Why there’s no substitute for advice from your pet’s veterinarian
We all want answers fast, so it’s tempting to look for clues online. In fact, AAHA receives many, many private messages through Facebook (and sometimes in the comments section of PetsMatter articles) requesting medical advice for a pet. But the response is always: “Ask your veterinarian.” Why?
It isn’t a cop out. Seeing your pet’s veterinarian about an issue your pet is having is the best way to care for your dog or cat, says Heather Loenser, DVM, AAHA’s Veterinary Advisor for Professional and Public Affairs. Loenser practices in several specialty, emergency, and general practices in the New York metro area, and lives with a number of rescued dogs, cats, turtles and five pampered hens (Peep Peep, Frofro, Cookie, Arabelle, and Golden, who were named by a 4-year-old girl).
“Without examining a pet and carefully questioning an owner, the advice given over the Internet could be inaccurate and potentially life threatening,” Loenser says. “Although many pet owners are experts in their pets’ day-to-day routines, favorite activities, foods, and toys, they are not experts in their medical conditions. It is not uncommon for a pet owner to make misdiagnoses and ask questions based on said misdiagnoses.”
For instance, pet owners often send messages asking AAHA to recommend a shampoo for a “stinky dog.” Often, the dog’s problem is not a “stinky” body, but a painful—and smelly—ear or dental infection that needs to be treated by a veterinarian.
“Another common question is what medication is best to treat a pet’s seizures. Diagnosing a seizure can actually be quite difficult and there are many other causes, including fainting from heart disease, serious liver disease, or difficulty regulating blood sugar,” Loenser says. “Veterinarians are trained to identify the many causes of a problem that is noticed by a pet owner, make an accurate diagnosis, and communicate the treatment options.”
When you consult the Internet, aka “Dr. Google,” instead of your pet’s veterinarian, it can be a challenge to find recommendations based on fact rather than fiction. Online health “remedies” could be ineffective, costly, or even dangerous.
Read more at AAHA.org