pet news

SEPTEMBER 18, 2013

House call vets: Angels on wheels

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Whether it is your beloved barrel racer, Seabiscuit, or your honorable hunting companion, Rover, a trip to the veterinary clinic is usually not an activity of choice. Saving anxiety and stress for you and your pet, many clinics provide both small and large animal mobile veterinary services that will see your animal in the comfort of your own home. Packing up their knowledge and expertise in that black veterinarian bag, they will be at Seabiscuit's or Rover’s side in no time at all.

Over the years, most pet owners’ leisure time has become less leisurely. When something unexpected arises at work, or you lack the ability to bring your pet to the nearest veterinary clinic, a house call vet is an excellent option.

“There are many rewarding aspects about ambulatory practice, such as getting to know your clients in their home or farm settings,” said Dr. Leslie Easterwood, Assistant Clinical Professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. “It is nice to be able to know your clients on a more personal level, getting to meet all the pets, kids, and other family members.”

As opposed to stationary veterinary practitioners, house call veterinarians must be able to have the animals caught up in a small pen or barn and have the proper facilities available to work on the animals safely, said Easterwood. “Farm call veterinarians frequently have to operate in a 'McGyver' mode to get things done without all the conveniences of a clinic setting, but most things can be done.” Mobile vets, just like a regular vet clinic, must have their facilities and equipment regularly inspected.

Just because the animal doesn’t fit in your living room doesn’t mean that it doesn’t warrant the care of a house call veterinarian. There are traveling vets for large farm animals and house pets alike. “Farm (or house) calls are much more commonplace in large animal cases than in small animal,” said Easterwood. “Farm calls are actually a daily part of large animal practice, just because it is easier to transport the veterinarian and their supplies than the large animal patient in some cases.”

There are many varieties of mobile veterinarians, so it is important to do your research ahead of time and find one that offers the exact services your pet needs. “Most ambulatory large animal veterinarians have trucks or SUVs that are equipped with supplies and the necessary equipment to do procedures on the farm,” said Easterwood. While the majority of them perform wellness check-ups and vaccinations, emergency services might not always be available through mobile vets.

As expected, rates for house call veterinarians tend to be higher than clinic visits, due to the expense of travel. However, it is usually not difficult to find a reasonably priced mobile vet; you just have to do your research. Some mobile vets charge a flat rate “per trip” for needed services no matter the number of pets they’re treating on the visit.

Traveling veterinarians, mobile vets, veterinarians on wheels, or house call vets: although there are many different names for these miracle workers, their duties remain the same. They provide a stress-free solution for getting your pet—of any size—the care it needs. These angels on wheels can be a busy pet owner’s answer to a prayer.

Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be viewed on the Web at