Dog Health Internet Research: Should You Curb Your Internet Research Enthusiasm?

Is internet research a good thing, or is it a bad thing?

The internet is a wonderful tool. But make sure you use reputable sources and a discerning mind.

I research things on the internet all the time. But, at the end of the day, internet research bought Jasmine years she wouldn’t have been with us.

Dog Health Internet Research: Should You Curb Your Internet Research Enthusiasm?

Is internet research a good or a bad thing?

I believe internet research is a great thing, with some conditions.

There is time and place for that. However, there are also times when turning to the internet is a bad idea—I’ve seen so many posts where people are searching the internet for help while they should have been long gone to the emergency hospital.

Emergency situations

Internet research is a bad plan for emergencies.

It is essential to recognize emergency situations to know when to drop everything and rush to the clinic. At times like that, time is wasting. Every minute you spend on the internet is another minute your dog is not getting the help they need. When in doubt, err on the side of caution.

Non-emergency situations

Internet research, however, is a good plan when dealing with non-emergency, ongoing, chronic, unsolved problems, or when looking for or evaluating treatment options (such that don’t have to be done immediately, of course. When your dog is suffering from bloat, for example, she needs treatment NOW, no time to fool around.)

A well of all sorts of information

The internet is a vast well of information, some is good, and some is not. Be critical of the information you find. Evaluate, verify.

The internet can be an invaluable source of helpful information. There are forums and support groups. There are even websites where you can seek veterinary advice online.

All these things a great. Please, do realize, though, that NOBODY can diagnose your dog without examining them. And since they cannot do it, you shouldn’t try either. They can, however, offer their insights and ideas. They can provide a second opinion and come up with questions nobody thought of asking.

The internet is a great source of questions

I look to the internet not as a source of answers but as a source of questions.

It is the right questions that lead to the correct answers. Self-diagnosing your dog based on what you found on the internet? Bad plan. Let’s get real. How could you honestly do that? As an owner, the only diagnostics you should do is figure out whether you need to take your dog to the vet and how quickly. Learn to recognize and understand the significance of symptoms.

I spend most of my free time researching the internet. My curious mind makes me look at everything. Then I evaluate whether it makes sense to me. Is there more than one source agreeing with any given information? Are there case studies? I ask around. Then I discuss my findings with Jasmine’s vet.

And yes, sometimes we disagree.

We discuss things until we agree. But I would never be brave enough to self-diagnose my dog. That’s just nuts.

The internet is a tool. Understanding what it can and cannot do is vital to getting the best outcome for your dog.

How not to use the internet

I will close with a story posted by Dr. V of Pawcurious.

The scene: A typical exam room, inhabited by a typical patient: a labrador with an ear infection.

Dr. V: Has Freddy had ear infections before?
Client: Off and on for most of his life, yes.

A typical examination, with me pulling out the otoscope and lifting Freddy’s ear. Again, I am assaulted with a familiar, and yet unfamiliar odor.

Dr. V: Well, his ear’s pretty red…and…oh my goodness…. (withdraws ear cone) Is this….pus?
Client: ……………….

Dr. V: This is just bizarre. Let me get a slide. What the…this smells like vanilla.
Client: I thought I washed all that out.

Dr. V: All what out? Is this yogurt in his ear?
Client: Well, yes. I read on the internet that yogurt is good for yeast…

Can you see the problem?

There is a lot of information on the internet. The difference is in what you do with it. Research to your heart’s content, but use your head!

Related articles:
Reasonable Expectations: The Ability to Discuss Your Internet Research With Your Vet

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Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

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