When Bharath Sekar started a veterinary diagnostic service in Chennai in 2016, the awareness among pet owners on regular diagnosis of the health of their pets was very minimal. But now, ever since the novel coronavirus pandemic, pet owners have become more tuned towards the health of their pets, running diagnostic tests to ascertain their health, he shares.
â€śWhen we started in 2016, the practice of preventative diagnostics, of regular health check ups for their pets was very low. Tests were done only for symptomatic cases. But now that has changed, especially after lockdown,â€ť 36-year-old Bharath, who holds an MBA in finance and strategy, says.
With his experience in investment banking and human diagnostics, Bharath founded south India's first veterinary specific diagnostic centre in Chennai along with his wife Divya. Four years on, Bharath has expanded his service to Puducherry as well.
Called the Veterinary Healthcare Company - VETHC located in KK Nagar, Chennai, they offer portable x-ray services, door-step blood collection among other services for canine (dogs), feline (cats), bovine (cows), equine (horses), ovine (sheep) and avian (birds) species at Chennai.
The diagnostic centre has been bustling ever since the lockdown began with pet owners showing more care towards the health of their pets. â€śI think people have finally understood the importance of testing their pet animals regularly. They are just like paediatric and geriatric cases in humans. They may look healthy but they may be suffering from undiagnosed disease,â€ť he explains.
â€śThe COVID pandemic has brought diagnostics to the forefront for both humans and animals,â€ť he continues. â€śPeople now know that asymptomatic patients too can be carriers of the COVID-19 virus. When it comes to animals, this is what weâ€™ve been trying to tell them. The pets may look completely alright but can be suffering from some underlying condition,â€ť he points out.
According to Bharath, for a young and healthy animal, health diagnostics can be done once a year whereas for older animals, it can be done twice a year. Adding that calls for door-step blood collections have increased since lockdown, Bharath shares, â€śWe hope this trend continues and that people donâ€™t go back to pre-COVID era.â€ť
He further adds, â€śLike humans, animals too are prone to diseases like thyroid deficiency, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, obesity, kidney and liver disorders, infections, worm infestation etc just like the humans. Timely detection is very crucial for treatment.â€ť
Moving around the city with passes issued by Greater Chennai Corporation, Bharath shares that theyâ€™ve been kept busy lately. â€śWeâ€™ve been collecting samples from all types of animals. From birds to horsesâ€¦ Two months ago, we x-rayed a pregnant hamster. Then there was a case where a rooster had swallowed an earring,â€ť he chuckles.
The diagnostic centre that started the cityâ€™s first portable x-ray service and door-to-door blood sample collection works closely with veterinarians. â€śWe work with veterinarians and want to be a support function for them. Now with lockdown, pet ownersâ€™ movement has been restricted. Therefore, the veterinary doctors offer telemedicine services. We then collect samples, process them and share results with the veterinary doctors and the pet owners. And we constantly try to create awareness on cases and conditions by sharing case studies on our page,â€ť he adds.