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10 Best Online Veterinarian Services in 2024: Reviews & Top Picks

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on June 26, 2024 by Dogster Team

10 Best Online Veterinarian Services in 2024: Reviews & Top Picks

VET APPROVED

Dr. Lorna Whittemore  Photo

REVIEWED & FACT-CHECKED BY

Dr. Lorna Whittemore

BVMS, MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

Online consultation_SamLion_PexelsEven before the COVID-19 pandemic, vets and veterinary services had begun to offer a multitude of ways to access their services. However, since lockdowns prevented owners from physically visiting vets, online services have truly skyrocketed. And while lockdowns might have ended and people and their pets are allowed back in veterinary surgeries, the trend for online services continues unabated.

However, not all services are equal. Most, unless they are your primary veterinary care provider, cannot diagnose or treat conditions and are unable to prescribe medications. They can answer your health questions and give general advice, though. The range of services on offer means that not all these services are equal which is why we have reviewed the best online veterinarian services below and answered some of your questions about this type of service.

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A Quick Look at Our Favorites in 2024

Rating Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
WhiskerDocs WhiskerDocs
  • Options for members and non-members
  • Competitively priced membership fees
  • Robust health library
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Chewy Connect With A Vet Chewy Connect With A Vet
  • Free to Chewy auto-ship customers
  • Allows uploading pictures and videos
  • Can fulfil existing prescriptions
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    Hello Ralphie Hello Ralphie
  • Can diagnose and write prescriptions
  • Accepts some pet insurance policies
  • Consultation details stored
  • Vetster Vetster
  • Choose your provider
  • Telemedicine appointments
  • 24/7 service
  • PetCoach PetCoach
  • Searchable forum
  • Can ask public question on forum
  • Experts include vets, technicians, nutritionists, trainers, and behaviorists
  • The 10 Best Online Veterinarian Services

    1. WhiskerDocs – Best Overall

    Consultation: Phone, Chat, Email, Text, Video
    On-Demand Consultation: Members and Non-Members
    Emergency Fund: None
    Prescriptions: No

    WhiskerDocs is a flexible online veterinarian service that is offered as an extra perk by insurers and is included as an employer perk by some companies and businesses. It is also available on a monthly or annual subscription and on-demand consultations can be paid for per consultation by non-members.

    All consultations and questions are answered by licensed veterinarians or technicians, according to the inquiry. As well as offering a range of flexible membership and non-membership options, WhiskerDocs also has an extensive online health library that can be accessed by its members, and its fees are very competitive, making it our best overall online veterinarian service.

    However, unlike most of the services on this list, WhiskerDocs does not offer an emergency fund, which is presumably one of the ways they keep costs down, and its vets cannot diagnose conditions or offer prescriptions, although this is typical of most providers.

    Pros
    • Options for members and non-members
    • Competitively priced membership fees
    • Health library contains a lot of useful information and answers
    Cons
    • No emergency funds
    • Unable to offer prescriptions

    2. Chewy Connect With A Vet – Best Value

    chewy_logo_new_large

    Consultation: Chat, Video
    On-Demand Consultation: Yes
    Emergency Fund: No
    Prescriptions: No

    The Chewy Connect With A Vet service is available from the online pet retailer Chewy. It is a telehealth service that is offered free of charge to the company’s auto-ship customers and is not available to non-customers.

    It offers chat and video calls between 8am and 11pm ET, but it doesn’t operate in Alaska, Hawaii, or Idaho. Vets can provide general advice, but they cannot diagnose problems. While Chewy does offer pharmacy services to fulfil prescriptions from a primary veterinary service provider, they are unable to provide prescriptions themselves.

    As the service is free for all auto-ship customers, regardless of spend, Chewy Connect With A Vet is the best online vet service for the money, although the obvious drawback is that it isn’t available in some states.

    Pros
    • Free to Chewy auto-ship customers
    • Chat features allow uploading pictures and videos
    • Pharmacy services can fulfil existing prescriptions
    Cons
    • Not available in some states

    3. Hello Ralphie – Premium Choice

    Hello Ralphie

    Consultation: App-based, Video, Chat
    On-Demand Consultation: Yes
    Emergency Fund: No
    Prescriptions: Yes

    Hello Ralphie is a relative newcomer to the market, having formed in 2019, and it is also a unique service because it is one of the very few virtual veterinarian services where vets can diagnose pets and write prescriptions. However, this does depend on state laws as some states do not allow it, and you will need to pay extra for a telemedicine appointment rather than for the less expensive and more readily available telehealth appointment.

