Chewy brings telehealth to cats, dogs as pandemic disrupts vet visits

FILE PHOTO: Logos for Chewy Inc. are displayed on the trading floor on the morning of the company's IPO at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., June 14, 2019. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

(Reuters) – Online pet pharmacy Chewy Inc <CHWY.N> is tapping the internet to connect pet owners with veterinarians as it looks to cash in on a service that has seen a spike in demand during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chewy said on Wednesday the service is available free of cost to members of its Autoship program, which automatically ships products to customers and accounts for nearly three quarters of its sales.

Currently, the company’s telehealth service is more about providing advice and addressing concerns related to health and wellness of a pet, rather than diagnosing medical conditions or prescribing drugs for pets, Chewy said.

The service is currently available in 35 states, with plans to expand across the United States, the company said.

Traditional telehealth service providers such as Teledoc Health Inc <TDOC.N> have seen a surge in demand as shelter-in-place restrictions to control the pandemic prompt people to turn to virtual consultation.

Chewy’s sales have surged recently as more people shop online for pet food and medicine during the pandemic. Its second-quarter sales rose nearly 50% to $1.70 billion.

(Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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