Objective: To determine the effects of the COVID-19 associated restrictions on the ability of owners in Michigan, USA versus Ontario and British Columbia, Canada, to obtain care for their chronically painful dogs.

Study design: Cross-sectional survey.

Population: A total of 90 owners met the inclusion criteria for the study.

Methods: An anonymous electronic survey was distributed to owners at four veterinary integrative medicine (IM) clinics, during July and August 2020. Two clinics in Michigan (MI), USA, and one each in Ontario (ON) and British Columbia (BC), Canada were recruited. Owners were asked about availability of IM care pre and during the COVID-19 restrictions and their opinions of the impact of COVID-19 on their dog’s health. The survey asked where owners sought care for their dogs, types of chronic conditions treated, therapeutic modalities used, and if owners had a medical background. Comparisons were made within and between groups. Thematic analysis, Fisher’s exact test, χ2 analyses, McNemar’s and Wilcoxin signed rank tests for paired comparisons were performed (p < 0.05).

Results: During the COVID-19 restrictions, access to IM care was better for dogs in ON and BC than in MI (p < 0.001). The negative effect of the pandemic restrictions to IM care on quality of life was perceived greater by owners in MI than those in ON and BC (p < 0.001). The owners’ medical backgrounds had no effect on attempts to access care during this time (p = 0.76).

Conclusion and clinical relevance: The results suggest that a widespread disease in humans had an adverse impact on animal welfare. Providers of veterinary care should use this experience to establish protocols to ensure continuity of care for chronically painful animals in the event of a similar situation in the future.

Cite as

Muñoz, K., Duncan, J., Clarke, K., Shull, S. & Manfredi, J. 2022, 'The impact of COVID-19 on access to canine integrative medical care in Michigan, USA, and Ontario and British Columbia, Canada', Veterinary Anaesthesia and Analgesia. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.vaa.2022.08.004

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Last updated: 16 September 2022
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