Veterinary House Calls

Animals of varying temperaments appropriately have varying responses to going to the vet. While few animals are what you’d call “Zen” about the experience, most will end up no worse for wear at the end of the day. They might wedge themselves down into a remarkably creative hiding place that you would have sworn they could never access, let alone fit into, howl like a sugar filled toddler who’s late for his nap during the car ride to the office, and fight and squirm impressively as the vet is attempting to examine them, but, when all is said and done, they’ll turn their backs on you for just the appropriate length of time to let the silent treatment sink in, and all will be forgiven.

However, there are some occasions, and some animals, in which this is not the case. If you have an animal who is fragile physically or emotionally, and the visit to the veterinary clinic is just too traumatic for them, or if getting your animal to the vet is a challenge due to transportation or other issues, there is another option: veterinary house calls. In-home care for your pets can provide a decrease in anxiety to your pet and an increase in convenience for you.

There are pros and cons to utilizing a vet who makes veterinary house calls, and I will attempt to break them down here in a comprehensive manner so that you can decide whether making an appointment for a house call doctor’s visit for your pet is the best decision for you and for your animal friend.

The benefits of making an appointment for a veterinary house call can be fairly significant. For many sick or high-strung animals, the experience of the trip to the vet is more than they can comfortably recover from. If your pet is so sick that you are contemplating his or her life expectancy, limiting the amount of time that they spend anxious or distressed can not only make the time they have left more comfortable, but a vet providing veterinary house calls may may actually prolong their life if the distress they experience being taken to the vet’s office is enough to exacerbate their symptoms.

Allowing your pet to receive medical care in the comfort of his or her own home is another benefit. Whether it’s time for a check up, the next round of vaccinations, or to have a health concern checked out, animals are more comfortable and less anxious at home. Even if your pet’s health and nervous system are solid, there is something to be said for making a medical appointment as simple and easy for him or her as possible. Veterinary house calls are certainly one way to achieve this increase in comfort.

Convenience is another benefit of making an appointment for a veterinarian who makes house calls. Whether you have limited transportation options, an animal that is challenging to travel with, either due to his or her size, mobility, or possible behavioral concerns, or if your schedule makes it just too hard to go out to a veterinary appointment, The luxury of the veterinary house calls can be a lifesaver.

Finally, there is the possibility that bringing a veterinarian to your home could save you money in the long run. Once you go to the vet’s office, there are any number of tests and procedures that the vet might order. While I do not mean to suggest that in-office veterinarians are attempting to bilk the families of their patients out of their hard earned money by ordering expensive and unnecessary lab work and tests, there is comfort in knowing that if such tests should be ordered, the ordering physician does not have any monetary affiliation with the office billing for the tests.

So, veterinary house calls sound pretty good at this point, and there is certainly an excellent argument in favor of the service, but the families of pets in need of care should understand the cons of in-home vet care as well.

To begin with, despite the possible monetary advantages of bringing an independent vet into your home, the fact is that, barring the ordering of excessive testing, veterinary house calls are far more expensive than the traditional office visit. The traveling vet is able to charge for the convenience of the house call, and an $80.00 office visit will cost approximately $120.00.

Furthermore, your home is not a clinical setting. If your animal does, in fact, require more testing to determine what is wrong, you will now need to make arrangements to take your pet into an appropriate facility, which will entail a second appointment, possibly requiring more time off work for you, and payment for a second examination above and beyond the house call you have already paid for.

Finally, veterinarians offering house calls tend to work independently, and therefore, their schedules are more limited than your local vet’s office, which will most likely provide emergency care and on-call coverage. It can be harder to get an appointment at a convenient time for you, you won’t necessarily be able to get a visit when you feel your animal needs to be seen emergently, and it is possible that you will be kept waiting longer than you might in a traditional veterinarians’ office should your in-home care vet get lost, stuck in traffic, or hit a particularly challenging case earlier in the day than your scheduled appointment.

Veterinary house calls are generally more convenient and comfortable for both the animal and his or her owner than traditional office vet visits, but a careful consideration of the pros and cons involved in determining the best choice for your pet is warranted. If you are considering this choice for your animal, it may be prudent to make an appointment for a routine examination of your pet to see how veterinary house calls fit your needs and the needs of your pet before you need the care emergently. For the care of a beloved pet, it is helpful to understand the benefits and deficits of your options.

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