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Call the Vet or Believe Dog Health Info Online?

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“I will not believe everything I read online, and I will call my dog’s veterinarian if there are any immediate health concerns or issues that arise with my dog’s health.”

The above is the one resolution we ask all Fidose of Reality readers, followers, and dog parents to make from this moment going forward.

Above all, we are a health and wellness blog. We are also a blog of dog parents, for dog parents, and by dog parents. Rule number one: Never substitute an in-person visit or phone call to your dog’s veterinarian in place of something you read online. So when do you call the vet versus believe dog health information online?

Check out the list below and see if you can guess how many of these reasons warrant a call to your dog’s veterinarian and/or an emergency room visit.

1 Diarrhea or vomiting

2 Lack of appetite/drinking water

3 New or unusual behavior

4 Sudden appearance of lump(s)

5 Limping or change in gait/walking

6 Urinary issues

7 Breathing issues

8 Ate something he or she shouldn’t have

9 Pawing at face, eye, or ear

If you guessed ALL nine of these reasons, you are correct.  There are even more reasons to call the veterinarian, but you get the idea: Dogs cannot talk, so it’s up to their owners/parents to be the voice of wellness. Even if the website or blog is credible and sources are revealed in conjunction with statements about health and well-being, this is not a substitute for seeing a veterinarian who knows your dog, has his records, and can determine what tests, if any are necessary.

As a health and wellness dog blogger, we use the Internet all the time: We also use trusted resources in sharing the information we do with our readers. We are not a substitute for the veterinarian.


How and When to Use Dog Health Information Online: FROM CREDIBLE SOURCES

1 To research a topic more in-depth to be a better informed dog parent and facilitate a conversation with the veterinarian. Case in point: When my dog tore his ACL, though our veterinarian shared information about custom leg braces, credible online and in-person resources guided our decision;

2 To garner more information about a topic or diagnosis made by your dog’s veterinarian. Proceed with caution: A few clicks of the mouse, a half hour online, and your dog sounds like he or she has every possible problem known to mankind;

3 To join a dog-centric online forum and engage with dog health-related topic(s). Case in point: When my previous Cocker Spaniel was diagnosed with mast cell cancer, I learned more about this “great imposter” of cancers than I ever imagined. I asked the oncologist questions;

4 Access to reviews of products and to gain insights from others who have used them;

5 To seek alternative medicine options to discuss either with your vet;

6 To find out of area, specialty, or new veterinarian;

Former vet tech, Rachel Shephard of My Kid Has Paws, has further coverage on the topic of “when to call the veterinarian” here.  In our continuing Medicine Versus Mom twice monthly feature, we explore topics from the dog mom and the vet tech perspective;

Did we miss any reasons to use dog health information online?

If you liked this feature, here are some related articles to peruse:

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Does My Dog Really Need Vaccines

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  1. While I agree with calling the Vet in certain circumstances I cannot discount the value of the internet when it comes to diagnosing a pup or at least checking symptoms. When I got my Gigi I was told by the breeder that she had colitis. Well it became very clear, very quickly that this dog did not have colitis but something else and it was terrible! I had Gigi to two different Vets for two months straight and thousands of dollars later no diagnosis and my Gigi was down to a scary 12 pounds! A 12 pound cocker is not something anyone wants to see. I had her neutered and the Vet checked internally for cancer…no cancer was found. She would eat voraciously and then immediately go to the bathroom. I was desperate as I knew I was losing her. The Vets were at a loss and during Christmas week in 2010 after Gigi was hospitalized I was told to take her to Cornell University. I could NOT afford to start this process all over again. I became relentless in my internet searches for answers. I found a recipe online to put weight on rescue dogs (Satin Balls) but I remember it specifically saying these were not for pancreatic dogs. I tried them…with a disastrous result. So I started researching pancreatic disease for dogs….and lo’ and behold I found the EPI (Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency) Disease Forum. In their wonderful online brochure it listed the symptoms of this disease and Gigi had every one of them. I printed the brochure and took it immediately to my Vet who said…”hey you might be on to something!” Gigi was tested for EPI and I am thankful to say that three going on four years later after her EPI diagnosis with treatment she is a happy and healthy 20 pound cocker (she has always been petite). While I understand there is a plethora of bad information please do not be quick to discount that there are knowledgeable people, websites and forums out there. Gigi would not be here without the supportive people on the EPI Forum. The internet saved her life.

  2. This is a great article. As a pet parent and veterinary technician I love searching online for different solutions to an issue. Recently I wrote on my blog about how I overcame litter box issues. Despite my professional knowledge, answers I found on the net helped me solve my problem. I still took my kitty to the vet to rule out health problems in my cat first.

    As a blogger, I would NEVER want any of my material to be substituted for veterinary advice. My articles don’t have microscopes. My articles can’t perform blood panels, urinary analysis, and x-rays. All of those things are necessary to diagnose your pet’s problem properly.

  3. We totally agree, not matter if it’s a dog, a rabbit or a cat : Internet is a great source of information, you can check, you can have an idea of what COULD be wrong, it can help you to discuss with your vet, but it doesn’t replace the vet. Purrs

  4. I definitely consider my veterinarian to be my first trusted source, although I rely on credible sources online as well. I think online resources are a good guideline but research the source and also trust your vet over an unknown online source. If you don’t like what your vet recommends, get a second opinion from another vet.

  5. i call the vet school or my dog breeder. i look up resources s well, go to the veterinary site. forgot the name. i can also look up information on the vet school website. i do call my vet as well if it is really serious or i cant find a solution.

  6. Thanks for sharing this great article. Internet has a great source of information but if you are not confident to try things that are mentioned then you really need to visit your vet.

  7. Thanks for sharing this advice! I definitely believe it is important to not always trust the Internet when it comes to your dog’s health. If your dog is acting funny and you’re not sure why, you should have a professional take a look at him or her. It just isn’t worth it to be unsure about something as important as the health of your pet!

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