Should you use telehealth for your pet?

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Should you use telehealth for your pet? - Woman sitting on the floor on her tablet with small Jack Russell Terrier

Up to 70% of US households are home to one or more pets, a number that is increasing every year. With busy lifestyles being so commonplace, some pet owners find it increasingly difficult to get to the vet when they have a question or concern about their pet. Many vet offices are also overwhelmed with the rising number of pet owners who need to schedule appointments. Telehealth can help solve both of these problems.

40% of U.S. pet owners surveyed by Vetster reported that they use telehealth in order to access veterinarians outside of regular office hours. Many of these pet owners access telehealth for multiple reasons, from asking for professional advice about their pet’s health issues to easy access to a veterinarian while traveling away from home. Of the over 2,300 pet owners who had used telehealth and responded to our survey, 83% used telehealth to evaluate their pet’s health issues or needed professional advice, and 64% asked for advice regarding flea and tick prevention.

40% of U.S. Pet Owners Use Telehealth to Access Vet Care

Note: pet owners that use telehealth responded with multiple answers on what they use Telehealth services for.

Telehealth can fill in the gaps between in-person vet appointments and provide added benefits for your animal companion.

What is telehealth?

Telehealth is the use of technology to access a broad range of health related services and information through non-face-to-face methods, like online text, video chat, telephone, or email. Telemedicine is the highly regulated subcategory of telehealth where technology is used to remotely diagnose and treat medical conditions. While telemedicine is allowed only in a few locations, everything else under the all-encompassing umbrella of telehealth is available everywhere. Telehealth decreases barriers to accessing veterinarians and is ideally suited for:

  • Providing general information from a trusted professional
  • Distraction-free, unhurried conversations about symptoms, conditions, treatment, expected outcomes, and more
  • Triage: Is this an emergency? How worried should I be?
  • Ongoing consultations for chronic cases
  • Nutrition and weight loss programs
  • Quality of life counseling
  • Behavioral management counseling
  • Follow-up and monitoring after in-person care
  • Situations where accessing a veterinary consultation from home or on the road is the pet parent’s first choice

Telehealth provides a number of benefits for both you and your furry, feathery, or scaly friends. Using telehealth to supplement the in-person care your pets will always need will help you have easier access to the information you need to take the best care of them possible.

Benefits of telehealth for your pet

Telehealth can help you stay on top of your pet’s health by making access to trusted veterinarians easy.  Whether or not you are traveling, recently moved, or just plain busy, telehealth is the perfect starting place. Whether you have questions, need accurate pet health information, or wonder if your pet needs to be seen in person, by reducing barriers to accessing a veterinarian, telehealth allows you to get answers quickly and saves unnecessary trips to the emergency center. Virtual visits also allow you to save travel time while allowing you to book appointments for times that are convenient for you. Participating in a telehealth visit from the comfort of your home means your pet will be more relaxed and you’ll be in a better position to focus on the important information the vet is providing. While it’s important to keep up with in-person vet appointments for your pet, telehealth can help supplement your pet’s care between visits. Virtual vet appointments can also be helpful for animals who are difficult to transport, or those who have anxiety about going to an unfamiliar place like a vet office. With telehealth, you can access professional veterinary care virtually from the comfort of your home instead of waiting until the situation is so bad that a trip to the vet cannot be avoided.

Getting the most out of a telehealth service

There are several tips you can follow to get the most out of your telehealth appointment. A little bit of preparation can ensure you have a smooth and productive online virtual care appointment.

  • Test your technology beforehand, whether you are using your phone, tablet, laptop, or computer. Make sure your Wi-Fi or data connection is good and that your settings allow audio and video use by the telehealth platform.
  • Prepare ahead of time. Make a list and timeline of your pet's symptoms and review any medications or supplements they are taking to save time during your virtual vet appointment and to help you remember all of the questions you want to ask.
  • Find a quiet, well-lit location that your pet will be comfortable in to conduct the appointment.
  • Use the video and chat functions to get the most out of your appointment. Seeing your animal via video can help the online vet make a more accurate assessment of your pet compared to just hearing a description. The chat function can help to clarify the conversation.
  • Take notes about your pet’s health concerns and the vet’s advice. This will help you remember what your veterinarian advised you to do.
  • Keep a record of your pet’s health records and vet visits so you can stay organized and share them with your telehealth vet in future appointments.
  • If the telehealth provider recommends taking your pet to an in-person vet or urgent care to be treated, follow their advice.

When can you use telehealth?

It’s important to know that not all pet health problems can be solved remotely. In some cases, your pet might have a serious health issue that requires a vet’s immediate attention in person. If a Vetster online vet determines that your pet's situation requires in-person care, they will have you call your local vet or an emergency vet in your area. If it’s clear to you that your pet is actively experiencing an emergency, call an emergency vet immediately. Obtaining timely treatment for your pet in an emergency improves the chances for a good outcome.

Telehealth can help to fill in the gaps between in-person vet appointments. It can be used to address new pet advice, nutrition, behavior, flea and tick control, mites, minor illnesses, triage, and a whole lot more. Where allowed by law, an online veterinarian can diagnose a number of conditions via video chat by assessing your pet's symptoms and subsequently recommend specific treatment, including prescriptions. Telehealth can save you time while improving your pet's wellness. Book a virtual care appointment on Vetster at a time that is convenient for you, 24/7.