We received this question from an anonymous sender:
Televet became a big thing in a post-pandemic world. I’m not sure how veterinary telemedicine works: What does a televet appointment process look like? When is it appropriate to arrange a vet telemedicine appointment? What situations are too serious for televet? How to prepare for a televet appointment? How do televet appointments differ from in-person visits? Can a veterinary doctor prescribe the medication after the vet telemedicine appointment?
I consulted with Claudine Sievert, DVM. Here go her responses:
What does a televet appointment process look like?
The pet parent needs to download the app. Then he may contact the vet by sending him a message that contains all the information about the animal’s condition. The relevant pictures can also be uploaded. Once the vet sees the message and replies, the owner gets a notification. The conversation is then continued via video chat or a message box.
When is it appropriate to arrange a vet telemedicine appointment?
Any animal owner with a pet-related problem can seek advice or a second opinion. The vet can advise about nutrition, breeding, treatments, surgical procedures, vaccination protocols, external and internal parasite prevention, etc. The vet can also give his opinion concerning symptoms and possible health conditions. However, if an online vet estimates that the condition is too critical he will advise the pet parent to rush to the emergency vet clinic.
What situations are too serious for televet?
The online vet will not be able to help in the following situations:
- Persistent bleeding (more than 10 minutes ) can mean that a big blood vessel is injured and that the dog needs stitching.
- Car accidents can cause internal bleeding. The dog may seem fine on the outside but he may have a ruptured spleen, liver, or kidney.
- Seizures (epileptic or any other kind). If not treated on time, epileptic dogs may develop so-called “status epileptics” ( point of no turning back).
- Hypocalcemia in bitches due to the high production of milk. This is a condition often seen in small and toy breeds that have more than 3 puppies. In this case, calcium needs to be given as soon as possible.
- Difficult labor. The lady dog will need an ultrasound scan and surgery.
- Dilatation and Torsion of the stomach. In large breeds, this is the number one killer. If not treated surgically within an hour, the dog may die.
- Persistent vomiting can be a sign of a positing.
- Heavy breathing in brachycephalic dogs usually means a heat stroke.
How to prepare for a televet appointment?
The pet parents need to provide all the relevant information regarding their dog’s condition.
The pet parent needs to prepare answers to these questions.
- What are the dog’s breed, age, and sex?
- Is there any information about vaccination, deworming, and tick prevention?
- What are the symptoms that are concerning the owner?
- When did the problem start?
- What was the initial diagnosis? (if they are looking for a second opinion)
- What was the initial treatment?
- What is the dog’s current body temperature?
- Are there any relevant pictures that can help the vet?
How do televet appointments differ from in-person visits?
“Online visit” means that the vet cannot do a full clinical examination. The vet cannot see the color of the mucosa, he cannot palpate the animal or auscultate the lungs. This can be challenging if the owner wants a final diagnosis. That is why many times online vets can give you advice regarding the dog’s condition, but not the final diagnosis.
Can a veterinary doctor prescribe the medication after the vet telemedicine appointment?
Yes, there are many medications that an online vet can prescribe. Veterinarians can provide a prescription so the pet parent can get the medication from an online pharmacy. Sometimes the vet may ship the medication to the owner’s house. However when it comes to sedatives, heart medications, immunosuppressive treatment, and hormones the vet needs to perform a detailed clinical examination and blood test before the prescription.
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