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In recent years, telemedicine has become extremely popular for humans. The service is so popular that it’s become a normal part of the doctor-patient relationship. Now, veterinarians are also making telemedicine a part of their practice for our pets, too.
If you’re comfortable with using all types of technology, having chats online, using a webcam to connect with family and friends, then why not consider using the services of an online vet? What could better than accessing a veterinarian any time of the day or night when you have a concerning question about your pet?
Are you interested in this type of service for your pet? If so, we understand you may have some questions about how telemedicine works for pets. In this article, we’ve put together information on how telemedicine works, the benefits of using an online veterinarian for your pet’s health, and more.
Veterinarian Telemedicine—What is It?
Veterinarian telemedicine for your pet works much the same way telemedicine does for you. You can talk to a vet on the phone, connect with them online, and more. It just depends on the type of tele-services offered by each veterinarian.
Other services may include online vets for free advice – 24/7 vet hotline free, where you can contact the vet through the site and receive free information and help for your pet any time of the day or night.
How Does an Online Appointment Work?
Scheduling an online appointment with the vet may also be done through the vet’s website. When requesting an online appointment, you’ll choose a time and date that works for you and is available with the veterinarian.
Once you’ve chosen the date and time, you may be required to fill out an online form that includes your personal details and asks questions about your pet’s condition and health issue. When the appointment is booked, the vet’s system may send you a confirmation email saying the vet’s office now has you scheduled for an online appointment for the date and time you’ve requested.
During the online appointment, the vet will meet you online using a tool such as Skype or Zoom. During the session, they’ll ask you questions about your pet’s overall health, ask about what the current health issue your pet’s having, etc.
Once the vet has all the information needed, they will then make a diagnosis and recommend treatment, which may include a prescription medication. The type of treatment will depend on the vet’s diagnosis and may not always result in a prescription for medicine. The vet may offer advise about OTC and alternative treatments for your pet’s health issue.
That’s all there is to it! Contacting a vet online from home is that easy!
Are Online Vet Visits Regulated?
Yes, telemedicine is supported by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). The AVMA believes that telemedicine is the next step in providing health care for pets. The organization also supports the development of smart devices, applications, and other technology to help vets connect with their patients and clients.
Veterinarians who provide telemedicine services are required to ensure the privacy of their clients and their patients’ medical information at all times.
The AVMA also says that only vets licensed within a particular state should be allowed to provide online medical advice for pets. These vets also need to have a license to practice veterinary medicine in that specific state.
So, telemedicine regulations are supported by the AVMA, but there are federal and state laws governing veterinary practices online.
How is Telemedicine Used?
Telemedicine can be used in a variety of situations:
- Post-op follow-ups: if your pet has recently had surgery and is at home recuperating, you and the vet may choose to stay in touch via digital means. The vet may want to check in with you on a regular basis to see how your pet is doing. Or you may have questions about some issue your pet is having after surgery and get in touch with the vet via digital means, rather than taking your pet all the way to the vet. This is a time when your pet needs to be stationery and quiet, so having access to the vet for checking in or addressing any questions you may have is a great way to use telemedicine.
- Skin issues: what if your pet all of a sudden develops an issue with their skin? Maybe you notice your dog is itching crazily at midnight, and you’re not sure what to do. In this case, getting in touch with a vet would be a great option. For one thing, you can snap a picture of your dog’s skin and share it with the vet, and the vet may have some advice on how to calm your fur baby’s itching at midnight, so you can both get some sleep. By contacting a vet right away, you can also keep the skin issue from getting worse, and the vet will let you know if your dog needs to come in to be checked at the clinic.
- Behavioral issues & training: what happens if your cat all of a sudden begins acting strangely, and you just can’t figure out what’s going on? An online veterinarian may be able to help determine what’s causing your kitty to act out and what you can do to help her.
- Transportation issues: for pets that are not easily transported, such as certain exotic pets, large pets, and more having access to online vet advice is a great help.
- Hospice care: when a pet is near the end of their life, but you have questions and need guidance, then being able to talk to a vet via telemedicine services can be a great help. There’s no need to take your pet on an exhausting, uncomfortable trip to the vet’s office, and you’ll receive the advice you need to help your pet at this time of their life.
- Basic triage: what if you’re not sure your pet needs to see the vet? Then having an online discussion with the vet to make a determination is a great help. You save time and money if the medical issue can be solved at home, rather than at the vet’s office.
