Common symptoms and pet health questions

Below is a list of common queries related to pets and their health. From diarrhoea and vomiting to biting and barking, you'll find answers to common queries, as well as recommendations whether to conduct a video call with our vets, ask a follow up question using our Q&A service from within the app, or visit your local vet.

Gastrointestinal (diarrhoea, vomiting and anything stomach or intestine related)

FirstVet veterinarians can help you to assess your pet via our video call if it develops diarrhoea. We provide professional advice about if and how to treat your animal at home, and when to see a physical veterinarian. If veterinary care is needed then we can help to determine how quickly your pet needs to be seen, where your nearest clinics are if you do not have a registered practice and advise how to treat the animal until you visit the vet.

If your animal is lethargic, has severe stomach pain, shows signs of dehydration, has not eaten food or drunk water for a prolonged period, or has blood in the stools, or very dark stools, then the animal needs to be taken to a physical veterinarian.

FirstVet veterinarians can help you to assess your animal via our video call if it is vomiting. We provide professional advice about if and how to treat your animal at home, and when to see a physical veterinarian. If veterinary care is needed then we can help to determine how quickly your pet needs to be seen, where your nearest clinics are if you do not have a registered practice, and advise how to treat the animal until you visit the vet.

If your animal is lethargic, has severe stomach ache, has vomited repeatedly over a short period of time, shows signs of dehydration, cannot keep food or liquid down, or has blood in the vomit, then the animal needs to be taken to a physical veterinarian.

FirstVet veterinarians can help you to assess your pet via our video call if it is inappetent or not eating. We provide professional advice about if and how to treat your animal at home, and when to see a physical veterinarian. If veterinary care is needed then we can help to determine how quickly your pet needs to be seen, where your nearest clinics are if you do not have a registered practice, and advise how to treat the animal until you visit the vet. If possible, please take your pet's temperature before the video call so that we can gather as much information as possible. Alternatively, if you have a digital thermometer ready then we can talk you through how to take the temperature during the consultation.

If your animal is lethargic, has severe stomach ache, has vomited repeatedly over a short period of time, shows signs of dehydration, cannot keep food or liquid down, or has blood in the vomit, then the animal needs to be taken to a physical veterinarian.

FirstVet veterinarians can help you to assess your pet via our video call if it is constipated. We provide professional advice about if and how to treat your animal at home, and when to see a physical veterinarian. If veterinary care is needed then we can help to determine how quickly your pet needs to be seen, where your nearest clinics are if you do not have a registered practice, and advise how to treat the animal until you visit the vet.

FirstVet veterinarians can help you to assess your pet via our video call if it is having problems with it's anal glands. We provide professional advice about if and how to treat your animal at home, and when to see a physical veterinarian. If veterinary care is needed then we can help to determine how quickly your pet needs to be seen, where your nearest clinics are if you do not have a registered practice, and advise how to treat the animal until you visit the vet.

FirstVet veterinarians can help you to assess your cat or dog via our video call if it has eaten something inappropriate. We help you to assess the situation and provide professional advice about if and how you can provide treatment at home, or whether your animal needs to go to a physical veterinary clinic. If veterinary care is needed then we can help to determine how quickly your pet needs to be seen, where your nearest clinics are if you do not have a registered practice, and advise how to treat the animal until you visit the vet.

If you suspect that your animal has swallowed a larger object that could get stuck or damage the intestine then you need to get advice as quickly as possible - if your waiting time for a video call with FirstVet is more than 30 minutes then you should contact your own veterinary clinic, or the nearest open veterinary clinic, for advice.

FirstVet veterinarians can help you to assess your pet if it has stomach ache via our video call. We provide professional advice about if and how to treat your animal at home, and when to see a physical veterinarian. If veterinary care is needed then we can help to determine how quickly your pet needs to be seen, where your nearest clinics are if you do not have a registered practice, and advise how to treat the animal until you visit the vet.

If your animal is lethargic, repeatedly retches unproductively, has severe stomach ache, has vomited repeatedly over a short period of time, shows signs of dehydration, or cannot keep food or liquid down, then the animal needs to be taken to a physical veterinarian without delay.

