Last updated on October 18th, 2021 at 11:39 pm
One (perhaps unsurprising) effect of COVID-19? Increased medical advice for pets through phone, text, or video call. The patients themselves haven’t weighed in on pet telemedicine yet, but pet owners are increasingly connecting with veterinarians virtually for real-time treatment.
Overall, pet telemedicine is revolutionizing veterinary care for the better because we can now get immediate and high-quality care, conveniently from the comfort of our own homes. It can also help pet owners be more proactive with care, avoiding serious flare ups down the road.
Bye-bye, long lines at the emergency clinics, and that one random cat in the corner who hasn’t stopped meowing for the past two hours!
Veterinary telemedicine services are an excellent approach to deal with issues that don’t necessitate a trip to the emergency room. If you’ve ever gone down a Google rabbit hole trying to figure out if your pet’s behavior is typical, a virtual vet visit is a saner way to go.
Today we’ll review, Dutch, one of the first companies to leverage pet telemedicine to prescribe Rx medications for pets’ everyday troubles. Their platform helps pet parents obtain prescription medications from home without ever needing to visit a vet in person. This is done through a combination of detailed questionnaires created by board-certified specialists and reviewed by locally-licensed veterinarians. The company has been talked about a TON in the press lately, so let’s explore whether their service lives up to the hype.
But first: is virtual veterinary care as good as in-person veterinary care?
In some cases, online vets are your best – and only – option. For instance, if you live in a rural area many miles away from your nearest clinic, you may already know all about telemedicine. Regardless, it’s a smart idea to have a virtual care option available in your back pocket to answer general questions regarding your cat or dog’s nutritional needs, allergies, parasite treatment, or really anything that causes your pet discomfort. Online vets also serve as a 24/7 first line of defense when you’re unsure what to do and frantically googling: “should I take Fido to the hospital?” Dutch offers an alternative to visiting your vet in person for treatment of chronic conditions, such as pet behavioral (anxiety) and skin issues (allergy).
Of course, in-person visits are still necessary for emergencies and more serious conditions.
One of the reasons pet telemedicine has become so popular is that you can talk to veterinary specialists from anywhere. Once you’ve provided information about your pet’s situation, vets can often examine, diagnose, consult, and treat your pet fully via video chat on your phone, tablet, or computer. Notable exceptions that they won’t be able to diagnose virtually may include: ingestion of a foreign item, or severe diarrhea, bleeding, or vomiting. These will likely need more invasive in-person investigation.
All in all, telemedicine is just as effective for pets as it is for humans. Although laws vary a bit in different states, veterinarians can often establish a veterinarian-client-patient connection (VCPR) via veterinary telemedicine in the same way they would in a traditional face-to-face session. Although its adoption was accelerated during the global pandemic, we believe virtual veterinarian care is here to stay, and its convenience factor alone will make it the dominant form of pet care going forward. While not all conditions can be treated virtually, your telemedicine provider should be able to advise you accordingly. The advantages of veterinary telemedicine include:
- greater access to veterinary care services
- eliminated wait times at the office
- individualized treatment plans
- medicines delivered directly to your door (although not all providers can prescribe meds in all states)
Dutch has built an impressive network of competent online vets that can help you get medicine for your pet without ever meeting in person. Let’s take a closer look at their platform, shall we?
What type of virtual veterinary care does Dutch.com provide?
Dutch is US-based and founded by passionate pet parents. Their team of board-certified veterinary specialists works tirelessly to ensure your pet gets the fastest quality pet care possible. Their monthly pet health membership service gives unrestricted access to a Dutch-affiliated vet, as well as a combination of treatments, behavior training programs, and prescription medicine (as needed) – all tailored to your pet’s specific needs.
Dutch’s mission is to make veterinary care more accessible to all pet parents and their fur children by partnering with pharmacies to deliver medication directly to your door. Today their veterinary services focus on treating your pet’s anxiety and dermatology, but we expect their service to expand far beyond these two conditions in the not so distant future. If your dog or cat suffers from chronic diseases such as anxiety, allergies, fleas, and itch, Dutch can help you access ongoing treatments from top-tier veterinarians for a lot less than a traditional in-person veterinarian. It’s worth noting that local vets are often overbooked, resulting in a significant delay — sometimes even days — before your pet can receive veterinary care. That’s never the case with Dutch, whose quality care is available on demand, 24/7.
If you’re ready to say goodbye to sleepless nights spent worrying about your pets clawing, or canceling Friday night plans to remain home with your anxious pup, Dutch’s just-a-click-away option can offer peace of mind.
Where is Dutch’s pet telemedicine service available?
Dutch is currently licensed in the following 8 states, although they are working on expanding its paw print nationwide in the coming months:
- New Jersey
- New York
- South Dakota
Dutch’s service is currently limited to these eight states because the regulatory landscape for establishing VCPR is different across state lines. Don’t see your state listed yet? You can register here to receive a notification when Dutch come to your state!
