What is a Virtual Vet or Televet?
These days, people can do almost anything from their homes. You can order groceries, start a business, buy clothes, and even see a doctor without having to see anyone in person.
As telehealth has increased in popularity, veterinarians have explored the option to treat their patients remotely.
Virtual vet, or televet, is short for veterinary telemedicine. These services let you deal with non-emergency medical problems from the comfort of your home. Instead of researching for hours if your pet is behaving normally, you can call a virtual vet and find out right away.
What is Veterinary Telemedicine?
Your televet can answer by call, text, or video. Many telehealth services have options for tablets, smartphones, laptops, and computers. You will discuss your concerns about your pet and ask any questions to find out if your pet needs medical attention.
A virtual vet can provide pointers for allergy relief, nutrition, and controlling parasites. They can recommend products to alleviate your pet’s symptoms and teach you how to care for them. If the problem is more serious, the vet can recommend an office visit and help you find the nearest emergency clinic.
Most veterinary telemedicine appointments will not result in a diagnosis or prescription, particularly if the doctor has not performed a full examination of your pet before. The American Veterinary Medical Association requires a vet client-patient relationship (VCPR) to provide a diagnosis or prescription. The doctor will also have had to examine your pet within the past 12 months to make an ethical medical decision.
However, calling a televet can provide you pointers for when you can see your regular veterinarian, making the in-person appointment significantly more productive. Instead of worrying and searching for medical results online, call the vet’s office to see if they are providing telemedicine.
Although changes in technology may make telemedicine a more viable appointment method, televets should only be a temporary aid to official diagnoses and forming treatment plans for now. The best practice is to check the clinic’s in-person visit policies and book an appointment for a thorough checkup.
When Should I Talk to an Online Vet?
If your pet is experiencing behavioral issues or you need some general advice, a televet makes an excellent resource. Those who have established VCPRs can offer patient-specific information and healthcare advice to better care for your pet.
Having direct access to a medical professional can encourage you to ask more questions. Instead of Googling what your cat’s puking means and guessing between countless ailments, you can ask your vet and get a straight answer about the probable cause and some basic treatment.
Furthermore, you can figure out if you are having a real emergency. While virtual vets still charge per session, an in-person visit can cost a lot more. A televet will tell you if you need to head to a vet immediately or if the problem may clear up on its own.
If your pet recently had a diagnosis or procedure, a virtual vet can provide follow-up services. They can tell you how to care for your pet and see if there are signs of a condition worsening.
You can even perform several veterinary lab tests at home by purchasing a test kit, collecting a sample, and mailing it to a lab.
Remember, virtual vets cannot replace an in-person visit. Your pet may need a full examination, especially if you notice respiratory or cardiovascular problems.
How Can I Get the Most from My Televet Visit?
Using a device with a camera can provide more insights than text or call. Your virtual vet can see the environment and if there are obvious physical signs of a condition on your pet.
You can quickly access items you may forget, such as stool samples, your pet’s food, their bed, and toys. Additionally, the televet can see how your pet behaves at home.
Preparing For a Telehealth Appointment
Begin by preparing a list of every question or concern about your pet. Writing these down before the visit ensures you will not forget anything. Also, make sure that the person who spends the most time with the pet is present with their full medical information.
Try to opt for a virtual vet service that lets you share pictures, videos, or perform a live video call. You may need to snap a photo of lab results or take a video of how your pet walks to convey the problem. Giving the vet as much information as possible yields the best results.
Keep your pet nearby so that the televet can see them. If your pet has a skin issue or other centralized problem, you will want to move the camera to show the vet the spot. Since your vet cannot do the examination themselves, you will provide anything they need to know.
Many issues will call for the vet to see your pet’s stool or urine samples and living environment. Having video connectivity, a crisp camera, and a strong internet connection will help them analyze these factors.
What is a Teletriage?
Lots of veterinary offices offer teletriages, which are services that help you decide if you need to visit an emergency clinic. They provide general advice for questions that you could find on the internet, such as toxic foods, correct care, and behavioral abnormalities.
Teletriage appointments allow the vet to evaluate if your pet is in a critical condition. They usually occur on video chat, where the vet will provide medical advice to stabilize your pet’s state until you can visit a clinic.
A virtual vet is a form of telemedicine for pets. If you have any questions concerning your furry friend’s health, a televet can provide advice to take care of them. Sometimes they will schedule in-person appointments, write prescriptions, or just tell you not to worry.
While they cannot replace standard veterinary practices, virtual vets can supplement your regular visits and offer guidance whenever a question arises concerning your pet’s well-being.