- Environmental concerns: if the weather’s bad, or there are other transportation issues that make it difficult to see the vet, then receiving online advice can be a great help.
- Long-term care monitoring: this is usually provided when a pet has a long-term health issue. You can check in with the vet to let them know how your pet is doing, ask about any new symptoms, or share your concerns.
These are some of the ways that online veterinary services are provided for pets. But what about online prescriptions?
Online Vet Consultation and Prescription Services
Yes, it’s possible to see the vet and get a prescription for your pet, if they need one. Some, but not all, veterinarian telemedicine sites will provide prescriptions for medications. The reason is that some states and locales do not allow the vet to make a diagnosis and prescribe a medicine without first doing an in-person exam of the pet.
For this reason, some vets are able to prescribe medications during an online consultation, while others may not be able to prescribe medicine online. Instead, these vets may offer advice and guidance on health issues your pet may be having.
Receiving your pet’s prescription online is much the same as it is in person. The vet may send an email with the prescription to you or may send it electronically to the pharmacy they use or to a pharmacy you prefer. Then the medicine can be picked up (if at a local pharmacy) or may be sent to you in the mail or by delivery service.
Remember, online vets who write prescriptions are governed by federal and state laws that may or may not allow them to prescribe medications online. However, a virtual vet prescription may cover OTC medications and products that don’t require a face-to-face visit.
Benefits of Using an Online Veterinarian
Veterinary medicine has made some great advances in the last few years. With new treatments, medications, and now the addition of virtual vet visits, your pet has access to almost the same types of advanced healthcare you have, which even includes pet health insurance!
Online vet services have brought many benefits to both pets and their pet parents including:
Quick symptom assessment: any time, any day you now can have access to a veterinarian. For instance, if your cat injuries herself after leaping from the kitchen cabinet to the dining table, you can quickly reach a vet online. They can offer advice on first aid, help you determine if your kitty (or other pet) needs to see the vet, and more.
Online vet is available: just click and get your question(s) before the vet in a matter of seconds. How often do you have a question for the vet in the middle of the weekend, when the vet’s office is closed? Now you have access to a vet 24/7, and even over long holidays such as Christmas! You no longer have only Google to turn to with your questions, just access the online vet for help when you need it.
Receive guidance on a wide range of topics: with a virtual vet available 24/7, you can receive guidance on many types of issues involving your pet. What if you have a new puppy and they can’t sleep? What if your lizard is shedding, but you’re not sure if he’s sick or if this is normal? What if your dog has stopped eating his food all of a sudden? Virtual vets can help with these types of questions and more.
A virtual vet can also help by offering advice on grooming issues, nutrition, exercise, behavioral problems and more. A virtual vet is a licensed healthcare professional who has vast amounts of knowledge, and access to information, to help you with many types of pet issues.
No need to travel: if your pet is one that doesn’t travel well, for instance a tropical fish, but he is having a medical issue, then a virtual vet may be able to help. Then there’s no need to drag your fish all the way to the vet’s office and back again. This is the same for many other types of pets that are not able to travel easily.
Or if your pet has a health issue that makes travel uncomfortable. For instance, if your pet has recently had surgery. If you have a question about their recovery or symptoms that are concern, you can contact an online vet, rather than taking your pet to the vet’s office. Depending on the situation, you may still need to get your pet to the vet’s office; however, some issues are easily solved with an online consultation, and there’s no need to disturb your pet. They can stay comfortable at home while you receive the advice and guidance you need about specific concerns or symptoms.
Another example is senior pets, such as an elderly dog or cat. They may not be able to comfortably travel, so rather than taking them to the vet’s office, you can easily contact an online vet for help.
Access to online content: many virtual vets also include information for pet parents on their websites. Not only can you get help from an online vet, but you can also learn about specific medical issues, gain insights in your pet’s behavior and/or species, and more.
Peace of mind: the best benefit of all is that you’ll have peace of mind knowing there’s a healthcare professional available any time of the day or night, even during the holidays, who is ready and available to help with all your pet care questions. What could be better than a vet available 24/7 at the click of a button?
How Should I Prepare for an Online Vet Consultation?
It can be helpful to have all information ready in advance before contacting an online vet. Here’s the information the vet may need:
1). Your pet’s current health issue.
2). Brief overview of your pet’s medical history, which can include any past illnesses, vaccinations, surgeries, and injuries.
3). Any long-term health issues your pet has such a diabetes, a disability, allergies, etc.
