Virtual Physical Exams
We want to be sure we’re providing the best care possible for our patients- which can be difficult when we can’t put our hands on them! Often, that in-person physical exam is necessary for any sort of diagnosis or treatment. But what about the cases we can handle virtually, after hours needs, triage, rechecks, or those pets we just can’t get in the clinic? There are many ways that we can have pet owners collect medical data at home so that we can provide great advice through telehealth all while keeping up our medical standard of care.
- Capillary Refill and Gum Color
Ask for video of the pet owner pushing gently on their pet’s gums over the canine tooth.
- Sleeping Respiratory Rate
Ask them to count breaths for 30 seconds during a nap.
- Heart Rate
While more difficult, some can feel the beat behind the left elbow. Count for 30 seconds.
- Gait and Position Analysis
Ask for video of the animal walking in a straight line, up and down stairs, sitting, laying down, and getting back up. Great for evaluating orthopedic and neurologic status.
- Normal Behavior
Ask for a 360 degree video of the patient, preferably standing while someone offers a treat. You can easily gauge RR, mentation, pain scores, appetite, posture, and more.
- Abnormal Behavior
Ask them to take a video of a problem behavior (especially if it’s unlikely to happen live!)
- Photos of lesions, eyes, ears, feces, and more.
Ask for multiple non-blurry closeup photos, with and without flash, from multiple angles.
- Home Environment
Ask for a video tour or photos of food bags, feeding stations, litterboxes, beds, outdoor access,
toys, treats, and more. Especially important for allergies, hospice, and cats.
Some people and pets are comfortable with rectal temps, but ear thermometers can also be accurate
enough to know if there is a problem.
- Neuro Exams
Basic neurologic exams can be easy for a pet owner to do. Ask them to video cranial nerve exams- touching corners of eyes, putting a pencil on the outside of an ear or nostril to look for reactions, pulling on the tongue (if safe). Conscious proprioception, hopping, wheelbarrow, and visual or tactile placing can be easy to do in-home with coaching.