When too much information can be risky?
Published Oct. 16, 2012 @ 7:23 p.m.
The internet has proven itself invaluable in today’s times. How did we function without this marvel 15-20 years ago? I’m sure kids nowadays would be traumatized if they had to grow up the way we did without instant access to the internet! When did Atari turn into Angry Birds? Never mind, I’m showing my age with that question. From email/social networking to investigating your family tree, information available on the internet is mind blowing.
My wife & I were watching Jimmy Falon late night one evening and he does a segment called ‘Thank You Notes’. On this episode he says “Thank you WebMD for turning a simple bruise into a rare terminal disease.” My wife & I laughed at this, but starting discussing how the internet has impacted not only human medicine but veterinary medicine. We are seeing people ‘self diagnosing’ pets based on what they find on ‘something'.com.
I’m not saying all information out there is incorrect, but if your parent, child, or family member had something notably wrong would you look to internet to treat them yourself? The same holds true for pets as well. I know what you’re saying right now…”My pet isn’t as important as a family member so this isn’t a fair comparison.” Let me tell you, there are A LOT of people out there whose pets are considered members of the family! A pet that may have outlasted a marriage, was around before the kids, or has been the protector all these years. To many owners, pets ARE family. Why not take their medical needs just as serious?
One common occurrence is owners’ going to the internet to get veterinary information in order to save money on a vet trip. Hey, I understand in this economy people are trying to save money! (If any of you know my wife and her ‘couponing’ addiction, you’ll know my family is in ‘saving mode’ as well.) My point is sometimes cutting corners to save money backfires on us. Here’s an example: an owner 'googling' why Fido doesn’t want to eat or drink. Then, based on what a website says, they make a self-diagnosis and treat their pet at home. However, 3-4 days later when Fido is getting worse & not better, they break down, go to their vet. Then they complain because the bill is horrendous just to save their pet’s life…or even worse, their pet doesn’t make it. By visiting your vet first, before letting the condition worsen 3-4 days may not only be your cheaper option, but the one to save your pet’s life.
The spread of information is another mind boggling aspect of internet to deal with. Someone ‘heard’ about a disease outbreak from Becky Lou’s sister’s cousin’s brother who heard it from the ex-husband’s new wife....well, you get my drift, and the outbreak rumor spreads like wildfire. Last year I wrote about the national outbreak of EHV-1 and the profound effect it can have on the horse industry. I posted warnings on our clinic face book page just as FYI to our clients. Before I knew it, people were calling not only my clinic, but the surrounding towns asking if Post had a confirmed case because a friend of a friend got an email about it. The speed of unconfirmed and incorrect information is astounding!
When in doubt call your veterinarian! Regarding the equine scare, local veterinarians received timely, more detailed information which the internet never kept up with. I’d much rather my clients call me anytime rather than taking matters in their own hands. By working together, we can help do what's best for both you and your pet.
It is my pleasure to serve our wonderful community as your veterinarian. If you have questions or would like to see a particular topic covered, you can email the clinic at email@example.com, post on our facebook page (www.facebook.com/GarzaCountyAnimalHospital), or give us a call, 806-495-3726.