Beware Dr. Google: Finding Credible Pet Health Information Online
In our digital age, it’s only natural to turn to the Internet when we have a question or a problem. The proliferation of online resources makes finding the answers we need easier than ever before. Indeed, whether you are trying to find a good Chinese restaurant, researching local plumbers, booking a flight, or paying a bill, the World Wide Web has got you covered.
Many of us turn to the Internet to help us care for our pets also, including when we are concerned about their health. Having so many sources available to us is wonderful, but we all know that just because you see something on the Internet that doesn’t mean it’s true. Finding credible pet health information online can be a challenge, but your team at Androscoggin Animal Hospital is here to help.
What To Watch Out For
Seeking out online resources to enhance your pet’s daily care routine or general health needs is, for the most part, perfectly fine. The problem lies with the following:
- Delaying treatment – By relying on medical advice found online, you may be delaying getting your pet medical treatment he or she needs without even realizing it. Waiting too long can wind up leading to a more serious, and expensive, situation as a condition potentially worsens over time.
- Untrue information – You don’t have to be an expert to post pet health information online! Without realizing it, you could be reading someone’s opinion, an attempt to sell a product, or simply outdated or inaccurate information.
- Wild claims – If a website is promoting a homemade solution to a serious health condition, or claims you don’t need a prescription for parasite preventives or any condition for which your veterinarian has prescribed a medication, you can rest assured this is not a credible source.
- Interfering with treatment – Administering home remedies or medications purchased online may interfere with your veterinarian’s attempts to treat your pet using appropriate means. Some remedies may even be toxic, such as certain herbs or human products.
An Accurate Diagnosis
Anyone who has ever used an online “symptom checker” on themselves knows that most symptoms are vague, and can be related to any number of health issues ranging from mild to serious. The same is true for our pets, and it’s important to remember that no website can compensate for the diagnostics and thorough physical examination your pet receives from your trusted family veterinarian.
Finding Pet Health Information Online
We know that our valued clients look for pet health information online, and that’s OK! We all do it, and as long as we stay away from “Dr. Google” and turn to vetted sources of information instead, we can continue to provide our pets with the care they need to live long, happy, healthy lives.
We recommend the following vetted online sources:
- American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA)
- American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)
- American Red Cross pet first aid app
- ASPCA’s poison control (includes a list of toxic and nontoxic plants)
- Veterinary Partner
- Androscoggin Animal Hospital’s pet resources page
- Androscoggin Animal Hospital’s blog
If your pet is experiencing an unusual symptom or is acting out of the ordinary, please don’t hesitate to contact your team at Androscoggin Animal Hospital.