Don’t Rely on Dr Google

Mar 29, 2012 | General

These days everybody has access to the internet. And pretty much everyone uses the internet to find information, and that’s great.

The problem for pet owners is that some go straight to the internet when their dog or cat is unwell or doing something strange, and they very rarely come up with the right answer.

Its true, pet owners are better informed than ever, and they are making better decisions when their pets have health issues.

And it’s clear that the use of the Internet for this type of information will continue to grow.

The trouble with relying on Dr Google for pet care advice and diagnosis before going to the vet is that it just doesn’t work. There are 2 main reasons for this.

1)      Quality of Information.

2)      Ability to interpret and process the information

If you research a common preventative pet health issue on Google you will often find a number of opinions – and often that’s what they are – just opinions.

How can the average pet owner know whether they are reading a trustworthy source of information or not? Often they can’t! Viewpoints are often moulded by hidden agendas.

The Raw Meaty bones diet debate is a great example of differing opinions. The conspiracy theorists will have you believe that all Vets are being paid off by the big Pet Food manufacturers, and that Commercial Pet Food is hazardous to pets. (Funny in all the years it hasn’t killed any of my pets yet!)

Being able to interprete and process medical information is a craft that’s learnt over many years. Junior vets seek the views of their senior collegues every day for exactly this reason. For example how is the untrained pet owner going to be able to distinguish between a bald spot on their dog caused by an allergy, fox mange or ringworm. They can’t, and would need their vets help to know the most appropriate tests and treatment trials to narrow it down.

Alternatively some people just don’t believe or can’t take in the information provided by their vets and they want to double check it. Fair enough!

Sometimes it’s just too confronting. Suppose you’ve just been told your dog has an infected uterus, needs an emergency hysterectomy and could die without surgery.

It’s a shock and you want to be sure with such a big decision.

So what are your options in these type of situations?

** You can ask to get a second opinion within the practice ( benefit is it may not cost any more).

** You can get a second opinion by visiting another practice (it will cost more).

** You can ask your vet for a reputable online information source, or you can just go surfing -Wikipedia is a reasonable starting point.

It’s terrific that pet owners seek more information on pet health issues. You just need to be sure its accurate, up to date information, that’s backed up by reputable scientific research.

This is where Vets can really help. We can direct you to trustworthy and accurate sources of information. You get to understand your pets issues better, and hopefully have a healthier pet as a result. We also offer VETERINARY PHONE ADVICE in many situations, particularly where an owner is unsure about advice from another vet.

And to the Conspiracy theorists I say this: Having been a Vet for the last 27 years, and having dealt with many other professions and businesses, I don’t think there’s another profession more devoted and ethically behaved than the Veterinary Profession – often to their own detriment. Over the years I’ve met a lot of vets. They are good people. Sometimes not very good businessmen but, to a tee they always put the welfare of their patients to the fore.

And I think most pet owners who take the time to develop a long term relationship with a vet or Veterinary Practice know this. So by all means use Dr Google, but don’t rely on him, rely on your Vet.

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