FirstVet veterinarians provide professional advice about worm and other parasites. If you have seen worms in the stools or vomit then we can advise whether your animal can be treated at home, and when to see a physical veterinarian. We will also advise where your nearest clinics are if you do not have a registered practice. In the case of a suspected parasite infection, or where the signs are not clear, we can discuss methods of sampling to determine whether your pet does have intestinal parasites.

Important information: if you suspect your animal has been poisoned and your waiting time with FirstVet is more than 15 minutes then please book a video call with us but also try to contact your nearest physical veterinary clinic. In the case of poisoning it is important to get advice as quickly as possible. The vet may need to make the animal vomit to remove the toxic substance and this must take place within 2 hours of being eaten. After this time the poisonous substance will have passed into the intestine. Treatment must not be delayed.

FirstVet veterinarians can help you to assess your pet via our video call if you suspect that it has eaten something toxic. When booking, it is important to provide as much accurate information as possible, for example, what your animal may have eaten, how much was eaten and what your animal weighs. This will help the veterinarian to determine the level of risk to your pet. We will provide professional advice about if and how to treat your animal at home, and when you need to see a physical veterinarian. If veterinary care is needed then we can direct you to your nearest clinic if you do not have a registered practice, and advise how to treat the animal until you visit the vet.

Important information: if you suspect your animal has eaten chocolate and your waiting time with FirstVet is more than 15 minutes then please book a video call with us but also try to contact your nearest physical veterinary clinic. In the case of chocolate poisoning it is important to get advice as quickly as possible. The vet may need to make the animal vomit to remove the chocolate and this should take place within 2 hours after being consumed. After this time the chocolate will have passed from the stomach into the intestine. Treatment must not be delayed.

FirstVet veterinarians can help you to assess your pet via our video call if you suspect that it has eaten chocolate. When booking, it is important to provide as much accurate information as possible, including the percentage of cocoa solids in the chocolate, how much was eaten and what your animal weighs. Darker chocolate contains more cocoa solids and is therefore more toxic. This will help the veterinarian to determine the level of risk to your pet. We will provide professional advice about if and how to treat your animal at home, and when you need to see a physical veterinarian. If veterinary care is needed then we can direct you to your nearest clinic if you do not have a registered practice, and advise how to treat the animal until you visit the vet.

Important information: if you suspect your pet has eaten grapes, raisins or any other potentially toxic food substance and your waiting time with FirstVet is more than 15 minutes then please book a video call with us but also try to contact your nearest physical veterinary clinic. In the case of eating any potentially poisonous foodstuffs it is important to get advice as quickly as possible. The vet may need to make the animal vomit to remove the contents of the stomach and this must take place within 2 hours of being consumed. After this time the grapes, raisins or other food will have passed into the intestine. Treatment must not be delayed.

FirstVet veterinarians help you to assess your pet via our video call if you suspect that it has eaten any poisonous food items. When booking, it is important to provide as much accurate information as possible about what has been eaten, how much was eaten and what your animal weighs. This will help the veterinarian to determine the level of risk to your pet. We provide professional advice about if and how to treat your animal at home, and when you need to see a physical veterinarian. If veterinary care is needed then we can direct you to your nearest clinic if you do not have a registered practice, and advise how to treat the animal until you visit the vet.

Skin, fur and ears

FirstVet veterinarians can assess your pet via our video call if it has a problem with it's ear(s). We provide professional advice about if and how to treat your animal at home, and when to see a physical veterinarian. If veterinary care is needed then we can help to determine how quickly your pet needs to be seen and where your nearest clinics are if you do not have a registered practice. FirstVet cannot prescribe medications, however we can advise you on how to treat the ear problem before and after your visit to the clinic.

If your pet is very agitated about it's ear(s) or the problem doesn't resolve after initial treatment, then you should see a physical veterinarian. The vet will look into the ear canal with an otoscope and may take samples to identify if there is an infection in the ear canal, and if the eardrum is damaged. This can only be done through a physical examination.

FirstVet veterinarians can assess your pet via our video call if it is itching. We provide professional advice about if and how to treat your animal at home, and when to see a physical veterinarian. FirstVet cannot prescribe medications, however we can help you to assess the most likely cause of the itching and discuss what investigations, treatment and management may be needed. Sometimes a referral to a physical veterinarian is needed to take samples of the affected areas and identify the cause. If your animal suffers from chronic itching then we can refer your animal to a specialist veterinary dermatologist.

