OK, yes, we know the "Uber for..." description is really lame and overused, but in this case it's pretty accurate. PawSquad describes itself as "the UK's first app-based vet practice," which means two things: a) you can book a vet to come and see your furbaby at home, and b) if you're a vet, you can basically freelance using the app.
The app was founded back in 2015, but initially as a text-and-video based service. Now, they can send an actual real-life vet to your house, which makes things significantly easier for people whose pets hate the vet (that's everyone, then).
It's less stressful for animals to be seen at home, and obviously less of a faff for you. Some vets do offer home visits, but they're expensive and not available everywhere, while existing services like Vets Now only come out in an emergency. PawSquad is for run-of-the-mill, "my cat is behaving like there are ghosts everywhere" sort of appointments. You can see a vet any time between 7.30am and 9pm, but text and video chat is available 24/7 in case Felix starts seeing spirits at 4am.
I wish my last name was Slaymaker
PawSquad seems like a positive development for vets, too, allowing them to participate in the much-discussed "gig economy" that's taking over the UK employment market. Setting up a physical practice is pretty out-of-reach for many vets, and hours at existing establishments can be long, inflexible, and unforgiving. The Uber model allows qualified vets to set up a mobile practice working the hours they want, making it much more appealing to people with families or just folks who like a lie-in.
Edinburgh-based vet Martha Murphy joined so she can see her family more:
“As a vet working in a clinic the hours, and out-of-hours duties, can be quite restrictive. The finances and business know how required to start a physical clinic are beyond the reach of many vets my age, and you sometimes even see or hear of vets who have left the profession in order to reclaim a life. It can be very demanding, and as you get older and want a family, this can take a toll on some people. PawSquad has been a revelation – it has made such a huge impact on my life. Now I have an incredible balance. I’m able to do the work I love and spend time with my family.”
The app isn't the cheapest: it's £48 for an appointment and £12 for a prescription. That's competitive with some vets, but not so much ones outside London - although if you consider the effort/convenience factor, it's pretty reasonable. The company is based in London, but currently have vets available in a few other places too - though they're pretty random: Edinburgh, Saffron Walden and Staffordshire Moorlands, with Devon, Southampton and Bournemouth coming soon. PawSquad say more places will become available this year, but they'd love applications from more vets - especially in big cities. Vets can apply here.
It's not for everyone, but as the owner of a very rambunctious kitten, I can see why it'd be very handy not to have to make the Uber trip over to the vets to get her seen, stressing her out in the process. Also, last time she tried to bite someone's parrot in the waiting room.
On a more serious note, as well as more routine procedures like microchipping and nail clipping, PawSquad vets can carry out euthanasia - in the horrible event that your pet has to be put down, we'd imagine it would be much less stressful and upsetting to have that done at home so you can grieve in private.
Main image: Pexels