4). A list of medications (prescribed and over the counter) that your pet is taking.
This information will help the vet to determine what’s causing your pet’s current health problem, and how best to solve the issue.
What Treatments Can a Virtual Vet Recommend?
An online vet can help you in numerous ways including:
Non-emergency questions: online vets can help with all sorts of non-emergency health issues. In fact, they can provide advice and guidance on issues such as how to manage fleas & ticks, dietary advice, address mobility issues, care for young or elderly pets, etc.
Quick evaluation: an online vet may be useful to help determine if your pet needs an in-person visit to take care of their health issue. The vet will ask you questions on what symptoms your pet is having, how they are acting, what led up to the health problem, etc. The vet can also ask you to perform a physical exam such as checking your pet’s gums are pink or pale (pale would indicate a lack of oxygen, which is a problem called cyanosis).
Emergency health issues: an online vet who is available 24/7 can literally be a life-saver in an emergency situation. For instance, if your dog has eaten some chocolate. You can let the vet know how much chocolate your dog has eaten, the type of chocolate and when your dog ate, and share any symptoms he may be having. The online vet can then tell you if your dog needs to see a vet right now, or whether it’s OK to stay home and you monitor your fur baby for any additional problems that may arise.
Follow-up care: if your pet has recently had surgery, your vet may determine it’s OK to check in with them online. Then you can let the vet know how your pet is acting, if they’re eating and sleeping OK, or if there are any concerning developments since the last check in.
Prescriptions: an online vet may also be able to prescribe treatments for certain medical conditions. For instance, they may be able to help if you need to refill one of your pet’s long-term prescriptions (such as pain medication), or if you need a prescription for flea & tick treatments, etc.
Can a Virtual Vet Really Help with an Emergency?
Yes, in certain instance an online vet will be able to help answer emergency health questions. They may be able to offer guidance on how to stabilize your pet’s condition, for instance. Then they would recommend you seeing a vet in-person for the care your pet may need.
The online vet may also be able to offer guidance on whether or not the medical issue is an emergency. If so, they will recommend your pet see a vet as soon as possible. In other cases, they may recommend monitoring your pet for additional symptoms, and then checking in with a vet in your area.
Do Virtual Vet Visits Work with Pet Insurance?
The answer is yes, but it depends on your individual pet health insurance provider, and if the online vet accepts pet insurance or not, and then it will depend on whether or not they accept your pet health insurance.
As a result, it’s a good idea to first check with your pet health insurance provider to see if they will cover virtual vet visits. Then look for an online vet who will accept your pet health insurance coverage.
How Much Does an Online Veterinary Cost?
The cost of an online vet consultation will vary depending on the state/city where the vet is located, etc. However, an online consultation is usually much cheaper than an in-office vet visit. Some online vet visits may be free, while others may charge between $50 to $100.
However, consider the average vet fees when you take your pet to the clinic. A routine checkup can cost up to $100 or more.
So, you can generally save money with a virtual veterinary consultation. And they will advice you on whether or not your pet needs to see a vet in-person.
What to Look for in a Virtual Veterinary Service
When it comes to finding the right online veterinary service, what should you look for? We’ve done the research for you! Here’s what experts recommend:
- Security & privacy: the vet’s virtual service site and communication methods should work to keep you and your pet’s information safe and private. In addition, any information shared with the vet must be securely stored.
- On-line payments: the virtual vet should be set up to securely take online payments, directly through their site.
- Accessibility: the virtual veterinarian should be available any time of the day or night, and even on holidays. Their services need to be offered across a wide range of devices including desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones. In addition, their platform should be compatible with the most popular operating systems including Microsoft Windows, iOS and Android.
- Interactive: look for virtual vet services that include the ability to send text messages, call, share photos and videos, and include video calling services. Your pet’s records should be easily accessible via an electronic health record system, which should be secure.
Connect with Our Online Veterinarian Now
Our online veterinarian can help you with many types of questions you may have about your pet’s medical condition, behavioral issues, and more. A virtual vet appointment is perfect for those times you’re not sure if your pet needs to be seen at the office, or if you can take care of the issue at home. Our virtual vet can provide you with the right guidance, so your pet receives the right type of health care when he needs it.
Our virtual vet service also provides you with peace of mind. If your pet develops concerning symptoms, is acting different, etc. we can help.
Contact us today with any questions or concerns you may have. We’re here ready to help you when you and your pet need it most.