Top Dog Tips - Interviewing Pet Professionals: Vet on DemandHello readers and happy Monday! I hope you're enjoying the start to your work week. Here at Top Dog Tips I've been busy as usual, but I was lucky enough to spend some time chatting with Curt Revelette, co-founder and CEO of Vet On Demand. This company has found a way to solve a problem that is near and dear to my heart, and I wanted to know more about the company, how it was started and a bit of background on Curt and his family.

Born and raised in Nashville, Curt Revelette brings passion and dedication to the table with his expansive entrepreneur portfolio. He currently serves as the CEO of Vet On Demand and Partner at Jonathan’s Grille alongside his brother Mason. Prior to entering pet telemedicine and diving into the family restaurant group, Curt served as the CEO of Maristone Living, a retirement community outside of Nashville, Tennessee.

Vet On Demand
Photo: Vet On Demand

An Ole Miss marketing grad, Curt has been an advisor for Vanderbilt University Entrepreneur courses, Vanderbilt University Hospital Champions for Children, Brentwood Academy alumni relations and the Martha O’Bryan Center. Curt is a recipient of the Nashville Business Journal’s 2013 Top 40 Under 40 award.

That's a pretty extensive resumé! Vet On Demand is an app for pet parents that allows them to get real time video consultations from a licensed veterinarian. The idea for the app came about like most pet businesses do – Curt and his brother had a problem and there was not yet a product on the market that could help them.

Their parents had an older German shepherd that suffered from hip issues. They knew what the issue was, but they needed to see a vet to get some medication for the dog to help manage her pain. Unfortunately, their regular veterinarian was booked for almost two weeks. They were left with two options: find a vet that could help or watch their pet suffer in pain. What would you have done?

They immediately took to the internet. They were aware of the many telemedicine options for humans, and they assumed they would find something similar for pets that would allow them to get a real time consultation from a licensed veterinarian. Unfortunately there was no such company…yet.

Vet On Demand
Photo: Vet On Demand

Enter Vet On Demand – telemedicine for cats and dogs.As I mentioned, this company has found a way to solve a problem that is near and dear to my heart. We are the proud parents of a beautiful boxer named Chloe. Chloe is 5 years old, and she was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy last year.

As you may know, we live in a very rural town in Maine. Our local veterinarian is located only about 15 minutes away from our house, but unfortunately Chloe began showing signs of her heart condition during the weekend. It started with lethargy and then some panting. We didn't think too much of it, and decided that we would just keep a close eye on her. By the time that she started having problems breathing we knew she was in serious trouble.

The closest 24 hour emergency veterinary clinic is over an hour away from our home. My husband and I immediately loaded Chloe into the car and drove as quickly as we could. Thankfully our story has a happy ending, although all the veterinarians that worked with us over the next few weeks could not believe that Chloe survived as long as she did without veterinary care.

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My husband and I are very careful pet parents. We observe our dogs all the time and bring them to the vet at any sign of trouble, but we're not hypochondriacs. We usually wait to see if the problem progresses before we bring our animals in to see the vet, especially if it's during off hours and we'll have to make the trip and have the added expense of going to the emergency vet clinic.

If we had access to an app like Vet On Demand back then we could have had a brief consultation with a licensed vet who more than likely would have sent us to the emergency clinic much faster. Cardiomyopathy is very common in boxers, and Chloe was showing all the symptoms. A licensed vet would have probably asked us to check her heart rate, and we immediately would have realized something was drastically wrong.

The concept is simple, and the app is very user friendly, but that doesn't mean it was easy to create. The first step was to find developers, and after a little searching the Revelette brothers found a great local group in Nashville, Tennessee that quickly became as excited about the project as they were.

With passionate developers behind them, they began to build the Vet On Demand team. Curt told me that their next step was to hire a really good accountant and a great tech attorney – two important people that are crucial to the success of the business. That's when development went into full swing.

Vet On Demand
Photo: Vet On Demand

The Revelette's hired a few full time developers and started working on the user side of the app. They brought their knowledge and experience as pet owners to the table to make sure that the app would benefit cat and dog owners in the real world. Then they needed to develop the veterinary platform.

