In these days of the Covid-19 pandemic, the ways in which we can expect to receive medical care and treatment have changed dramatically. So, why should we expect it to be any different when caring for our pets? As people patients are required to wait outside and be seen with strict social distancing guidelines, a similar situation is now becoming standard practice when it comes to diagnosing and treating the fur patients in our family. Telemedicine is the newest trend to catch on in veterinary care.
Unfortunately, this development presents special challenges to the world of veterinary medicine due to the the fact that our pets are unable to communicate directly to us about how they are feeling. For this reason, hands-on care is invaluable. Though telemedicine is certainly not equivalent to in-person care, more and more vets are warming up to it by necessity during these uncertain times.
Not an entirely new concept to vets, they have relied upon it in the past for conferences with the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) regarding the various and potentially dangerous things our pets might have ingested. The public as well as vets can call 888-426-4435 to describe what plant or chemical was eaten and get a professional opinion as to whether it is necessary or not to rush the animal to the vet’s office. The Poison Control Center has long proved itself a valuable adjunct to the general practice vet who cannot always keep up with all the latest toxicities and their cutting edge treatments.
Telemedicine is still not perfect. Nor is it without risk. But used with discretion and in conjunction with the veterinarian’s diagnoses and the pet parents understanding of their animal, it can provide a valuable service. It is just one more adjustment that vets, their staffs, and pet parents have had to make to provide the best quality care for their animal patients. For instance, the new curbside admission model serves to preserve contactless care while the owner waits in the car during his pet’s in-person visit. Many vets go the next step to provide video chats during such appointments. In this way, the owners are made to feel present during the consultation.
Along with the new telemedicine has come the opportunity for veterinarians to consult with more specialists on a regular basis. If your cat has special dietary needs, for instance, your vet can dial up a board-certified veterinary nutritionist. He will provide detailed information on the best prescription diets available commercially, or he may even send recipes for home cooked cat meals.
There are oncologists, cardiologists and other specialists who are there for both you and your vet to reach out to as needed for both opinions and diagnostics as necessitated. One thing is certain: The use of telemedicine is moving from a rarity to a common practice as times change during this “new normal.” From providing quality care while humans are in quarantine, to making specialty care accessible no matter where you live, telemedicine is helping to improve life for both pet owners, primary care veterinarians, and ultimately your beloved fur family.
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