Virtual Appointments with a Veterinary Specialist
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Virtual Appointments with a Veterinary Specialist

by Christine Swanson, DVM, DACVIM (Oncology)
Apr 27, 2021

A virtual appointment might be an option for you to learn more about your pet’s recent diagnosis and what can be done to help them. Read on to learn more about what to expect during a virtual appointment with a veterinary specialist.

What can happen during a virtual appointment?

This will depend on the state you live in and the specialist you see. Here are some possibilities:

  • The specialist can review records from your primary care veterinarian who has examined your pet.
  • You can talk about how your pet currently feels.
  • You can tell the specialist what medications and supplements you give your pet and confirm if the doses are appropriate.
  • You can ask questions about what the diagnosis means, how it may have developed and what that means for your pet.
  • You can ask if additional tests are recommended and find out their costs.
  • You can ask questions about treatment, side effects, and cost.
  • If there are medications the specialist would like your pet to take immediately, the specialist can discuss these with you and your primary care veterinarian.

What are the drawbacks to a virtual appointment?

  • The specialist will not be able to examine your pet. This means they cannot feel for problems or test for pain. They cannot listen to your pet’s heart and lungs. However, depending on the software program or “app”, you might be able to show the specialist areas you are concerned about, and the specialist might be able to watch your pet walk and breathe.
  • Specialists may not be able to prescribe medications without seeing your pet “in-person” or performing additional diagnostic tests. They should still be able to explain what medications they recommend and help coordinate this care through your primary care veterinarian.
  • During an evaluation, you often would like to meet and get to know the specialist, and this is more difficult during a virtual appointment. Sometimes, it’s hard to develop trust in a specialist when you’ve never physically met them. Keep in mind that the specialist has gone through rigorous training to learn to care for your pet’s condition and they want the best for you and your pet. You should feel free to express any concerns you have so the specialist can address them.

How will a virtual appointment help my pet?

  • If you know what additional tests are recommended, your primary care veterinarian may help to complete these tests while you are waiting to see the specialist.
  • The specialist can learn about your pet and your family. You can learn the recommendations of the specialist. This lets you both determine a plan for the actual clinic visit.
  • By learning about your pet’s diagnosis, you will be better prepared to address it.

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