Virtual visits for your pet
Many of you may already be taking advantage of technology when it comes to your health with virtual visits with your personal physician. Some human doctors don’t even require an office visit- and you can make your appointment and have your consultation with your physician in front of your computer (with a webcam) or even on your cellphone. The same thing is now happening in the veterinary world- and we’re excited to announce that we’ve partnered with airVet- a service where you and your pet can have a consultation with a veterinarian from the comfort of your own home.
If your pet(s) are currently patients of Tampa Vet, you have received an invitation via email with instructions on how to sign up for airVet, and how to download the app for your phone. The invitation would be sent to the email address we have on file for you at the hospital. The free app is now available in both the App Store and on Google Play. The app is available only for smartphones or tablets- and is not available for PC or Mac platforms.
Please know that these virtual appointments are not a substitute for your pet’s annual visit to your veterinarian’s office. We still need to physically see your pet each year, so we can weigh them, listen to their heart and lungs, look in their eyes and ears, check their mouth. We can’t do all of those things online.
During a virtual visit, our veterinarians can only dispense medical advice, diagnose issues, prescribe treatment or medications if we have an existing VCPR- which is a Veterinarian Client Patient Relationship. This means we have physically seen your pet within the last year within our hospital as a patient. This is specific to the pet you’re scheduling the virtual visit for, and not for another pet in the household. These aren’t our rules, they’re guidelines set forth by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) who sets standards for our entire industry.
If we don’t have a valid VCPR with you and your pet, we can still schedule a virtual appointment, but we will be limited as to the advice we can dispense for you and your pet. It may be limited to whether or not you should seek medical treatment within a hospital or clinic setting, or may suggest you take your pet to an emergency clinic.
When Should I use airVet?
Virtual appointments through the airVet app are excellent for conditions that can be seen by the naked eye, or if they’re exhibiting an abnormal behavior or trait- like walking with a limp, has a newly formed skin condition, or is coughing/wheezing. These are just a few of the examples. Virtual visits are also great for medical progress exams following up on recent surgeries, treatments or illnesses.
It’s a great way to get peace of mind when you feel that your pet isn’t acting themselves. You know your pet best- so if you don’t think they’re quite right, an airVet consultation is a great way to determine if your pet needs to be seen, or if we should schedule an appointment at a later date.
Understand that we may still need to see your pet in the hospital based on our observations during the virtual appointment.
Things to consider that will make for a successful virtual appointment
Find a location that is well lit and quiet. Minimize distractions like noise from televisions or music, as background noise may make it difficult for your veterinarian to hear you or your pet clearly.
Avoid bright background light or ‘backlighting’ which will make it difficult for your veterinarian to see your pet.
Be prepared with as much information as you can provide- examples are:
- When did you first notice the change in condition?
- Have there been changes in their eating/drinking/elimination habits?
- Is the condition better/worse at different times of the day? (morning/night)?
- Have there been any changes in their environment?
Do a ‘trial run’ with your pet prior to the appointment, holding your cell phone or tablet in front of them and their trouble spots so you know how they might react.
A few things to keep in mind:
Do not use this service if you feel your pet is experiencing a medical emergency. If your pet is suffering from respiratory distress, experiencing seizures, profusely bleeding or has any other potentially life-threatening conditions. In these cases, take your pet to a veterinarian or emergency care facility immediately.
Remember that we may still need to see your pet in the hospital. Not all virtual appointments can result in an immediate solution for your pet’s condition.
Your veterinarian may not always be available at the exact moment you request a virtual visit. Our veterinarians still see scheduled appointments in the hospital, and believe it or not, they have days off, too. You will be able to see their availability when you log in to your airVet account. Even when they show available, there may still be a short delay before you are connected and your virtual appointment begins.
This is an emerging technology, and we’re excited to be able to add it to our list of services.
Download the app for your smartphone by tapping the appropriate icon below. Remember- these are for your phone only, and are not available for Mac or PC.