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Vet consultations go online

How online vet consultations are saving time and helping pets.

Vets are testing télémédicine online consultations as a way to reduce time lost in travel and on repeat calls – and also to see animals at their most comfortable.

How do online vet consultations work?

The idea is aimed particularly at follow-up visits, such as where a vet may have dressed a cut on a horse, and allows vets on the scheme to see the wound online to check healing. Paris vet Denis Avignon, vice-president of the Conseil Nat­ional de l’Ordre des Vét­ér­in­aires, is managing the scheme and said that until May it was forbidden to treat animals by phone or videoconference. “I started using télémédicine and find it useful for supervising healing on accidental and surgical wounds, skin conditions and eye infections,” he said. “It is particularly useful for watching an animal’s behaviour in its home environment.”

Vets are not allowed to use it for unknown animals belonging to unknown clients but can diagnose farm animals if the vet knows the farmer and the herd. They can set their own fees for such consultations.
Mr Avignon said: “If it’s just a quick look at something, it could be free. For professionals, it might be bundled in a monthly fee, and other times, if it’s a lengthy consultation, I imagine it could cost the same as an appointment at the surgery.”

The timesaving aspect for vets is clear but there are also advantages for animal-owners. “People with mobility or transport problems will find a téléconsultation easier and, for busy people, it means less time in a waiting room. It can also be useful for animals who do not like going to the vet. I treated a cat for dermatitis by videoconference because at home it was easy for the owner to show the skin using a smartphone, but in the surgery the cat was very difficult to handle.” After the 18-month trial, a report will go to the Agriculture Ministry for a decision on whether to make it permanent.

Read more: French celebrities sign pen letter to help animal charities in France

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