Virtual services for exotics on Vetster

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Virtual services for exotics on Vetster  - A snake resting on the shoulder of a couch with the title of the article to the left

Birds, rabbits, ferrets, reptiles, and other exotic pets often fall into the category of underserved animals, with limited access to knowledgeable veterinary care. At Vetster, we pride ourselves on making virtual veterinary care available for these pets and their owners, something that can often be difficult to obtain locally, and one of the many reasons why pet owners choose Vetster.

By expanding your species treated list, you contribute to bridging this gap and become a go-to resource for pet owners looking for expert care for their unique companions.

Traditional barriers for treating exotics

A study completed in 2020 was published in the National Library of Medicine explored the challenges veterinarians in the UK face when treating exotics. In this region, where exotics are much more commonplace, the study showed that frequency of presentation was a primary driver in the confidence veterinarians had in treating these animals.

If we look deeper into the issue, we find it is multifaceted and can be generally summarized in a lack of training provided in veterinary programs, hesitancy to accept exotics in-clinic, and poor pet-owner knowledge of general husbandry.

  • Lack of Training: While there are specialized courses available at select veterinary schools, many offer few opportunities for comprehensive learning in this area. In 2022 Guelph University, Canada’s preeminent veterinary school, shut the doors to its Avian & Exotics Services, a much needed teaching facility.
  • In-Clinic Handling Is Key: While you may see exotics in your practice, they usually make up a much smaller number of cases compared to cats and dogs. Becoming familiar with the variety of exotics and their handling requirements can present a barrier to providing them with the care they need. For some practices and their teams, this can be prohibitive overall.
  • Exotics Hide Symptoms: According to biologists Warwick and Arena, they estimate 75% of exotic pets die within one year at home from a lack of knowledge in general husbandry and insufficient availability to expert veterinary care.

Despite these challenges, technology and virtual resources are stepping up to ensure that these animals receive the care they need.

Delivering Your Services through Telehealth

Practicing on Vetster presents an opportunity to provide care to these animals which may be difficult to transport, require specialized training for in-clinic support, or access to specialized expertise no matter their location. Here are three ways, leveraging Vetster can help exotic pets:

1. Honing in on Husbandry

Husbandry is at the root of most problems owners of exotics face, and resources on the care and keeping of these species are readily available. The ability to see an animal in their home environment with Vetster’s high-quality video calling makes it easy to acquire the knowledge to confidently coach owners in caring for a variety of animals.

2. Triage & Coaching

Exotic animal appointments seen on Vetster commonly fall into general advice and/or teletriage categories. When exotic pets develop a problem, it’s likely to be a common problem that you’re familiar with.  Since most exotics mask the signs of illness until it’s quite advanced, one of the most valuable services you can provide is letting owners know when they need to seek in-person care. Clients also appreciate when you can guide them through the process of finding an in-person veterinarian with knowledge and experience for the type of pet they have.

3. Expanding Access to Care

It bears repeating that one of the biggest advantages to virtual care is that pet owners can access veterinary care no matter their location. It also means that if a pet owner cannot find an in-state veterinarian to provide care, veterinarians with expertise in exotics can provide general advice from anywhere in the country. When we consider that fewer than 8% of veterinarians have post-graduate certifications, accessing care through virtual means becomes a critical component of care.

In the dynamic virtual veterinary space, staying ahead means continuously evolving and expanding the scope of care you offer. We encourage you to revisit the list of species treated in your Vetster profile, and consider adding exotics such as birds, small mammals, and reptiles. You can easily log in to the app and add these species to your list. Not only does this open up new opportunities for bookings, but it also helps meet the needs of an underserved population of pets, offering them the care they deserve.

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