Young Black woman, holding her yellow lab while looking at her phone at online veterinary information

Why pet owners are switching to online vet care with Dutch

  • Prescriptions delivered free to you

  • Fast access to Licensed Vets over video

  • Unlimited video visits and follow-ups

Effective January 1, 2024, California will allow licensed veterinarians to deliver veterinary care and prescriptions through telemedicine thanks to the passage of Assembly Bill 1399, signed by Governor Gavin Newsom. With the introduction of AB 1399, California became the latest state to endorse establishing a vet-client-patient relationship (VCPR)  — a professional and legal relationship between a vet, a pet owner (client), and their animal patient — via telemedicine. 

This landmark decision, supported by organizations like the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and the Veterinary Virtual Care Association (VVCA) and ratified by the governor on October 8, 2023, differs from existing regulations that have restricted veterinarians from leveraging telemedicine to diagnose pets and prescribe medication remotely.

Thanks to AB 1399, Dutch can begin offering more comprehensive care to California pets starting January 1, 2024. Keep reading to learn more about the California Veterinary Telemedicine Bill, CA AB 1399, and its benefits for pet parents and vets in the state.

What is AB 1399? 

AB 1399 is a significant shift in previous California law, which placed stringent constraints on veterinary practices, notably prohibiting the prescription of medications and treatments via telemedicine. Additionally, veterinarians had to establish a VCPR in person for each condition in order to diagnose and treat pets.1

With the introduction of AB 1399, the landscape has changed. Starting January 1, 2024, California licensed veterinarians can practice through telehealth. However, while they can establish VCPR remotely, there are certain stipulations. For instance, vets practicing via telemedicine must determine its appropriateness for the patient, maintain consistent care quality, be knowledgeable about local resources, and many more requirements.2

AB 1399 reflects the modern shift toward digital healthcare solutions, much like the trend seen in human medicine, where online consultations are widely used. This shift to telemedicine offers pet parents the convenience of online consultations, reducing the need for travel, which is especially beneficial for those in remote areas or for pets who don't travel well. 

This new bill ensures that while veterinarians in California can now offer more flexible digital services, the standard and quality of care remain uncompromised. Pet parents can expect the same level of expertise and dedication from their vets, whether the consultation is in-person or online. For many, this combination of convenience and professional care makes AB 1399 a welcome change in the world of veterinary medicine. 

What Does AB 1399 Mean for California Pet Parents? 

In January of 2024, California pet parents will have access to a broader scope of telehealth services for their pets. Previously, California didn't allow vets to prescribe medication or treatments to pets through telemedicine unless they established VCPR in person. This meant that, while general advice and over-the-counter treatment options were possible, prescription-based treatments weren't available through virtual consultations. 

With the passage of AB 1399, California joins the list of states enabling veterinarians to diagnose your pet via telehealth and develop a comprehensive treatment plan that may incorporate both prescription and non-prescription options

This expanded access will undoubtedly make veterinary care more convenient and accessible for pet parents. Thanks to new legislation, California pet parents can use Dutch to get care from licensed vets who treat pet conditions such as: 

  • Allergies: Diagnosing and treating common dog and cat allergies that may cause symptoms like sneezing or itching. 
  • Anxiety: Addressing behavioral issues like dog anxiety to help your pet reduce stress and improve their quality of life.
  • Coughing: Providing solutions for persistent coughing, which can indicate chronic conditions such as allergies.
  • Hair loss: Investigating and treating hair loss, which may be linked to skin conditions or serious underlying health issues. 
  • GI issues: Ensuring optimal digestive health by addressing gastrointestinal problems, like vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Urinary issues: Offering expertise for pets with urinary concerns, from infections to incontinence. 
  • Skin issues: Diagnosing and treating various skin issues, including rashes, infections, and more. 

