COVID 19 & Family Pet: Telemedicine Consultations

3/20/20

To our Family Pet family:

During this unprecedented period of social distancing due to the Coronavirus, we are now offering telemedicine consultations with our doctors. Please know that we continue to offer in-hospital exams for patients that need our care. 

Telemedicine is the use of telecommunications technology to help diagnose and treat patients. Given the current circumstances, this is a necessary and valuable service we want to offer to our clients. However, please understand that telemedicine has many limitations. We want to provide guidance on when a telemedicine consultation may be a useful option versus an in-person exam.

Is telemedicine a good option for my pet?

Telemedicine may be used when wishing to speak face-to-face, virtually, with your veterinarian for a more personal experience. Using FaceTime, for example, you can discuss your concerns and have the ability to show an ailment to your doctor including, but not limited to:

  • Coughing or sneezing
  • Lameness or a change of your pet’s mobility
  • Skin changes including visualization of your pet licking, scooting, biting himself/herself
  • Ocular changes (i.e. redness, discharge)
  • External ear changes

Telemedicine will NOT be helpful if:

  • A pet is vomiting and/or has diarrhea
  • Inappetence (not eating)
  • Abnormal breathing
  • Lethargy (excessively sleeping or drowsiness)
  • A vague concern that “something may be wrong”

Unfortunately, nothing replaces a comprehensive in-person examination.  A virtual exam does not allow further investigation via palpation of the abdomen, evaluation of dehydration and pain, evaluation of heart and lung sounds, etc. Veterinarians also rely heavily on diagnostics since our patients cannot speak and often instinctually hide their illnesses. A virtual exam would not allow for testing (i.e. radiographs, blood work, cytology and biopsies for skin masses, infections, parasites, etc.) and, most importantly, telemedicine does not offer in-hospital supportive care. A telemedicine consult may, ultimately, result in the recommendation for an in-person exam.

The cost for a telemedicine consultation is $77.50. In the event that your telemedicine consultation results in the recommendation to schedule an in-person examination, a reduced fee of $44.50 will apply. 

 If food or medication is prescribed, do I have to come to the hospital?

For consultations that prompt the dispensing of prescription medications or food, you may come to the hospital for curbside service.  Please call us when you arrive.

Alternatively, if you would like to have the food or medication delivered to you, please contact We’re There Pet Care (WTPC), our pet-sitting service partner, at (773) 935-9983. Please note that coordination, fee inquiries, requests for availability, and payments for delivery must be handled directly through We’re There Pet Care.

* Controlled substances cannot be delivered and must be picked up curbside at Family Pet. *

What apps are you using for telemedicine consults?

We are using FaceTime (Apple/iPhone users) or Zoom Cloud Meetings (Android users – please download the app in advance and we will text you a meeting invitation at the start of the appointment). If you are interested in a telemedicine consultation with one of our doctors, please call (773) 935-2311 or email us to schedule an appointment.

Hopefully, this statement will help you navigate when a telemedicine consultation may be a useful option for your beloved pet.  We deeply appreciate your continued support, patience, and understanding as we navigate these unprecedented circumstances.

Stay safe and healthy,

The doctors and staff at Family Pet Animal Hospital