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Veterinary Telehealth vs. Telemedicine

Veterinary Telehealth vs. Telemedicine | BetterVet

As a pet owner, it's vital to stay informed of the newest available services to help support your furry friend. Recent advances in veterinary technology can make it easier for pet parents to access necessary veterinary services from anywhere.

Although veterinary telehealth and veterinary telemedicine may sound similar, these two services are very different. Veterinary telehealth is an advice-focused service to address a pet’s general health and wellness. On the other hand, veterinary telemedicine is similar to an in-person visit in that a veterinarian can formulate a diagnosis and prescribe medication. Below, this guide will explore everything you need to know about pet telehealth and telemedicine and how to access these helpful services.

Differences Between Veterinary Telehealth & Telemedicine

Veterinary telehealth uses electronic communication methods, such as video calls, for pet owners to access education, resources, and advice about pet health. Some examples where telehealth for pets may be helpful include:

Unlike veterinary telehealth, a telemedicine virtual vet visit is guided by a state’s rules and regulations. Some examples of when pet telemedicine visits may be used include:

  • Reviewing a pet's medical history or record to
    • Prescribe or adjust medications
    • Provide information on treatment options
  • Ordering pet blood work and diagnostics
  • Addressing non-emergency pet health concerns

In addition, telemedicine veterinary medicine can also be helpful when planning end-of-life or palliative care. This service allows pet owners to consult with expert veterinarians to make pets as comfortable as possible in their final stages of life.

Understanding Telehealth for Pets

Veterinary telehealth appointments can offer many benefits for both pets and their owners. For example, telehealth visits provide triage guidance for owners unsure of the appropriate next steps regarding a pet injury or illness. 

In many instances, telehealth for pets is also used to provide education to support a pet's general health and wellness. Through telehealth visits, pet owners can dive into essential topics such as the best cat or dog food ingredients to feed their furry friend. During a nutritional consultation, weight management and appropriate portions can be discussed. Medical prescriptions cannot be provided during a telehealth vet appointment.

Understanding Telemedicine for Pets

Seeking care for your pet through veterinary telemedicine services offers flexibility for pet owners. From the comfort of your own home, BetterVet uses video consultations to address non-emergency pet issues.

If you live in an area where BetterVet offers in-home visit coverage and your pet has had an in-person appointment within the last 12 months, you are eligible for telemedicine appointments. 

During a video consultation, a telemedicine vet from our team will connect with you to discuss your pet's health needs. Many pet owners find this process stress-free, eliminating the need to bring their furry friend into a physical veterinary office. Our veterinarians can also prescribe medication, as appropriate, during a telemedicine appointment.

Despite its convenience, telemedicine is only intended for pets with non-emergency health issues. If you suspect your pet may be experiencing a serious or life-threatening medical emergency, seek care at an emergency or urgent care clinic promptly.

Telehealth and Telemedicine Use Cases

After establishing care through an in-home veterinary exam, telemedicine services can be used for follow-up care. For current BetterVet patients, veterinary doctors may be able to order a prescription to address your pet's health concerns. 

Telehealth appointments offer pet parents more flexibility to tend to their pet's needs on their own schedule. By saving time in transport to a physical office, pet parents can more easily access expert guidance that supports many aspects of their pet's health.

The Future of Telehealth and Telemedicine in Veterinary Care

Both telehealth for pets and telemedicine for pets offer many advantages that help enhance veterinary care. With this in mind, it's clear that these technology-driven services are here to stay. Using technology to access veterinary care and guidance saves time for pet owners, enhances accessibility of care, and improves communication between pet parents and their veterinary teams.

Experience the benefits of telemedicine or telehealth visits for your pet. Book an appointment with BetterVet today!

Frequently Asked Questions 

Learn more about telemedicine and telehealth for your pet by exploring answers to the most commonly asked questions below.

Is it legal for veterinarians to provide telemedicine services?

As guided by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), veterinary doctors can legally provide telemedicine services as long as there is a Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship (VCPR). Each state has specific rules that providers must follow to adhere to these regulations.

What types of telemedicine services are veterinarians offering today?

Vet telemedicine services can be used for various pet illnesses and injuries. For example, some common issues include mild respiratory or gastrointestinal symptoms; skin conditions; weight management; and, chronic illness monitoring. During your visit, your BetterVet veterinary doctor will recommend further care if they cannot fully address your pet's condition through a virtual visit.

How do I find a reputable telemedicine service provider?

BetterVet offers reputable telemedicine services, available in several regions throughout the U.S. If we do not provide services in your area, your local veterinary doctor may be able to provide a referral.

Can telehealth vets prescribe antibiotics?

Telehealth services do not permit veterinary doctors to prescribe medications. Pet telehealth services are only used for guidance, whereas telemedicine can be used to prescribe antibiotics, if indicated, for your pet.

Which states allow online vet prescriptions?

In states where veterinary telemedicine is allowed, veterinary doctors can write prescriptions. However, please note that they may only be able to write a prescription if your pet has been seen in person within the last year.
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