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Finding The Best Online Veterinarian: A Comprehensive Guide To Virtual Pet Care

Written by: Molly Weinfurter
Molly Weinfurter is a writer for iHeartDogs, and she’s passionate about helping animals in need. She volunteers for Bailing Out Benji and a local dog rescue.Read more
| Published on January 4, 2024

Reviewed by: Dr. Theresa Fossum

Reviewed by:

Dr. Theresa Fossum

Meet Dr. Theresa (Terry) W. Fossum, DVM, MS. Ph.D., Diplomate ACVS – a remarkable animal lover whose passion for animal care and innovative solutions has left an indelible mark on the veterinary world. As the CEO of both Phoenix Animal Wellness and Epic Veterinary Specialists, she's ensuring dogs and cats receive the highest level of care and compassion.Read more

Visiting the vet can be overwhelming for both you and your dog, but it’s an aspect of your pet’s care that can’t be avoided. So, the best online veterinarians may be able to make some appointments easier. If you have questions or concerns that don’t require an in-person visit, an online vet may be a stress-free solution.

An online vet isn’t a substitute for a real vet since you’ll still need to visit in person for vaccines, checkups, and emergencies, but it can be a fast, convenient way to address some health concerns. Online vets like Vetster can help you stay on top of your pup’s medical needs without having to leave the comfort of your home.

Husky at the vet

How Does an Online Veterinarian Work?

Online veterinarians, sometimes called “tele-vets,” work similarly to a virtual doctor for humans. If you have a concern that doesn’t involve in-person needs, you can schedule a video call with a vet to discuss your dog’s behaviors. You’ll need to fill out your dog’s information before the vet visit, and then, depending on the situation, the vet may be able to prescribe medication or help you determine a treatment plan. However, some concerns with your dog may need to be done in person, such as if tests are needed.

Many dog parents are choosing online veterinarians when possible because they’re often more convenient and affordable. They may also help you get answers about your dog’s health problems sooner than usual. Every online veterinary service is different, so research a few to find out which one fits your needs best.

When Should You Use Online Veterinarian Services?

There are many situations where you can use online veterinary services, but it should always be for a situation that doesn’t require an in-person checkup. For example, it’s a great way to ask your vet routine questions and get professional advice. You may also be able to use online appointments to refill prescriptions, follow up after treatments/surgeries, or talk about behavior concerns.

As long as it’s not an emergency, scheduling an online appointment will likely help you better understand your dog’s health concerns. Here are a few areas that a virtual veterinarian may be able to assist with:

  • Rashes, redness, itchiness, or other skin conditions
  • Digestive concerns like vomiting or diarrhea
  • Aggression and other behavior concerns
  • Minor cuts or wounds
  • Nutritional advice or dietary concerns (such as weight loss or gain)

Remember that even if you attend a virtual vet visit, you may need to schedule an in-person visit afterward, depending on what the virtual vet says. So, if you believe your dog’s health issue is more serious, you may want to go straight to your vet instead of scheduling an online appointment. All of the issues listed above are ones that vets at Vetster, a popular online option, can help with.

Online vet appointment

Key Factors for the Best Online Veterinarian

Just like a vet you would visit in person, not all online vets are the same. To find one that fits what you’re looking for, consider the following factors.


All legitimate online veterinarians will be licensed and have proper credentials. However, it’s always a good idea to check to make sure the vet is licensed before making an appointment. You should be able to find that information on the website or by contacting the vet.


Some vets may specialize in certain areas or know more about certain breeds. If that’s important to you, look for a vet that’s known for treating conditions similar to what your dog has.

Platform Usability

Since these veterinary services are 100% online, they should be easy enough for anyone to use. Instructions on how to schedule an appointment and communicate with the vet should be clear.


Many dog parents use online veterinarians because they’re cheaper than going to a physical location. While that’s true in most cases, the prices still vary for different vets. Make sure the vet is within your budget before scheduling an appointment.


Reviews from other dog parents can help you make a final decision. Making sure a vet is rated well is a great way to feel confident about scheduling an appointment.

Woman on computer with Frenchie

Comparing Popular Online Vets

Since every online vet is unique, they might not all have the services and features you need. So, below we’ve compared a few popular virtual vets to help you better understand which is right for you.


Vetster is one of the best online veterinarians because it connects pet parents to thousands of licensed, top-rated vets. This platform offers 24/7 appointments, so you can get your dog’s concerns addressed at any time of day. The vets at Vetster can help with almost any general wellness concerns, even if you need training advice or refilled medications. However, just remember that if the condition is serious enough, the online vet may suggest an in-person visit too.


