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)
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.
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.
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.