These veterinarians make house calls
By Laurie Simon
Getting veterinary care typically involves loading your pet into your vehicle and driving to a clinic or hospital. It’s a ritual that some pets enjoy, but many don’t—especially when they suspect where you’re taking them.
Once checked in, you take a seat in a busy waiting room. In the presence of other animals, your pet becomes anxious. A dog across the room begins to bark, and in no time flat your furry friend is in full-blown panic mode, contemplating fight or flight as you futilely attempt to restrain the leash or whisper soothing assurances through the carrier screen door.
Unfortunately issues like these cause pets to miss out on veterinary care, but a convenient solution has emerged in the at-home animal services industry. And as the demand from pet owners seeking these services grows, mobile veterinary clinics are becoming increasingly popular.
AT YOUR SERVICE
What can you expect when your mobile veterinarian pays a visit? According to local providers, many of the same services offered by a brick-and-mortar clinic or hospital.
“I perform wellness exams, routine screenings, vaccinations tailored to the individual pet, and comprehensive diagnostic services, as well as help with behavioral issues and inter-animal aggression,” says Marlys Kraus, DVM.
As owner of Vetmobile Housecall Veterinary Service, Dr. Kraus provides services to clients in Rochester and throughout southeastern Minnesota, including Chatfield, Eyota, Byron, Stewartville, Oronoco and Pine Island.
While some of the most common requests are related to routine care and pet hospice, mobile veterinarians can also treat some complex issues.
“I typically schedule at least an hour per pet to ensure I can adequately address complicated issues, should they be discovered,” says Scott Miller, DVM, owner of Miller Mobile Veterinary Services in Rochester and surrounding areas.
Very sick or injured pets may need services that a mobile veterinarian might not be equipped to offer, including IV therapy, intensive care, or immediate surgery or imaging.
If further work-up is required that can’t be provided via house call, providers like Dr. Kraus and Dr. Miller don’t hesitate to refer their clients and patients to a local clinic or hospital. Some mobile veterinarians are overcoming this limitation with ‘clinics-on-wheels,’ mobile units they furnish with the support staff and equipment needed to provide these services.
While the services offered by mobile veterinarians are similar to those available at clinics and hospitals, the overall experience is vastly different—and that’s what clients appreciate most, say Dr. Kraus and Dr. Miller.
“Assessing pets in the comfort of their own home allows for a more in-depth, accurate evaluation of their health and issues,” says Dr. Kraus. “It’s a calmer overall experience, with blood results showing fewer of the changes associated with fear and stress.”
Mobile veterinarians are able to see how animals behave in the home environment, including interaction with their owners and other pets. These firsthand observations enable them to pinpoint specific issues and offer recommendations that will make life more comfortable for all.
PET PARENT BENEFITS
One of the chief benefits for owners who choose mobile veterinarians is relief from the stress and guilt that can come from transporting a scared or sick pet. Transportation can also be onerous for owners who may have personal mobility issues or the tough task of coordinating multiple pets.
“The patients I see most commonly are in multi-pet households where it can be difficult for busy owners to manage traveling with all pets to a regular bricks-and mortar-clinic,” says Dr. Miller. “I typically try to examine all of their pets the same day.”
Many pet owners report building a deeper, more comfortable relationship with veterinarians through home visits than they may in a traditional setting. Additionally, they appreciate the ability to economize their time—wasting less of it on travel and waiting rooms, and preserving more of it for valuable conversations about pet care.
“With house-calls, I can be sure to spend the time needed to explain my findings and recommendations thoroughly,” says Dr. Miller. “My clients find me emailing them with information and handouts all the time—sometimes even late at night or on weekends.”
Time is also a precious commodity for Dr. Kraus’s clients, who appreciate not only her unhurried, compassionate approach, but also her honest evaluation of issues and full support of treatment decisions.
Among all in-home treatment requests, humane euthanasia is one of the most common. While most offer it as part of their full service veterinary work, providers like Susan Meier, DVM, specialize exclusively in pet hospice and end-of-life care.
A veterinarian for more than 15 years, Dr. Meier recently opened White Pines Pet Hospice as a mobile business in Rochester.
“Pets are important members of our family and their loss can be very difficult,” she says. “By coming to the house, I feel the family and the pet are more comfortable and relaxed. If I can help ensure a gentle goodbye in a stress-free environment, then I’ve made the loss a tiny bit easier.”
Dr. Meier serves as a member of the IAAHPC (International Association of Animal Hospice and Palliative Care) and has had additional training in these specialty practices.
Laurie Simon is a Rochester-based freelance writer and wannabe pet parent.