Could that growth on my dog’s back be a mast cell tumor? Is that cough really
kennel cough, or perhaps something even worse? My pet is drinking more water –
what does that mean? If you have ever gone online to try and diagnose what is
wrong with your dog or cat, you have plenty of company.
A recent survey by the Pew Research Center indicated that 35% of U.S. adults
say they have used the Internet to figure out what medical condition they or
someone else might have. I imagine if this many people are using the Internet to
figure out what is wrong with themselves, then they are most likely searching
for what is wrong with their pets as well.
In people, the study is finding that people actually visit their doctor to
confirm what they find online, and are not treating themselves without first
checking with a doctor, which is very good news. Since the Internet is here to
stay, many doctors and veterinarians have embraced (or at least learned to work
with) the tools and information available at their client’s fingertips.
The quality of information that people find through search engines can vary a
lot. There are forums filled with good support and community, websites on new
clinical trials, training and good wellness information. There are some risks,
however, including finding inaccurate or scary information, or missing the best
How do you even know what the best sources are? Here are a few pointers to keep
in mind when searching the Internet for veterinary information to help you
separate good information from the questionable:
1. Websites for the American Veterinary Medical Association, American Animal
Hospital Association or websites for veterinary schools rarely will steer you
wrong. Many times, these websites will end with ‘.org’, ‘.edu’ or ‘.gov’.
2. Peer-reviewed literature is the gold standard of science. Consider
searching pubmed.com for peer-reviewed papers that are published in JAVMA
(Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association).
3. If you are looking for genetic or breed specific information, consider
visiting the website of the breed’s national organization, such as www.grca.org
for the Golden Retriever Club of America.
4. The old adage holds: if it seems to be too good to be true (‘This
ointment cured my dog’s allergies forever!’) then it’s probably false.
5. Take blog content with a grain of salt. That is funny, coming from a blog,
right? Consider blogs that have a reputation to protect. The Life’s Abundance
blog represents our company, and material is carefully sifted before publishing
to protect our customers.
Even though the articles and videos on the Life’s Abundance Blog are fully
vetted, I encourage our readers to search more, rather than less, and to keep
talking to your veterinarian about what you find.
Just remember, Dr. Search Engine is not a stand-in for the irreplaceable
services of and relationship with a real, live veterinarian.
Thank you for all you do to make the world a better place for companion animals.
Dr. Jane Bicks