Through the course of a lot of interviews with licensed vets, they figured out what professionals would need and what tools they would want to utilize to make sure the platform worked for them. They wanted the app to be user friendly for both pet parents and vets, and they wanted any veterinarian that worked for Vet On Demand to be have the tools they would need to help pet parents as much as possible – regardless of their location or level of experience in the veterinary field.

When I first heard about Vet On Demand, one question immediately popped into my head – how are these veterinarians selected? We are very particular about the vets that we work with for our animals, as are many other pet parents. What is the point of paying for a service that isn't going to give me the same quality of care as my regular vet, or at least a very close second.

Curt explained to me that there are many wonderful veterinarians that are currently practicing who realize that technology is the wave of the future. They understand that telemedicine is going to be the way that things are heading from now on, and they were excited about getting on board with Vet On Demand. Veterinarians and their licensing information are carefully screened to make sure that users will get the best information available.

Vet On Demand currently has veterinarians on staff representing 16 different states and users in all 50 states. Vets are able to work around their own schedule, working via Vet On Demand on nights, weekends, days off and even in between patients at their clinic. They can log on and off the system at their convenience.

With the number of vets that they have on the system currently, Vet On Demand offers virtually 24 hour a day continuous coverage for users. If there isn't a vet sitting right in front of their computer, there are email and text messaging alerts that will go out notifying them that a pet owner is waiting for a consultation. Typically the longest lag time for users waiting on a vet is about 10 to 15 minutes, but it is usually between 2-5 minutes. Seriously, only 2 minutes? I usually wait on hold at our vet's office for longer than that!

It's no secret that telecommunication is where the future is heading. Many people use programs like Skype to telecommuncate with family, friends and even coworkers on a daily basis. Why not bring this technology to something as important as veterinary medicine?

Vet On Demand
Photo: Vet On Demand

I think a lot of pet parents worry about the financial cost of bringing their pet to the vet if the problem isn't serious. Are these red bumps just something I should monitor or is it a sign of something more serious? Often when you try to call your local vet with questions like these they will tell you they can't answer that over the phone. But do you really need to take your dog into the clinic and pay an office if it's just a small rash that will more than likely go away on its own?

With Vet On Demand pet parents no longer need to make these kinds of decisions. They can get a real time consultation, explain the situation and get real advice from a well-trained, licensed veterinarian without having to spend hundreds of dollars at their vet's office. Of course, there is a fee to use Vet On Demand, but it's much cheaper than an office call.

If you'd only like to use the system on rare occasions, you can pay $25 to receive a 10-minute phone call with a licensed veterinarian. If you're like me and your motto is “better safe than sorry,” you may want to sign up for one of Vet On Demand's subscription models, which just debuted yesterday. You'll pay $14.95 for two 10-minute calls per month. $15 for 20 minutes with a vet is a lot better for your wallet than the hundreds of dollars it would cost for an office visit.

We have an 8-pet household: 2 dogs, 2 cats, 2 bunnies, and 2 hamsters. It's a veritable Noah's Ark around here. My concern was that 2 calls per month may not be enough for a household like ours. Curt told me about a subscription model that was created for homes just like mine. You can get 5 calls per month for just $29.95. If you're interested in the service, you can find information on the company's website about a free trial.

The app is currently only available to users in the United States, and they only service dogs and cats right now. However, Curt told me that plans are in the works to expand to Canada in the near future, and they've already gotten numerous requests to expand to other countries as well. The company is also making plans to service more companion animals in the future including large animals like cows and horses as well as small animals like rabbits and rodents.

Vet On Demand is available for iOS and Android users. A consultation with a licensed veterinarian is much more reliable than any information that you'll find on Google. There is a scary amount of misinformation on the internet, so do yourself a favor and be sure your information comes from a trusted source. Vet On Demand is a great way to have the help of a trained professional right at your fingertips.

Samantha’s biggest passion in life is spending time with her Boxer dogs. After she rescued her first Boxer in 2004, Samantha fell in love with the breed and has continued to rescue three other Boxers since then. She enjoys hiking and swimming with her Boxers, Maddie and Chloe.