While people across the country are continuing to push themselves into the lockdown and fight the pandemic, pet owners are panicking in case of emergencies for their doggos and kitties.
Snigdha Avasarala, who lives in Warangal, is one among those with not too many clinic options to take her pet to in case of an emergency.
“With the lockdown, pet clinics close early. Moreover, there is always the risk of being in a gathering when you step out. So also, I wouldn’t prefer taking my pet for direct consultations,” she laments.
However, acting on cue are veterinarians, who are moving to online platforms to offer telemedicine services.
Telemedicine, a virtual set-up consultation on video calls via dedicated apps such as Lyberty and Practo, has become the need of the hour. Some veterinarians have also been using WhatsApp and Telegram for the purpose.
Dr Kadambari Venkatraman is one such veterinarian who has taken up telemedicine to treat pets and uses WhatsApp and Telegram for the virtual set-up. She also tells us why she believes there is a rise in the number of telemedicine cases.
“Video call consultations are safer than a direct consultation with the pet owner and the pet,” she asserts. “Even payment can be done online now. So also, telemedicine, especially in times of the lockdown feels easier and convenient for both consultants and pet owners.”
However, Dr Kadambari adds that though in most cases a video call and interaction with the client suffices while treating the pet, she still prefers direct consultation in some cases.
“For emergency cases or in case something is not clear through an onscreen interaction, I refer them for a direct consultation. Even so, thanks to telemedicine setups, consultation has become easier during the lockdown,” she says.
More options for pets
Another platform in use among vets now is Google My Business. Dr Karnati Srinivas, Chief Consultant at the Vet and Pet Hospital in Film Nagar, who admits to noticing an increase in teleconsultations, uses the above.
“With around five to seven cases on Google My Business and some on WhatsApp, I get around 10 cases per day,” he says. “And while I use the virtual setup to advise on home remedies and dehydration cases, a few cases such as diarrhoea and vomiting I insist on direct consultations.”
Anipanion is yet another telemedicine provider, which connects pet owners and veterinarians via video calls. The app is sold to veterinary practices as a pay-per-month model, which allows practitioners to consult virtually via video calls with pet-owner clients.
Bobby Reddy, the co-founder of Anipanion with its set up in Hyderabad, Canada and the US, tells us that the number of online consultation registrations owing to the current pandemic have indeed soared.
Then talking about the video or web-based consultation through Anipanion, which is available on Android and iOS platforms, Bobby elaborates on how the platform adds value.
“The management software has both the client information and the pets’ medical history, with a backup feature on it. Moreover, we collaborate with some of the leading practice management systems in the industry, such as ‘Cornerstone’ and ‘Avimark’, to make the workflow incredibly seamless for doctors and practise staff members,” says Bobby, adding,
“Of course, these services do not replace going to a vet, but we make them available so the veterinarian can address and access anything in times like these.”
Bobby then shares with us a few additional points for the Indian Hyderabad market. “This online platform setup will avoid the usual consultations people prefer on ‘Dr Google’, just heading off, as most of us do, to find out on Google what certain symptoms mean,” he adds with a chuckle.
“The app has certified doctors whose telemedicine consultations will actually help the pet parents.” With telemedicine on the block, Snigdha Avasarala is happy with the options she has for her pet, all of which are just a click-away.
“The lockdown leaves me with no choice but to avail of telemedicine services, and I realise the online consultations are quite helpful, too. I usually send the pictures of my pet to the doctor or get on an appointment-based a video call to consult with the doctor and follow his/her advice,” says Snigdha, as we sign off.