Walmart Offers Pet Telehealth in Partnership With Pawp to Rival Amazon
Technology continues to grow and evolve, revolutionizing every aspect of our lives, including how we care for our beloved pets. This includes not only the products available for care at home but also how we access professional care when needed. This point was highlighted recently as Walmart Inc signed a deal with pet telehealth provider Pawp to provide their U.S. market with access to veterinary care via video or text.
The deal is an extension of the Walmart+ subscription plan, providing subscribers with access to unlimited free deliveries, free access to Paramount+ and discounts at the gas pumps. As an added value measure for subscribers, they will have unlimited access to veterinary telehealth – but the offer will only be available for a limited time.
Vet telecare opens the door to a new way of approaching your pet’s medical needs. From the comfort of your home, you can connect with veterinarians virtually, share your concerns, ask for professional advice, receive a diagnosis, and discuss treatment options. For some, this makes access to veterinary care far more available, removing the barriers and challenges they previously faced.
“It’s undeniable that over the past decade, we started thinking and looking at pets as part of the family,” Pawp’s CEO Marc Atiyeh explained. “[Walmart has] a very strong thesis around the pet category, and yes, they want to be a big player in pet care and pet health in general, and Pawp really allows them to leapfrog the competition and do something that none of the other players have done.”
Adding this pet-focused benefit to the $98 annual (or $12.95 per month) fee of a Walmart+ membership is a strategic move directly in competition with Amazon Prime. Both subscription fees have their perks and benefits, with each company seeking new and innovative ways to make themselves stand out to consumers.
Pet telehealth first gained popularity due to the Covid-19 pandemic and mass lockdowns. Faced with the challenge of accessing in-person care, pet parents were introduced to a new way of connecting with professionals. While this was incredibly beneficial at the time, many members of the veterinary community are warning about the potential risks of relying on a virtual service. They are limited to information obtained through text or video, which is further complicated by the fact that, unlike humans, our pets can’t tell them precisely what they are experiencing.
To further complicate the world of pet telehealth, most states have regulations forbidding veterinarians from making a diagnosis or prescribing medication to pets through a virtual appointment unless they have previously conducted an in-person exam.
“More often than not, especially within our industry, regulations lag behind what I would say is the latest innovation, latest kind of like findings, so we have to make sure that we strike the right balance,” Atiyeh shared. “We have a huge shortage of vets, right? The last thing you want is a pet that is in need of a certain medication… to not get the proper care that they need, to not get the medication that they need only because they couldn’t get physical access to that vet.”
Pawp’s medical team is currently actively reviewing medications to determine which are safe to prescribe virtually regardless of a state’s regulations (like flea and tick preventatives) and which will require further inquiry.
Britt Kascjak is a proud pet mom, sharing her heart (and her home) with her “pack” which includes her husband John, their 3 dogs – Daviana, Indiana, and Lucifer – and their 2 cats – Pippen and Jinx. She has been active in the animal rescue community for over 15 years, volunteering, fostering and advocating for organizations across Canada and the US. In her free time, she enjoys traveling around the country camping, hiking, and canoeing with her pets.
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