All You Need to Know About Vet Telehealth
Visiting a vet’s office isn’t always an option, even when your pet is feeling unwell – but there is a way to get much-needed peace of mind and advice from a medical professional without actually going to an emergency room. In situations when you don’t have a veterinarian nearby or when an emergency happens outside of the hours your veterinarian works within, you can always contact a veterinary telehealth service to help with advice in your pet’s time of need.
Even though these kinds of exams are not done in person, they have many benefits as they can help ease your mind about your pet’s symptoms or inform you that an issue you thought is minor actually needs further checking up and is worth a visit to your local veterinarian's office. Either way, pet telehealth, and virtual vet services have many advantages, especially in today's fast-paced lifestyles, so read on to learn more about if (and how) you could benefit from such practices.
What is Veterinary Telehealth?
Veterinary telehealth, also known as pet telehealth, veterinary telemedicine, or virtual vet is a form of a remote veterinary practice – in other words, veterinarian-provided medical advice and services through any available communication technologies, just as call centers, smartphone apps, chats, etc. With the help of these technologies, a veterinarian can consult on your pet’s health by inquiring about their symptoms and behavior, and (if possible) even visually observing potential health problems. By doing so, a veterinarian can offer consultations, emergency first aid, or even a diagnosis, all remotely and without the need for your physical presence in the office.
While veterinary telehealth services have been around for a while, their success skyrocketed during the global Covid 19 pandemic, as they allowed pet parents to get immediate veterinary care for their cat, dog, or another animal without having to have in-person contact.
Pros and Cons of Vet Telehealth
Of course, like any other form of healthcare practice, veterinary telemedicine also has its upsides and downsides. Read on to see what are the pros and cons of virtual vet services and decides for yourself if this practice has merit or is just a passing fad:
Pet telehealth makes veterinary care accessible. No matter where you are and what time it is, you can get potentially life-saving advice on your pet’s health – even if you don’t have a vet office nearby or if it’s the holidays or the dead of the night.
Veterinary telemedicine is convenient and budget-friendly. Before you panic about a minor issue and spend big bucks on exams and labs to determine it’s nothing serious, you can contact a pet telehealth service for a consultation – they can tell you if the issue requires urgent care or not, saving you money and nerves in the process.
Vet telehealth eliminates pet stress from the equation. We all know that most pets dislike going to the vet’s office – but for some, it’s downright nerve-wracking. Save your pet the stress and anxiety of unnecessary vet visits by using virtual vet services to determine if an in-person exam is really necessary or if they can be “examined” remotely from the comfort of their home.
A virtual vet can’t always accurately diagnose your pet. For some cases and certain health issues, physical examination is the only way to find out what the actual issue is – but if that’s the case with your pet, you’ll be informed that an in-person visit is needed to get a real diagnosis.
Your account of the issue might skew the perspective of a virtual vet. When you’re contacting a veterinary telemedicine service, you will need to be the one that relays your pet’s symptoms and condition, and sometimes, you might miss or overlook some crucial details, which can affect the diagnosis and the advice you get from a virtual vet.
In conclusion, it’s clear that veterinary telemedicine cannot fully replace in-person visits to the vet’s office – but it doesn’t try to, either. It’s clear that a virtual vet is a good choice when you’re unsure about the severity of the issue your pet is having or in instances where a vet’s office isn’t accessible, but whenever possible, an in-person exam will always be more accurate and trustworthy.
Can Vets Write Prescriptions Online?
A virtual vet is a licensed medical professional who can offer guidance on your pet’s health care issues, but not all of them can legally write prescriptions online. It’s not about the trustworthiness of a particular service or the professional capacity of the vet you’re talking to, but rather more about the messy legality of it all.
Technically, you could get a prescription from a pet telehealth service but only if and when Veterinarian-Client-Patient relationship criteria can be met – and this is only true for some states, not all. However, in light of the rising popularity of such services in the last couple of years, many states are revising their legislation and looking to make this a possibility for more pet parents in the future.
Vet Telehealth Directory
If you think that a virtual vet is just what you need in your situation – or want to have their contact in case you do need them in the future, here’s a list of all reputable veterinary telemedicine websites – just click on the link to get in touch with professionals and seek advice that could help your pet feel better.
We’ve included various options, from pay-per-consultation to monthly or yearly membership fees, from virtual vets you can get in touch with through phone, video calls, apps, or text messages – there’s an option to suit anyone’s needs.
A proud mama to seven dogs and ten cats, Angela spends her days writing for her fellow pet parents and pampering her furballs, all of whom are rescues. When she's not gushing over her adorable cats or playing with her dogs, she can be found curled up with a good fantasy book.
More by Angela Vuckovic