Online services relieve busy veterinarians

TORONTO – COVID-19 has caused hardship for much of the Canadian pet industry as kennels have been empty and owners working remotely have started walking their own dogs, but demand for veterinary services has increased. increases.

With up to 35% of Canadians adding pets during the pandemic and additional safety protocols limiting the number of patients in clinics, veterinarians have faced significant challenges, says specialist Dr. Scott Weese. in Veterinary Internal Medicine and Professor at the Ontario Veterinary University of Guelph. University.

“You have owners who are frustrated because they can’t come in as quickly as they used to and vets who can’t take on new clients because they’re so busy with their old ones,” he said. in an interview.

Veterinarians have adapted by increasingly talking over the phone and offering curbside service.

A more formal shift to online care would further help ease some of those pressures, Weese said, as it works well for patient follow-up and can replace normal visits or be used to prepare for a clinic visit.

One such service is Vester. It helps pet owners avoid long waits to see a vet by connecting patients online with licensed doctors in North America and the UK around the clock.

Launched after the pandemic began, Vetster has seen a meteoric rise in popularity, said co-founder and CEO Mark Bordo.

“It was at the perfect intersection between the growth of telemedicine and the spike in pet adoption.”

Vets set their own rates and availability, while pet owners can choose their preferred doctor. The service may be of particular interest in remote communities.

Melanie Patterson, owner of dog boarding business Pamper the Pooch, turned to Vetster when one of her furry guests was bleeding from an open wound and several emergency clinics she called were says she would have to wait hours to see a vet because the injury wasn’t fatal.

Within 20 minutes of logging into Vetster, she had an appointment booked and conferred online with a vet who then faxed a prescription to her local pharmacy.

“There’s obviously a time and place where a virtual vet appointment won’t be helpful, but for things like this, for times when a virtual appointment is enough, it was amazing,” he said. she declared.

Still, Weese said he worries some ailments will be missed unless a veterinarian can actually touch the patient, who can’t communicate how they’re feeling.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on April 17, 2022.

Veronica J. Snell