Many veterinarians offer a house call service, where they come to your home to examine and treat your pet so you don't have to take them to the veterinary office. Some doctors don't have a clinic building at all and they spend their workday on the road. This has some advantages for pet parents, but there are also limitations to this type of practice.
A home visit is very helpful in the following situations:
- Some pet don't cope well with the car trip and the unfamiliar sounds and smells of the clinic. By asking the vet to visit you at home, your pet is spared the anxiety of a visit to their doctor's room.
- If a pet parent has limited mobility, is homebound, or doesn't have a car for transport, a mobile veterinarian makes it easy to have their pet treated promptly. There's no need to wait for a friend to help or hope that a taxi will allow your pet in their vehicle.
- Many mobile veterinarians have flexible working hours and can treat routine conditions in the evening or on the weekend. This can help those who have a busy work schedule of their own and can't get to a clinic during office hours.
- Home visits are particularly useful for behavioral problems where a pet can behave quite differently in a clinic situation. Mobile vets allow the pet to be observed in their own environment, interacting with the people and other pets in the household.
- If you have multiple pets at home, it can be hard work bundling them in the car and then safely maneuvering all of them into the consulting room. It's much simpler to have the vet come see them, rather than taking them all to the clinic.
- Perhaps the best reason for using the services of a house call vet is at the end of your pet's life, when it's time to euthanize them. Many pet parents prefer their pet's last moments be spent in the comfort of their home where they feel most secure.
There are also some disadvantages to having a mobile service as your primary care veterinarian. House calls are usually more expensive than office visits because a mobile veterinarian spends more time driving between appointments and is unable to see as many clients as they could if they were based in a clinic. It can also be more challenging for them to perform a full examination on your pet due to a lack of equipment or experienced technical assistance. If your pet needs services such as x-rays or surgery, they'll need to go to a clinic to have them done. Lastly, should an emergency occur, your house call vet may not be available at such short notice even during regular business hours and again you'll need to take your pet to a nearby clinic for treatment.
Overall, mobile veterinary services are great options for people or pets who have difficulty leaving the house and in situations where having an examination performed in the home is more efficient. For dogs that have chronic health issues that may require more advanced or emergency care, building a relationship with a veterinarian at a traditional clinic may be more appropriate.