According to local vets, the number of pet owners who have opted for teleconsultations have increased exponentially during the shutdown, with one of them saying the number has tripled over the last nine months. “There has been a three-fold increase in online consultations for pets over the shutdown. Most consultations are for domestic animals like dogs and cats. Some new pet parents have not been practicing the right dietary rules for their pets, so most consultations are regarding side-effects and diet-related visits,” said Dr Jayakumar, a local veterinarian.
Following the increase in searches for online veterinarian queries, applications like Practo have also launched veterinary consultations through their app. Available across the nation, the application offers both video and text-based consultations, as well as second consultation services.
However, online consultations come with their setbacks, primarily being communication. According to Dr R Sokkalingam, consultations for cattle is simple, as the animals are usually tied up. However, for domestic pets, the situation becomes tricky. “Most owners do not keep a close enough eye on their pets. Many pets stay outdoors in Chennai, so they run off, eat something and fall sick, and the owners claim that the animals stayed indoors. Since we rely on the owner’s explanation, that affects diagnosis,” he said.
However, Sokkalingam explained that teleconsultations are easier to provide second opinions and help patients in other districts. In extreme situations, veterinarians visit local pet owners, but the need to do so has been low over the last nine months, he added.