Vets on the Go

Do you and your cat dread visits to the veterinarian? Mobile veterinarians deliver health care right to your door.

By Audrey Pavia | Posted: Thu Jul 1 00:00:00 PDT 2004

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Susie Hodnett, DVM, is a mobile veterinarian in Greensboro, N.C. Her practice, At-Home Veterinary Housecalls, PA, provides a full range of services to clients from her 24-foot-long vehicle, including surgery, dental care and diagnostic X-rays. "We tend to establish a close relationship with our clients and their cats," she said. "We visit an average six to eight homes per day, so we spend a significantly longer period of time with our patients. Because we have fewer patients, we are able to maintain close contact with pet owners during illnesses or post-op periods."

Colleen E. Currigan, DVM, of the Cat Hospital of Chicago, decided to go into the house-call business because she felt there was a "niche to be filled" for owners without transportation or with time constraints or cats that are poor travelers.

"In our practice, anything that can be done on an outpatient basis in the hospital can be done in the home-care setting. This includes complete examinations, vaccinations, blood work, urine testing and blood pressure checks," Currigan said. "We can also treat 'sick' cats in the home assuming that they aren't sick enough to require hospitalization. In these cases, we can give fluids, injections and take laboratory samples."

Petra Drake, DVM, a house-call veterinarian in Redwood City, Calif., said that her mobile practice has many benefits for cat owners. "Mentioned most often by clients is the reduction in stress for both cats and owners," she said. "By eliminating the car trip and the waiting room, we save a great deal of wear and tear on all parties involved. Once the visit is over, our feline patients are back in their favorite window or chair within a minute or two."

For cats that are under the weather, an at-home exam can be especially beneficial. "It provides convenient, individualized, compassionate care, while decreasing the stress experienced by the patient," said Jennifer McAvoy, DVM, of the Cat Care Center in North Syracuse, N.Y. "I also feel that end-of-life issues are much more comforting when performed in the patient's own home.

"An example of patients that specifically benefited from house calls are two 14-year-old cats that I recently examined at home," McAvoy said. "They had been losing weight and eating ravenously. Blood was drawn from both cats and the diagnosis pointed to hyperthyroidism, a disease that, once diagnosed, is easily treated."

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