I HOPE everyone is managing to cope in these stressful times as the Covid-19 problem does not seem to be abating any time soon, writes Courier columnist Margot Hunter, of Dunedin Vets.

Guidelines change a little but we all need to keep handwashing and social distancing and be vigilant.

Veterinary practice remains very different to what we’re used to, but we have new systems and procedures which work as best as possible for all.

Dunedin Vets are continuing to work from our Tranent surgery only.

As in all veterinary practices, clients are aware that to maintain social distancing, telephone and video consultations are taking place. These allow vets to make the best diagnosis possible and give advice or treatment whichever is required.

Medications and prescriptions can be collected from the Tranent surgery or posted or delivered via courier to clients.

Reception staff are extremely busy as they have to determine which category the phone call falls into. There is no such thing as making a basic appointment now. Everything takes much longer to discuss and consequently sometimes the telephone system is overwhelmed.

You can, of course, leave a message or send an email, contact websites or Facebook pages. Someone will respond to your question as soon as possible. The reception team are doing a wonderful job, as of course they are at all veterinary practices. They are our frontline heroes who deserve special applause.

At Dunedin Vets, we are now seeing more emergency cases after triage.

Dogs and cats who are now almost three months overdue their boosters can now have them. This will prevent them having to restart their vaccine course and means their owners only having to visit the practice once.

All pups and kittens who had first vaccines before lockdown should have had their second vaccines now. Pups can start vaccine courses as long as they have been in their new home for at least one week, are over ten weeks old and their owners are not self- isolating.

We are trying to delay kittens’ vaccinations as long as possible – especially if they are not going out.

We will try to do one vaccine at neutering time, to reduce the number of visits. If your rabbit is due boosters just now, as many rabbits are, prior to going outdoors, both vaccines can be given at the same time rather than two weeks apart – again reducing the number of outings to the surgery. Clients are not allowed in the surgery, having smaller animals in cages and dogs on leads helps in the handover of pets.

I am sure all veterinary practices have been thinking about when we can have clients back in the surgery.

At Dunedin Vets, we will have safety shields on reception desks and distancing stickers as well as hazard tape on the floor. Staff will be wearing masks and visors and there will be a limit to the numbers of clients allowed in the surgery at any one time.

Hopefully we can open our other branches and have all our staff back at work soon. Until then we continue doing as we are doing and keeping everyone safe.

During this period of lockdown there have been some ongoing cases which have required regular treatment, examinations and blood tests. These include diabetics, dogs with Addison’s or Cushing’s conditions and cats with blood pressure and thyroid problems as well as those with heart conditions.

One patient who had to be seen throughout this time is Buri.

Buri is a four-year-old German Shepherd dog belonging to Mrs Sarah McHale and family who visit our Dunbar surgery.

In November 2019, Buri was seen at Dunbar with an apparent urinary tract infection. He had been drinking more and going to the toilet lots. When examined, he was a fit, lively dog, but had several large lymph nodes under his neck.

Rhiannon the vet took a sample from the glands which I examined under the microscope. I found some large, unusual cells. Buri came for a biopsy under anaesthetic.

The samples were sent to a laboratory for testing and unfortunately the results were not good. Buri had lymphoma, a cancer of blood cells which results in enlargement of lymph nodes. This is a form of cancer which we can treat in practice with chemotherapy.

The particular type of lymphoma Buri had would respond better to a drug he needed to have at Edinburgh Vet School. So for the next five months, every week Buri attended either our Tranent branch for one type of chemotherapy and sometimes to the Vet School at Penicuik for the other.

He had to take tablets every day as well. He had numerous blood tests to check his blood count and to check all his organs were functioning well. He also had urine samples checked to make sure no problem was developing.

He was such a good lad. He had to be away from his family when the chemotherapy was being administered.

Vet Jonny and nurse Fiona, dressed in their chemotherapy PPE, became his best friends. He seemed to love coming to the surgery bouncing about and wanting to play with everyone.

He responded very well to his treatment. His lymph nodes reduced rapidly. He remained happy and healthy, eating well and had very few side effects from the chemotherapy. The weeks wore on and Buri became a regular at the surgery, usually on a Tuesday afternoon, when all the staff looked out for him.

When lockdown came, we received a message from the Vet School that they were unable to carry out further chemotherapy treatments.

Buri was at the end of his treatment there.

We continued to give him his chemotherapy for three more weeks, when on April 21, he received his very last dose.

He was still the happy boy we adored. We decided to ring that final chemo bell and give him a round of applause which he justly deserved.

His mum had to stay at home self- isolating but we shared a video and photos with her, which she loved.

She was happy for us to spread the good news and our Facebook video post went viral.

No doubt Buri will have ups and downs and may require further treatment but we wish Buri and his family every good wish for the future.

Stay safe everyone.