In this age of instant gratification, like ordering food using you’re an app on your phone, you must be wondering: why can’t other things be just as easy? For example, you come home from a busy day of work and your dog or cat is acting “off”. Can’t your veterinarian just help you over the phone? You need to pick up your kids, or make dinner, and there is no way you can make it to the clinic before it closes.
Truly, as veterinarians, we always want you to call when there is something going on with your pet. If you, who know your pet’s behaviour best, are concerned, then we are, too. However, legally and ethically, there is only so much we can appreciate, diagnose and do without physically examining the animal.
Legally, a veterinarian must have an established relationship with you (Veterinarian-Client-Patient-Relationship, VCPR) and a full understanding of the problem before any treatment/medications or advice is to be given. This requires a physical exam. So, if we have not seen your pet for a condition that has you worried, there is no valid VCPR and “treating” the pet over the phone is against the Veterinary Professional Act which governs our conduct —and our licensure!
A 20-minute exam may give us more data than 20 questions over the phone. The ability to describe things over the phone so that we understand things fully in a medical sense can be very difficult, and the risk of making an incorrect choice can be huge.
If you ever think your pet may have an emergency, don’t hesitate to call! Our number is 403-239-4657. We will either tell you to come here to be assessed, or if our level is concern is high, we may direct you to the nearest 24h emergency hospital. In all cases, our recommendations will be based on ensuring the best care possible for your pet based on the scenario you share, and staying within the legal and ethical laws by which we are bound. For questions not requiring immediate response, our email is [email protected]. We are here to help you!
Please remember that time is a valuable commodity to us all. We spent a lot of time in school learning how to best approach and manage medical situations. If you feel there is value in our advice, you need to appreciate that.