This spring saw the birth (i.e. recent publication) of a few veterinary consensus guidelines, on topics ranging from hemolytic anemia , dental care, to antibiotic use.
What’s so exciting about that you ask? Well…Consensus guidelines can be wonderfully helpful in animal health decision-making for vets and pet-owners, because (provided they are done well) these publications strive to provide evidence-supported recommendations on topics that veterinarians commonly face with the end-goal of benefiting animal (and in some cases human) health. I suspect that’s why guidelines of this type sometimes appear to be cropping up quicker than April showers in Canada, in other words…most of us are still getting snow.
Much as I heart an easily searched for (and freely available online) guideline, as with anything one reads (barring fiction) it’s probably important to apply a level of scrutiny prior to acceptance and application. Simply put, consider reading guidelines (or any other scientific article) with a few questions in mind. For example:
1) ‘What’s the clinical question(s) being asked by this summary…and is it actually relevant to my veterinary patients, own pet, the area I live, etc.?’
2) ‘Will this recommendation bring about an outcome that is different (and hopefully better) compared with: a) another therapy (or diagnostic), or b) doing nothing at all?’
To help with this style of assessment, (i.e. if critical review isn’t something you routinely do- or like myself- you may be distracted by the NHL playoffs (Go Jets Go: and new season of Game of Thrones- OMG! Dragons ), think about reading with a checklist that helps assess the quality of the overall publication and research referenced within. There are a number of these checklists available online. Here’s an example of a few:
Getting to the guidelines… two of the publications below are revisions of prior guidelines and one is brand-new. They are all worth a read for various reasons- the most important of these being improvement of animal health. However, if you’ve got some free time over the upcoming E. Bunny associated holiday, try reading these without filtered lenses (i.e. using an evidence-based checklist) to see how they rate- and whether that scrutiny changes how you think they apply to (and most importantly will benefit) your pet or patient, your veterinary hospital and you.
2) Dental care