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Are online veterinarians effective at treating my pet?

Discover the convenience of online veterinary care for your pets. Although it doesn't replace traditional visits, it helps support and bridges possible gaps

As pet owners, we always strive to provide the best possible care for our beloved companions. With the rise of online veterinary services including telemedicine, it’s natural to wonder if virtual consultations can truly provide the same level of effectiveness in diagnosing and treating pets’ health issues.

Online veterinarians have gained popularity in recent years, offering pet owners a convenient and accessible alternative to in-person veterinary care. To summarise, virtual consultations are designed to complement traditional in-person visits, not to replace them.

Not all cases are appropriate for telemedicine services – unlike our human counterparts, animals are unable to voice out their discomfort or problem, and hence the significance of physical examinations would be greater in veterinary medicine. 

Here are some scenarios whereby telemedicine would be just as useful: 

1. Conduct general health and wellness check-ins

Mainly addressing questions regarding basic pet maintenance and needs. For example, preventative care (selection of parasite prevention products based on pet’s lifestyle, types of administration methods, age to get started), supplement selection, corrective behaviour techniques, quality of exercise and nutrition.

2. Treat minor injuries or non-emergency conditions

Mainly skin conditions, for example – minor cuts, skin irritation and itch. Veterinarians are able to provide guidance on home care,  basic wound management, or help owners determine if further medication attention is required. Other minor ailments can include symptomatic management of vomiting and/or diarrhea, usually early signs, or when owners are more certain of the cause (eg. dietary changes). 

3. Obtain medication refills and prescriptions

Dispensing prescription medications (prescription can be provided by a clinic). Sometimes a prescription is provided when the clinic runs out of stock of the medication required. For added convenience, telemedicine providers are able to courier medications to the owner’s doorstep. 

4. Offer behavioural consults

Useful to discuss behavioural-related issues deriving from separation anxiety, aggression, or general advice on how to approach behaviour modifications. The veterinarians may suggest certain products to try, or provide the relevant contacts of reputable animal behaviourists if further intervention is required. 

5. Provide reviews and post-operative care

It can be stressful to provide aftercare to pets after a major surgery, and telemedicine can provide a convenient and fast way for owners to address any concerns they might have (pets may behave abnormally during recovery that may be concerning). Online vets can help to point out if any urgent in-person veterinary attention is required, or reassure owners that they are doing fine. 

6. Seek second opinions and specialist referrals

Telemedicine allows for remote consults with veterinary specialists that might be based overseas, allowing greater access to experts all around the world. Obtaining a second opinion and expert advice would be much easier, removing the need for additional travel. Sometimes, owners may take test results home to think over, and telemedicine can help to provide answers if further questions arise. 

7. Offer palliative care

Online veterinarians can be there to provide compassionate support, or discussion with pet owners when facing end-of-life decisions. Discussion topics can include pain management, assessing QOL (quality of life) and assisting owners in making informed decisions. 

8. Mitigate clinic anxiety

Sometimes, there are pets that undergo extreme stress and anxiety at the clinic, so telemedicine enables pet owners to seek advice from the comfort of their homes (but only for minor issues). Televets can also dispense anti-anxiety medications to be taken some time before heading to the physical clinic, and make it possible for veterinarians at the clinic to perform a thorough physical exam and other investigations. 

Bridging the gap through telemedicine

However, it is important to highlight that cases which require physical exam, diagnostic tests or emergency interventions would not be possible via teleconsults, and sometimes an in-person visit may still be required. Teleconsulting can help clients to decide if taking their pet down to the clinic/hospital is necessary based on the initial screen by a teleconsult. This is particularly useful in Singapore, where public transport is not an option and private pet-friendly hires can be expensive. Overall, there is a gap to be filled to provide the highest quality care for our pets in Singapore, and telemedicine can be here as another service to support the veterinary healthcare industry. 

Ready to experience the effectiveness of online veterinary care for your pet? Take the first step towards convenient and reliable pet healthcare by booking an online vet consultation here at Zumvet today.  

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