    Services are charged by the appointment and do depend on the level of consultation required, but Hello Ralphie can also arrange for your pet’s prescriptions to be filled and they store all details of your consultations to ensure continuity of care for your pet and service for you. The service is a little more expensive, but Hello Ralphie is one of very few that can diagnose and write prescriptions. They also accept some major insurance companies.

    Pros
    • Can diagnose and write prescriptions
    • Accepts some pet insurance policies
    • Consultation details stored for future reference
    Cons
    • Pricier than other services
    • Prescriptions only available through telemedicine appointments

    4. Vetster

    Vetster-Logo (1)

    Consultation: Video, Chat, Phone
    On-Demand Consultation: Yes
    Emergency Fund: No
    Prescriptions: Yes

    Vetster operates a little differently from most of the other services because it works in a marketplace style. Users can post their pet health requirements and licensed veterinarians and technicians and then choose the professional they want to make a virtual appointment with.

    Both telehealth and telemedicine appointments are available, which means that this is one of the few services that can prescribe medication, although that is dependent on your area or whether you have visited the pet healthcare in person within the last 12 months.

    Vetster offers two different subscription plans: monthly or yearly. Currently, the yearly subscription is the best financial value, offering unlimited video appointments, instant live chats about emergencies, health, or nutrition, and access to the VetsterRx Online Pharmacy. The monthly subscription plan has the same unlimited benefits as the yearly plan; the only difference is that you are billed every 3 months as opposed to paying once yearly.

    The ability to choose a pet healthcare professional and the possibility of having medication prescribed for your pet are beneficial factors that make Vetster different from the majority of services.

    Pros
    • Choose a pet healthcare provider according to your preferences
    • Telemedicine appointments mean medication can be prescribed in some cases
    • 24/7 service
    Cons
    • Only two subscription options

    5. PetCoach

    Pet Coach

    Consultation: Chat, Forum
    On-Demand Consultation: Yes
    Emergency Fund: No
    Prescriptions: No

    PetCoach offers a choice of two services: a live chat consultation with a licensed vet or technician and a forum. Both services cost a fee with the individual consultation costing more. The individual consultation allows unlimited chat messages until you get a response to your query, and you are able to upload photos and videos. The consultation is private.

    Alternatively, users are charged a smaller fee to ask a question on the online forum and receive a single answer from veterinarians, technicians, nutritionists, and other experts. The questions and answers are visible to other forum members, which also means that members can search and view existing queries. There is no emergency fund and there are no membership options, but the forum questions are inexpensive and typically offer a response within 2 hours.

    Pros
    • Searchable forum of questions and answers
    • Cheaper option to ask a public question on forum
    • Experts include vets, technicians, nutritionists, trainers, and behaviorists
    Cons
    • No memberships
    • Private consultations are expensive

    6. AskVet

    AskVet

    Consultation: Chat
    On-Demand Consultation: Subscribers only
    Emergency Fund: $1,000
    Prescriptions: No

    AskVet is an app and desktop-based chat service with a monthly subscription. Services are only provided to subscribed members, which means you do need an account before you can access their chat services, and they are on the expensive side. However, membership not only allows you to chat with licensed veterinarians, but it also gives you an emergency fund, and you get a free Pet ID that will help reunite you with your pet if it gets lost.

    As well as dealing with medical problems and issues your pet may have, AskVet also offers guidance with behavioral issues and nutrition. Although the membership is a little more expensive than some other services, it does include a personalized pet plan that incorporates behavioral training and can help deal with emotional issues your pet has.

    Pros
    • Members get behavioral, medical, and nutrition advice
    • Emergency fund and pet ID included
    • Members get discounts on food and over the counter medication
    Cons
    • Membership only
    • Quite expensive membership fee

    7. Fuzzy Pet Health

    YourFuzzy

    Consultation: Chat
    On-Demand Consultation: Subscribers only
    Emergency Fund: No
    Prescriptions: No

    Fuzzy Pet Health is an app-based online veterinary consultation service. Their licensed veterinarians are on hand 24/7 and, if you don’t want to download the app, you can use the company’s website. However, you do need to be a member to access the service, and membership does not come with an emergency fund. It is a reasonably priced monthly membership, however, and you can reduce the cost even further by paying for an annual subscription, which works out to be approximately the same cost as 4 months of membership, so is definitely worth it.