Benefits of Telemedicine for Pets 

Telemedicine is revolutionizing healthcare, and telemedicine for pets can benefit everyone from your dog or cat to you and the vet who treats your pet. Let's take a look at some of the notable advantages: 

    • Accessibility to experts: No longer constrained by geography or limited availability, pet parents can now reach out to specialized veterinary experts. Whether you're in a rural area without a nearby vet or simply can’t get an appointment, telemedicine bridges the gap and ensures all pets have an equal chance at the best health outcomes. 
    • Combats vet burnout: The veterinary field, much like other healthcare professions, faces its challenges with burnout. Telemedicine provides a flexible working environment, reducing the pressures of a traditional clinic setup and potentially mitigating factors contributing to vet burnout. Vets can consult from the comfort of their homes, allowing them to balance personal life and work more efficiently. A stress-free vet can provide better care, which directly benefits our pets.
    • Closes care gaps for non-emergency and chronic health concerns: Not every pet ailment requires an immediate in-person visit. Telemedicine can effectively address non-emergency situations and manage chronic health conditions. The result is comprehensive healthcare that doesn't overlook the smaller but crucial aspects of a pet's well-being. 
    • Convenience and comfort: Imagine a world where your pet no longer associates vet visits with anxiety. Telemedicine for pets eliminates the need for transportation, reduces the stress associated with physical vet visits (both for pets and their owners), and enables quick check-ins without long waiting times. 
    • Potentially healthier pets: Prompt and easy access to medical advice leads to better healthcare outcomes. Pet parents may be more likely to consult with vets at the first sign of trouble, allowing for early interventions. Over time, this proactive approach, facilitated by telemedicine, can result in better overall health for pets, ensuring they lead fuller, happier lives. 
    • More affordable pet care: Telemedicine can make pet care more affordable, reducing costs associated with travel and veterinary overhead costs while providing an efficient means of seeking expert advice without incurring additional expenses. 

Young Asian man smiling during an online vet consultation; small dog sitting on couch behind them

How to Access California Veterinary Telemedicine

With California ushering in telemedicine for pets with AB 1399, it finally opens the gateway for innovative, convenient, and affordable pet care. Enter Dutch – a pioneering platform that provides telemedicine for pets with the highest standards of care and serves the evolving needs of the modern pet parent.

Rooted in principles that prioritize the health and well-being of your pets, we seamlessly combine technology with the best veterinary expertise. Dutch is built on strong foundational pillars of care to ensure an optimal experience for you and your pet: 

  • Quality of care with 100% licensed vets for all medical care. We also partner with board-certified behavior, dermatology, and internal medicine specialists. 
  • Alignment of care to ensure integrity. Our vets are never driven by incentives to prescribe medications. Instead, they rely on their professional judgment to recommend the best for your pet. 
  • Spectrum of care increases the range of care available by providing convenience, affordable options, transparent pricing, prescription delivery, and more. 

Take advantage of the benefits of telemedicine for pets. With Dutch, navigating the world of veterinary care has never been easier. Here's how it works: 

  1. Sign up: Visit our membership page to choose an annual or monthly plan, depending on what best fits your budget and lifestyle. 
  2. Book an appointment: Select a convenient time and set up a virtual appointment with a licensed vet. 
  3. Receive treatment plans: After your pet’s consultation, your vet will provide a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to your pet's needs, which may include prescription medications, over-the-counter treatment suggestions, dietary advice, or behavioral modification recommendations. With Dutch, you can even get prescriptions delivered to your doorstep with free shipping included in your membership!
  4. Get unlimited care: Your Dutch membership provides unlimited care for your pet. Schedule a follow-up visit or discuss new concerns via messages. 

Keep in mind that while telemedicine for animals offers numerous advantages, there are certain limitations pet parents should be aware of. Some conditions might require an in-person physical examination for a complete diagnosis. Additionally, telemedicine is not suitable for emergencies that require immediate physical intervention. 

FAQs

Does California allow vet telemedicine?

Yes, California has taken a progressive step to ensure quality veterinary care for pets. Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 1399 in October 2023, paving the way for licensed veterinarians in the state to practice veterinary medicine via telehealth. This significant move recognizes the potential of telemedicine to enhance accessibility and convenience in veterinary care for pet parents across the state. 