How does Dutch veterinary care work?
As should be super obvious by now, Dutch eliminates the need to wait for a veterinary appointment and provides you with top-notch veterinary care on-demand. Their vets respond within 24 hours and proactively check in on your pet’s health progress.
An “online visit” starts with a few questions regarding your pet’s health, including a request to submit images of your pet for their veterinarians to review. A Dutch-affiliated veterinarian licensed in your state will contact you within 1-2 business days (but often much quicker) with initial impressions and potential follow-up questions. The vet will then propose a treatment plan and stay available to answer follow up questions as they arise.
Dutch pet telemedicine works in four simple steps:
Step 1. Complete a questionnaire and describe the issues (anxiety or allergies) that your dog or cat is having. Their convenient questionnaire helps them understand the source of your pet’s irritation. Your first visit with Dutch is completely free!
Step 2. The vets provide a diagnosis and create a plan tailored to your pet’s specific allergy. They design the plans to soothe symptoms and prevent future allergic reactions.
Moreover, you’ll only be required to pay if one of their veterinarians determines that your pet can benefit from excellent and appropriate treatments through their service.
Step 3. Get treatment plans, prescriptions, supplementary topicals, and or shampoos delivered to your door immediately after diagnosis. No need to sit in a veterinary office for hours or commute to a pharmacy.
Step 4. Receive ongoing care with a Dutch affiliated veterinarian and access to behavior and training programs and therapeutics. Dutch’s veterinarians will always check in at the first indication of a flare-up and assist in managing your pet’s allergies over time to prevent symptoms from recurring. Dutch is not a one-and-done service. They genuinely take their time to meet all of your unique needs.
While Dutch encourages you to contact your veterinarian whenever convenient, their veterinarians will also automatically check in on your treatment plan two weeks after your initial appointment and once a month thereafter.
In addition to on-demand veterinary care, your fluffy rent-free companion will also receive some pretty cool extras with Dutch’s monthly membership, including:
- Unlimited access to life-changing behavior and training programs
- Access to custom-tailored therapeutics and medication
- Free shipping of medication for free
- Unlimited follow-ups and easy access to Dutch-affiliated veterinarians
How much does Dutch cost?
Dutch plan prices vary depending on your pet’s condition, but start at as low as $39 per month! This includes the treatment plan, unlimited vet follow-ups, and free direct shipment of your pet’s medication.
Please note that Dutch veterinarians may recommend additional medication (Rx or OTC) for your pet that you will have the choice to add to your plan at an additional cost. Note that you can pause your membership or cancel at any time if you are not satisfied!
Most pet owners would agree that $39 per month is affordable for unlimited care for chronic symptoms. Considering that a typical in-person vet appointment (via a traditional, non-virtual veterinarian) runs $200 – $400, and any emergency room visit will likely set you back over $1000, Dutch’s ~$500 annual membership is a bargain.
How does Dutch prescribe medication?
Dutch connects pet parents with independent but Dutch-affiliated veterinarians. The vet will establish a VCPR and obtain a full understanding of the symptoms as well as a detailed medical history o your pet via an online form. If the vet deems treatment necessary, they can prescribe medication. Dutch then assists with the transfer of the prescription(s) to a partner pharmacy, which subsequently fulfills and ships the medication straight to the pet parent. Alternatively, Dutch can simply provide you with prescription so you can fill it at any pharmacy of your choosing.
Dutch has negotiated discounts with veterinarians and pharmacies to give these specialized treatments if you pay out of pocket, so you will find treatment affordable even if you don’t have insurance.
Medication is typically ordered within 1-2 business days after your veterinarian has authorized your treatment plan, and because the pharmacy distributes all orders via USPS Ground, it will take an additional 2-5 business days. So all-in, you’re looking at about a week’s delivery time between prescription authorization and administering you first dose.
How does vet care from Dutch.com compare to other pet telemedicine platforms?
When it comes to treating anxiety and allergies, Dutch surely hold their ground against some of their competitors.
Let’s take a more in-depth look at Dutch and a few of their main competitors in the pet telemedicine business! They all provide high-quality care for your dogs at reasonable costs and services.
Dutch vs Vester vs AirVet vs Fuzzy Pet Health: What’s the best pet telemedicine service?
|Cost||Free first visit, $39 for anxiety treatment, $49 for allergy treatment||$50 for medical appointment, $30 for health appointment||$30 for on-demand calls, unlimited virtual exams and follow-ups for $19.99 per month.||First 7 days free, the basic plan is $16.99 per month, or $99 for annual subscription.|
|Type of Care Available||Allergies, anxiety, itchiness, and fleas||Medical, general health and wellness||Ear infections, behavioral issues, vomiting, diarrhea, allergies, appetite, emergencies, nutrition, skin rash, dental, injuries, and general medical questions||Medical and general health including stress and anxiety, skin and coat, dental health, flea and tick, and joint health. They also sell food!|
|Can prescribe pet meds?||✅||✅|
|App download required?||✅||✅|
|Monthly subscription plans?||✅||✅||✅|
|Geographic availability?||8 states:
||All 50 states and a few territories in Canada||All 50 states and Canada||All 50 states|
Now that you have a general sense of how the top pet telemedicine providers stack up, here’s a more detailed breakdown of how Dutch compares to each competitor.
