Who is Your Pet’s Best Friend?

Your Veterinarian is Your Pet’s Best Friend

“My dog’s ears stink. What should I do?”  The link below highlights the most popular answer given on Yahoo Answers (Yahoo Answers, 2016). What really happens if you put vinegar and alcohol in a pet’s ear as the number one answer suggests? Sometimes it helps. If the dog has a ruptured ear drum or a very bad infection it will not help and may cause more irritation in an already painful ear.  This example highlights the importance of pet owners looking to their veterinarian for pet health care advice.

 

Some people may argue that a dog or cat breeder, a dog groomer, a person at the pet store or on-line resource know more about your pet than a veterinarian and will charge less than a veterinarian. An online search for the best place to find pet care advice lists a variety of resources (Google Search, 2016). Some are written by veterinarians or veterinary health care team, but others are written by companies, pet sitters and other random people. Who should you believe about pet health care and what are good online resources?

 Consumer Reports articles and the ABC 20/20 (DVM360, 2014) have run stories about veterinarians. The stories imply that some veterinarians ‘price gouge” the pet owner and recommend people price shop for veterinary care. There are examples on social media about people saying that breeders know more than veterinarians. An example is below a pet owner on Facebook describing how veterinarians do not know about different breeds or nutrition (Dogs in Review Facebook page, 2016).

It is really challenging to tell the background of the many of the non-veterinary information sources. Some may be very helpful and knowledgeable, but some may mislead the owners. That is why it is important to ask your local veterinarian questions and ask them what websites they recommend.

breeder-vs-vets

I am a veterinarian, and I can tell you veterinary school was hard! To be a veterinarian a person has to attend eight years of school. There are four years of an undergraduate degree and four years of veterinary school. While in veterinary school students are taught disease in all species and do clinical rotations in their fourth year (Wikipedia, 2016). Beyond the amount education that veterinarians have about animal health, one needs to consider motives. Veterinarians make far less than physicians with a similar education. Their student loan debt is frequently three times their starting salary (Segal, 2013). The reason this is relevant, is that veterinarians go into the profession knowing these facts. They become veterinarians because it is their life’s passion and they want to make a difference in animal health.

If one has had a negative experience with a veterinarian, they may look for other information sources about their pets. If this happens, a pet owner should consider looking for a different veterinarian that is more compatible with their needs and the pet’s needs. Sometimes non-veterinarians state their opinions with great conviction and use non-medical language. If you don’t understand your veterinarian, either talk to them about it, or find a veterinarian with good communication skills.  Below is one vet hospital’s list of word that they belive describe a good veterinary practice (Bounemouth Veterinary Clinic, 2016).  The qualities on this list are something one should look for in their veterinary hospital.

BRV-LogoDev-Aug2011.indd

 

 

If you prefer digital communication from your veterinarian, find a veterinarian that emails and is active on social media. To be comfortable with that veterinarian as a primary resource, you must be able to communicate with them in your preferred method.

There are many resources available that are written by veterinarians or veterinary technicians that can provide insights.   Below is a podcast that is provided by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA, 2016).  They provide many of these podcasts for pet owners with information about animal health.

Podcast: AVMA Media Library | Pod Casts | Dog flu strain new to U.S. responsible for Chicago area outbreak

 

Additional websites that can serve as a source of information are listed below.  The list also contains a website to help find a local veterinarian.

For More Information 

American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Pet Owner Resources, https://www.avma.org/public/Pages/default.aspx

Animal Hospital association (AAHA) Pet Owner Resources,  https://www.aaha.org/pet_owner/default.aspxAmerican

Pet MD, a website written by veterinarians, http://www.petmd.com/

Vet Street, listing of local veterinarians, http://www.vetstreet.com/find-a-veterinarian-animal-hospital/

 

Veterinarians and veterinary health care teams care about pets and their owners. They dedicate many years learning about animal health and spend many days working to make sure pets are healthy. To make sure you are doing the best thing for your pet, reach out to a veterinarian when you have a pet health concern. Find a veterinarian that meets your needs and have them save as your “favorite number” or favorite email address!

 

Remember this message(reference):

 

Reflections

 As a non-journalist who is creating content for social media, I believe that the content I post needs to be verified by reputable sources. In the above article, I did research using secondary sources of information. Many of the ones that I list as resources for pet owners are articles published on governing bodies for the veterinary  profession. They are written by veterinarians and much of the medical information is from peer-reviewed scientific articles.  Hopefully, my degree establishes the fact that I know what it takes be a veterinarians and what a veterinarian does on a day-to-day basis.

Being a veterinarian, I obviously have bias towards the profession. The veterinary community is my community and this issue of  “Dr Google” vs. the veterinarian is a trending topic within the profession.  It can be very frustrating when a pet owner believes something they read on the internet more than your professional opinion.  There is also a trend towards pet owners not realizing the value of preventative care for their pets.  The veterinary profession is working hard to establish annual preventative wellness exams as a standard for all pet owners.  If pet owner think they can receive good medical advice from non-veteirnary sources, they may not make the annual trip to the veterinarian.

 

References

 

AAHA (2013) Retrieved on January 29, 2016 from https://www.aaha.org/public_documents/professional/resources/aaha_state_of_the_industry_2013_white_paper.pdf

AVMA (2016) Retrieved on January 29, 2016 from https://www.avma.org/public/petcare/pages/default.aspx

Bournemouth Road Veterinary Clinic, (2016) Retrieved on February 16, 2016 from http://www.proactivepr.org/design-case-study-Bournemouth-Road-Veterinary-Centre-logo-design.shtml

Dogs in Review Facebook page retrieved February 2, 2016 https://www.facebook.com/find-friends/browser#!/DogsInReview/?fref=nf

DVM 360 Consumer Reports Tells Pet Owners to Shop Around. retrieved on February 2, 2016 from http://veterinarynews.dvm360.com/consumer-reports-calls-pet-owners-shop-around-veterinary-care

Google Search (2016) How to Find Vet Advice?  Retrieved on February 2 2016 from https://www.google.com/search?q=best+place+to+find+pet+care+advice&sourceid=ie7&rls=com.microsoft:en-us:IE-Address&ie=&oe=&gws_rd=ssl#q=dog+health+care+tips&start=20

Segal, D. (2013) High Debt and Falling Demand Retrieved on February 4, 2016 from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/24/business/high-debt-and-falling-demand-trap-new-veterinarians.html?pagewanted=1&ref=business&_r=1

Wikipedia (2016) Veterinary Education, Retrieved on February 3 2016 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veterinary_education

Yahoo Answers (2016) My Dog’s Ears Stink Retrieved on February 1, 2016 from https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20070908123112AAnAyqG