Whitehorse veterinarian Kristenn Magnussen talks to Angela Moritsugu with her dog Maynka in Toronto from her basement office on May 23. The two communicated via Healthy Pets, an online veterinary telehealth provider connecting pet owners with licensed vets. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Yukon vet takes practice online

Kristenn Magnusson joins Healthy Pets

A Whitehorse veterinarian is taking her work online.

In early May, Kristenn Magnusson joined Healthy Pets, an online veterinary telehealth provider connecting pet owners with licensed vets.

Magnusson is the first vet in the North to work with Healthy Pets, a service she said makes a lot of sense for the Yukon where communities are spread out and access to a vet may not be easily accessible for all.

Through Healthy Pets, “pet parents” can pay to speak with licensed vets for a consultation over the internet of up to 15 minutes. The website directs visitors to a list of options with the vet closest to them at the top of the list.

“I’m happy (I) can offer this,” Magnusson said in a May 21 interview.

Magnusson is not able to issue prescriptions or treatment over the internet, but can provide advice, which could include making an in-clinic appointment. Other times it may just mean alleviating the concerns of a pet owner over a minor issue their animal might be having.

And though veterinary telemedicine in Canada may be a new format, the concept of a place pet owners can reach out to for clear medical advice from licensed veterinarians isn’t. It’s something that’s been talked about by many over the years given the number of calls that come in to vet clinics from pet owners who are looking for information, but may not necessarily be able to bring their animal in right away.

“We got a lot of phone inquiries,” Magnusson said of working in a clinic.

When those calls come in it’s often the clinic receptionist who ends up dealing with it as vets are booked solid with appointments.

She’s hopeful Healthy Pets will give pet owners a place they can contact licensed vets without adding to the number of calls coming directly into vet clinics from people looking for information. And unlike a typical phone call the Healthy Pets platform allows the vet to see the animal over the internet if the video option is used.

Magnusson acknowledges an in-clinic appointment is always the better option, but when that’s not available telehealth consultations can provide accurate information from a licensed vet without forcing owners to go down a Google rabbit hole.

It was thanks to a spot on television show Dragon’s Den that Magnusson first found out about Healthy Pets. When her dad saw the show, he called her and told her about it.

It wasn’t long before she emailed the company to find out more and eventually signed on to provide services for it.

Magnusson began her career as a vet in Vancouver 12 years ago, moving up to the territory in 2013. Since 2015, when her first child was born, she’s been staying home with her now two kids, though maintaining her veterinary license and doing some veterinary work when she can.

It’s also not uncommon for her to take calls from friends wondering about an issue with their own pets.

Talking pet health is something she genuinely enjoys and she’s happy to take those calls, she said. In fact, it’s something she’s enjoyed most of her life. She was just four the first time she told her parents she wanted to be a vet.

Healthy Pets CEO Emma Harris stressed the importance Healthy Pets places on having quality, licensed vets available. The company has a staffer tasked with verifying each vet is licensed, affiliated with a vet clinic (in Magnusson’s case she’s affiliated with All Paws and Alpine Vet) and that the clinic has a good online reputation, she said. Vets are not able to go live on the platform until that verification happens.

Magnusson said she’s hopeful Healthy Pets will help supplement the already existing veterinary services available in the territory.

“It’s definitely new ground,” she said

To her knowledge Healthy Pets is the only such service in Canada.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

Pets and PeopleYukon

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From downtown Toronto, Angela Moritsugu with her dog Maynka talk to Whitehorse veterinarian Kristenn Magnussen in Whitehorse on May 23. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Whitehorse veterinarian Kristenn Magnussen talks to Angela Moritsugu with her dog Maynka in Toronto from her basement office on May 23. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

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