Grey Healthcare Group of New York conducted an online study in the U.S. and Europe to learn where pet owners most often turn for information about their dogs and cats.
The result: veterinarians, vet assistants, and pet-related websites are by far the most popular sources of information on pet healthcare.
Two-thirds or greater of pet owners consult their vets or vet assistants when they have questions or concerns. And almost 60 percent of those surveyed go online for pet-related information.
Friends and family with pets came in a distant third, and bringing up the rear were other pet owners on social networks, followed by books, magazines, TV shows and news stories.
According to Lynn O’Connor Vos, CEO of Grey Healthcare Group:
“It is not surprising that the study results show pet owners turn to websites as the second most popular source for information, but this represents a tremendous opportunity for pet care companies, along with the veterinary health care community, to help shape an expert-guided dialogue.”
“Engaging owners online represents a significant opportunity to connect on their terms and become a more trusted source that understands their needs and wants.”
It's not surprising so many pet parents consult their veterinarians and other vet clinic staff about the health of their precious dog or cat. Just as Medical Doctors (MDs) are considered by their patients to be experts on human health, Doctors of Veterinary Medicine (DVMs) are viewed as the most knowledgeable resources for animal health.
I'm also not surprised so many animal lovers look to the Internet for advice on pet care subjects. There's a vast amount of pet-related information available on the web, lots of it provided by reliable sources, and it's there in front of you with just a click of the mouse.
Separating Good Advice from Bad
The vast majority of veterinarians are well-educated, well-intentioned professionals who genuinely care about the animals they treat.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of vets are also only trained in conventional veterinary medicine, which follows the same principles applied in conventional medicine for humans. It is symptom-based treatment, with emphasis on the use of drugs and surgery, both of which can have serious side effects and cripple the body's natural ability to heal itself.
Treating symptoms often has little to do with addressing the underlying problem causing the symptoms.
It's like mopping up a water leak without finding the source of the leak. You've dried the floor -- treated the 'symptom' -- but it'll be wet again soon because the root cause, the leak, hasn't been addressed.
Maybe the leak will continue as no more than a minor annoyance for months or even years, but at some point sooner or later, it's a good bet your water pipes, your tile, wood, carpet or linoleum floor, and even the foundation beneath it will develop much bigger, potentially devastating problems.
The goal should always be to do more than keep drying the floor. The goal should be to locate the source of the leak and resolve it. Then you don't have to keep mopping the floor (treating the annoying 'symptom'), and since you've corrected the root cause by fixing the leak, you don't have to worry about a more destructive, costly problem down the road.
Don't Settle for Half Measures When It Comes to Your Pet's Wellbeing
Living things are designed by nature to be healthy, not ill. Illness is not a normal state of being, and it always has an underlying cause.
Leaving your vet's office with a pill or ointment or 'prescription' diet guaranteed to cure your pet's symptoms may feel reassuring and convenient. But the reality too often is an underlying problem that is destroying the long-term health of your precious companion even if the current symptom has been 'cured.'
I encourage you to choose a veterinarian for your dog or cat who will work with you not only to determine the underlying cause of your pet's illness, but who is also primarily interested in keeping your pet in optimum health so his risk of acquiring disease is minimized.
Consider Tapping Several Pet Health Experts
When you have questions or concerns about your pet's health, why not consult an alternate source of expert care in addition to your traditionally trained vet? I believe you can never have too many expert opinions.
This allows you to make the most well-informed choices for the animals in your care. I encourage my clients to have a professional relationship with an Emergency Vet, a local General Practitioner as well as a lifestyle, proactive holistic coach on their pet's healthcare team.
Very few doctors can be all of these things, so optimally you will have a variety of expert opinions to tap into.
This approach can be especially helpful if your pet's symptoms keep recurring, or new symptoms keep cropping up, or your favorite non-human pal just seems 'off' to you, though your vet is telling you everything's fine.
Many traditional vets don't even ask you what you're feeding your pet. If you believe (as you should) that what your pet eats is the foundation for her well-being, it's important to find expert guidance pertaining to your pet's diet. This is where a lifestyle or nutritional consultant would provide invaluable information.
Conventionally educated DVMs are trained primarily to deal with full-blown illness. Just like the majority of medical schools, vet schools don't emphasize the importance of wellness, which involves preventing disease and addressing minor health issues before they become serious.
Holistic veterinarians -- DVMs who also practice alternative, complementary medicine -- are not nearly as plentiful in most areas as allopathic (conventional) vets, but you may not realize there are other resources as well, including veterinary specialists in:
- Chiropractic (American Veterinary Chiropractic Association; AVCA Certified Doctors)
- Acupuncture (American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture; International Veterinary Acupuncture Society)
- Chinese Medicine (The Chi Institute)
- Homeopathy (The Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy)
- Behavior (American College of Veterinary Behaviorists; Animal Behavior Society)
It's a bit more time consuming and complicated (and sometimes costly) to solicit advice from more than one expert. But unless you have 100 percent confidence, 100 percent of the time in your vet's approach to your pet's health, I recommend you use other resources available to you.
A Word About Finding Pet Healthcare Info on the Web …
Obviously, I think MercolaHealthyPets.com is the very best site on the Internet for pet health articles and discussion. Readership is growing daily, and our goal is to provide a one-stop resource for all your pet-related needs.
If you use the web search engines to look up information or answers to questions about your pet, I recommend you stick to articles and blogs written or overseen by credentialed experts in animal care.
Because there are a number of sites offering advice on every conceivable subject, including pet care. But guess who writes the majority of the articles and blogs on those sites?
Hobbyists, enthusiasts, freelance writers, and other regular citizens with little or no educational background and often no expertise in the subjects they are opining about.
So my recommendation is to look for credentials of some kind before you take seriously any advice you read on the Internet. You can also Google or do other kinds of online searches on the article or blog author's name to check his or her credentials.
The Internet is certainly an 'information superhighway.' But like every superhighway, there's a certain amount of pollution it's best to avoid!