Telemedicine: What Is It and How It’s Being Used For Your Pets

Mar 3, 2020

For many people, our pets are more than just a furry friend–they’re a precious part of the family and can live as close companions for important parts of our lives. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that providing the best possible medical care is central in importance for most pet parents.

Telemedicine is a superb way to offer your pet the best possible health care at the lowest possible stress level for you and them. Being able to conveniently virtually talk to your veterinarian when you need to makes the difference between struggling to manage a very difficult healthcare problem and helping your dog to maintain a high quality of life.

What is Telemedicine?

Through telemedicine, veterinarians (and human doctors) offer medical advice and sometimes diagnosis and treatment options over a phone or video screen instead of in person. In many circumstances, diagnosis may be given and prescriptions written remotely.

Clients typically pay a fee for this service, but it is less than they would have paid for an in-office vet visit.

It has always been an important tool for people and pets who live in remote areas, but recently it is also becoming a favorite choice for everyday people and their pets, especially in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

To be clear, there are laws that differ per state that require a Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship (VCPR) to exist between you and your vet prior to the prescription of medication.

What does this mean? It means that your veterinarian needs to have seen your pet in the past year and know your pet well enough to be able to diagnose and treat any medical conditions your pet might develop. If that relationship does not exist, telemedicine is very limited in those states that require a VPCR.

What Are the Advantages of Telemedicine

Telemedicine is a relatively new practice in veterinary care. The goal of telemedicine is to create a closer connection between the doctor and the patient or pet parent.

Telemedicine enables greater communication much more easily, which can reduce the stress for pets, people, and veterinarians. If you have ever been frustrated by an unnecessary emergency visit or primary care visit that stressed your pet and cost you excessively more than it should have, you understand the attraction of telemedicine.

Advantages for Pet Parents

Being a pet parent can be pretty stressful. Determining whether a symptom is worthy of a trip to the vet or whether you should just watch and see is a hard decision to make.

Is that cough just an ongoing symptom of your small breed dog’s narrow trachea, or does it signify something more pressing?

Questions that vets can often answer easily can haunt pet parents. Telemedicine can make it much easier to get the answers you need and set your mind at rest without having to deal with a trip to the vet.

You can achieve a much greater quality of life for your pet and peace of mind for yourself for a reduced cost, too. When you do go to the vet’s office for an issue, you’ll know that it is actually necessary because you’ve done what you can to work with your veterinarian beforehand to make sure the trip to the office is actually warranted.

Furthermore, since your veterinarian already has discussed some aspects of your pet’s symptoms with you, you’ll likely find that the visit is a lot quicker and smoother than it would have been without the assistance of telemedicine.

Advantages for Pets

Does your pet look at you with betrayal as soon as they realize that your car ride is taking them to the veterinarian? If so, you’re not alone. Most pets hate going to the veterinarian. They find the experience extremely stressful.

In fact, the stress caused by veterinary visits can even cause flare-ups of some issues. This is especially likely to impact cats.

On the other hand, not going to the veterinarian when veterinary care is needed is dangerous.

Telemedicine helps your pet to physically go to the vet’s office as little as possible while also giving you confidence that your pets are getting the best possible care under the guidance of licensed veterinarians.

How is Telemedicine Used?

You probably won’t be surprised to learn that not everything that your pet needs can be done via telemedicine, but you may also be very surprised by just how much can be accomplished with telemedicine.

Here are a few of the circumstances in which you can utilize telemedicine.

Managing Chronic Conditions

For many people and their pets’ chronic condition management, too often is pet ownership a series of emergency vet visits punctuated by periods of anxiety.

Telemedicine can be extremely useful for anyone managing chronic conditions in their pets because you can easily check in with your veterinarian to see if a symptom is important enough to require a physical trip to the office.

One example is seeing if you can safely increase a medication dose to bring pain relief during a flare-up. This kind of information can make a huge difference in the lives of people who are dealing with pets suffering from chronic conditions, and it can be as easy to obtain as just being a few clicks or taps away.

Reacting to Emergencies

Sometimes, when you are dealing with an emergency with your pet, you may not have time to get to the veterinarian.

For instance, your pet may suffer from severe allergic reactions that put them at risk of going into anaphylactic shock. In such cases, a vet can speak to you via telemedicine and help you to determine whether a powerful tool like an EpiPen can and should be used.


For its entire history, telemedicine has been a very functional tool for travelers and those that live in remote areas. This is still true today.

If you want to be able to take your pet with you on your travels but feel that you still have access to the same trusted team of veterinarians that care for them at home, you’ll find telemedicine to be highly beneficial for you. This is especially important for dogs that need to travel with you frequently, like service dogs and emotional support dogs.

Minimizing Stress for the Animal

Some dogs are so reactive to going to the veterinarian or being in public that going in for a visit is a whole-day ordeal. In such cases, owners may even do blood draws and other basic diagnostics themselves and send them into the veterinarian to be examined. Not every veterinarian is willing to work with these kinds of pets, but for those who are willing to be flexible, telemedicine can make a huge difference in these animals’ lives.

Cats experiencing some common diseases can have their symptoms triggered by stress and may even suffer very severe negative consequences if they are exposed to the stress of an in-person vet visit.

When going to the veterinarian is too stressful for your pet to the point that it causes them physical issues, telemedicine can be a good answer.

Assistance in Post-Op Care

Whatever kind of surgery or procedure your pet has had, post-op care may be stressful and difficult for both of you. It can be very hard for the untrained eye to recognize whether a post-op wound is healing well or whether something is going wrong.

The last thing that you want to do is bring your pet who has just experienced surgery into the veterinarian unless you absolutely have to. Your veterinarian can look at pictures and videos of your pet as well as talking to you about your pet to determine whether you need to schedule a visit or if everything is healing okay.

Your veterinarian may also be able to prescribe or recommend you use an antibiotic or other medication over the phone.

Choose a Quality Telemedicine Provider

Picking the best telemedicine provider sets you and your pets up for success in using telemedicine.

Airvet is the leading veterinary telemedicine service, and it’s as easy to use as downloading an app, filling in some information, and getting connected to a veterinarian in just a few minutes. You may be amazed by how much easier it makes your life to have a quality telemedicine provider available!