In The News: The Online Vet

By Carolyn Webb | The Age – Technology

Have you ever been in the situation where you need to get Max or Bella to the vet – and you can’t? Even simply knowing what’s wrong would be a relief.

A virtual vet could be the answer. Virtual visits aren’t a substitute for a trip to the doctor’s surgery but they’re definitely a good option for minor, temporary problems such cuts and scrapes, itches and rashes, diarrhoea and vomiting, or conjunctivitis – especially if you’re unable to get to your vet.

Price is another consideration. For a virtual visit, all you need is a smart phone, a tablet, or a computer with a camera. If you’re using a smart phone, tablet or computer, simply visit the website address.

One example of a useful online vet service is award winning i-Vet based in Australia. Identify your pet type and breed, its symptoms and other relevant data, and you’ll be presented with a list of possible causes beginning with the most likely conditions.

It offers pet owners live video and text chats with qualified veterinarians about general questions and medical or behavioural issues. Users can upload photos and videos of their animals for use during their virtual consultations. This includes all domestic pets, exotic pets and larger animals such as horses in some circumstances.

The fee is set by the vet, generally around $80. To date, it has received interest from dozens of veterinarians and hundreds of new customers.

Reactions to these services can be mixed. Perhaps it’s telling that most objections come from vets themselves. In contrast, web reviews from satisfied clients emphasise the peace of mind and relief from being able to access virtual veterinary care. However, many veterinarians say that without seeing the animal, their ability to assess and diagnose is limited. In reality, some virtual visits are later followed up by a visit to a vet.

Vets themselves now use virtual training to broaden their experience and range of options in addition to being able to access up to date techniques and information. Veterinary students are increasingly using online resources.

“Virtual visits and online information are not a fad and sharing is the way of the future.”

Virtual visits and online information are not a fad and sharing is the way of the future, making animal health care quick, convenient and attractively priced. Already the trend is apparent, with user numbers rocketing up world-wide. Ideally, your virtual vet should let your regular vet know what transpired during the consultation. And, even more serendipitously, your online and regular vet could be one and the same. That would be the best of all worlds.


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Dr Sue Samuelsson is a caring and dynamic vet in the Northern Territory, Australia who has had a profound effect on many remote communities around East Arnhem Land. She is the creator of i-Vet, an innovate award-winning online service designed for pet owners. Away from her busy schedule she enjoys catching barramundi in the Daly River.