Dr. Google: Should You Trust Online Resources With Your Pet’s Health?
You know you’ve done it; you wake up one morning experiencing pain or strange symptoms and immediately sit down at your computer or grab your phone for a quick “Dr. Google” consult.
Depending on the website you visit, you may be advised to gargle with saltwater, or rush to the E.R. immediately, or quit eating gluten…or all of the above. Most of us are aware that websites can’t compete with an examination from an actual doctor, but we do it anyway.
It’s safe to assume that, if we are consulting Google for our own health problems, we are probably surfing the web when our pets are ill as well, whether it’s to avoid a trip to the vet or just out of curiosity. But is this actually helpful, or even safe for our pets?
Paging Dr. Google
A quick search for the term “pet health” resulted in 190 million hits in less than one second. While there are certainly many vetted websites offering credible pet health information, much of the information available online is either misleading or provably false.
Using Dr. Google as your sole resource when it comes to your pet’s health can be dangerous for a variety of reasons:
Misinformation – You don’t need to be a veterinarian, or have any type of credentials to post about pet health online. Many websites are trying to sell their own products, while others are merely offering opinions or rants targeted at mainstream veterinary care or pet food companies.
Medication dangers – In an attempt to save money by avoiding a trip to the vet, many pet owners will purchase supplements or prescription strength medications, follow dosage charts, or use “home remedies” found online. Only a veterinarian is qualified to administer medications and medical advice regarding your pet, following online dosage charts and other advice can be dangerous or even deadly. Give us a call before you attempt to give your pet any medications or supplements.
Too little, too late – Following Dr. Google’s advice when it comes to your pet’s health is a little like gambling…you may get lucky and help your pet, or you may end up actually doing damage to your pet’s health. The internet can’t accurately diagnose your pet’s ailment, which could lead to delayed treatment, which could have a devastating outcome if your pet is seriously ill.
Finding Trusted Online Resources
Responsible internet searches can be a wonderful compliment to (but never a substitute for) veterinary care. We encourage you to do your research when it comes to internet resources:
- Ask your veterinarian for website recommendations
- Check the American Animal Hospital Association’s website for pet owners
- We offer a list of helpful and vetted internet links and resources
Your veterinarian should always be your number one resource when it comes to the health and well being of your pet. Not only is he or she equipped with the training and knowledge required to diagnose and treat your pet’s illness or injury, but your veterinarian can design a treatment plan tailored to fit your pet’s unique situation. You and your vet are the best chances your pet has at living a long, happy, healthy life.
Don’t hesitate to give us a call with any questions or concerns regarding online information.