young beagle dog laying on a futon couch

Your pet can get sick any time of day or night. If you are a pet owner, you know how expensive trips to the pet emergency room are, and oftentimes, they turn out to be unnecessary. These days, pet care can extend beyond the walls of a pet hospital to help support a pet’s health no matter where you are or when you may need it.

Technology has now improved to allow virtual veterinary consultations from the comfort of your own home. The newest advancements in pet health now encompass Telemedicine that allows you and your pet to have a virtual consultation and visit from the familiarity and comfort of your home. While you may still find yourself heading into the pet emergency room, there are other times that your anxiety can be calmed by knowing your pup’s issue isn’t serious enough that it can’t wait until the next morning. Seasoned dog lover Dave Miller of Cozy Crates helped us answer a few questions about online vet visits and some tips on how you can make it work while being at home or anywhere.

How does Telemedicine work?

Similar to FaceTime or Skype, you use a video call to speak to a qualified veterinarian. This allows you to talk about what is happening with your pet and hear the vet’s recommendation on how to proceed and any further treatment. This method of communication allows you to quickly connect with a knowledgeable vet to ask a question, do a follow-up visit, and just get the reassurance you want in those moments where you don’t know if you are overreacting.

The biggest advantage of these visits is that they do not stress out your pet with a trip to the vet. This way you can get the veterinarian advice you need, and all your concerns addressed and keep your pet calm in the process.

What can be done in an online vet visit?

A quick consultation – Have you noticed that your pet is acting differently? Are you worried that he has eaten something toxic? Does he have a new rash? Online vet visits can be a good way to quickly answer some medical questions without needing to put your pet in the car. Using your phone, you can ask questions about your pet and get a real evaluation or diagnosis all from the comfort of your home.

Pet food refill or prescription – For pets with special dietary or medical needs, your vet may require checking in periodically to make sure things are still going well. Coat health, energy levels, dental health, and weight evaluations are parts of a vet visit that can be done virtually. If you combine this with a pet food delivery service, it’s an easy way to ensure that your pet is never left without food or medicine that they may need.

When should you consider using Telemedicine?

  • General pet medical and health questions that are both big and small
  • When you are wondering if specific issues are worth going in to see the vet
  • When the vet’s office is closed, and you need after-hours care from a licensed vet
  • When you want to understand if an emergency visit or a situation require going in after normal business hours
  • You have nutritional and behavioral concerns or questions
  • There are basic follow-up questions after a recent treatment, surgery, or illness or after an in-person visit
  • During the virtual visit, observations still require a pet’s visit to the emergency vet has been determined

If your pet is experiencing a medical emergency, Telemedicine is not a service you should use. This includes profuse bleeding, a seizure, or respiratory distress along with any other possibly life-threatening conditions. In that case, take your pet to the vet immediately or the local pet emergency care facility.

The Veterinarian and Patient Relationship

A virtual appointment is not a substitute for annual wellness visits for your pet. Veterinarians still need to physically see a pet so they can be weighed and have their eyes, ears, lungs, and hearts looked at and listened to. All of these things cannot be done online.

In a virtual vet visit, a veterinarian can give you medical advice, diagnose issues, and prescribe medication and treatment if you have a current Veterinarian and Patient Relationship, which is the law. Plus, it’s just good medicine. This requires a physical visit within the prior year as a patient at their practice.

This vet and pet relationship is to the pet that you are requesting a virtual visit for, and not other pets in your home. If there isn’t a current relationship established with this particular pet, you are still able to schedule virtual visits, you will just get a limited amount of advice from the vet.

Four Ways to Prepare for a Virtual Appointment

  • Locate a spot that is quiet and well-lit with minimal distractions like noise from a radio or television. Keep in mind that any background noise can make it hard for a vet to clearly hear you and your pet.
  • Avoid bright light in the background that can make it hard for the vet to see you and your pet.
  • Make sure you have as much information as necessary to answer the vet’s questions like:
    • Are there changes in your pet’s drinking, eating, or elimination habits?
    • When were you first aware of the change in your pet’s condition?
    • Is his condition worse or better depending on different times of the day?
    • Have there been changes in your pet’s diet or environment?
  • You can also do a practice virtual visit with your pet before your virtual appointment, which can include holding your phone in front of your pet and their problem area allowing you to see how he will react.

These days, get-togethers and grocery shopping can all be done online. More and more things, including a virtual vet visit, can be done virtually. Easily make vet visits less stressful for your pet by doing them online. Easily make a face-to-face vet appointment online and use this time-friendly solution to answer many types of questions or get an answer for certain situations. Make sure to read the above tips to get the most out of your virtual veterinarian visit.


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