family with cat on a call with an online vet standing in her physical vet rooms

Online Vet Consultations: Are They Worth It?


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Online vet appointments and consultations are on the rise. It’s a welcome sign that veterinary medicine is adapting to a rapidly shifting landscape. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of new technology to make remote working models more accessible to people across all sorts of industries. And veterinary services are no different.

Online or virtual consultations are now much more common practice in Australia for everything from lawyer’s appointments to psychological treatment. And now, for veterinary appointments too. After all, not everything is an emergency and not all situations require a vet to check out an animal in person.

So how exactly does an online vet consultation work, and when are they useful as compared to actual in-person vet visits?

What is an online vet consult?

An online vet appointment is just like a regular consultation – except it happens virtually. Using a variety of tools available (like Zoom or Teams), you’ll have a video call with the vet practice. Usually, it’s sort of a “first step” or triage scenario. This initial consultation is to help determine whether your pet needs to be brought into the vet’s rooms for a physical examination.

It’s important to note that seeing a vet online isn’t meant to be a complete substitute for in-person visits. Virtual vet consultations can be very useful if you need advice on how to do something or aren’t sure if your pet needs a vet visit.

However, by law, medication can’t be prescribed for your pet virtually. So if you need medication or diagnostics, it’s usually best to go in person.

shot from the back of a vet in white coat doing an online call with an elderly woman and her jack russel

Why would you use an online vet?

Virtual vet consultations typically save you and the vet time. They’re great if you need to ask a professional a quick couple of questions. They’re also helpful when deciding if you should book out time to travel to their rooms.

And with vet mental health in crisis, anything we can do to reduce the pressure on vets is welcome.

Plus, there’s the benefit that your pet doesn’t need to go through the stress of heading out unnecessarily. Oh and…of course, they’re usually cheaper than in-person vet visits. Sounds like a win for everyone involved!

But as you can imagine, we have to repeat it – seeing a vet online doesn’t have the same value as an in-person vet visit. Quality vet care will always be in demand, especially if there’s an emergency or you’re not sure what’s wrong with your pet.

Though virtual consultations are undeniably valuable, they aren’t a match for a thorough examination. In the vet clinic your vet can use their hands and eyes. And of course, they also have far more diagnostic tools and equipment at their disposal in person, such as blood tests, x-ray machines, and so on.  

Our opinion? Think of online vet appointments as a tool to determine whether a further consult is necessary. Or to get professional advice on something which doesn’t require diagnosis or testing. Maybe you want to know how to give medicine to your puppy, need confirmation on whether you pet needs a certain vaccination or require tips for cat teeth cleaning, for instance.

person working on laptop wonders why do cats lick you?

Making pet parenting easier

It isn’t just vets who have gone online. These days, you can get subscriptions for just about everything from meal boxes to magazines. When it comes to pets, there are similar services available.

Making use of these online options can save you time and money too. You can have food, flea and tick treatment, deworming medication, toys, and treats all delivered to your door regularly. Woohoo for avoiding the shops at peak hour! And with the crazy cost of petrol, you might even save on fuel costs.

Whether you’re saving with occasional online vet visits or not, we know medical treatment for the furkids can be expensive. Comprehensive pet insurance takes away the financial stress of treating your pet in the event of an accident or illness. With PD Insurance it’s an easy online subscription too.

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