Dutch vs Vetster
The most significant difference when it comes to comparing Dutch vs Vetster is hey they approach “treatment” of the animal. Vetster is primarily a triage platform that connects you with a veterinarian in real-time to diagnose your pet’s issues. It’s valuable because it can help you avoid a more costly in-person trip to the emergency room.
Dutch, on the other hand, is primarily a platform that fully treats chronic conditions, beginning with anxiety and allergies, all the way through prescription delivery. Both are legitimate and can prescribe medication for your pet, but if you’re looking for treatment for anxiety or allergies, it’s easier to obtain via Dutch.
Another key difference is geographical availability. Vetster connects pet owners in all 50 states to licensed veterinarians via video chat, while Dutch doesn’t do video chats and only prescribes pet medications in 8 states currently. That said, Dutch is expanding quickly, so this gap won’t last long. Overall, if you’re looking specifically for anxiety or dermatology care for your pet, Dutch’s membership plan is a bit more streamlined, while Vetster simply offers access to veterinarians for all kinds of conditions.
Check out this article where we review Vetster in-depth!
Dutch vs Airvet
There are similar differences when comparing Dutch vs Airvet as there were with Vetster. Airvet is a downloadable app that connects you with veterinarians instantly, 24/7. When you dog has a wild episode of diarrhea or vomiting, skin issues, oral hygiene, and more — you’ll likely want to use Airvet to diagnose the issue and potentially avoid a more costly visit to an in-person veterinarian.
The biggest difference however, is that Airvet currently doesn’t prescribe medications, while Dutch can — at least in 8 states so far. Again, if you are looking for a more convenient way to access a personalized treatment plan including Rx medications for your pet’s anxiety or allergies, Dutch is a much better option. IF you’re simply looking to talk to a veterinarian to see what’s wrong with your animal, then Airvet it better.
Check out this article for a deeper review of Airvet!
Dutch vs Fuzzy Health
Dutch and Fuzzy are similar in many ways. They both offer a vast range of custom plans for your pet. They connect you with specialized veterinarians and provide continuous care, even after the initial problem is solved. The most significant differences are that Fuzzy offers more treatment plans, a range of food, and a downloadable app.
Dutch Pet Reviews: What are customers saying?
Dutch does not have a review section on their site yet, but when you look at their Instagram, you can see a wide range of customers and pets they are helping with their services. Being such a new startup, it’s been hard to find many customer reviews of Dutch online just yet, but we’ll add some here as soon as possible.
It’s worth mentioning that Dutch has appeared frequently in articles published by reputable media outlets like Forbes and Forerunner. They’ve even piqued the interest of Jimmy Fallon, who invested in the company due to his love for animals, specifically his retriever, Gary. Now that is goals!
Check out some of these Instagram posts:
Alla and her dog, Lulu, first met when Lulu was just three months old. Not only that, but the two first became a family back in Moscow before moving to New York. (https://www.instagram.com/p/CUXcEbdgaPu/)
View this post on Instagram
Elaine and Gatsby are no strangers to adventure. The duo can frequently be found exploring the east coast. (https://www.instagram.com/p/CUcexZOgB7C/)
View this post on Instagram
The Verdict: is Dutch pet telemedicine worth it?
The advantages of Dutch telemedicine services include greater access to veterinary medical services and treatment, as well as the experience of specialists and consultants that you and your pet might not otherwise have access to. While reducing the need for costly in-person treatment, Dutch can improve the efficiency of evaluations, diagnosis, consultations, and overall health outcomes for your pets.
There are a few drawbacks, such as the limited areas in which they operate and the lack of instant messaging, but we anticipate these being short term problems, and the slew of membership benefits such as free unlimited consultations more than compensate.
Furthermore, a membership with Dutch will prevent you from constantly worrying about your pet’s health, long wait periods at the emergency vet, and ultimately from throwing a lot of money down the drain over the long run by being overly reactive to your pet’s discomfort.
You can rest easy knowing that all of Dutch’s evaluations are endorsed by top veterinarians in their fields who understand how helpless you feel when your pet isn’t itself.
The biggest advantage, in our opinion, is that having your pet evaluated by a Dutch-affiliated vet is free of charge. You will only be charged if a Dutch-affiliated veterinarian determines that your pet can be treated through Dutch. Thus you really have nothing to lose — give Dutch a call today and see if their service can help treat your dog’s anxiety or allergies more effectively than you are today.
Have you used Dutch or any other pet telehealth platform? We’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below!