.

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