FirstVet veterinarians can assess your pet via our video call if it has a skin rash or eczema. We provide professional advice about different treatment and management options at home, how best to prevent rashes occurring and when to see a physical veterinarian. FirstVet cannot prescribe medications, however we can help you to assess the most likely cause of the rash and discuss what investigations and treatment may be needed. Sometimes a referral to a physical veterinarian is needed to treat chronic or very painful rashes. If your animal suffers from chronic problems with it's skin, such a chewing it's paws, then we can refer your animal to a specialist veterinary dermatologist.

FirstVet veterinarians can assess your pet via our video call if it has a wound. We provide professional advice about if and how to treat your pet at home, and when to see a physical veterinarian. FirstVet cannot prescribe medications in the case of a wound infection because this requires the animal to be seen by a physical veterinarian first. However, antibiotic treatment is rarely needed. If the wound is deep or cannot be assessed satisfactorily via the video link then we will usually refer you to your physical veterinarian. At the time of booking we would ask you to attach detailed pictures of the wound as this helps us to give the best advice for your animal.

FirstVet veterinarians can assess your pet via our video call if it has an abscess. We provide professional advice about if and how to treat your pet at home and when to see a physical veterinarian. Antibiotic treatment is rarely needed. FirstVet cannot prescribe medications because this requires the animal to be see by a physical veterinarian first. At the time of booking we would ask you to attach detailed pictures of the abscess as this helps us to give the best advice for your animal. The abscess may need to be lanced by a veterinarian. If veterinary care is needed then we can direct you to your nearest clinics if you do not have a registered practice, and advise how to treat the animal until you visit the vet.

FirstVet veterinarians can assess your pet via our video call if you find a lump, large or small. We provide professional advice about what the lump could be and whether testing and treatment at your physical veterinary clinic are needed. At the time of booking we would ask you to attach clear pictures of the lump, if appropriate, as this helps us to give the best advice for your animal. If veterinary care is needed then we can help to determine how quickly your pet needs to be seen, where your nearest clinics are if you do not have a registered practice, and advise how to treat the animal until you visit the vet.

Eyes

FirstVet veterinarians can help you to assess your pet via our video call if it has eye pain or inflammation. If your animal is squinting or closing the eye(s) then a visit to your physical veterinary clinic is often needed. We will help you to assess the situation and provide professional advice about how to treat the animal and when to visit the vet. A prolonged waiting time for a video call with one of our veterinarians should not delay the animal being examined at your veterinary clinic. We can also provide a referral to a specialist veterinary ophthalmologist.

Problems with the eyes can usually be addressed without antibiotics. However, FirstVet cannot prescribe medications, and in the event that your pets needs medication you will need to book an appointment with your veterinarian for a physical examination.

FirstVet veterinarians can help you to assess your pet via our video call if it has discharge or weeping eyes. We provide professional advice about if and how to treat your animal at home, and when it is time to see a physical veterinarian. If veterinary care is needed then we can help to determine how quickly your pet needs to be seen, where your nearest clinics are if you do not have a registered practice, and advise how to treat the animal until you visit the vet.

If your animal is squinting or closing the eye(s) then a visit to your physical veterinary clinic is usually needed. A prolonged wait time for a video call with one of our veterinarians must not delay the animal being examined the same day.

FirstVet veterinarians can help you to assess your pet via our video call if it is squinting or can't open it's eye(s). If this is the case then a visit to your physical veterinary clinic is usually needed. A prolonged waiting time for a video call with one of our veterinarians must not delay the animal being examined the same day. We will provide professional advice about if and how to treat your animal at home, and when it is time to see a physical veterinarian. If veterinary care is needed then we can help to determine how quickly your pet needs to be seen, where your nearest clinics are if you do not have a registered practice, and advise how to treat the animal until you visit the vet.

Mouth and teeth

FirstVet veterinarians can help you to assess your dog or cat via our video call if it has problems with it's mouth or teeth. For example, a fractured tooth, retained milk teeth, bad breath (halitosis), plaque and inflamed gums (gingivitis). We provide professional advice about if and how to treat your animal at home, and when it is time to see a physical veterinarian. If veterinary care is needed then we can help to determine how quickly your pet needs to be seen, where your nearest clinics are if you do not have a registered practice, and advise how to treat the animal until you visit the vet.

