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Vetster Reviews: Will its online appointments with local vets be your solution?

Vetster offers a unique approach with two separate paths for veterinary care and, for some, prescription service

Last Updated: Nov 11, 2021

using vetster on a mobile device

Pets always seem to get into trouble at odd hours. Your regular vets’ office is closed, but Google isn’t helping you figure things out, and a consultation at the emergency vet costs three times more than a routine vet visit (let alone any testing or procedures). That’s not counting the hours you’ll spend in the waiting room with Fluffy, either. It’s a pet parent’s nightmare scenario. Instead of fretting, now you can book an appointment for your pet without changing out of your pajamas.

Vetster is an online veterinary service that matches a locally accredited veterinarian with you to give your pet convenient, efficient medical care over a video call. As a large and quickly growing veterinary telehealth platform, Vetster sets the standard for online pet health care. In order to help you decide if Vetster is the best option for you and your pet, we wanted to break down everything that Vetster is – and isn’t – good for.

Review Summary

Pros

  • In-depth booking platform lets you screen the vets before booking your appointment.
  • Choose between two plans for differences in cost and depth of care.
  • Many vet techs are licensed grief counselors and can provide knowledgeable, empathetic support for palliative care and end-of-life decisions.
  • Call from equally easy-to-use desktop or mobile platforms.
  • Vet booking is advanced with dozens of tags and search filters to make your search precise.
  • Helps any kind of pet without restriction.
  • Get 10% off with promo code: ​INNERBODY10

Cons

  • VetsterRx can only prescribe your pet medication in a few states.
  • Calls aren’t immediate and must be scheduled at least 30 minutes in advance.
  • Many states have only one vet available at a time; some states have no licensed vets available same-day.
  • Vetster Medical is expensive for a full-care televeterinary service.

Bottom line

Vetster is a thorough, easy-to-use televet service. Their quality of service is excellent, and they provide ample information about each vet or vet tech you can meet. However, you pay for ease of access. Vester isn’t cheap, even when compared to in-person vet appointments. Wait and see how – or if – VetsterRx expands their range of service before ordering a prescription, as it’s still not available in many states.

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Vetster

Vetster is a televet platform that offers access to licensed veterinarians 24/7 through video chat appointments. Get the help you need for your pets!

Vetster helps you avoid unnecessary trips to the emergency room with their round-the-clock online care. Book an appointment with Vetster Medical or Vetster Wellness for a quick, at-home service to ease you and your beloved pets.

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Why you should trust us

Over the past two decades, Innerbody Research has helped tens of millions of readers make more informed decisions involving staying healthy and living healthier lifestyles.

We extensively test each health service we review. We try our best to give you, our readers, an unbiased exploration of at-home health services, free of marketing jargon or gimmicks. We evaluate the service based on our adherence to quality, the latest medical evidence and health standards, and a simple question: would we buy the product or service ourselves if it weren’t part of our job, and would we recommend it to family and friends?

Additionally, like all health-related content on this website, this review was thoroughly vetted by one or more members of our Medical Review Board for accuracy.

What is Vetster?

Founded in November 2020, Vetster functions as a marketplace for 24/7 pet health support. Veterinarians and vet techs create profiles and set prices for their services. As a pet owner, you can pick and choose vets from your state or province to help you and your pet whenever you need it. These video appointments last up to half an hour and are available on desktop computers and mobile devices.

Vetster arranges care for a wide range of household critters. Species Vetster will work with include:

  • Cats
  • Dogs
  • Horses
  • Birds
  • Rabbits
  • Reptiles
  • Amphibians
  • Spiders
  • Fish
  • Other pets

The “other” category allows for the treatment of exotic pets (like ferrets and chinchillas), as well as any other types of animal not listed. If you can take them to a vet – or have a vet come to you for support – you can find an appointment for them on Vetster. There don’t appear to be any limits on the number of pets you can have on your account, but pets can only be seen one at a time per appointment.