    As well as text and video chat, members also gain access to a health library that will answer a lot of questions without a consultation. The company sells some over-the-counter medication and subscription boxes with members getting a discount for these items.

    Pros
    • Cheap membership, especially with an annual subscription
    • Health library answers a lot of questions without a consultation
    • Members get discounts on products on the company’s website
    Cons
    • No emergency fund
    • Members only

    8. Airvet

    Airvet

    Consultation: Video, Chat
    On-Demand Consultation: Yes
    Emergency Fund: $3,000
    Prescriptions: Limited

    Airvet has a choice of a monthly subscription or a one-time consultation fee. The service works in the same way as most others. You ask a question or inquiry about your pet’s health and a licensed professional answers it.

    Where Airvet is a little different is that it also enables you to connect with your primary veterinarian, as long as they are part of the network. If you do connect to your own vet, it means that they can diagnose health conditions and prescribe medication. Otherwise, there are no prescription services. If you connect with your own vet, you will be charged according to their fees. Otherwise, you pay according to Airvet’s subscription and consultation fees.

    Fees are at the higher end of the scale. The service is available 24/7 to speak to an Airvet vet, and the ability to connect to your own vet is a big plus.

    Pros
    • Emergency fund  for members
    • Can connect with your own vet
    • Subscriptions and one-off consultations available
    Cons
    • High subscription fees
    • No prescription service with Airvet vets

    9. FirstVet

    FirstVet

    Consultation: Video, Chat
    On-Demand Consultation: Yes
    Emergency Fund: No
    Prescriptions: Yes

    FirstVet is a telehealth and telemedicine provider that offers consultations and monthly subscription services. The consultations are reasonably priced and annual subscriptions are among some of the lowest we’ve seen. Because FirstVet does offer telemedicine appointments, it means that prescription writing is available, but this is only true in New York and New Jersey. The company says it is aiming to expand this service into other states, but it is currently very limited.

    The service is quite limited unless you live in one of the two states where online prescriptions are available. And, while subscription prices are cheap and consultation fees reasonable, subscription packages are only available annually or every 6 months, so you need to be sure that you will ask questions in order to get value out of FirstVet. There is no emergency fund with these subscriptions.

    Pros
    • Prescription services available in NY and NJ
    • Low annual subscription fees
    • Reasonable one-off consultation fees
    Cons
    • No emergency funds
    • Limited subscription options

    10. Pawp

    Pawp

    Consultation: Chat, Call, Video
    On-Demand Consultation: Members only
    Emergency Fund: $3,000
    Prescriptions: Limited

    Pawp is a reasonably priced online subscription vet service. It offers unlimited consultations for cats and dogs and its subscription prices are reasonable. Experts include trainers and nutritionists as well as vets and technicians, ensuring that you get the professional help that you need. One subscription can be used for up to six animals, although this is restricted to cats and dogs at the moment. There are no consultation services available to non-members.

    A subscription also gives you access to an impressive $3,000 emergency fund. The fund can be accessed once a year and once you’ve confirmed with a Pawp vet that your case is an emergency, they will pay your bill by the time you leave the surgery as long as you visit within 4 hours. Pawp recently announced that they can now prescribe anti-flea and anti-tick medication, although the prescription service is limited to just these medications for now.

    Pros
    • Reasonable subscription costs
    • $3,000 emergency fund
    • Can prescribe anti-flea and anti-tick medication
    Cons
    • Prescription services are limited
    • Cats and dogs only

    divider-multiprintBuyer’s Guide: How to Select the Best Online Veterinarian Service

    Online vet services are primarily designed for those occasions when you don’t need an emergency appointment or when you can’t easily get to your primary veterinary office but want some advice from a pet healthcare professional. Whether you have questions about scratching, vomiting, or possibly even about behavioral issues with your cat or dog, such a service can save you time and money compared to visiting a physical vet’s office.

    This type of service undoubtedly became more popular during the pandemic, especially when vets were closed to all but emergency appointments, and their convenience means that their popularity continues. When choosing an online vet service, you will be faced with a lot of options and each option has its own benefits and features. Here, we discuss some of the most important and most common features, so that you can decide which to spend your money on.

    Healthcare Professional Accessibility

    The first thing to check is the availability of a particular service in your area. One of the benefits of virtual services, of course, is that you and your pet do not need to be in the same room or even the same state as the veterinarian. However, some services are only available in certain countries, and those that offer prescription services can typically only do so in specific states.

    It’s worth checking, and it is also worth checking the number of healthcare professionals they have on their books. If there are too few vets available for the number of users, it means that forum questions can go unanswered and there may not be a vet or technician available for consultation when you need them.