If you have noticed any problems with the teeth or mouth, or a change in your pet's eating habits, it is very helpful to attach several detailed photographs when you book the appointment so that we can assess the problem clearly and make the best recommendations for your pet.

Backs, legs, paws, and claws

FirstVet veterinarians can assess your pet via our video call if it has an injured claw or nail. We provide professional advice about if and how to treat your pet at home and when to see your physical veterinarian. At the time of booking we would ask you to attach clear pictures of the affected claw from different angles as this helps us to give you the best advice for your animal. If veterinary care is needed then we can help to determine how quickly your pet needs to be seen, where your nearest clinics are if you do not have a registered practice, and advise how to treat the animal until you visit the vet.

FirstVet veterinarians can assess your pet via our video call if it is limping. We can help you to gently assess the animal and discuss possible causes. We provide professional advice about if and how to treat your pet at home and when to see your physical veterinarian. If veterinary care is needed then we can help to determine how quickly your pet needs to be seen, where your nearest clinics are if you do not have a registered practice and advise how to treat the animal until you visit the vet.

If your pet has chronic or recurrent problems with lameness, or other pain conditions, an examination by your physical veterinarian is necessary for medication to be prescribed. This is to ensure that the animal gets the right treatment at the earliest possible stage. If necessary, we can also refer your pet to a veterinary orthopedic specialist.

FirstVet veterinarians can assess your pet via our video call if it has back problems. We can help you to gently assess the animal and discuss possible causes. When an animal has back pain it usually requires an examination by your physical veterinarian. This is to ensure that the animal gets the right treatment at the earliest possible stage. If necessary, we can also refer you to a veterinary orthopaedic specialist or neurologist. If veterinary care is needed then we can help to determine how quickly your pet needs to be seen, where your nearest clinics are if you do not have a registered practice and advise how to treat the animal until you visit the vet.

FirstVet veterinarians can assess your pet via our video call if it has problems with the vulva, penis or testicles. We provide professional advice about if and how you can treat your pet at home and when to see your physical veterinarian. If veterinary care is needed then we can help to determine how quickly your pet needs to be seen, where your nearest clinics are if you do not have a registered practice and advise how to treat the animal until you visit the vet. At the time of booking we would like you to attach clear pictures of the affected area, if appropriate, as this helps us to gather as much information as possible and give the best advice for your animal.

Important information: If your animal is having difficulty urinating then your pet must be seen urgently by your physical veterinarian. FirstVet are happy to help with advice and referral in these cases, but a prolonged waiting time for a video consultation with us must not delay a visit to your veterinary clinic.

FirstVet veterinarians can assess your pet via our video call if it has problems with the vulva or other female genital issues. If possible, please take your animal's temperature before the video call as it will help our clinical assessment. Alternatively, if you have a digital thermometer ready then we can talk you through how to take the temperature during the consultation. We provide professional advice about if and how you can treat your pet at home and when to see your physical veterinarian

If your animal is lethargic, has a fever or smelly vaginal discharge you may be referred to a physical veterinarian. This is to ensure that the animal gets the right treatment at the earliest possible stage. If veterinary care is needed then we can help to determine how quickly your pet needs to be seen, where your nearest clinics are if you do not have a registered practice, and advise how to treat the animal until you visit the vet.

Breathing and panting

FirstVet veterinarians can assess your pet via our video call if it is having breathing problems. We will assess your pet to determine how acute the problem is, provide professional advice about if and how you can treat your pet at home, and when to go to your physical veterinary clinic. If veterinary care is needed then we can help to determine how quickly your pet needs to be seen, where your nearest clinics are if you do not have a registered practice and advise how to treat the animal until you visit the vet.

Important information: If your pet is breathing fast and shallowly, using the whole abdomen to breathe, abnormally puffy or, for cats, open-mouth breathing, you should see your physical veterinarian urgently. A prolonged waiting time for a video consultation with us should not delay a visit to your veterinarian.

FirstVet veterinarians can assess your pet via our video call if it has a cough. We provide professional advice about if and how you can treat your pet at home and when to see a physical veterinarian. If veterinary care is needed then we can help to determine how quickly your pet needs to be seen, where your nearest clinics are if you do not have a registered practice, and advise how to treat the animal until you visit the vet.

