Recently, the USA Today’s Family and Parenting section ran a story about owners diagnosing their pets using online sources. With so much information at our fingertips, it can be hard not to run straight to a google search or trusted forum at the first sign of illness in our pets. Websites such as PetMD make information even more available and because that particular site was created by veterinarians, the level of trust is high.
But even the best veterinarian is not able to diagnose certain ailments without seeing the pet itself. And the article points out that when pet owners spend their time researching signs and symptoms of illness or injury on the web, they may be losing critical time in getting their pet to their veterinarian.
I admit that I am guilty of this myself. I have had some very unhealthy pets and used to rush them to the veterinarian or emergency clinic at the first sign of stress. However, once I formed a strong relationship with several other pet owners on different breed-specific forums, I found myself asking for their experience and advice before heading straight to the clinic.
I should know better because I know first hand how those precious minutes can be the difference between life and death. When one of my dogs was stung by a bee, I didn’t spend time researching bee stings – instead, I went straight to the hospital. The vet took her in right away and started treatment. A few minutes later they brought her out to show me the level of swelling that had already occured – her whole foot (where the sting occured) was swollen, but so was her entire mouth and face! Unknown to me, she was severely allergic to bees, and the vet said another few minutes and the situation would have been much more dire. As it was, they were able to get medication into her and she came home with me that night.
I think veterinarian Nancy Kay said it best in the article: “Responsibly surfing (the Web) is fabulous,” Kay says, but that “does not take the place of a call or visit to your veterinarian.”
How often do you use the web when you find something wrong with your pet? Do you have favorite forums or resources you use?
Heather Kalinowski lives in the Seattle area with her husband, newborn son, and two rescued pups – an Italian Greyhound named Ava and a Spaniel mix named Jackson. She enjoys reading, writing, spending time with her family, and volunteering with Italian Greyhound Rescue.