Online pet shop Chewy is expanding its “Connect With a Vet” telehealth service, adding a video consultation feature, the ability to preschedule a virtual vet consultation and extended hours of operation, the company said in a Friday (May 21) press release.
Mita Malhotra, vice president of Chewy Health, said the telehealth service had already given pet owners the option of getting health care advice from licensed veterinarians in the middle of a pandemic.
Dr. Katy Nelson, senior veterinary relations manager at Chewy, said the new service means that the company’s veterinarians “get to observe the pet in real-time, in the comfort of their own homes. Being able to observe the pet rather than just read or hear a description allows for a more authentic connection.”
Pet owners can also then prepare their charges “for a more efficient in-person vet visit if needed,” said Nelson.
Later this month the expanded service, available in 47 states, will expand to weekends. Current hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday.
Chewy noted it is providing a chat-based service as a free resource to Chewy’s Autoship subscribers. The pet food and products company said about 80 percent of customers who’ve used the service this year giving their experience a 10 out of 10.
Florida-based Chewy debuted its telehealth service last October. The service lets pet owners chat with licensed veterinarians and get answers “to some of the most commonly asked questions,” as well as to “receive advice” and “discuss concerns they might have regarding the health and wellness of their pet,” according to Chewy.
While pet owners could also get referrals to local vets and emergency clinics, vets weren’t allowed to use the telehealth service to diagnose medical conditions, prescribe medications or provide treatment.
“We have focused our efforts into developing an easy to use and convenient tele-triage product,” Chewy CEO Sumit Singh said at the time.