Cats that cough often need to be examined by a physical veterinarian. Dogs that cough can often be cared for at home, for example, in cases of suspected kennel cough where the dog is otherwise well. If possible, please take your animal's temperature before the video call as it adds useful information to our clinical assessment. Alternatively, if you have a digital thermometer ready then we can talk you through how to take the temperature during the consultation.

FirstVet veterinarians can assess your pet via our video call if it has a nasal disacharge. We provide professional advice about if and how you can treat your pet at home and when to see a physical veterinarian. If possible, please take your animal's temperature before the video call as it will add useful information to our clinical assessment. Alternatively, if you have a digital thermometer ready then we can talk you through how to take the temperature during the consultation. If veterinary care is needed then we can help to determine how quickly your pet needs to be seen, where your nearest clinics are if you do not have a registered practice and advise how to treat the animal until you visit the vet.

FirstVet veterinarians can assess your pet via our video call if it is reverse sneezing or sounds different when it's breathing. We provide professional advice about if and how to treat your animal at home, and when to see a physical veterinarian. If veterinary care is needed then we can help to determine how quickly your pet needs to be seen, where your nearest clinics are if you do not have a registered practice and advise how to treat the animal until you visit the vet.

Important information: If your pet is breathing fast and shallowly, using the whole abdomen to breathe, abnormally puffy or, for cats, open-mouth breathing, you should see your physical veterinarian urgently. A prolonged waiting time for a video consultation with FirstVet should not delay a visit to your veterinarian.

FirstVet veterinarians can assess your pet via our video call if it is having difficulty breathing. If your pet is breathing fast and shallowly, using the whole abdomen to breathe, abnormally puffy or, for cats, open-mouth breathing, you should see your physical veterinarian urgently. A prolonged waiting time for a video consultation with us should not delay a visit to your veterinarian. We can help you to assess your pet, give you advice on giving first aid until you visit the vet and guide you to your nearest clinic if you do not have a registered practice.

Weight and Obesity

FirstVet veterinarians can assess your pet via our video call if it is losing weight or condition. If your animal has a reduced general condition, seems lethargic, abnormally hungry, depressed or appears to be under the weather in any other way, we can make a thorough assessment and determine if you need to seek a physical veterinarian for investigation and treatment. We provide professional advice about if and how to treat your animal at home, and when to see a physical veterinarian. If veterinary care is needed then we will help you to find your nearest clinics if you do not have a registered practice, and advise how to treat the animal until you visit the vet.

If possible, please take your animal's temperature before the video call as it adds useful information to our clinical assessment. Alternatively, if you have a digital thermometer ready then we can talk you through how to take the temperature during the consultation.

FirstVet veterinarians can help via our video call if you are worried about your pet being overweight and would like advice and guidance on achieving a healthy weight. We provide professional advice about how you can help your animal at home, and when you may need to see a physical veterinarian. If veterinary care is needed then we will help you to find your nearest clinics if you do not have a registered practice and advise how to treat the animal until you visit the vet.

FirstVet veterinarians can help via our video call if you need advice about the care and feeding of your pet. We give professional advice about nutrition as well as how to provide the best care for your pet at home or when you are out and about. It is important to note that insurance companies generally do not provide cover for issues that are not related to illness. If you book a video call for questions regarding the care or feeding of a healthy animal you may therefore have to pay for the consultation yourself, even if you have free video calls through your insurance company.

Alternatively, however, we also offer a FREE Q&A service, 'Ask the vet', for any questions that you may have. One of our veterinarians will respond to your question within 48 hours.

Behaviour

FirstVet veterinarians can help via our video call if you need help with your pet's behavioural issues. We provide professional advice if your dog or cat has fear, anxiety, aggression, obsessive behaviour, biting, urinating in the wrong places or any other problems. We understand that these issues can be complex and very distressing, and can take time and commitment to treat. We will also be able to refer you to an animal behaviour specialist, who will be able to provide further help and support.

It is important to note that insurance companies generally do not provide cover for issues that are not related to illness. If you book a video call for questions regarding behavioural problems in an otherwise healthy animal you may therefore have to pay for the consultation yourself, even if you have free video calls through your insurance company. Alternatively, however, we also offer a FREE Q&A service, 'Ask the vet', for any questions that you may have. One of our veterinarians will respond to your question within 48 hours.

