Virtual veterinary care is a new and exciting development in the veterinary world. Its popularity has boomed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and it looks like virtual vet care is here to stay. Virtual veterinary care has been a huge hit with pet owners around the world. This is because it’s easy to use, you don’t need to travel and virtual veterinarians are often available at times when your regular veterinarian is closed.
What happens during a virtual vet visit?
There is a lot of valuable information that can be obtained during a virtual appointment. Your veterinarian will begin by asking you a series of questions. This gathers background details for your pet such as deworming history, diet, and vaccination status. They will then narrow in on the problem you are calling about and ask questions relating to this. The questions asked during the consultation process are very important. Take your time and add any other information you think may be relevant. Our pets can’t talk, so the veterinarian uses your observations of your pet’s behaviors to help narrow down the list of possible causes of illness.
Your virtual veterinarian can then do a distance examination on your pet and check the vitals including:
Body condition score
Watch your pet walk around the room, looking for stiffness or limping
Check lesions or lumps on the skin and coat
Assess the quality of your pet’s skin and fur
Focusing on the area you are particularly concerned about e.g. the teeth.
If you have access to a thermometer, your virtual vet may also ask you to take a temperature.
Photo or video footage can also be used in the consultation. Videos of lameness, behavioral problems, or coughing can be very useful in identifying the problem.
After taking a history and distance observations on your pet, your virtual veterinarian will make an assessment to see if they can help you virtually, or if in-person care is needed. A physical vet visit will be needed if the veterinarian thinks prescription medication is required, or further diagnostic tests. Your veterinarian can prepare you for what to expect at the veterinary clinic or emergency hospital and answer any of your remaining questions.
Other uses of virtual vet care
Not all dogs enjoy going to the veterinary clinic and some can be very anxious or even aggressive towards the veterinarian. This makes it very difficult for your veterinarian to examine your pet and work out the cause of the signs. When your pet is at home, and can only see a mobile phone being held towards them, they often do not have a stress response. This means your veterinarian may be able to examine much more through virtual means than in person!
Other behavioral problems such as urinating indoors, separation anxiety, or destructive behaviors can also be monitored through virtual veterinarian visits. The veterinarian regularly checks in on how progress is going and advises on small alterations in the plan.
After surgery, your veterinarian or veterinary technician can use virtual veterinary care to check up on how your pet is recovering after surgery and anesthesia. They can check in on toileting, eating habits, and how they have recovered from surgery, with the added benefit of being able to see your pet and make sure they have recovered well.
New pet ownership
When thinking of getting a dog or cat, there are lots of things to consider. Finding the right breed, learning about what medical conditions they are predisposed to, and how best to care for your new best friend can be overwhelming. A virtual veterinarian is an excellent source of information on all aspects of new pet ownership. Our BetterVet online appointments are ideal for these sorts of conversations.
Follow up appointments
If your veterinarian has prescribed medication for a specific condition or injury such as a limp, they may use virtual vet care as a follow-up. They will be able to check if the medications are being given as needed and if improvement is being made.
Specialists, particularly if you are in a rural area are few and far between. Rather than drive for hours for a physical appointment, it may be worth a virtual vet visit with the specialist. A good example of this is dogs who need orthopedic surgery for cruciate disease or fracture repair.
Your regular veterinarian will send a full history and the radiographs to the specialist for assessment. Your surgeon can then use virtual vet care to discuss the surgery, costs, risks, and benefits without the need for travel. You can then book your pet in for the surgical procedure and meet your specialist surgeon on the day of the appointment for surgery. This saves a lot of time and stress and reduces the amount of movement a dog in pain needs to do, benefiting your pet hugely.
Can veterinarians prescribe medication through virtual veterinary visits?
No, veterinarians are unable to prescribe medication through virtual vet care as a physical examination is needed.
What sort of animals do virtual veterinarians help?
Virtual veterinarians usually help companion animals such as dogs, cats, rabbits, and other exotic animals like birds and reptiles if they are trained in this area.
Are virtual veterinarians registered and licensed?
It’s important to check if the virtual veterinarian is licensed in your state. There are many overseas virtual vet services and not all countries have the same level of training to qualify as a veterinarian. If your virtual veterinarian is licensed in your state you can be assured they have the appropriate level of skills and qualifications to help your pet virtually.
Virtual vet care has huge potential benefits for your pet and the comfort of knowing you can access qualified professional veterinary care at any time of the day or night. This saves frantic googling or rushing to the emergency clinic in the middle of the night unnecessarily. If you are interested in trying virtual health care for your pet, use our BetterVet services today.