The COVID-19 pandemic changed a lot of things going forward, one of which is the way pet owners and veterinarians interact during visits.
Forced to have appointments online as a result of the pandemic, more pet owners and vets are discovering that televisits/telemedicine — having appointments online much like Zoom phone calls or meetings — are actually an effective way to get a checkup on their animals.
Of course, there are still plenty of instances in which in-person visits with a veterinarian would be required, such as for X-rays or when certain medications need to be prescribed.
But in other cases, televisits are becoming more of the norm.
“While I certainly wish we could have gotten to this point without going through a pandemic and all the human suffering and loss, I intend to do predominantly telemedicine for the rest of my career,” said Dr. Marie Hopfensperger, a veterinary behaviorist for Michigan State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
Hopfensperger offered some insight as to what advantages televisits provide.
1. They’re less stressful for the pet and owner.
How many owners dread having to put their pet in a crate, or by itself in a car, drive to the vet and then endure interaction with other pets as they check into the lobby?
Televisits certainly eliminate that for owners. The same can be said for pets who are more comfortable and better-behaved in their natural home environment, especially if they struggle with aggression and anxiety.
“For my patients who are very anxious, telehealth is much more welfare-forward,” Hopfensperger said. “I don’t have to stress them out unnecessarily.”
2. It gives pet owners more options.
For those who have recently moved and dread having to find another veterinarian, televisits can help solve that problem by allowing owners to stay connected to the vet they’ve established trust with.
It also allows owners the choice to shop for veterinarians who are farther away from their community.
“For their owners who may live several hours away, telehealth is much more convenient,” Hopfensperger said.
3. Televisits can help veterinarians get a better assessments of pets.
Hopfensperger said she can get a more accurate history of information from clients because pets and owners aren’t as stressed as they would be in a hospital setting, and she gets to see pets in their natural environment.
“I am also able to readily address co-morbid conditions at the same time,” Hopfensperger said. “For example, I can readily observe skin issues and observe a pet walk (to do a preliminary pain assessment) during a telehealth appointment. We can also discuss GI or urinary issues, for example, and then the owner can drop off a fecal or urine sample for testing.”
Are you a pet owner who now prefers televisits with your vet? Or would you rather do in-person visits? Let us know in the comments below.