Virtual veterinarian FAQs

What is a veterinarian-client-patient-relationship (VCPR)?

According to Dr. Douglas Kratt, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association, establishing a VCPR is essential for responsible, successful telemedicine. To establish a VCPR, a hands-on exam of your pet must have been conducted “recently,” a definition that varies among state agencies.

What pet health questions can an online vet service answer?

The best online veterinarians can counsel pet owners about parasite prevention, diet, grooming, exercise, behavioral issues, and other topics. A virtual vet can also advise you on whether your pet’s medical condition is an emergency or if you can take a wait-and-see approach. “Telehealth is a fantastic initial service for any situation that feels urgent — an animal that is extremely lethargic, having issues breathing, bleeding, having seizures, or seems off,” said Dr. Zay Satchu, co-founder and chief medical officer at Bond Vet in New York City.

Can an online vet give you a prescription?

In most cases, an online vet can only prescribe for your pet if you are using a virtual vet service offered directly by the primary vet with whom you have an established VCPR. In some cases, they may be able to discuss, advise, and prescribe medication, said Dr. Hannah Lau, who is the associate director of virtual medicine at Bond Vet.

What can’t a virtual vet service do?

Even the best online veterinarians are not a replacement for face-to-face care. In the US, federal and state requirements mandate that veterinarians physically examine animal patients before conducting virtual consultations and prescribing medications. Without an established VCPR, virtual veterinarians cannot diagnose or treat your pet, but they can answer your questions, offer advice about your pet’s medical or behavioral issues, and tell you if they believe your pet should be examined or treated in person.

Does my primary vet offer virtual vet services?

Maybe. Many brick-and-mortar clinics now offer telehealth options, including Bond Vet. According to Kratt, more than 30% of all veterinary clinics in the United States now offer virtual services, up from 10% before the pandemic. Check with your primary vet to find out if they offer virtual services.

When should you seek immediate in-office or emergency veterinary care?

Always contact your veterinarian or an emergency animal hospital if your pet is displaying any of the following symptoms: difficulty breathing or rapid breathing, pale or bluish gums, seizures, unconsciousness, collapse, can’t walk or stand, uncontrolled bleeding, swollen abdomen and unproductive vomiting, persistent or bloody vomiting or diarrhea, straining to urinate, inability to urinate, or pain.


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