    It is also worth considering the types of pet healthcare professionals that a service has. Online vet services offer access to licensed veterinarians and technicians, as standard. Others also provide access to nutritionists, trainers, and other experts, so consider your needs and check that they will be met by the service you choose.

    Consultation Types

    There are different ways to communicate and consult with online vet services. Typically, you will be able to chat and video chat with a vet, but some services also offer forums, while the likes of Vetster has a marketplace-type setup so that you can choose the exact healthcare professional and consultation type required.

    While some services only offer subscription-based access, others also provide one-off consultations to non-members. Obviously, you can’t predict whether you will have one question or 100 questions over the course of a year, but a subscription does offer the peace of mind that if you have any nagging issues, you can consult with a professional without having to pay any extra fees in most cases.

    Young woman with cat working on computer at table
    Image by: New Africa, Shutterstock

    Costs

    Cost is important. If the cost of a subscription or consultation is too high, you may be better off booking an appointment with your primary pet healthcare provider for the same price because a one-on-one, in-person consultation can also include prescription and other services that are not available virtually.

    Subscriptions usually range from around $20 per month to $40 per month, but considerable discounts are available if you pay for an annual subscription. Check whether a subscription has any limitations. For example, while Pawp allows up to six dogs and cats as part of one subscription, other services only allow two pets. You may also be restricted by the number of questions or consultations you can access each month.

    Some services offer consultations. You pay for these services as you need them. If you have limited requirements, this may work out to make better financial sense, but expect costs to vary from $5 to ask a question on a forum to $50 or more for a telemedicine appointment.

    Emergency Funds

    Some subscription services offer an emergency fund as part of their membership. This fund is typically accessible once a year and it can be used if the online vet service determines that your dog or cat needs a pet emergency room visit. Not all services offer this, but some provide up to $3,000 for a single emergency per year and this is similar to an emergency pet insurance policy.

    The size of an emergency fund is usually determined by how long you have been a member. For example, AskVet has a maximum $1,000 fund, but this only accumulates at a rate of $45 per month of membership, so it would take nearly 2 years of membership before the fund reaches that level. If you already have good pet insurance cover, you might not consider an emergency fund to be important.

    Prescription Services

    Typically, a vet needs to see an animal in person and give a physical check-up before they can diagnose a problem and subsequently prescribe medication for that condition. There are exceptions if you speak to your primary vet virtually or the vet you speak to has seen your pet within the past 12 months.

    However, some online vet services can diagnose and prescribe, but this is rare with this type of service. So, if it is a feature that you require, you will need to look for it specifically. Hello Ralphie offers the most comprehensive prescription service we found, but there are still limitations.

    Other Perks

    Some online vet services offer additional perks as part of your subscription. For example, it is quite common to find a service or app that offers access to a pet health library. These can be great for conducting your own research on possible pet problems. You can also find some that provide a free pet ID that can help reunite lost pets with their owners.

    woman with dog checking out Chewy Affiliate Program
    Image by: nakaridore, Freepik

    Can I Get a Prescription for My Dog Online?

    In the vast majority of cases, online pet services are unable to write prescriptions for pets. There are some exceptions, however, and if this is a service that you consider essential, you will need to use a service like Hello Ralphie that does provide it. Alternatively, check to see if your primary provider is on Airvet’s network because, if they are, you can connect with them on Airvet and they should be able to diagnose conditions and prescribe medication.

    Can You Talk to a Vet Online for Free?

    In most cases, you have to pay either a subscription or a one-time fee to speak to online vet services, while local vets charge a consultation fee. However, services like Pawp do offer a free trial of their service, so you might be able to have your questions answered and concerns addressed during this free trial period.

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    Conclusion

    Online vet services offer a more affordable and convenient alternative to in-person vet visits. You don’t have to wait days or weeks for an appointment and a consultation usually costs less than in the vet’s office. However there are limitations, such as ability to prescribe, and many conditions need a hands on physical examination or vet clinic treatments such as injections or fluid therapy.

    While reviewing these services, we found WhiskerDocs offers the best overall experience for members and non-members, although it would benefit from the addition of an emergency fund. Chewy Connect With A Vet is a free service offered to Chewy’s auto-ship customers, so it is excellent value for money if you are a Chewy customer. If you need prescriptions filled, your best option is likely to be Hello Ralphie.


    Featured Image Credit: Sam Lion, Pexels

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