Online veterinary consultations are about to boom. Although the coronavirus crisis has caused massive disruption to the lives of people, pets and businesses, humans are nothing if not resourceful and adaptable. Evidence of this is seen in the huge growth of online learning apps, at-home fitness video services and web-based cooking tutorials. Online veterinary consultations are heading in the same direction. People still have questions about their pet's health, so asking a vet via an online consultation offers peace of mind for many.
So in times like these, where digital pet care might be more in demand than at any time in history, we are launching a new series to shine a light on digital resources to enhance your pet’s life and bring peace of mind where needed.
Kicking off our series, we speak with Dr Mark Boddy, CEO at PawSquad to find out more about their online veterinary advice service, including what you can expect from a typical live text or video veterinary consultation, costs involved and what happens if you need a prescription.
The pet owners who usually use online veterinary consultations are...
“PawSquad is the UK's leading online veterinary advice service, offering video consultations and live text chat with highly experienced UK-registered veterinarians.
“Our customers are concerned pet owners of all kinds who want an instant, professional response to their pet's health concerns no matter where they are or whenever they need it, 24hrs a day, 365 days a year.”
A typical video or live text veterinary appointment involves...
“Connecting to a vet through our website or mobile app is just a matter of a few clicks. Once you have registered and created a profile for your pet, simply select either a video consultation or a live text chat and you will be talking to a vet instantly. No appointment needed, no anxious waiting for a callback.
“Consultations last as long as you need them to and our vets summarise their findings and recommendations in a written report afterwards."
An example of a typical PawSquad video consultation
“Consultations are £20 or our subscription members can have unlimited consultations for just £7 a month (or £70 for an annual subscription).
“We also have a number of partner programmes which provide free consultations for their members, such as with Direct Line Pet Insurance. A full list of partners is available on our website.”
The main benefits are...
“Our users tell us the biggest value for them is simply the peace of mind of knowing that they have 'a vet in their pocket' whenever they need it, at any time of day or night and wherever they are.
“But there are many potential benefits. Compared to a Google search, which has traditionally been the go-to resource for an amazing 78% of pet owners, you can be confident that the advice is trustworthy and personalised to your individual pet.
“Over 80% of our consultations can avoid an unnecessary visit to a vet clinic altogether or at least safely postpone them to a more convenient (or less expensive) time. This is a real benefit for busy pet owners or those whose pets get very stressed by trips to the vet.”
The process for pet prescriptions is...
“Many conditions do not require a prescription or can be managed with non-prescription medicines and other products. These can usually be purchased through an online pet pharmacy for delivery to your home.
"At this moment in time, veterinary regulations do not permit prescription-only medicines to be prescribed during an online consultation. In this case, you would currently need to ask your regular vet for a prescription.”
Common myths about online veterinary consultation services...
“One of the misconceptions around online consultations is the belief that they cannot replace a 'hands on' consultation in a vet clinic. The reality is that we are not really aiming to do this.
“Our service offers pet owners accessible, immediate and 'always-on' advice as a trusted first line response to their concern. It helps them make informed choices about the best action to take in any circumstance. And it provides instant peace of mind in those anxious moments while often also reducing the expense and stress (for both themselves and their pet) of an unnecessary clinic visit.
“If a physical examination, diagnostic tests or immediate treatment are required then they can take this action knowing it is indeed necessary and how urgent it is (or isn't).”