Telehealth services, normally for just humans, has expanded to pets and their owners in the United States.
Local veterinarian Jo Myers, DVM, said vet telehealth has been in development over the past five years and formally came into existence during the past year.
With the pandemic, she said this type of service was accelerated, in part due to the temporary closures of clinics during the shutdown period.
She said during that time, the State of Colorado gave veterinarians a green light to establish Veterinary Client Patient Relationship in how they saw best.
“In November, they took it away, but then recognized this will be the new norm. So, they gave the OK again in early 2021,” she said.
“Colorado is on the forefront of embracing vet telehealth,” Myers said.
She said most other states require an in-person visit first for prescription service.
It is her understanding that Colorado is the only state that allows vets to write a prescription via telehealth.
She said although she can have appointments and provide wellness information to individuals outside the state, she can only diagnose and prescribe pet medicine for those in the state of Colorado.
“The idea of being able to prescribe has always been a part of telehealth from the start, but it was not legal.”
Technology was ahead of the legality of telehealth for fuzzy friends. “It takes forever to pass these laws,” Myers said.
Through online platforms like Vetster, Myers and other veterinarians are able to provide medical care for pets through video, chat and voice enabled appointments.
Pet owners can search by area and schedule online.
She said the online platforms are like using Zoom and are seamless for vets and pet owners.
Myers consults online about an array of conditions that involve the skin, ears, bladder and intestines, which legally fall under a preliminary diagnosis, she said.
“Anything short of hands-on is a guess. In a lot of common situations, however, I can make a very good guess, and that is a reasonable course of action to try before an in-person visit,” Myers said. Obviously, surgery, stitches and/or emergencies call for in-person care.
After the online visit concludes, the pet owner gets a copy of the medical record.
If a pet needs an Rx, the vet contacts the owner’s preferred pharmacy, whether it be local or online. The pharmacy then reaches out for payment, and obtains shipment details if through online pharmacies such as Chewy, 1-800 PetMeds or Walmart.
Myers has been a vet for 26 years. She said providing vet services online has always been of interest to her.
About a dozen platforms like Vetster are in existence.
Vetster offers pet owners in the U.S. and Canada an accessible way to visit with a vet 24/7.