While the idea of telemedicine (that is, getting medical care through a long-distance means, such as via the internet or via phone) has existed for a long time, the concept has come into its own with the pandemic. Virtually any kind of care, from mental health care to family doctor visits, even some kinds of surgery, can be done with the doctor and patient being nowhere close to each other.
Thankfully, telemedicine has not left behind our pets. More veterinarians are improving their online availability and functionality as a result of COVID-19. If you have a pet who is suffering from a minor ailment, you may want to consider using the internet to ask a vet to save some time and money.
How does telemedicine work for an online vet?
Most online vets will offer two brackets of care, on-demand, and non-urgent. “On-demand” means that the earliest-available vet will speak with you in regards to issues with your pet (best reserved for urgent issues that don’t require emergency care), while “non-urgent” allows you to set up an appointment with your vet in advance.
Typically, telemedicine care will be less expensive than an in-person visit. This is primarily because a telemedicine visit is less intensive, and won’t include lab and radiology exams, but this also is because certain overhead expenses, such as operating and cleaning a physical building, are not as large a concern.
Who are these online vets?
Online vets are the same as in-person vets; they’ve obtained proper certification and degrees, and are licensed to perform in their home states. The credentialing process for vets is generally the same across the board. Although different states have different guidelines, vets on average will have similar general knowledge required of a vet.
While using an online vet may feel strange at first, these vets are still capable of performing many of the same actions. In fact, if you establish a proper relationship with a vet, you can even get the medicine prescribed to your pet!
Why should I consider trying a virtual visit instead of in person, and when are they available?
Many of the issues that our pets experience are common among pets, and can be diagnosed and resolved by a knowledgeable vet with little to no issue. Having easy access to a vet without having to leave your home prevents you from having to traumatize your pet by loading them into a carrier and driving them to a vet.
Further, having the online option allows you to diagnose your pet quickly, to allow you to treat your pet more quickly, and to get you back to whatever other things you need to do so that your pet can convalesce.
Also important; many of these online vets have 24/7 availability, so if an issue appears that is serious but not necessarily deadly, you can have a vet check your pet without having to go to an emergency room.
And, as mentioned previously, an online vet will oftentimes be less expensive than visiting a vet in person, with online visits often being as low as $30.00.
When should I consider an online vet?
Of course, there will be instances where an in-person vet is necessary. Online vets cannot handle true emergencies, so if your pet is seriously injured, or has a serious ailment (something like difficulty breathing, or seizures), you will want to get your pet to an animal ER as quickly as possible.
However, an online vet can be used for an appointment (check your listings to see when you can go online for an appointment) and can be used for things such as grooming issues, behavioral issues, and diet issues. And, if worse comes to worst, an online vet can recommend if you need to see an in-person vet. While it is impossible to perform everything that a vet must do online, having an online vet as an option serves as a valuable resource, one that can be cost-effective and beneficial to your pet’s health.