Why you should first consult your Vet and not the internet? In the age of information, every veterinarian comes across pre-diagnosed cases in their private clinic that need to be re-diagnosed in a proper way. It became a nasty habit for owners to check the internet for possible causes for their pets unhealthy appearance, weight loss, hair fall and similar.
Starting a treatment on your own
For example, a puppy has excessive scratching episodes that started about a week ago. The owner instantly goes online typing the symptoms. After being redirected to a couple different websites the owner concludes that the dog has a food allergy. He starts treating the pet with various ‘special foods’. Those foods worsen the condition and leave the dog untreated for the real cause for the itching months after it started.
In the end, the vet is inevitable and the visit to the clinic ends up with a completely different diagnosis. If the right diagnosis was given on time, it may have been with a good prognosis.
We chose this case for a reason to explain a few setbacks in the process of online searching. Typing in the symptoms in most cases probably won’t get you to a page that clearly states ‘consult’ your veterinarian immediately. It is more likely that the owner ends up reading an article on a sponsored page that also sells some ‘brand-new-type’ of hypoallergenic dog food or state of the art dog shampoos for treating allergies. But the dog was never allergic and the owner made few online purchases already.
Ask an online vet
New trends on the internet are the websites that offer a private online session with a certified veterinarian. For example, the owner writes the symptoms and the website offers pre-paid consulting sessions. On these sessions, the veterinarian asks a question relevant to the health issue and the owner answers.
This approach probably gives an instant feeling of relief for the owners, but does it really solve anything? A&Q method is called anamnesis and it’s one the first things a veterinarian has to do when approaching a case of a sick animal, but for definitive diagnosis usually a handful of other tests must be performed.
Most vet clinics offer free advice when called and many of them do home visits. So, is online counseling that important? I guess not…
Health benefits for the pets and the owners
Creating a false image for the health status of your pet can be unhelpful both for the owner and the animal. Sometimes the general symptoms can be similar to some severe diseases and give the owner a stressful headache. While the cause is in fact easily treatable. But sometimes it can also be the other way around. The animal can be left untreated until its condition worsens and it’s too late.
What we are trying to say is that a licensed veterinarian should be the initial source of information for your animal’s possible health issues. Afterward, enriching your knowledge about the vet’s diagnosis on the internet and on trustworthy websites is always welcomed.
Except for the pet owner websites, where there is a clear statement that a veterinarian should be contacted immediately. Any other should be taken with doubt.
If you liked this article, read “Dogs and the myths about them” on our blog.