378 – Telemedicine for Pets Fills Need During Pandemic

Protect Your Dogs (3)

Telemedicine for Pets Fills Need During Pandemic

Dr. Melissa Webster is a veterinarian at Tampa veterinary hospital and Highland pet hospital in Tampa FL. Webster shares invaluable information about telemedicine for our pets in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Shelter in place orders across the country have pet owners worried about their animals’ health and veterinarians worried about their practices. Telemedicine offers the opportunity to get help with our pets and a potential source of income for veterinarians trying to stay afloat during this crisis.

Webster works with an ap called Airvet. Pet owners pay $30 and are connected to a licensed veterinarian who can help them assess their dog’s situation.

“I can’t diagnose, treat or prescribe for your pet directly (if the dog isn’t a current patient of my brick and mortar clinic),” Webster said. “I can say ‘hey, there’s green gunk in your dog’s eye’… I can ask you historical questions, when did it occur and is she bothered by it, and we can look at it and look at her eye and decide is it something where you need to go to the vet right now, a sort of triage situation, or is it something that can be looked at tomorrow and kind of see how we can fit this into your life and help your dog.”

In some situations, like Webster’s specialty reproduction practice, telemedicine offers peace of mind for her clients that she can actually see the puppies, the dam, offer insights or suggestions without any risk of exposure for herself, her staff or her clients.

While this isn’t a solution to every situation, obviously surgery and physical intervention in a medical situation will require in person clinical visits, it is an invaluable tool in today’s upside down world.

“I think it’s a huge resource,” Webster said “and a way for us to support all the pet owners right away that’s financially a lot more attainable for the pet owners … I’m really excited to see more veterinarians coming on board that were kind of thinking ‘yeah I might do this in the future’ well here we are now … the neat things about the service that I’m a part of is that if your veterinarian isn’t available you will get a veterinarian.”

Learn more about Airvet here. Read the AVMA position statement on telemedicine here.


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