4 Ways COVID-19 Changed Veterinary Clinics

Written by Dr. Colleen Fisher  | Published on: 7/11/2022

“Are we done yet?” is a phrase that comes to mind for many of my veterinary colleagues as they reflect on the past two years. 

In March 2020, veterinarians and their teams were defined as essential workers. Vets and clinics were forced to pivot quickly, and curbside service became standard. In the early days we felt honoured and inspired to go to work. 

Increased sanitation protocols were expected and figuring out how to give the best care for our patients was critical. We cared deeply for the cats and dogs that came through our doors, and their people.

Across the county, provincial and national veterinary associations met to create new guidelines for something completely unexpected – lockdown.  

“It can’t last too much longer” we thought to ourselves. That became a part of everyone’s new normal. 

So, what happened?

The Effects of COVID-19 on Veterinary Clinics 

As each month came and went, shortages became a real problem, and employees worked hours and hours of unpaid overtime to keep the pandemic outside their hospital doors. Hours of unpaid overtime became standard, and staff worked tirelessly to keep the pandemic outside their doors. 

1. Veterinarian and Vet Tech Shortages


Finding good employees in the vet world can be a challenge, but many of us didn’t realize the extent of the staffing shortage there in the industry which resulted in:

  • Reduced clinic hours

  • Reduced appointment availability

  • Compassion fatigues

  • Increased stress and burnout

Even though we were used to spending hours every day wearing surgical masks, we hated having to wear them ALL the time. And after a couple of months of doing our best, we got tired – just like everyone else.

2. The puppy and kitten adoption boom

Clinics saw an increase in the number pet adoptions by people who were forced to stay home. Self-isolation was the perfect time to housetrain a new pet! Finding a veterinarian who could supply care, however, was difficult.

There were a lot of ‘pandemic pet parents’ who were first time owners, and adoption rates for cats and dogs increased substantially!

Which leads to my next point…

3. Client stress: MY PET NEEDS ME!

None of us were prepared for the frustration from clients AND vet staff. Communication while social distancing was (and continues to be) hard. Not being able to go into the clinic with their pet caused stress and anxiety for everyone involved. 


Pet owners were forced to wait in their cars and make difficult decisions over the phone. 

Vets and vet techs were stressed too. It was harder to express empathy over the phone, or properly give instructions for things like how to administer medications at home.

4. Financial conversations

Veterinarians want to provide the best care, and the costs for optimal diagnostic testing, treatments, and surgeries add up pretty quickly. 

Costs of medications and supplies increased dramatically because of increased demand on the human medicine side. 

Petsecure pet health insurance was proud to help relieve financial burdens for many pet owners, so that veterinarians could keep working to save lives.

What hasn’t changed?

Our love for the cats and dogs that come to our clinics.

Veterinary social media pages were (and still are) packed with photos and messages like, “This fluffy kitten saved my life today,” and “Kissed by this bulldog – can now finish my surgery shift”.

We so appreciated clients who thank the team AFTER waiting for two hours in their car in -40 degrees, because their pet received the care they needed. We celebrate that we can continue to perform the job we love despite all our challenges.

Last summer we wanted to help staff at vet clinics have some fun, so we ran a contest on social media called the Smile Campaign! Our goal was to make staff feel appreciated and show off some very cute cats and dogs!

Check out the #PetsecureSmiles on Instagram and Facebook to see some adorable patients!

Pet insurance can help with the cost of vet visits

Even when you give your pet the very best care possible, accidents and illnesses can still happen.Your veterinary staff will offer the best advice regarding care to keep your cat or dog their happiest and healthiest. Learn what’s covered by Petsecure and get a free quote today.