A trip to the veterinary clinic usually is not an activity of choice, whether it's with your beloved barrel racer, Seabiscuit, or your honorable hunting companion, Rover.
Many clinics spare pets and their owners the anxiety of a trip to the veterinarian by offering mobile services. Packing their knowledge and expertise into that black bag, veterinarians can be at Seabiscuit's or Rover’s side in no time.
“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, an 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," she said.
House-call veterinarians - unlike stationary practitioners - must be able to see animals in a small pen or barn, and they must have the proper facilities available to work on animals safely, said Easterwood.
Mobile vets, just like vet clinics, must have their facilities and equipment regularly inspected.
While house calls are available for small and large animals, Easterwood said home visits tend to be more common for larger animals.
“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," she said.
Ambulatory, large-animal veterinarians often have trucks or SUVs that are equipped to handle most procedures, but Easterwood said mobile vets still must know how to improvise.
“Farm-call veterinarians frequently have to operate in a 'MacGyver' mode to get things done without all the conveniences of a clinic setting," she said, "but most things can be done.”
As there are many varieties of mobile veterinarians, pet owners should research and find one that offers the services their pet needs. The majority of house-call veterinarians perform check-ups and vaccinations, but emergency services might not always be available through mobile vets.
As expected, rates for house call veterinarians tend to be higher than those for clinic visits due to the expense of travel. However, it is usually not difficult to find a reasonably priced mobile vet. Some charge a flat, per-trip rate for needed services, no matter the number of animals treated on the visit.
Traveling veterinarians, mobile vets, veterinarians-on-wheels or house-call vets: There are many names for these miracle workers but all provide a stress-free way to get a pet — of any size — the care that it needs.
Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University.