Virtual vet consultations are on the rise and for good reason. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the use of online consultations for everything in NZ from doctors to psychiatrists. We’re making the most of technology to reduce our time spent running around for tasks that need to be ticked off but aren’t considered emergencies.
So what exactly is a virtual vet consultation and when would it be useful? Could it replace vet visits altogether? We look at the possibilities below.
What is a virtual vet consult?
Virtual vet consults provided by veterinary telehealth services allow you to video call with a vet or vet nurse. This could be through a service like Zoom or Teams, and usually it’s done to ascertain whether your pet’s health issue is serious enough to bring them into your local vet’s rooms for a physical consult.
In this way, they save both you and your vet time. They also save your pet the stress of going to the vet when they very well might not need to go. They will also cost less than an in-person vet appointment.
It’s important to note that they do not replace in-person visits. Pet research charity (and pd.co.nz partner) Healthy Pets New Zealand chairperson and veterinarian Dr. Catherine Watson explains.
“Pet telehealth services are very useful if you’re unsure if it’s necessary to visit a vet or not, or you need advice on doing the right thing. However, by law, an online service can’t prescribe medication – only give advice – so it’s no good if diagnostics are required, for emergencies, or if a prescription is needed,” she says.
The benefits of a virtual vet
As mentioned above, virtual vet consults save time and money. They enable you to ask your vet or another vet quick questions about your pet’s health, without having to unnecessarily take time off work or play to travel to a consult.
They can be highly beneficial in that respect but won’t replace the value of an in-person vet visit. A key part of providing quality vet care is thoroughly examining the animal – checking them all over with their hands, eyes and professional equipment. Then conducting further tests from there, and so on.
Because vets aren’t allowed to prescribe medication online, consider the virtual vet visits a pre-diagnosis tool to determine whether a further consult is necessary.
“Telehealth means a qualified vet can provide advice and determine which pets do need an in-person visit as opposed to those that do not. This helps optimise health delivery and potentially reduce the load on over-stretched resources,” says Dr Watson.
New Zealand vets, especially those in Auckland, are overworked, with a recent media report describing Auckland vets as ‘in crisis’. Several clinics are unable to see new clients for routine treatment because they don’t have capacity.
Read this report on the mental health of vets and you’ll understand what we mean.
Subscription services to make pet parenting easier
Apart from virtual vet consultations, internet-led pet services include subscriptions for pet essentials. With these you can have their food, deworming regimes, flea treatments, toys and more sent straight to your doorstep monthly.
Pet parenting comes at a cost, and these services can spread out the bills to make it all more affordable.
“Subscription services are a great idea for making sure people never run out of the essentials for their pets. They’re for people who are busy or don’t want the hassle of having to remember when to top up on essentials,” says Dr. Watson.
Want to ensure you’re spending less time at the vet – virtual or not? Your pet’s gut health has a big role to play in their overall health. Read our tips for great dog gut health here and you’ll find a lot of this info is helpful if you have a cat too!
Also read our routine pet care tips, for taking care of their health from when they’re babies through to seniors.
Insurance to further ease your pet parent lifestyle
Virtual or not, vet visits can be expensive – especially the unexpected ones. Comprehensive pet insurance will ensure that you have your furkid covered in case of an accident, illness or other emergency.
Find out about PD Insurance pet insurance and how we can cover your pet with a free online quote below.