A stuffy nose. Itchy skin. Congestion that leads to ear infections.
Justin Gordon knew all the allergy symptoms to look out for when he adopted his dog, Benni. When he decided to become a pet parent, the Noma resident carefully chose a hypoallergenic breed to avoid the unpleasantness he’d felt around other people’s dogs and cats. A mini Goldendoodle seemed like the perfect pet for his home.
What he didn’t realize at the time was that she could be allergic to him.
“I know because we had her tested,” Gordon said. “She’s allergic to weeds and grass, cockroaches and human dander. She’s allergic to us more than we’re allergic to her!”
Benni’s allergies are just one of the reasons Gordon’s friends consider her a high-maintenance dog. For months, it seemed every time they call him, Gordon was busy chauffeuring Benni to daycare, the groomer or the vet. Once they got to the vet, Gordon would have an allergic reaction himself to the other pets in the waiting room.
Thus, the frequent doctor visits became stressful for both Gordon and his new best friend. A friend finally stepped in and told Gordon about a new business that connects pet owners with veterinarians who make house calls. Vetted was started by local entrepreneurs Karan Aneja and Ali Shahid who wanted to change the way doctors treat pets.
“We don’t want to focus on what we need to sell the client. We want to focus on the actual needs of the client,” Aneja said.
Aneja ran a similar house-call based healthcare company for humans in Asia when his grandparents fell sick. He decided to bring the concept to Los Angeles veterinary care when he took his parent’s dog to the vet. The dog had been throwing up, so Aneja took him to a large, corporate chain to find out what was wrong. He says he waited for three hours before finally seeing a vet, who conducted diagnostic test and imaging. At the end of the day, Aneja says he was told the dog had indigestion from eating too quickly. Then, the receptionist handed him a $680 bill.
“The testing wasn’t even necessary,” Aneja said. He says many corporate-owned clinics encourage their doctors to conduct unnecessary tests to inflate costs. “Veterinarians should never be told how to practice medicine.”
Because Vetted doesn’t pay for a brick-and-mortar location, he can pay his doctors more and charge clients less. He says pet parents typically pay between 25 and 40 percent less than they would at a corporate-owned clinic.
Aneja’s co-founder, Ali Shahid, says house-calls take the stress out of bringing a stubborn pet (especially cats) to a clinic. That means the pets are less stressed when they see the doctor as well.
“When we go into a person’s home we can get a holistic look at the pet’s lifestyle,” Shahid said. Shahid grew up with plenty of pets himself, including various dogs, cats, ducks and even a gazelle, at one point. He says the stress of a clinic visit can produce symptoms that animals don’t typically have at home.
“We had a dog with heart murmurs on his charts from visits to other vets who didn’t have one at home,” Shahid said.
Vetted veterinarians provide check-ups, preventative care, urgent care, geriatrics and chronic disease management. Exams start at $99.
For Gordon, he says the convenience allows him to work from home on days Benni needs to see a doctor. On a recent afternoon, a veterinarian and a vet tech came over to check up on her.
“I just felt like Benni was much calmer when the vet was in our home versus being at a hospital or clinic,” Gordon said. “She takes it all in stride, even when she’s quite itchy.”