FirstVet veterinarians can provide advice via our video call if your pet needs help with fireworks or a fear of loud noises. Unfortunately, we cannot provide prescriptions for medication via our video calls because this requires a complete examination with a physical veterinarian. However, if your cat or dog has a fear of fireworks then we also recommend behavioural training to try to reduce fear. We understand that these issues can be complex and very distressing, and may take time and commitment to treat. We will also be able to refer you to an animal behaviour specialist. They will be support you through the whole training process from the start. This training may be aided by medication, which is available from your physical veterinary practice. Ideally, seek help well in advance of Bonfire Night or New Year, in order that you and your animal can be well prepared.

It is important to note that insurance companies generally do not provide cover for issues that are not related to illness. If you book a video call for questions regarding behavioural problems in an otherwise healthy animal you may therefore have to pay for the consultation yourself, even if you have free video calls through your insurance company. Alternatively, however, we also offer a FREE Q&A service, 'Ask the vet', for any questions that you may have. One of our veterinarians will respond to your question within 48 hours.

Urinary and reproductive issues

FirstVet veterinarians can assess your pet via our video call if it is having problems with urination. If your dog or cat seems irritated when urinating then we will provide professional advice to help you assess the situation. We can discuss if and how to treat your animal at home and when to visit to your physical veterinary clinic. If possible, please take your animal's temperature before the video call as it will help our clinical assessment. Alternatively, if you have a digital thermometer ready then we can talk you through how to take the temperature during the consultation. If veterinary care is needed then we can help to determine how quickly your pet needs to be seen, where your nearest clinics are if you do not have a registered practice, and advise how to treat the animal until you visit the vet.

Important information: If your dog or cat does not seem to be able to pass urine at all, or has not done so for several hours, you must immediately go to your physical veterinarian. A prolonged waiting time for a video consultation with FirstVet must not delay you visiting your veterinarian.

FirstVet veterinarians can assess your pet via our video call if it is pregnant or giving birth. We provide professional advice to help you determine if the pregnancy or delivery process is progressing normally and how you can help your pet at home. If you suspect that your pet is having difficulty giving birth then you should visit your nearest open veterinary clinic immediately. A prolonged waiting time for a video consultation with FirstVet must not delay your pet seeing a physical veterinarian. If veterinary care is needed then we can guide you to your nearest clinic if you do not have a registered practice, and advise how to treat the animal until you visit the vet.

FirstVet veterinarians can assess your pet via our video call if you suspect that it has a urinary tract infection (UTI) or cystitis. UTIs often require a physical examination and analysis of a urine sample. The urine sample will be checked for white bloods cells, blood and bacteria, and will determine which medication(s) is required. FirstVet cannot provide prescriptions for medication as the animal must first have an examination by a physical veterinarian. If veterinary care is needed then we can help to determine how quickly your pet needs to be seen, where your nearest clinics are if you do not have a registered practice, and advise how to treat the animal until you visit the vet.

Important information: If your dog or cat does not seem to be able to urinate at all, or has not done so for several hours, you should immediately go to your physical veterinarian. A prolonged waiting time for a video consultation with FirstVet must not delay you visiting your veterinarian.

FirstVet veterinarians can assess your pet via our video call if it has urinary incontinence. We will discuss your pet's clinical history and the most likely causes of incontinence. We will give you professional advice about investigating and treating incontinence. If veterinary care is needed then we will help with a referral to your physical veterinarian, advise where your nearest clinics are if you do not have a registered practice, and advise how to treat the animal until you visit the vet.

Important information: If your dog or cat does not seem to be able to urinate at all, or has not done so for several hours, you should immediately go to your physical veterinarian. FirstVet veterinarians can assess your pet via our video call if it cannot urinate and can advise where your nearest clinic is if you do not have a registered practice. However, a prolonged waiting time for a video consultation with us must not delay a visit your veterinarian.

Emergencies

FirstVet veterinarians can assess your pet via our video call if it has a high temperature. The body temperature of a dog or cat should be measured using a rectal thermometer. Your dog has a fever if the body temperature is above 39.2°C and for cats it is a little higher, 39.7°C. If you are concerned that your pet may have a fever then check it's temperature or alternatively, have a digital thermometer ready and we can talk you through how to take the temperature during the consultation. It is important to consider all of the clinical signs together, and not a fever in isolation, therefore during the consultation we will gather further history and clinical information.

