“We had only collected Dave the day we used FirstVet, so it was a bit worrying and new to us all. The vet explained everything to me in great detail and assured me that all was okay.”
For anxious new puppy owner Amy, having the FirstVet app downloaded onto her phone meant she could get advice from a vet without having to leave the house.
She’s one of a growing number of pet owners using the 24-hour digital veterinary service. From reassuring worried new pup parents like Amy, to helping to figure out why a cat has stopped eating, it’s all in a day’s work for a FirstVet vet.
On average, the online veterinary service, which operates 24 hours a day and 365 days a year, receives around 350 calls every day, covering a wide range of pet health issues.
The most common calls from pet owners are about sickness and diarrhoea in cats and dogs, which can range from a minor stomach upset to something more serious, often because a pet has eaten something they shouldn’t.
Examples of unusual things that dogs have eaten that FirstVet have been contacted about include an entire runner bean plant, conkers, a packet of contraceptive pills and a razor.
Skin conditions, ear and eye problems, dental problems, diet, and pet behaviour are other issues that FirstVet regularly receives calls about. They aim to respond in under half an hour, as Evie found when she called the service for advice about her cat Lola.
“After signing up, it took me less than 30 minutes to get a video call with a vet; who was professional and friendly, and provided me with really helpful advice on how to care for my cat.”_
The number of pet owners using the service, which is like NHS 111 but for pets, has risen sharply since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, as more people turn to digital services.
Using video technology to carry out a consultation, vets can identify conditions, give advice on treatment, refer pets to local clinics if emergency treatment or further investigation is needed - and quickly reassure worried pet owners, like Peter who contacted FirstVet about his dog Kal.
“The consultant was fantastic. She saw we were worried and calmed us immediately. She performed a checkup on Kal over a video call and then thoroughly investigated the primary cause.”
And as cat owner Victoria discovered, in most cases, a video consultation with a FirstVet vet is often enough; meaning there’s no need for a trip to the vet, which many pets - and their owners - find stressful.
“My first consultation for Chester went very well. I had an appointment and spoke to a lovely well informed vet. She gave me thorough advice for treating my pet and also forwarded emails so I had a copy of the action plan.”
The FirstVet service is available free-of-charge to customers of many leading pet insurance providers. Other customers pay a fee for consultation with a qualified vet, which is £24 during the day and £36 at night.
The service can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection, which makes it popular with pet owners like Carlos who contacted the service when his dog was injured on holiday and he couldn’t take him to his regular vet.
“I was worried that Liath might have injured his leg, and the advice from the vet was a great relief.”
Registration with FirstVet is free. Simply download the app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store and sign up. Then follow the instructions to book a consultation with a vet.