The pandemic has seen a massive increase in people bringing in new additions to their home. From puppies to rescues and everything in between (remember ducklings?) there are many who have opened their hearts and home. Why not? If ever a time it would be now, right?  Since most of us are home anyway, we can spend more time with training. We also know the love and affection they give to us have saved our sanity in many ways. Our Facebook feeds were filled with adorable photos but then soon  came the health questions. If you’re a new pet owners you know that there were many challenges over the past year in finding a vet and booking appointments. Not only did lockdown measures have everyone adapting to the never ending rules and changes, the increased number of “pandemic puppies” had vet clinics on full tilt. What options are out there if you’re looking for healthcare for your pets? We recently discovered Vetster — consider the Airbnb for veterinary and other healthcare services.

We’ve all been there. Whether we have a new puppy or older, there’s always something that comes up and often it’s off business hours. Been there. We’ve all debated whether or not we should head to the nearest animal hospital. But wished we could just ask a professional just a few questions before deciding on next steps. Vetster is a concept that connects pet owners with veterinarians and veterinary technicians via online appointments at a reasonable price. For as low as $50, pet owners can connect with a professional quickly to help ease the stress of wondering and travelling to an open clinic or hospital. It’s also great for pets who also get stressed out at venturing to doctor’s offices. We think it’s also ideal for times when we’re travelling especially over the summer months when many head to the cottage or a weekend getaway with their pets.

The telehealth platform makes it easy to book appointments outside of traditional clinic hours and depending on where you live, it also makes obtaining prescriptions more convenient — especially during the pandemic.

Not only is this concept great for pet owners, it also offers veterinarians to expand their services to help take care of more pets beyond traditional office hours.

Since its launch in November 2020, Vetster has quickly established its marketplace across the US and Canada, making it the largest veterinary marketplace available today. Pet owners are securing bookings each day with the thousands of top-rated veterinarians and veterinary technicians available in the Vetster marketplace. Vetster will also be expanding to places like the UK, Australia, Europe and Asia-Pacific.

We connected with Dr. Sarah Machell, DVM and Medical Director of Vetster to learn more.

Photo by Ariel Acosta/Unsplash

First question that comes to mind is are all the healthcare professionals on the site certified?

Yes. We verify each veterinarian’s license with the provincial licensing board to give our customers the added confidence needed to know that they are meeting with a top-rated veterinarian. The platform is secure and feature-rich to help veterinarians offer telemedicine as part of their practice. With scheduling and booking features, secure video/phone/chat features, note taking, and automated billing and payment, Vetster makes it easy for veterinarians to expand their business outside of the traditional clinic setting.

Can pet owners select which veterinarian to go to ?

Vetster is a telemedicine platform for veterinary care that empowers pet owners to choose the veterinarian that best suits their need based on location, availability, animal specialty and price point. Unlike other platforms which hire veterinarians on-staff, limiting the choice a customer has, Vetster has attracted top-rated veterinarians across all Canadian provinces making it easy to find a veterinarian that can support your pet, on your schedule, from the convenience of your own home.

At the same time, Vetster is a great option to think of when travelling. As Canadians look forward to the summer camping and cottage season, there’s nothing like the confidence of knowing your pet is also taken care of while away from home.

What other professions can we find besides vets? (holistic? physiotherapy? surgeons? dental specialists? specialize in other animals?)

Our platform focuses on veterinarians and veterinary technicians who provide a range of services from assessing a pet’s condition, providing prescription services if available in that region, behavioral assessment and training, dietary advice, grooming advice, and much more. As Vetster grows, so too will our services.

Is there a star rating/review system? 

The Vetster star-rating is provided by the client upon the completion of the appointment. It is not vetted prior to posting, however each rating is reviewed by the Vetster team. Any poor review is investigated by our team with the veterinarian to provide a resolution to the client. We’re happy to say the majority of our reviews are 5 stars!

Are the virtual consultations/appointments covered by any pet insurance companies?

The pandemic has shown a real need for veterinary telemedicine and we’re encouraged to see insurance companies step forward to include this care as part of their pet insurance offerings. We’re looking forward to establishing partnerships with these brands to further expand the services and support we can provide to our customers.

Dr. Sarah Machelle. Photo credit: Allison Clark Photography

How does this service impact pet owners if they have a regular vet they visit – but may need immediate attention off hours, for example?

Vetster is not designed to replace the in-clinic care provided by veterinarians. It’s designed to augment your pet care and bring a new level of convenience to pets and their owners. We can’t predict when our pets will become ill or need medical advice, so Vetster acts as that trusted place to get the help needed – at any time, any location – particularly outside of clinic hours.

Recently, one of our clients spoke with a Vetster veterinarian to assess whether their pet should go to urgent care, which in this case, the veterinarian confirmed that yes urgent care was the best step forward. Making this decision with confidence is a great example of how Vetster veterinarians can help.

We also see many veterinarians use Vetster to augment their practice with their existing client base. Through Vetster they can support clients outside of the clinic setting, connect with pets more often, and provide top-tier service through convenience and accessibility.

Is there an annual fee?

Vetster is a free to use platform. Clients pay by appointment and/or service. Appointments start at $50 CAD.

Link here to Vetster to learn more. Auburn Lane readers can use AUBURN10 to receive 10% off their first appointment. Don’t forget to download their new mobile app!