We provide professional advice about if and how to treat your animal at home, if your pet has reduced general condition, seems lethargic, abnormally hungry, or depressed, and about when to see a physical veterinarian. If veterinary care is needed then we will help you to find your nearest clinics if you do not have a registered practice and advise how to treat the animal until you visit the vet.

FirstVet veterinarians can help via our video call if you suspect that your pet has been bitten by a snake. In the first instance keep the animal quiet and, if possible, carry them. Seek immediate attention from your physical veterinarian. If you need assistance then we can help you to find your nearest practice and provide guidance on how to give first aid on the way to the clinic. A prolonged waiting time for a video consultation with FirstVet must not delay your journey to a physical veterinarian.

FirstVet veterinarians can help via our video call if you suspect that your pet is in shock. This often occurs after a road traffic accident or other sudden and serious injury. It is usually a result of heavy internal or external blood loss. In the first instance keep the animal as quiet as possible and seek immediate attention from your physical veterinarian. If you need assistance then we can help you to find your nearest practice and provide guidance on how to give first aid on the way to the vet. A prolonged waiting time for a video consultation with us must not delay your journey to a physical veterinarian.

Signs that a dog is developing shock include becoming weak or wobbly and a high heart rate (more than 150 beats per minute) but note that the pulse is likely to be weak. Gradually, the gums will turn red then very pale. The animal will become very quiet and progressively dull or non-responsive to external stimuli. Signs that a cat is in shock are that they are generally lying on their side, severely depressed or non-responsive to stimuli. The heart rate will be rapid initially and then reduce to a very slow rate, and they will have a low body temperature; sometimes the paws and tail will feel cold. If significant external bleeding is apparent then pressure should be applied to the area using a clean dressing or cloth.

If veterinary care is needed then we can help to determine how quickly your pet needs to be seen, where your nearest clinics are if you do not have a registered practice and advise how to treat the animal until you visit the vet.

FirstVet veterinarians can help via our video call if your pet is bleeding. In case of minor bleeding from small wounds we provide professional advice about if and how to treat your animal at home, and when to see a physical veterinarian. If veterinary care is needed then we can help to determine how quickly your pet needs to be seen, where your nearest clinics are if you do not have a registered practice and advise how to give first aid until you visit the vet.

In the case of major bleeding, your pet must immediately be seen by a physical veterinarian. Try to keep the animal as quiet as possible. If significant external bleeding is apparent then pressure should be applied to the area using a clean dressing or cloth. If you need assistance then we can help you to find your nearest practice and provide guidance on how you can help your pet on the way to the vet. A prolonged waiting time for a video consultation with FirstVet must not delay your journey to a physical veterinarian.

Signs that your pet may be going into shock include: becoming weak or wobbly with a high heart rate initially that deteriorates to a slow rate with a weak pulse. The gums initially turn red and then become very pale. The pet will be unusually quiet, becoming progressively dull and non-responsive to external stimuli. It will have a low body temperature and sometimes the paws and tail will feel cold.

FirstVet veterinarians help you to assess your pet via our video call if you suspect that it has heatstroke. If your animal is showing signs of mild heat stress (for example, your dog may be anxious, seeking shade, panting heavily, drooling or have red mucous membranes), it may be appropriate to try to cool the animal down with cool water before visiting your vet. We provide professional advice about if and how to treat your animal at home, and when to see a physical veterinarian. If you have a thermometer then you can also check the dog's rectal temperature every 10 minutes during cooling until it drops below 39.0°C. Note that even after mild heat stroke, your animal should be examined by a physical veterinarian, regardless of how it appears. If veterinary care is needed then we can help to determine how quickly your pet needs to be seen, where your nearest clinics are if you do not have a registered practice and advise how to treat the animal until you visit the vet.

Important information: if your animal is weak and wobbly, collapses, cannot stand up, or is having difficulty breathing you must immediately go to a physical veterinarian. A prolonged waiting time for a video consultation with us must not delay your journey to the vet.

FirstVet veterinarians can assess your pet via our video call if it is retching without producing any vomit or has a bloated or sore abdomen. This may a sign of a twisted stoamch and larger breeds of dogs are more at risk of this occuring. You must immediately take your pet to a physical veterinarian. A prolonged waiting time for a video consultation with us must not delay your journey to a physical veterinarian. We can guide you to your nearest clinic if you do not have a registered practice and advise how to treat the animal until you visit the vet.

