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Banfield Pet Hospital Launches 24-Hour Access To Pet Health Advice With Vet Chat

VANCOUVER, Wash: Banfield Pet Hospital announced its new telehealth service, Vet Chat, that offers its more than two million Optimum Wellness Plan clients across the U.S. and Puerto Rico access to one-on-one chat with a veterinarian anytime, anywhere through the Banfield app.

With a recent Banfield survey showing 71% of pet owners turn to the internet instead of their veterinarian, Vet Chat gives Banfield's wellness plan clients on-demand access to general pet care advice and triage support from a veterinarian.

According to the survey, 75% of veterinarians agree that knowing how long to wait before consulting a veterinarian is one of the biggest challenges their clients face. Making matters worse, 90% of veterinarians worry pet owners may unknowingly put their pet at more risk by taking bad advice from the internet. Banfield aims to help solve these common dilemmas by introducing Vet Chat and encouraging pet owners to 'Nix the Net, Text a Vet.'

At Banfield, we never take for granted that being entrusted with the care of a beloved pet is to be invited into the emotional center of a person's life, said Brian Garish, president of Banfield Pet Hospital. To us, that means not only being with you throughout your pet's life, from puppyhood through the golden years-- it also means being there during those unexpected, sometimes anxiety-ridden moments between visits. Vet Chat marks the next chapter in the future of pet care, and we're thrilled to offer a service that benefits our clients, their pets, and our veterinary teams.

Celebrity and pet advocate, Jane Lynch, is helping Banfield raise awareness of the dangers of turning to the internet with pet health issues instead of seeking counsel from a veterinarian.

As the proud owner of three rescue pups, I am all too familiar with the sounds of a dog vomiting at three in the morning - and the comfort and peace of mind that comes with having a veterinary team I can count on, said Lynch. I'm honored to work with Banfield Pet Hospital to launch Vet Chat, which gives pet owners access to advice from a trusted source - anytime, anywhere.

In addition to concerns about the negative impact taking inaccurate advice from the internet can have on pets, 90% of veterinarians surveyed also report needing to dedicate more energy and allotted appointment time toward correcting misinformation pet owners gleaned from the internet.

Further, many veterinarians report seeing owners fixate on certain signs and symptoms, omitting critical information (75%), while others say they articulated the signs and symptoms differently than they might have before their online research, influencing the focus of the exam (59%).

Banfield also found 39% of pet owners admit they sometimes struggle to decide when to call the veterinarian - a difficulty faced by seasoned and first-time pet parents alike - and nearly four in ten pet owners (37%) say that, in general, they prefer to consult the internet first.

The majority of pet owners surveyed (66%) also say they have personally turned to the internet about a suspected pet health issue - whether via general online searches (45%), visiting pet health websites (45%), or posting on social media (15%). Further, pet owners reported online pet health research typically leaves them feeling anxious (32%), overwhelmed (25%) and fearful (25%).

More than half of veterinarians (51%) reported they can think of a time when a client failing to disclose previous DIY treatment attempts led to unexpected complications or prescription interactions for a pet. In fact, just under half of veterinarians (47%) say the effects of an owner's independent treatment attempts have masked or changed a pet's original signs and symptoms, making issues harder to accurately diagnose.

One third of pet owners (35%) report losing sleep over their pet's health, and nearly one in five (17%) report feeling ill themselves. More than half (60%) of pet owners even say they are quicker to bring their pets to the veterinarian than to bring themselves to their own doctor.

To sign up for an Optimum Wellness Plan, which includes Vet Chat, pet owners are encouraged to schedule a visit with their local Banfield Pet Hospital. For more information about Banfield and to find a nearby location, visit www.Banfield.com.

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Banfield Pet Hospital Launches 24-Hour Access To Pet Health Advice With Vet Chat

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