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As a longtime blogger and active veterinarian, I'm seldom spared an unfiltered tongue-lashing from a vocal contingent of my colleagues on the subject of Dr. Google. In other words, some veterinarians really wish I wouldn’t write things that might keep pet owners from visiting their local veterinarians.
Though we offer fully vetted sources of information here on Vetstreet, they kind of have a point. Most of the information you’ll find online isn’t edited by a team of veterinarians like it is here. Nor are most pet owners quite as discerning as the average Vetstreet reader!
Which is probably why it’ll come as no shock that plenty of pet owners try to save a buck by using online information — aka Dr. Google — as a stand-in for the irreplaceable services of real live veterinarians. Hence, why Web-critical veterinarians might be forgiven for their occasional testiness on the subject.
Nonetheless, it’s undeniably true — if often inconvenient — that Pandora’s Web has unleashed a torrent of nasties along with a smattering of goodies nestled within. Which inevitably requires that we apply our powers of reason to filter the credibly good from the merely bad and the downright ugly.
Luckily, there are ways to tease out the quality goods from the fathomless font of irresponsible information you find online. And once you get the hang of it, it’ll improve your ability to manage your pets’ illnesses and help with preventive care, too, in concert with your veterinarian’s services — not as a replacement for them.
After all, smart pet owners know there’s no substitute for a great relationship with a real live veterinarian. Nonetheless, the Internet can still help you tremendously by offering lots of wellness information along with a solid background on your cat or dog’s health issues, reliable groups that you can tap for support, new research on your pet’s illnesses or even clinical trials that may be under way.
The key is to research the Web safely. Here’s how:
1. Consider sites sponsored by major veterinary organizations.
Veterinary school sites invariably provide reliable information. Include “veterinary school” after the search term you’re researching. Specialty hospitals, specialty organizations and veterinary groups (like AAHA and the AVMA) will not steer you wrong.
2. Stay away from sites selling drugs and products.
Though there are exceptions, as a rule of thumb, sites with something to sell are best approached with a jaundiced eye.
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