With the California Veterinary Telemedicine bill set to go into effect in January 2024, California joins the list of states modernizing their approach to veterinary medicine by embracing the benefits of technology. This legislation aims to bridge care gaps, especially for non-emergency and chronic health concerns, while ensuring that the standard of care remains uncompromised. 

What states allow veterinary telemedicine?

California is the latest to explicitly legalize VCPR establishment online, allowing licensed vets to offer veterinary advice, make diagnoses, and prescribe Rx treatments. Other states currently allowing remote VCPR establishment include Arizona, Idaho, New Jersey, Vermont, and Virginia, among others.3Keep in mind, this list is constantly evolving with new progressive legislation being introduced each year. 

Even if we can’t provide you with prescriptions based on your state regulations, we can still offer general pet care advice to help you address your pet’s needs and concerns, including recommendations for non-prescription treatments. Our primary goal is to support you and your pet’s well-being, and we’ll do our best to provide guidance within the legal framework of your state’s regulations. 

Can I get a prescription from my vet and buy it online?

If you reside in any of the states that permit the establishment of VCPR online, you can get a prescription online from a licensed vet. With Dutch, you can consult a vet about your pet's ailment, obtain a prescription from your vet online, and conveniently fill that prescription. 

This seamless integration of consultation and medication fulfillment is designed to provide pet parents with a streamlined and efficient healthcare process for their beloved pets, all from the comfort of home.

Young Asian woman sitting at desk with laptop, playing with cat during an online veterinary consultation

Final Notes 

Integrating telemedicine in veterinary care represents a significant leap forward in offering timely, convenient, and comprehensive pet care. The recent passage of AB 1399 in California showcases the state's forward-thinking approach. It establishes a standard that other states might follow, recognizing telemedicine's numerous advantages for pets and pet parents. 

Dutch blends technology with best-in-class veterinary expertise. We're committed to providing pets and pet parents with the highest quality care that’s convenient, reliable, and affordable. With Dutch, you get a partner that cares for your pet's well-being every step of the way. Try Dutch today and experience easy veterinary care from the comfort of your home.

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References

  1. Miller, Grant. Veterinary Telemedicine and the VCPR in California: In-Person Patient Exams Required, cvma-inline.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/CV74_2-Compliance-Corner.pdf

  2. "Assembly Bill No. 1399." California Legislative Information, October 10 2023, leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=202320240AB1399

  3. Fiala, Jennifer. "California Makes Major Veterinary Telemedicine Policy Shift." VIN News Service, September 12 2023, news.vin.com/default.aspx?pid=210&Id=11683902&f5=1.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Who is Dutch?

Dutch is an online veterinary pet telehealth service, created by pet parents and board-certified veterinary specialists. We use a science-backed approach to provide pets relief for their everyday physical and behavioral health issues. Dutch connects you with licensed veterinarians over video chat and messaging to help you get care for your dog or cat quickly wherever you are — without the stress or expense of a vet visit. We also partner with pharmacies who can deliver prescription medication (in applicable states only) and over-the-counter treatments directly to your door. Dutch isn’t a veterinary practice or pharmacy, but a company that helps facilitate these services for pet parents to make veterinary care more accessible to all.

What is a visit with Dutch like?

When booking a video call with a vet, you'll be asked a few questions about your pet’s health issue. Depending on the issue, you may also be asked to fill out a longer questionnaire about their symptoms and share photographs of them so our veterinarians can better understand what’s going on. You’ll then pick an appointment time that works best for you.

During your video call, one of our licensed veterinarians will talk to you about the symptoms your pet is experiencing, ask you questions, review your pet’s medical history if you’ve provided it, and answer any questions you have. The vet will ask to see your pet and their environment. And they may ask you to perform some simple checks on them if needed.

After your video call, the vet will send you a message with a custom treatment plan to help your pet feel better, including a link to buy any recommended prescription or over-the-counter medications. Place your order and we’ll ship it free.

How much will it cost for Dutch to treat my pet?

The Dutch membership starts at $7/mo for unlimited access to the vet. No more long waits for appointments or surprise bills.

In addition to the base membership plan, our veterinarians may also recommend additional medication (Rx and/or OTC) that you will have the option of adding to your plan at an additional cost.