I once saw a mug with the words "Please don't confuse your Google search with my veterinary degree". I smiled at it, thinking it was funny and snarky, however I didn't bother to think that it may actually be (and definitely is) a problem concerning veterinary professionals, their clients, and the general public.
In the internet age, there is truly no limit to what can be uploaded, posted, and searched; and that applies to information regarding our pets as well. The internet's ease of use and wealth of information practically begs pet owners to do a quick search before consulting their veterinarian. Sometimes this can be helpful…other times it can cause major problems.
With so much information being posted, how is a pet owner supposed to know what to believe? The good news is: your veterinary team is eager to help you navigate through fact and fiction! Your veterinarian wants the same thing you do: to take great care of your beloved furry family member. Veterinarians spend 4 years learning, studying, and practicing knowledge and skills that prepare them to diagnose, treat, and prevent your pet's illness. However, one of veterinarians' biggest challenges in pet owner education and consultation is - you guessed it - the internet!
In many ways, the internet can be a great source of information to keep your pet healthy and happy, and lots of veterinary professionals use the internet to educate the public. On the other hand, the internet is home to LOTS of opinions, claims, and just plain old false data. Especially nowadays, it's hard to distinguish between fact and fiction when it comes to pet information. Problems can arise when owners read and apply false information from the internet to their pet and can potentially cause a health issue or lead to the worsening of their pet's poor health condition. Herein lies the importance of including your veterinarian in your search for knowledge. It is a significant role of veterinarians to educate clients, answer their questions, and even bust some of those myths that are floating around out there on the internet. In other words - they've got your back.
So the next time you need to confirm whether your pet is ill, you want to switch them to a "special" diet, or maybe you're just in over your head about your pet's health while typing into the Google search bar, why not ask your vet?!
George G. Munguia
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Candidate | 2020
Atlantic Veterinary College
University of Prince Edward Island