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Telehealth for Pets is here for Ontario pet owners!

Telehealth for Pets is here for Ontario pet owners!

When pet owners go looking for help, especially during off-hours when most veterinary hospitals are closed, where do they go? Some are reluctant to take their pet to an emergency hospital, fearing the expense, lack of transportation or their pets aversion of going to the veterinary clinic. Others aren’t sure if a trip to emergency is necessary, but they still want to help their pet. Telemedicine helps address these types of situations by opening a line of communication with a veterinarian via a phone call, email or online chat.

Dr. Garth Graham, a 2001 graduate of the Ontario Veterinary College, received the green light from the College of Veterinarians of Ontario to open Ontario Veterinary Telehealth Services (OVTS), the only provincially-accredited telehealth service in Canada. The idea had been on his mind for several years.

“Like most veterinarians, I receive a lot of calls or emails from friends and family with questions about their pet,” says Dr. Graham. “Usually they’re unsure about what to do, or they’re looking for some reassurance based on what their veterinarian has recommended.” 

OVTS receives inquiries from pet owners contemplating a trip to emergency, looking for reassurance about their veterinarian’s recommendation or wanting a better understanding of their pet’s health.  Dr. Graham finds that when pet owners are looking for a second opinion, it’s usually the result of a busy day in clinic and perhaps treatment wasn’t explained well enough to the client. “This is where telehealth serves as an unbiased mediator between the pet owner and the veterinarian,” he says.

It also makes accessing a veterinarian easier for those living in rural or remote areas.

Dr. Graham says OVTS provides a proactive approach for callers who want to figure out what’s wrong with their pet.

“It’s usually me providing the caller with a list of things of what could be going on with their pet, including best- and worse-case scenarios,” he says. “I always encourage them that if something is off about their pet, they need to get in to see their veterinarian for, at the very least, a physical exam.”

You can register for free but in order to provide this service there is an associated fee per call or with a monthly subscription.  OVTS operates as a zero-profit business, pricing its services just enough to keep paying the bills

If you would like more information, please refer to Dr. Garth Graham’s website at http://telehealthpets.ca.