With advancements in technology, gone are the days when you would need to rush to the doctor anytime you had a medical question or concern. Today, you can video chat with your physician from the comfort of your home – saving you lots of time (and money!). So, why should telemedicine only work for humans? In fact, using telehealth measures to help care for your pet is starting to get even easier. There are several companies that are changing the game by introducing veterinary telemedicine services to pet owners. Interested in finding out how to help better care for your furry friend with telemedicine? Read on for more info!
Anytime your pet starts showing symptoms – whether it’s limping from a fall or vomiting after eating something they shouldn’t have – you’re left wondering if you should pack them up in the car and head straight to your vet’s office. Some animals can get extremely agitated when they have to be transported in a carrier or take a ride in the car, so even getting them to the office can be a hassle. If you live in a rural area, the aspect of traveling to a nearby vet’s office can be even more challenging. Then, once you’re at the office, you’ll likely spend quite a bit of time in the waiting room. After meeting with your vet, you’re probably going to face having to pay an expensive bill (whether your pet needed much treatment or not). Needless to say, the whole experience can end up making you feel overwhelmed and frustrated.
Luckily, there are several companies who are starting to revolutionize how you can get help from a vet. If you live in the San Francisco Bay area in California, you can get access to Fuzzy Pet Health Connect, a telemedicine service that works with a smartphone app to give you access to an on-demand vet 24/7. It works by letting you send text, pictures, and videos to a licensed vet at any time. They’ll respond in real-time with detailed instructions and advice on how to care for your pet and their particular problem. They’ll also advise you if they think your pet should visit an in-person vet for the best treatment. Even if you have questions that are not medical, Fuzzy Pet Health can help by offering advice on behavior or training issues too. The best part is that it’s only $10 a month!
In an interview with TechCrunch, Fuzzy Pet Health co-founder Eric Palm says that this kind of on-demand help can allow for pet owners’ questions to be answered quickly, without needing to visit a vet in person. “It turns out that 80 percent of the time when people think there’s an emergency issue, it’s not actually critical. We can triage – we can share pictures and videos, and that’s really helpful.”
But these plans aren’t just for medical emergencies. They also include an annual supply of flea, tick, and heartworm preventative medications and core vaccines. You can even get diagnostics for heartworm and fecal testing every six months and microchipping for your pet. One of the plans even includes two wellness checkups that are conducted in your home! If your pet is older or has chronic conditions, one plan option offers blood panels every six months and a cold laser therapy treatment, so no matter what your pet needs, they’ll be taken care of.
Fuzzy Pet Health is seeing great results with the service. Co-founder and lead vet Dr. Robert Trimble said in a statement, “The average pet parent goes to the vet only 1.6 times a year, while our members get in touch with us roughly once a month. We’re excited to expand telemedicine across the country, and provide pet parents the peace of mind and education that come with easy and unlimited access to high-quality care.” While the service isn’t widely available yet, the company is thinking of expanding to other major cities like Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago.
There are other companies, like Petriage, that also use a mobile app to give pet owners direct access to expert vet advice. If you have a good working relationship with your vet, there are sites like Televet that offer direct communication with the vet your pet is already seeing.
Telemedicine for pets is pretty new, and there’s definitely room to grow. At this time, there are laws in most states that say that telehealth vet services can’t diagnose or prescribe medications without in-person vet visits. There aren’t these types of laws for human health care, so hopefully, lawmakers will see how helpful and convenient these services are and do away with these restrictions. Palm says that there is progress already being made. “Each state has its own Veterinary Medical Board, and there are active discussions on most of these boards on how to relax the rules around telemedicine,” Palm states.
So, as these services grow more popular, you’ll be able to take care of most of your vet business through convenient, time and money-saving mobile apps and video chats, no matter where you’re living.