Pets can be difficult to treat over video calls since much of veterinary care relies on the vet’s knowledge of subtle signs and symptoms. After all, pets can’t speak for themselves or explain what hurts. Vetster is one of the few televet services with a specific type of appointment (Vetster Medical) dedicated to providing medical services to pets with licensed veterinarians. In these cases, you can get advice on any non-emergency medical issue and, in certain states, prescriptions for medication to treat your pet.

The service also offers Vetster Wellness, a less-expensive appointment alternative with a licensed vet technician.

Unlike many other televet services, Vetster operates on a flat-fee model. This model means that there is no monthly or annual subscription fee to use Vetster. Instead, you only pay for individual calls as you make them. The price of each call varies, but appointments start at $30 for Vetster Wellness and $50 for Vetster Medical. All calls have free direct messages with the veterinary professional for 72 hours after the appointment so you can follow up as needed.

Vetster Medical and Vetster Wellness are available in all 50 states in the U.S. and all Canadian provinces. Your access to VetsterRx, however, depends on local and state laws around VCPR (veterinarian-client-patient-relationship).

If your pet has chronic health concerns or needs regular medication, make plans to see an in-person veterinarian. Vetster is not a replacement for standard veterinary care. Because of VCPR laws, it is impossible in most states to establish a veterinary relationship between you, your provider, and your pet that is sufficient to care for your pet. Your vet can’t diagnose many conditions over a webcam. Anything that requires blood, urine, fecal testing, or any other tactile testing, must be done in person.

Vetster is also not an emergency service. If your pet is experiencing an emergency, such as heavy bleeding, confusion, seizures, or a broken bone, please see an in-person veterinarian as soon as possible.

Vetster's online veterinary services

Vetster Medical

A Vetster Medical appointment puts you and a licensed veterinarian into a video call together. Here, you can discuss most general health or behavioral concerns. While DVMs can talk with you about your cat’s nutritional needs or your turtle’s end-of-life plans, so can vet techs with a Vetster Wellness appointment. Vetster Medical is ideal for pets who are actively experiencing a health concern.

Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that veterinarians who haven’t seen your pet in person cannot legally diagnose them, nor can they provide adequate medical support for emergencies. If your pet’s concerns are out of your Vetster Medical doctor’s wheelhouse, they will refer you to a local animal hospital more adequately prepared to help.

Some of the common medical problems addressed with Vetster Medical include:

  • Urinary problems
  • Skin and ear infections
  • Mobility concerns
  • Eye issues
  • Behavior consults
  • Trauma or injury triage
  • Toxin ingestion

Each appointment starts at $50 for a thirty-minute video call, but since each vet sets their individual price points, you could pay up to $150 for the call. The average price varies depending on your location.

Vetster Wellness

All veterinary professionals who work with Vetster Wellness are vet technicians (veterinary professionals who have been certified after a two-year program and work under someone with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree). However, vet techs aren’t qualified to give diagnoses, prescriptions, or medical advice over televet platforms.

Vetster Wellness is not a medical care service. Rather, it relies on holistic advice to help you improve your pet’s quality of life – and your own. If you have questions that Google can’t answer, or if you’re struggling to figure out why Luna won’t stop scratching the couch, a Vetster Wellness appointment with a vet tech may help. They can give you advice on things such as:

  • Potty training
  • Lifestage nutrition
  • Training and obedience
  • Grooming
  • Weight loss
  • Diet supplements
  • Preventative wellness

Many of Vetster’s vet techs are also licensed grief counselors. This is uncommon, especially in televet services, but it can be essential if you’re struggling with the end of your pet’s life.

Because you’re not getting a formal medical appointment, Vetster Wellness services are less expensive than Vetster Medical. These appointments still last for 30 minutes but cost at least $30. From our research, few vet techs increased their price over $30, but ultimately the price depends on your location. There are also more vet techs than veterinarians working through Vetster, so you’re more likely to get an appointment when you need it.

