Have you ever been stuck in a veterinary clinic waiting room with a stressed out pet and thought, "There's got to be a better way"? The answer might be a mobile vet. Instead of bringing your animal to the vet, you bring the vet to your animal. This might sound like a luxury service but it's rooted in a strong tradition of travelling vets, especially in rural areas.
Mobile vets are generally a great option if you have more than one animal, difficulty getting your pet into the carrier or restrictions on your own transportation (e.g. lack of access to a vehicle or health issues). However, the simple convenience of getting your pet medical care from the comfort of your own home can be enough to make you curious about this service. Here's what you should know before booking your first appointment.
With a mobile vet, you can book a home visit that fits into your busy schedule. You don't have to book time off work or plan for bad traffic. That being said, it's important to remember that your pet has a schedule too. Many cats and dogs are sensitive to routines surrounding meals, walks, when family members return home, nap time and night time. A pet that's easily stressed could react negatively to a disruption by a vet visit. Hiding in a difficult to reach place can be an obstacle for an effective examination.
For many pets, it's best to book the mobile vet appointment when they're fed, happy and maybe a bit tired. In the time leading up to the visit, you can confine them to a smaller area so that they're less likely to pull a disappearing act when the doorbell rings. Keep some of their favourite toys and treats on hand. The goal is to make this a stress-free experience for you, your pet and the vet.
The ability to see your pet in their environment can be a major benefit of mobile health care. For example, if your cat is having behavioural issues, the visiting vet can review the location and condition of litter boxes, food, water and scratching posts. This is information you could relay to a vet in an office, but you might be leaving out details or making assumptions that are incorrect. We don't intentionally do things that upset our animals, but we might not realize that the food is actually too close to the litter box and that's why it's going untouched.
A vet doesn't have to poke around your house, but it's worth considering the upside. They might get a hunch that requires a bit of detective work. You can make things easier by making sure all food, treats and medications are readily available. Collars, leashes, coats, sweaters and boots could also be items that your vet wants to check out.
Many mobile vets can perform the same tests and procedures as the ones you visit in offices. This includes vaccinations, wellness examinations, spay and neutering, microchipping, dental cleaning and extractions, laboratory analysis, parasite control, minor surgical procedures and euthanasia or end-of-life care. Some mobile vets can also deliver food and medication.
Major surgeries and anything involving x-rays or other equipment usually requires a visit to the clinic. There is always a chance that your pet's needs will need a referral or follow-up appointment. This can often be done without switching vets as a mobile vet will usually have access to hospital facilities.
There can be a wide range of costs for pet health care and mobile vet services are no different. For some procedures it might be cheaper and for others it might be more expensive. Comparing prices between mobile vet options, as well as mobile vets with in-office vets can help you narrow down a standard rate. That being said, don't forget to read the reviews. It's understandable that you want a good deal, but not at the risk of endangering your pet. If something seems fishy or inappropriate to you, you can always file a complaint.
It's also worth considering the added costs of bringing your pet into a vet clinic vs. scheduling a mobile vet. The time off work and transportation costs (gas, taxi, bus fare) are a hidden part of every vet visit. Your life is busy enough, why not try and make it easier with mobile vets?
Lastly, because many mobile vets don't charge extra visit fees for other animals at your household, it tends to be a preferred option for pet parents with a big crew of furry pals. You can get the whole gang checked out and strike that off your to-do list, leaving more time to cuddle and play.
Are you a fan of mobile vets? Tell us why in the comments below.