What about “Dr. Google?” More and more, people are resorting to the Internet to find information and guidance on health issues–for both themselves and their pets. Sorting out reliable from unreliable information online can be challenging, and the Internet is certainly not a reliable substitute for hands-on evaluation by your veterinarian. Now not all information on the Internet is wrong or misguided. But the AVMA urges you to be very cautious when relying on online information for decisions regarding your pet’s health.
Getting pet health information online is relatively new. There are so many sources of information available to you: books and magazines; friends and family; articles and columns in newspapers; and an endless supply of online resources. There’s no question that the internet can be a great source of information, but it’s also a major source of MISinformation. It can sometimes be very hard to separate the good information from the bad. These days, anyone can post something on the internet and promote themselves as experts.
So, where do you find reliable information about your pet’s health? Your veterinarian should be your number one resource for several reasons: 1) your veterinarian is familiar with you, and your pet’s unique health needs, and can answer your questions and concerns based on this knowledge and 2) you know that your veterinarian has the training and knowledge to provide you with accurate information.
If you’re still interested in finding good pet health information online, you’ve got a few good options. First, ask your veterinarian for any recommendations. Another option is the WebMD Pet Health Community, which offers interaction with AVMA-member veterinarians.
Consider the source of the information online. Is it coming from a veterinarian who graduated from a veterinary school, or is it coming from someone who claims to be a “Doctor” of something other than veterinary medicine? There are many titles that can be awarded regarding animal health, but that doesn’t always mean the person with that title has the qualifications to provide animal owners with good advice regarding their pet’s health and wellbeing. If in doubt, do a little research on that person to determine if you think they’re a trustworthy source. Regardless of where you go online to find information, there are some “red flags” that should warn you that a site may not be trustworthy: