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Best Vets Online for 2020

When you suspect your pet is a bit under the weather (but it is not life-threatening), it can be a panic knowing what is best to do.

Do you rush them to the vets straight away, or is that a complete overreaction? Sometimes, you may not be able to make it to the vet until the next day, such as if you don’t have access to transport or have other commitments.

There is also a possibility that you know it isn’t an emergency situation, but still would like to talk to a professional face-to-face for peace of mind, and if you need to show them anything.

Online vets can offer video calling, 24/7 answers and booked time-slots that beat loading up the car and driving to your registered vets. They can then advise what to do and whether you need to be referred to a practice or be given any medication.

These are the best online vet services, so you can talk to a vet directly and get the best possible advice from the comfort of our own home.

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    Our Top Picks

    Image Product Details
    My Family Vets
    • Affiliated practices around the UK
    • Large team so quick turnaround times
    • Can book appointments ahead
    Check Price
    Joii Pet Care
    • Rapid response times
    • A lot of free resources
    • Ability to prescribe medication and send it out
    Check Price
    First Vet
    • 24 Hours, 365 Days of the year
    • Large range of animals given advice
    • Work with top insurance brands
    Check Price

    The Top 6 Online Vets UK Reviewed

    1.
    My Family Vets

    The My Family Vets website has a great information section, as well as affiliated practices right around the UK – so you know everything is above board.

    You will be speaking to an experienced, RCVS registered vet, and this can be done either from home or on-the-go via mobile phone, which is great if your animal is not your conventional cat or dog in the home.

    There is a “Who will I be talking to?” section so you can familiarise yourself with who you are booked in to see beforehand.

    Appointments give you 15 minutes which should be plenty of time to thoroughly run through everything, and availability is usually good for the day so you can find a time which is convenient.

    If your pet does have to be referred to one of their physical practices, they will reduce the cost of your online consultation by ⅓, which is really great too.

    The vet will have all of the information to hand, so treatment and attention can start right away as opposed to going through everything again, and they do accept insurance claims if it gets to this stage.

    Features

    • Affiliated practices around the UK
    • Large team so quick turnaround times
    • Can book appointments ahead

    Specifications

    • Appointment Duration: 15 Mins
    • Platform: Smartphone/Tablet/Laptop, Supported browser (Safari for iOS/Apple or Google Chrome for Windows and Android)
    • Pricing: ££
    • Insurance?: No

    2.
    Joii Pet Care

    This is the UK’s first app-only online veterinary service, great if you need something which is always with you and on-the-go. It is also offered as part of the Animal Friends insurance policies.

    Joii wants to bridge that gap between worried owners and the cases presented to vets which are low risk and can be identified without a physical examination. This reduces stress from both parties, as well as saving you money.

    There is a free pet symptom checker which can give you peace of mind if there is anything you aren’t too sure about, such as why your pet isn’t eating or if they have a rash. If this is filled in as accurately as possible, they may recommend booking an online appointment if it shows it may need some attention.

    You can also get instant access to expert vet advice via an online chat, which is good if you just have a quick query which doesn’t need a full appointment but need someone to get back to you within a few minutes.

    Then beyond that, there are free Nurse Clinic video consultations which offer health checks, advice, and more. If you want to see a qualified vet who can prescribe medication and provide detailed treatment plans, face-to-face calls are available and you get a full-length consultation from the comfort of your own home.

    You can upload pictures ahead of time for them to analyse, and they can send out any laboratory tests (such as urine samples), as well as sending notes on treatment plans direct to your device.

    Any products are delivered straight to your door within 48 hours, which is fabulous if you can’t leave your house for any reason. It is an award-winning app, and they also have a money-back guarantee in place.

