The Dangers of 'Google'

Written by: Alison Laurie, Senior Consultant, Crown Vets Inverness

Your pet is unwell: Should this worry you? What should you do? Should you call your Vet? Should you ‘Google’ his symptoms?

Now that the Internet is part of our daily lives, it has never been easier to get information about why your pet is not behaving in his normal fashion. There are millions of non-official ‘Veterinary’ advice sites. Some may provide some useful information, but not always.

You may research the Internet for information concerning your pet because you are interested and eager to understand their behaviour or condition. However worryingly some owners are putting too much faith in any information found on the Internet and can then become wary about their Vet's recommendations.

The Internet ideally should be used very carefully as a complement of any information given and to seek ‘demonstrations’ of what your Vet has advised you, not to verify if it is true. If you are wary about your Vet’s recommendations, you can certainly ask for a second opinion, either by one of his/her colleagues or you can consult a Vet at another clinic.

The danger of the Internet is that you can find many unfounded information's that are incorrect or not accurate. We cannot ask our pets how they are feeling, so we can just go by how they are portraying their illness to us and by the symptoms they are showing at that time. A lot of disease processes have very similar symptoms, so by typing in these same symptoms to the Internet you will receive a long list of ‘possible’ causes. Your Vet on the other hand will have the professional expertise and the tests available that will be required for a diagnosis, if further investigations are required for this they can then refer your pet to specialist clinics for further diagnostics and treatments. 

It may harm your pet by delaying any diagnosis and the treatment that is actually needed by consulting ‘Google’.  Many pets are ‘diagnosed’ by owners who have consulted the Internet and they then can sadly delay a very necessary and urgent visit to their Vet. 

So when your cat or dog is obviously not feeling well, do call us for an appointment as soon as possible so that he can be given a thorough examination and then be given the correct tests required and you will then hopefully have a diagnosis made quickly and then receive good professional advice and prompt treatment for him.