Sometimes your equine veterinarian is able to assist you remotely. However, in order for them to do so effectively, they need high quality photos to give them as much information as possible. Here are some tips on sending photos to your vet.
There are many occasions in which a client may consult with their veterinarian remotely. Sometimes it’s just a follow up on a case, and sometimes it’s to get advice or determine the level of care that is needed before a vet comes out to the farm to treat a horse. These photos can be of anything from images of wounds to conformation abnormalities to skin issues to movement videos in order to capture lameness.
Reviewing this images is considered telemedicine and is a service your veterinarian may or may not choose to provide for their clients. First and foremost, you must know this: most vets will not review these photos or videos unless a consistent veterinary-client patient relationship is established (see our article on maintaining regular veterinary care for our thoughts on this). In most places, this means that your vet needs to have seen your horse in person within the last 12 months.
In some cases, sharing this information remotely can be helpful for the vet, the owner, and the horse. These images and videos can allow your vet to know how urgently they need to get to your horse or if they can give you information remotely. However, there is an art to taking good photos for your vet. Grainy, indistinguishable photos do nothing to assist your vet in making an informed decision about the care of your horse.
Here are seven tips on how you can send the best photos to your veterinarian:
Make sure the area has good lighting and that the photo isn’t backlit. Barns often are dark and objects in aisle ways throw weird shadows. Make sure that whatever you are trying to get your vet to see is well-lit and clearly visible in the photo.
Make sure you are focused on whatever area you are trying to take the picture of. This seems obvious, but often digital cameras/phone chose a focal point. This may not align with what you need your vet to see. Blurry images do not give your vet adequate information.
Be sure that the photo is taken in as high of a resolution as possible so that your vet can zoom in on an area without seeing a collection of pixels. Sometimes you are limited by what you have at your disposal in the moment, but with adequate lighting and focus (see items 1 and 2), most phones can take decent quality photos.
In addition to zooming in on an injury or concern, make sure you also provide a photo that include more of the horse so that the vet knows what they are seeing. A close up of a wound and some horse hair can be almost anywhere on a horse. Give your vet as much information as possible so that they can determine the severity of the injury.
5. Prep the Area
Make sure the area around the area you want your vet to examine is as clean as possible. Whether that means removing excess mud and dirt or wiping away the blood long enough to get a picture (been there, done that), clean the area around the wound, skin issue, or eye so that your vet can determine which disaster to look at. Sometimes this isn’t possible, but do the best you can so that you can help your vet to make an informed decision.
Use an object as reference so that your vet knows how large the area of concern is. Whether it’s a pencil, a quarter, or your hand, pus something next to the wound to provide some perspective.
7. Manage Your Expectations
No matter what, remember that many times your vet will need to conduct a hands-on exam. Sometimes the photos merely let them know how soon they need to do so. If your vet says they need to come see your horse, they need to come see your horse. This usually isn’t a ploy to drive up that farm call or emergency visit. This is because your vet has your horse’s best interest at heart.