VetsterRx for pet prescriptions

Vetster introduced a prescription service to go along with their telehealth programs in August 2021. VetsterRx will fill common pet medications prescribed by Vetster Medical veterinarians in calls and ship them to you quickly. Very few televet services will take care calls, prescribe medications, and send them to you, so Vetster’s one-stop-shop puts them a leg (or wing, fin, or slither) above the rest.

Most televet services won’t write or fill prescriptions because there are strict laws surrounding who can and can’t prescribe medication for pets. These are VCPR (vet-client-patient-relationship) laws, which set standards of care and ensure safety for pets. VCPR standards vary from state to state, but most require your pet to be seen in person by a veterinarian before that vet can prescribe medication for them. This creates a tricky situation for televet services: how can you prescribe medication if you haven’t met the animal face-to-face yet?

Luckily, many states are starting to recognize this puzzle and open up their VCPR laws for vets who meet pets over a video call. This reform has only just begun, so the current list of electronic VCPR states is small, but some states have recognized telehealth as a valuable resource. Though Vetster does not have a public-facing list of states that currently allow you to get prescriptions during a televet call, our research found vets who will in the following states as of the end of 2021:

  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Michigan
  • Pennsylvania
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Virginia
  • Washington

The only other exception that would let you get prescriptions is if you have previously met with a vet for in-person care and see that same vet through VetsterRx. No matter where you live, VetsterRx will not enable you to order controlled substances or narcotics for your pet.

Ultimately, it’s up to each vet whether or not they feel comfortable prescribing medications through telehealth. Before you decide whether or not to seek prescriptions with VetsterRx, be sure to check with your vet individually.

VetsterRx applies a $4.99 dispensing and $9.99 flat rate shipping fee (for a total of $13.98 in fees) to your prescription order at checkout. All prescriptions are processed and shipped within two business days. VetsterRx can send prescriptions to a human pharmacy near you if it’s for an urgent concern and there is an equivalent version for humans (such as dexamethasone for arthritis). Likewise, you can have the prescription faxed to either Mixlab or Chewy’s pet pharmacies for shipping and processing to avoid the steep fee.

How much does Vetster cost?

Vets and vet techs set their own prices on Vetster, so the amount you pay is flexible. However, all Vetster Wellness calls start at $30, and all calls with Vetster Medical start at $50. Very few Vetster appointments cost more than $100 per call; the most expensive our team found is $150 per call. Some vets will change the price of their appointments depending on the time of day or day of the week, so be sure to double-check your total cost before booking to avoid surprises.

VetsterRx, while charging average pharmacy prices, has two fees associated with each order. If you order a prescription for delivery through VetsterRx, you will be charged an extra $13.98:

  • $4.99 dispensing fee
  • $9.99 flat-rate shipping fee

There are no subscription costs associated with Vetster, so there are no hidden fees. However, Vetster’s lack of subscription costs may add up depending on how often you use a televeterinary service since there are no bundle or bulk discounts available, nor are there sliding scale options for those unable to afford the cost of a call.

Pet insurance

As of 2021, Vetster does not accept any forms of pet insurance. They are building relationships with pet insurance providers to change that, so keep an eye out.

In the meantime, they accept all major credit and debit cards.

Is Vetster a good value?

Short answer: it depends. Vetster’s veterinarians are nothing short of top-notch. With the ability to pick which vet you’d like to see according to your budget and properly scope out all of the vets’ qualifications, Vetster provides deep insight into those helping you care for your pet. Though separated by a screen and unable to perform physical tests, you can get almost the same quality of care through Vetster as you could in a vets’ office.

However, that high quality comes at a price. Vetster appointments start at $50 per call for medical advice and can reach $150 for half an hour of a vet’s time. A standard in-office visit with a local vet costs about $50, and consultation in a pet hospital without any tests or interventions averages about $150. Though that cost can vary depending on your location, it’s not much of a difference between Vetster and in-person care. Since the vet can’t touch your pet to feel if that lump is a cyst or something to worry about, Vetster might not be the best fit for you if you’re trying to save money.

