California’s AB1399: The Impact of Veterinary Telemedicine For Pet Parents 

Dec 8, 2023

On Oct 8, 2023 California’s Governor Gavin Newsom signed California Assembly Bill 1399 (AB1399) into law, signifying a turning point in the world of veterinary medicine. California has historically had the strictest rules in the nation regarding the Veterinary-Client-Patient-Relationship (VCPR). It is now the most populous state to allow a VCPR to be established remotely and other states just might follow suit. 

In recent years, the decision of whether or not to allow veterinarians to prescribe medications to patients without an in-person VCPR (veterinarian-client-patient relationship) has been hotly debated. Most states insist that a prior in-person veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR) must exist before a veterinarian can prescribe a drug without physically seeing pet patients. Laws requiring in-person visits were enacted prior to video call technology to protect pets. Because they can’t speak, vets must rely on physical exams to determine what is ailing a pet. Although exams performed by video call have their limitations, a cursory exam is now possible remotely. 

In addition to California, several states have also passed laws allowing a VCPR to be established via video call. Those states that allow a VCPR to be established remotely include Idaho, New Jersey, Vermont, Virginia, Arizona and in January 2024, California. New York’s rules are slightly different, but they essentially also allow pet telemedicine to be practiced.

The new California law which goes into effect January 1, 2024 is poised to have the following impact:

  • Expanded Access to Veterinary Care – AB1399 opens up a world of possibilities for pet parents in California. The ability to consult with a veterinarian remotely means that individuals who live in areas with fewer veterinarians, have limited mobility or financial means can now gain quicker access to veterinary care for minor, but urgent, health problems. A common example is a dog who eats something unsavory in the backyard, then wakes up with GI distress the next day.
  • Streamlined Medication Prescriptions – While there are some limitations in the law as to the types of medications that can be prescribed (for example, opiates are excluded), veterinarians can prescribe certain prescription medications for up to six months after the initial remote visit. Antibiotics are limited to a 14-day supply. This added flexibility enables pets to get treatment more quickly and reduces the stress and hassle of in-person visits for both pet parents, their pets and the overwhelmed veterinary care system. 

Enhanced Convenience and Reduced Stress – Expanding veterinary telemedicine will help simplify the healthcare process for many pet parents who struggle to get their pet to a vet’s office. For straightforward problems, pets and their parents will be able to avoid the stress and anxiety of an in-person visit that some pets feel. Now, pets will be treated in the comfort of their home, making their health journey more peaceful.

How does pet telehealth differ from pet telemedicine?

Pet telehealth and pet telemedicine are both valuable tools to help treat pets quickly and efficiently from a distance. There are some key differences pet owners should be aware of. Take a look at the chart below for a summary of these key differences. 

Pet telehealth as an employee benefit continues to gain momentum

These new developments on the horizon for pet telehealth are exciting news for those HR leaders who oversee pet-centric employee benefits. Pet telehealth services like Airvet, have helped to expand equitable access to veterinary care for working pet families everywhere. 

As the concept of veterinary telehealth gains momentum, HR leaders who aim to provide meaningful support to the 70% of the workforce with family pets will find this trend particularly promising. Newfound accessibility not only enhances the quality of care for pets but also expedites care for those who have faced delays in accessing timely healthcare.

Airvet is looking forward to being at the forefront of this transformation as we gear up to offer telemedicine in several states in the coming year and potentially additional states in the future.