The digital vet
The digital vet 580 720 Sven Jan Arndt

Recently, a “new pig has been driving through the village” – the digital veterinarian. They call themselves Dr.Sam, Pfotendoctor.de etc.

What to make of it?

First of all, here are some excerpts from what these platforms promise:

online vet / digital vet
Dr.Sam promises a lot here. The first four points make sense to us and are certainly correct.

But what about point 5? Immediate certainty!

Certainty about what?

  • that my animal is sick or not?
  • that maybe I should take my animal to a local veterinarian?
  • that I now pay a fee for vague information?

Pfotendoctor.de – Your digital vet goes even further:

  • “Our veterinarians can immediately assess how your pet can be optimally helped.”
  • “The fees are based on the official fee schedule for veterinarians . The amount corresponds to any normal visit to a veterinary practice.”

In order to be able to assess these statements a little, here is our experience from the daily operation of four small animal practices with well over 40 thousand cases per year:

  • A sick animal can only be examined to a very limited extent, if not at all, via telephone or video chat - what is primarily required is a physical inspection of an animal, palpation, taking the temperature, checking vital functions, if necessary smelling, etc.
  • This is often followed by further diagnostic measures such as X-rays, ultrasound, CT, MRI and blood work
  • Only these measures generally allow a competent diagnosis and associated therapy

Against this background, we ask ourselves the following questions about the digital vet:

  • How can he measure the temperature or examine the vital functions (e.g. listening to a cat in the event of a pulmonary embolism, etc.)?
  • How can he determine whether a leg is just sprained or even broken?
  • Even if he daringly allows himself to be carried away with a remote diagnosis, which his professional ethics actually forbids him to do, what happens next?
  • How can he administer a painkiller or medication?
  • How does he write prescriptions?
  • How does he bandage a wound?
  • How does he sew a bite?

These examples could be expanded on indefinitely. The actual benefit of such a digital vet appears to be very limited:

If the digital veterinarian takes his training and professional ethics seriously, he can always advise, in case of doubt, to visit a registered veterinarian or find an appropriate veterinary clinic.

Then the question actually arises – what is the advantage of the digital vet?

  • In fact, we have a lot of calls, especially in the emergency service, who don't actually want to come with their pet, but want a telephone "absolution" that everything is only half as bad and that they don't have to go to the vet until the next day - these pet owners can In fact, such a digital veterinarian can help - a placebo that benefits the patient owner, but in case of doubt does not spare the animal suffering
  • If the digital veterinarian takes his job seriously, then in fairness he probably has to send at least every second patient owner to a registered veterinarian, as was the case in our telephone calls, because this is the only way to alleviate an animal's suffering
  • nothing for telephone information from your trusted vet and, if they are not available, from the local veterinary clinic or local veterinary emergency service ! This is the daily bread and service of every good veterinarian .
  • There are also veterinary clinics and emergency services nationwide that are available 24 hours a day. So this alleged advantage of a digital vet applies.

The point is even more exciting - neither of the two platforms mentioned are operated by veterinarians - here is Dr.Sam's imprint:

The two managing directors are economists and not veterinarians. The company's purpose as recorded in the commercial register is also rather vague and actually needs to be checked by the relevant state veterinary association:

Things get even more exciting with the provider “Your digital vet” – Pfotendoctor.de :

digital vet - pfotendoctor.de

“The development, creation, marketing and distribution of telematics software.” So where the connection to veterinary medicine is remains hidden from us.

Against this background, it is even more interesting why such a platform charges according to the GOT (Fee Schedule for Veterinarians) (according to its own statement, see above)? Our veterinary chambers seem to be sleeping a little here, the chambers that in some places would still like to determine the size of the practice sign. Actually, only someone who is a licensed veterinarian is allowed to bill according to GOT, or have we misunderstood something?

We also can't find any of the veterinarians mentioned on Pfotendoctor.de as freelance or employed veterinarians on the Internet!? The term “veterinarian, ophthalmology department” does not officially exist either. Is this supposed to represent a non-existent additional qualification or specialist veterinary training?

Our conclusion about the digital vet:

  • The benefits of digital veterinarians appear to us to be very limited - what they can do is also available free of charge as information on the emergency service telephone or in any veterinary clinic.
  • The official operators of these platforms presented here do not come from veterinary medicine and do not state this in their corporate purpose
  • So the question remains – is the term “digital veterinarian” / “online veterinarian” an unprotected job title?
  • Can everyone use such a platform to bill according to the GOT?
  • When will the Federal Veterinary Association or state veterinary associations check this apparently unregulated activity?


The first foreign providers (outside Europe - from Switzerland) are now setting out to plow the German market - we saw the following advertising from pet-care.ch today:

The particular question here is whether and to what extent a non-European company in the EU is allowed to offer services in the field of veterinary medicine / online veterinary services, as these are subject to completely different approval criteria than their German colleagues. Behind this specific case is a large Swiss corporation - the Migros Group , which is known for everything but little or nothing for veterinary medicine.