Veterinarians tend to have some unique experiences at work when compared to the average desk job and mobile veterinarians are no exception. Along with my clients, I have been able to experience the joys of watching rescued dogs thrive at home after their tragic beginnings. I have also heard the screams for help from a new assistant when trapped in a corner by a sweet little grey kitty who turned into “Church” from Pet Cemetery after I left the room. When I started my practice in 2011, I had many preconceived notions as to why one would call a mobile veterinarian but I have learned that the reasons can be as diverse as the clients and pets I am fortunate enough to visit.
Since I grew up in Northern Virginia, I always enjoy visiting with old friends and making new ones. To this day I can still be surprised by the changes in various neighborhoods and I love to see new additions to my clients’ families. While I see fewer appointments than I used to when I was working at a traditional practice, my clients are quite appreciative of this increased time and attention I am able to spend with them. This increased time for an appointment allows for more effective communication about their pets day to day living environment and quality of life. Extra time to answer any questions or concerns a client may have is also a key advantage to a house call appointment. Another advantage is that observing pets in their home environment can often reveal a wealth of information even before the physical exam begins. While the majority of time the exam is conducted inside the home where the animal is least stressed, it is important to offer additional diagnostics if the situation warrants it.
Similar to visiting a human doctor, the vast majority of examinations and procedures are performed on an outpatient basis in veterinary medicine. My goal with my practice is to offer convenience for the client without sacrificing quality. We offer imaging (x-rays and ultrasound) to help diagnose potential problems as well as anesthetic procedures including surgery and dentistry to treat and prevent problems. Clients often tell me they feel more comfortable with the fact that their furkids have my undivided attention during a procedure or exam as they know I am not rushing to see someone else in the next room. Clients are comforted in knowing who exactly is performing a procedure and like to get their loved ones returned to them as soon as possible afterwards. We focus our attention on the patient as well as their caregivers concerns versus wasting time promoting a plan or insurance policy. My clients appreciate the individual time and attention paid to them and often remark about the exceptional quality and value from our practice.
In additional to the quality obtained from a state of the art mobile hospital visit, clients rave about the convenience. We see many multiple pet households who avoid the stress and time of multiple car trips to a veterinary hospital. We see families with young children, who benefit from not having to arrange for childcare or a disruption in their children’s schedules. As a father of young children myself, I can certainly relate to and appreciate that benefit of having a mobile vet come to one’s home. We see teleworkers who can do their work from home while we perform our services. While there are many people who contact us so they can remain productive and comfortable at home and not fight the notorious DC metro traffic, there are many clients who tell us that without us their pet would not be able to receive any veterinary care at all.
One of the most rewarding aspects of starting my practice is having clients tell me that their animals would not receive veterinary care if it were not for our efforts. We see dogs larger than their owners who when they break a bone or blow a knee ligament would not be able to have x-rays taken as they are unable to transport them. Many senior dogs with arthritis and other orthopedic conditions shun car rides as they age and benefit from a housecall veterinarian. Likewise if an owner is unable to drive due to various reasons including visual impairment, neurological conditions, advanced age, or other medical issues, we serve as a valuable lifeline for their companion’s health care. We see dogs that have seizures when taken to a normal brick and mortar hospital, butallow our trained staff to perform a complete examination with their tails wagging. Some dogs are not good around other dogs but fine during a house call visit. Some clients trust me with the ultimate responsibility: to perform humane euthanasia on their loved one when their quality of life has diminished due to age, organ failure, cancer, or other reasons. By far though the most common class of animals that would not receive medical care without our efforts are cats. Not a week will pass without a client commenting that they have not been able to take their cat to the vet for years as they are unable to get their cat in its carrier. Felines can be very particular creatures and the combination of rounding them up, stuffing them into a cat carrier, and then driving them to a hospital to wait in a room with a bunch of dogs barking can take even the most patient feline past their limit. Our mobile hospital allows a client to place food in a confined space, shut the door, and let us handle the rest. Often times we are able to obtain a more detailed physical exam when a cat has not been through this extremely stressful process and are way past their limit before a veterinarian can even put their hands on him or her.
As a practicing mobile veterinarian, I get the benefit of seeing animals in their true environment and gain valuable information on their lifestyle. While I often joke that I would wait for the phone to ring like in “Ghostbusters” and scream “we got one” when I started my practice, now 5 years later I am apologizing for being booked and needing to see routine wellness visits a few weeks out. Clients choose our practice for the quality, value, and convenience we bring and the top quality care we give to their pets. As people realize the availability and advantages of mobile veterinary care, the demand will continue to grow for companion animal health care at home.
By Eric M. Cryan D.V.M.