Like Vetster, Pawp has 24/7 access so you can talk to licensed veterinarians whenever you need to. Yet, its platform differs because Vetster charges based on individual services you use while Pawp charges a monthly fee. With Pawp, you can do instant live chats with vets, schedule as many follow-up video calls as needed, and have access to a personalized care plan for your pet. Depending on your location, you may be able to get prescriptions as well.

JustAnswer Veterinarians

JustAnswer offers an affordable, convenient way to contact vets 24/7 with questions and concerns. Through text, email, or phone, you can explain your dog’s symptoms and get quick answers from veterinarians. For only $5, you can get a 7-day trial with unlimited chats, otherwise it’s only $35 per month. While you will still need to visit an in-person vet for serious issues, this platform can save you time and money by giving you quick answers about your pet’s behaviors.


Dutch allows you to meet with top-rated, licensed vets online whenever you need it once you buy a subscription. You can either live chat with a vet 24/7 or book a time to video call with them. These vets can help answer your questions, set up treatment plans, and even prescribe medications, depending on your location. One membership with Dutch can cover up to five pets in your household, and you can get free shipping on every prescription order.


AskVet is another online vet that only operates on a subscription basis. Once you’re a member, you’ll have 24/7 access to the platform’s experienced vets. You’ll also be able to schedule one-on-one live videos with trainers and coaches. AskVet will help you create a lifestyle plan for your dog so you can stay on top of their health needs. While the vets on this platform can give educated answers and advice, they cannot currently give an official diagnosis or write prescriptions.


At WhiskerDocs, you can pay for each time you contact a vet or you can get a subscription to cover as many vet consultations as needed. You can call, chat, or email experienced vets 24/7. So, even if it’s the middle of the night, you can get an answer about your dog’s health concerns right away. Veterinarians at WhiskerDocs can answer health-related questions and offer guidance/advice, but you will need to visit your in-person vet if you want an official diagnosis or a prescription.


PetCoach is a convenient option that doesn’t use a subscription service. Instead, you can instantly access a 24/7 live chat with a vet or post questions to an emergency forum. Using this platform is free, so it’s a great website for pet parents on a budget. However, that means it has fewer features than its competitors, and you cannot get medications or an official diagnosis without visiting an in-person vet.


Airvet is available to any pet parents, whether you have a subscription or are scheduling a one-time call. They offer 24/7 chat and video calls so you can quickly get answers about your pet’s needs in an emergency. There’s no need for appointments and there are no time limits, so having access to this platform can help you feel at ease. The vets may be able to advise a treatment plan or prescribe medications, depending on the situation.

Dog at the vet

Frequently Asked Questions About Online Vets

Are Online Vets Worth Using?

Yes, online vets offer a convenient and often cost-effective solution for routine consultations, general advice, and non-urgent concerns, making them a valuable option for many pet parents. However, they’re not a replacement for in-person care, especially in emergencies or complex cases.

Is it Safe to Consult an Online Veterinarian?

Yes, online vets are safe as long as the veterinarian is reputable and licensed. However, some conditions and symptoms will require in-person care. An online vet will guide you if a physical examination or further testing is needed.

Can I Get a Prescription From an Online Veterinarian?

It depends on your dog’s needs and where you live. Not all states allow online veterinarians to give prescriptions, so research your location’s regulations. An in-person vet can send a prescription to an online vet in some cases if needed.

Can All Pet Concerns Be Handled By an Online Vet?

No, not all pet concerns can be addressed by an online vet. While many non-urgent issues, general inquiries, and routine consultations can be managed virtually, severe or complex conditions often require physical examinations, lab tests, or hands-on treatments.

How Much Do Online Vet Visits Cost?

The cost of online vet visits varies based on the platform, the complexity of the consultation, and the veterinarian’s expertise. On average, virtual consultations can be more cost-effective than in-person visits, with prices ranging from $20 to $100 or more. It’s essential to check specific platforms for their pricing structures and any additional fees.

Girl and dog using Vetster

What is the Best Online Veterinarian?

There are lots of great online veterinarians out there, and Vetster is one of the best for dogs of all ages and breeds. The platform can connect pet parents with thousands of licensed veterinarians through video chat at any time of day. It has a user-friendly interface, flexible scheduling options, and a comprehensive range of services that cater to a variety of needs. So, whether you need help with a specific issue or just have a few general questions, Vetster is a convenient solution that can save you time and money.

If you have health-related questions or concerns about your pet that don’t require any in-person services, give Vetster a try! It’s the perfect way to stay on top of your dog’s health to ensure they live a long, happy life!

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