With the current shelter in place mandate, many of us have spent time online searching for medical information. This month’s newsletter shares the type of pet-related information that you can reliably trust, and when you should seek the experience and expertise from a veterinarian.

The Need for Professional Diagnoses
A great deal of formal training and hands-on experience is required to properly identify, diagnose and treat any pet — including yours. Despite the power of the Internet, it is no match for trained professionals.

To become a veterinarian and obtain a DVM degree (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine), one attends a four-year institution generally obtaining an undergraduate degree in biology, chemistry, microbiology, math or the like. Upon graduation they enroll in a four-year veterinary school focusing intensely upon anatomy, physiology, microbiology, pathology, surgical techniques (just to mention a few) on a wide variety of animals.

After the eight years of formal training conclude, veterinarians often complete a one-year internship and/or two to three-year residency and become board certified in a specialty area. And then to practice, each veterinarian must be licensed in the state where they work. All of this is to ensure your pets receive quality healthcare.

The Value of Experience
Veterinarians have years of hands-on experience — seeing situations and diseases emerge, identifying and implementing treatment regimens and following their complete progression.

Given different diseases and situations can have very similar symptoms yet require very different treatments, veterinarians reply upon their training, experience, subtle clues from examinations, and laboratory diagnostics to identify, include or exclude potential diagnoses.

Dangers of Using Information from the Internet
Reading online about an ailment that seems to perfectly match all of the symptoms a pet exhibits does not imply that the condition is the one troubling your pet. Often similar symptoms can have very different underlying causes and treatments. Furthermore, the acquired information could be partially or completely inaccurate.

Search Engines
Despite the best intention of applying logic to what we read online, owners can harm their beloved pets by applying the wrong treatment. Ultimately, the treatment for your pet must be based upon a hands-on examination backed by years of experience, a decade of specialized education, and any supporting diagnostic tests.

When to Search Online
Once your veterinarian has provided you with a diagnosis and treatment, you should feel free to learn as much as possible about your pet’s condition. As you read, we encourage you to write down questions that you can ask during your next visit. An engaged owner can be essential to helping a pet recover faster.

Helping Pets
Where to Search Online
With today’s Internet, anyone with a blog can be a self-proclaimed expert. But when dealing with your pet’s health, you need accurate and concise information. We encourage you to visit the following sources for information regarding your pets:

Be sure any information is written by a veterinarian or certified medical professional. And ensure the site is providing independent information rather than attempting to sell products or services.

What Not to Do
We encourage you to avoid all home treatment and remedies. It’s vital that your pet’s diagnosis and treatment are determined by your veterinarian, and that any medications are provided by us. Also avoid the temptation to engage in online forums or chatrooms to diagnose your pet.

What to Do
If you feel compelled to search for additional information online, ensure the site is:

  • Recommended by us
  • Written by a veterinarian or an accredited medical organization
  • Conveys factual information rather than opinion

Kirkwood Animal Hospital
We encourage you to reach out to us with any questions or concerns. We’re here to help your pet in every way possible, from providing treatment to answering your questions.