    Features

    • Rapid response times
    • A lot of free resources
    • Ability to prescribe medication and send it out

    Specifications

    • Appointment Duration: 20 Mins
    • Platform: App, iOS/Google Play
    • Pricing: £
    • Insurance?: Free through Animal Friends policies

    3.
    First Vet

    With 250,000 satisfied pet owners, 98% of whom have rated their consultations 5 stars, this is a popular platform which gives you rapid booking slots and is available as a handy app.

    Between 9 am and 6 pm you are charged a regular competitive rate, paying a little bit more out of hours, but this does mean that it is a 24-hour service. The vets are always experienced, UK-registered vets, even if they are elsewhere in the world in order to give you the 24/7 attention.

    FirstVet payments are often covered by pet insurance. The consultations are free if you hold a pet insurance policy with one of their insurance partners, which includes names like Bought By Many, LV, RSPCA and Waggel. It does not affect your premium.

    You can register your pet through the app immediately, so if anything does arise, you can see them almost straight away. They have a guide on the vets they use, with information about where they are based, where they studied, and the roles they have held since for confirmation on their authenticity.

    They can deal with small animals as well as horses too, so will be able to give advice across the board.

    Features

    • 24 Hours, 365 Days of the year
    • Large range of animals given advice
    • Work with top insurance brands

    Specifications

    • Appointment Duration: 15 Mins
    • Platform: App, iOS/Google Play
    • Pricing: ££
    • Insurance?: Often covered, Free through some policies

    4.
    Vets Now

    When you need attention within minutes, Vets Now can put you in touch with a qualified vet who will walk you through the concerns.

    It is solely UK-based, and you simply choose a time slot suitable for you. It should give you peace of mind and if you do need urgent physical attention, they will be able to refer you to your closest Vets Now affiliated clinic.

    They have over 1000 emergency vets around the country, and they will be informed of their new patient so will be ready to go when they arrive which is another peace of mind.

    If this is the case, the cost of the online consultation will be refunded entirely which is really helpful if you are worried about the possible costs of the treatment plans and future visits. They can’t always prescribe medication through the consultation but can point you in the right direction and let you know the next steps.

    There is a full list of the conditions which may be life-threatening on their website, so you know when to ring them and when to skip that step and rush straight to the emergency vets.

    Features

    • Good for possible referral cases
    • Emergency hospitals around the UK - always someone to hand

    Specifications

    • Appointment Duration: 10 Mins
    • Platform: Smartphone/Tablet/Laptop
    • Pricing: ££
    • Insurance?: No

    5.
    Pet GP

    With vets and nurses on hand 24/7/365 when you need advice, this is a great service to sign up to for those just-in-case moments – without hefty one-time bills.

    It is a pay-monthly option, which is perhaps good for anyone who has several pets who need to be covered or if your pet is older or has underlying health conditions. Membership is flexible, however, so you can cancel at any time.

    They are part of VetFone, which is a service offered through many partnered brands such as Tesco Bank, John Lewis Finance, and More Than, as well as Cats Protection and Dogs Trust, who advise any new adopters to go here first before vets for non-emergency situations. This is a great review alone of their services!

    Their aim is to be the first port of call, which could possibly save the time, cost and stress of an unnecessary physical trip to the vet. All nurses are registered Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, and many of them have several decades of experience under their belts.

    With a telephone, live chat and video call option, you can pick the option which best suits your current situation. They describe themselves as the NHS 111 for pets, not replacing vets, but showing you what to do next.

    Features

    • Low monthly payment
    • Available 24/7

    Specifications

    • Appointment Duration: Unlimited
    • Platform: Smartphone/Laptop/Tablet
    • Pricing: Monthly, £
    • Insurance?: Through some partners

    6.
    PawSquad

    With the option to pay monthly so they are always on hand, or pay a one-off rate (which is very competitive), PawSquad will answer non-urgent questions about your pet and let you know if you need to take action.

    The vets they work with are handpicked based on experience and clinical skills, as well as their bedside manner, compassion and personality. You can view who all of their vets are before you sign up, and they have all been through a rigorous application process.

