An interactive website that helps pet owners to decidehow urgently they need to call the vet has been relaunchedwith an updated look and the addition of birds, reptiles and donkeys.

The interactive vet website, Vet Help Direct, encourages pet owners to seek timely veterinary attention for their pet.

Vet Help Direct

Site creator and veterinary surgeon Susie Samuel said: “I was frustrated with the number of pets that were presenting too late, particularly those with the less dramatic signs such as drinking more than usual or losing weight. The owners were very well intentioned but had simply not understood the significance of the signs their pet was displaying.

“I also noticed that a lot of owners found it very stressful to decide what to do if their pet was ill outside office hours, especially in the middle of the night. I wanted to develop a trusted, free resource that would direct owners to call their vet, give them a timescale in which to do it and relevant first aid advice.”

All the content of the site is by vets including Neil Forbes FRCVS RCVS Specialist Zoo Animal and Wildlife Medicine (Avian) and European Specialist in Avian Medicine and Surgery of Great Western Referrals, Richard Coomer MRCVS European recognised specialist in Equine Surgery and Karen Rickards, head vet at the veterinary department at the Donkey Sanctuary in Devon.

Pet owners answer a series of simple, step by step questions about their pets symptoms and are given a priority rating and first aid advice that is specific for the pet’s condition. Owners are then directed to the Vet Practice directory which uses Google mapping and postcode proximity searching to help them find their nearest vet surgery that treats their type of animal. The listings include images, information and even video content about the practice, allowing pet owners to choose a vet practice that suits them and their pet.

Vet Help DirectThe site is funded by a monthly fee for inclusion in the directory, over 150 vet practices have now signed up. The first aid advice, such as withholding food if a general anaesthetic is likely or bringing a urine sample, is designed to help the consultation run more smoothly and improve the speed of diagnosis and treatment and the outcome for the pet.

Vet Help Direct has featured in many reviews and blogs, most recently scoring five out of five stars as the website of the fortnight in WebUser Magazine, May 2009 (even beating Jamie Oliver’s new website!). Vet Help Direct has also featured on The Steve Wright Show on Radio 2, in The Times, Country Life, Horse and Hound amongst many others. Thousands of pet owners access the website every month due to its high ranking position in search engines and online “buzz” in blogs, forums, bookmarking and social networking sites across the internet.

A recent development is a white labeled version of the symptom guide which can be embedded in vet practice websites, the answers and colours can then be customised for the vet practice in question. The aim is to ensure that existing clients present on time, and well prepared for the consultation, it has the added advantage of encouraging clients to visit the vet practice website.

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