If you’re trying to find a vet for emergency triage (determining if you need to take your pet to an animal hospital) or to talk with a vet tech about problematic behavior that’s sprung up in the last few days, Vetster has extremely high-quality care available. Vetster knows your time is valuable, so the appointments are fast, and there’s virtually no wait time with lots of appointments available. If you’re using televet services to save costs, on the other hand, we recommend looking elsewhere.

Getting started with Vetster

Vetster can be used on both desktop computers and mobile devices. However, the app is a little more intuitive than the desktop version when you’re getting started.

First and foremost, you’ll need to make an account with Vetster. This will require your name and email address, street address (to verify your location), and phone number (for appointment reminders). You’ll verify your account with both your email address and phone number, so be sure to use ones you can access readily.

Once your account is set up, you’ll need to fill out a basic form about your pet. If you have multiple pets, you can do this repeatedly, as Vetster only lets you create one pet profile at a time. This pet profile asks for:

  • Name
  • Species
  • Gender
  • Spay/neuter status
  • Weight
  • Date of birth (month/year)
  • Picture

You can upload up to five pictures of your pet to rotate through as you see fit.

After you have at least one pet associated with your account, you can make an appointment for them. There are three different ways you can start this, depending on how you’re accessing the platform:

  • List your schedule and concerns about your pet and let the site find vets in your area with availabilities (on mobile)
  • Search for a vet by your location (on desktop)
  • Find a doctor or vet tech under any “Book an Appointment” button (on both desktop and mobile)

These video appointments can be made same-day with at least half an hour of notice or scheduled up to six weeks in advance. Searching for a vet or vet tech couldn’t be easier with almost a dozen different filters to help you find the perfect veterinarian for your pet. Every veterinarian and vet tech has a profile page where you can learn more and book an appointment with them. These pages include:

  • The vet’s full name and credentials
  • Designation (Veterinarian, vet tech)
  • A biography, including their education history
  • Where they are located
  • Where they are licensed (often multiple states)
  • Spoken languages
  • Species treated
  • Areas of interest
  • If they are capable of prescribing medications
  • If they can consult on other specialty topics (such as diet, exercise, and behavioral issues)
  • Reviews from Vetster clients out of five stars

This way, you can read about each vet, see how others regard them, and breathe easy knowing you’ll have a friendly, competent, and efficient vet on the other end of your call.

Privacy

While not bound by HIPAA like human health care, Vetster has a strong privacy policy and uses advanced data encryption technology while interacting with patients. They safeguard all personal information you share with them, such as your address, by restricting access to your information to employees and third parties who need it for legitimate business needs.

Likewise, they have strong internal security policies and technical security measures to protect your information and video or phone calls, such as firewalls, anti-malware screening, and data encryption technology.

Your payments are processed by Stripe, a third-party payment processing service, rather than Vetster. Stripe is a commonly used company for telehealth services and is known for having a strong privacy policy with a commitment to not selling or sharing your information with those who don’t need it.

How we evaluate telemedical services

At Innerbody Research, we customize our evaluation criteria depending on the type and nature of the health-related service. For Vetster and other televeterinary services and products, we have five areas that we use for our evaluations, including:

Quality: How well does the company deliver its core service(s) to the customer? Is the quality of the online veterinary service high enough that we would recommend it to loved ones without hesitation? If not, why not?

User-friendly: How intuitive and user-friendly is the service? Does the device/program/app/website achieve a good degree of user-friendliness for its customers?

Value: Are you getting your money’s worth? Are there any hidden costs or charges? Does the company offer discounts?

Privacy: If health data is stored, will your data be stored securely? Are payments secure?

Customer support: Particularly in situations where ‘one size fits all’ doesn’t make sense, how well does the company help to make the service ideal for you?

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