FirstVet veterinarians can help you via our video call if your pet has a seizure. Before and after an episode they may seem unsteady and confused. Stay calm, do not try to intervene if the animal is having a seizure as they can lose consciousness and you may get bitten. Try to remove objects that the pet could hurt itself on. If you can, time the seizure. There are many different causes of seizures and it is important to seek immediate attention from your physical veterinarian in order to investigate further. If you need assistance then we can help you to find your nearest practice and provide guidance on how to give first aid on the way to the vet. We cannot prescribe medication for convulsions or antispasmodics via the video consultation. This is because an animal must have a physical examination by a veterinarian and further investigations, if necessary, before medication can be prescribed.

Important information: If your animal has a persistent seizure lasting more than 3-5 minutes (status epilepticus), or several seizures during the same day, you must see a physical veterinarian urgently. A prolonged waiting time for a consultation with us must not delay your journey to a veterinarian.

FirstVet veterinarians can provide professional help via our video call when it is time to say good bye to your pet. We can talk about euthanasia and answer any questions that you may have. We can talk about making an appointment for the euthanasia procedure with your physical veterinarian, fear and doubt surrounding euthanasia, and about what to expect during the consultation and the last moments. We are here to help you to make the right choices for your pet.

Prescriptions

FirstVet cannot provide prescriptions for medication or prescription renewals. If your animal is on a medication because of a chronic disease the veterinarian who last examined the animal should be contacted in order to renew the prescription. If a medication has only been prescribed for a short period of time it is usually because the treating veterinarian thinks that the animal needs to be re-evaluated before the treatment can safely be extended. Unfortunately, a video call cannot replace such an assessment.

FirstVet cannot provide prescriptions for medication via our video calls because your pet must have a complete examination with a physical veterinarian first. Unfortunately, our video call cannot replace such an assessment. Please ask your physical veterinary practice about prescribing sedatives or anti-anxiety medication.

We can provide professional advice if your dog or cat has behavioural issues. We understand that these issues can be complex and very distressing, and may take time and commitment to treat. We can also provide a referral to an animal behaviour specialist who will be able to guide you through the whole training process from the start. This training may be aided by medication, which is available from your physical veterinary practice. Ideally, seek help well in advance of a particular event so that you and your animal can be well prepared.

It is important to note that insurance companies generally do not provide cover for issues that are not related to illness. If you book a video call for questions regarding behavioural problems in an otherwise healthy animal you may therefore have to pay for the consultation yourself, even if you have free video calls through your insurance company. Alternatively, however, we also offer a FREE Q&A service, 'Ask the vet', for any questions that you may have. One of our veterinarians will respond to your question within 48 hours.

Other queries

FirstVet cannot provide prescriptions for medication via our video calls because your pet must have a complete examination with a physical veterinarian first. Unfortunately, our video call cannot replace such an assessment. Please ask your physical veterinary practice about the contraceptive methods for birth control in female cats.

FirstVet cannot provide prescriptions for medication via our video calls because your pet must have a complete examination with a physical veterinarian first. Unfortunately, our video call cannot replace such an assessment. Please ask your physical veterinary practice about anti-tick and other antiparasitic medications.

We do not offer to read radiographs via FirstVet video calls for several reasons. The main reason is that radiographs do not provide all the information needed to be able to make a diagnosis, or provide treatment recommendations or prognoses for the animal. From radiographs alone it is not possible to determine, for example, if the abdomen is painful. X-rays are one of the piece of the puzzle in an investigation. In order to provide an appropriate comment a veterinarian must make an overall assessment of the patient and combine it with information from the radiograph and other diagnostic tests.

In addition, in order for radiographs to be read correctly the images must be viewed in specialist digital formats on monitors with significantly higher resolution than conventional monitors. In compressed image files (eg jpg, gif) the resolution is not sufficient to be diagnostic. If necessary, FirstVet can assist with referral to a specialist medical, soft tissue or orthopaedic veterinary surgeon for further assessment or investigation.

Unfortunately, FirstVet cannot issue animal health certificates via the video consultation. In order to be able to write a certificate correctly it is necessary to prove the identity of the animal and this cannot be done reliably through a video call.