    Each is even given a star rate after their consultation and – good news – there are 5* ratings across the board from thousands of customers. Something they have on top of this is a Health Check, which is a thorough and comprehensive online health check to help you keep tabs on your pet’s wellbeing throughout their life.

    We all know that we should book our pets in for physical examinations at least annually, but life can get in the way (or they can point-blank refuse to get in their crate).

    This can be booked ahead of time, and you can check the basics to ensure they are fit as a fiddle. It lasts 30 minutes too, so you can ask all of the questions under the sun.

    Features

    • HealthCheck service too
    • Available 24/7
    • Offer second opinions

    Specifications

    • Appointment Duration: 15 Mins
    • Platform: Smartphone/Tablet/Laptop, iOS/Google Play App
    • Pricing: £
    • Insurance?: Through DirectLine

    Buying Guide

    What You Should Look For In An Online Vet

    You want to be able to talk to someone face to face ideally. This way, you know that the person answering is fully qualified, and can explain things in clarity.

    There are some online vet services out there where you type in your question. The big issue with this is that the person answering may not be qualified, and may also not know much about your particular animal. You never know – with the technology these days, they may not even be a real person!

    Anything which advertises itself as a “free online vet service” is probably too good to be true. If you are speaking to a professional, they need to be paid for what they are doing as you would with a normal veterinary appointment.

    If you do want advice for free, there are online forums out there from vets practices and insurance companies which are often answered by people with good knowledge, but again the legitimacy of the answers can be unknown. Calling your registered vet practice for advice from a vet nurse or receptionist can be helpful, but they may be stuck for time, and something face-to-face like the recommendations above can be a lot more comforting.

    When To Use An Online Vet

    It is important to mention that you should only use this online option if the situation is NON-URGENT.

    In an emergency, such as if you think your pet is seriously ill or in a life-threatening condition, always go to the vets immediately. Every platform is different, but online vets can generally help with:

    • Non-urgent questions (nothing life-threatening)
    • Preventative care advice (i.e what your dog can take to prevent fleas)
    • Ongoing and chronic conditions (how to manage osteoarthritis etc)
    • Behaviour issues
    • Treatment plans directly to your door (anything which doesn’t need a physical examination)

    Price

    As mentioned, you will usually have to pay for an online veterinary consultation. This is something you would have to do with a regular appointment anyway.

    Prices for single appointments are generally between £20 and £30, and you often get a 15- or 20-minute booking. So, it is like a regular vet appointment but without the hassle of taking them physically. Fingers crossed, it will be nothing serious, so you have saved yourself the cost to get there and back!

    If you do need to be referred to a registered practice who they are affiliated with, many will reduce the cost of the appointment or refund you completely.

    Some services may also be provided through a pet insurance policy for free, or you could claim the cost back through some. There are a few platforms which offer a monthly payment plan, which spreads the cost out a little bit and would be good if you have multiple pets or one with several health issues.

    Registered Vets

    To ensure that your prospective vet really is genuine, look out for:

    • If they are RCVS registered
    • Their name – a quick Google should bring up some information about them

    A legitimate online veterinary company should have a good profile section on their website which shows you who you could possibly talk to, along with their qualifications.

    Reviews

    As with anything, look for the reviews of people who have used the service. They should be on a platform such as Trustpilot, where reviews are verified.

    Other Buyers Ask...

    Do I need insurance to be able to talk to an online vet?

    No! Some are available through insurance policies for an added extra feature, and some will allow you to claim back on the cost through your insurance, but you don’t need a policy to actually speak to them.

    Neither will you need a policy through your vet.

    I don’t have a smartphone…what do I do?

    The benefit of a smartphone or tablet is the video calling feature, which you can take anywhere and everywhere. If you don’t have one, look for a platform which is laptop-friendly instead.

    If you only have access to a landline, look for an online vet which has a phone line too. Remember to keep the number to hand for emergencies.