4/9/2019 12:00:00 AM
If your pet shows signs of unusual behaviour or illness, it's natural to go online for information and advice. But you should never replace a trip to the vets with non-clinical information found on the internet, says the British Veterinary Association (BVA).
The veterinary body warned that guesswork and advice from unverified sources can be dangerous if they cause a delay in proper treatment.
In its Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey, 82% of vets said that clients have challenged their diagnosis, recommendation or professional opinion based on their own internet research.
In one case, a vet reported seeing owners 'home-diagnosing' their pets on the internet, treating them with human or non-pharmaceutical medication and then finally taking them to the vet at a point when it was almost too late to save them.
Two-thirds (67%) of vets surveyed said they have seen a rise in cases of owners challenging their recommendations using advice found on the internet.
While it's good that owners take an interest in their pets' health and want to do their own research, information found online is no substitute for speaking to a veterinary professional to get trusted and tailored advice on treatment and care, the BVA argued.
Simon Doherty, president of the BVA, commented: "The internet is a great tool for research but it must not undermine the expertise and years of training that a veterinary professional has.
Vets have a duty of care to animals and their knowledge and expertise mean that they are best placed to offer medical diagnosis and tailored advice to keep your pet happy and healthy.
"We recognise that there is some useful information on pet health, welfare and behaviour available online but guesswork and advice from unverified sources has the potential to cause delay in proper treatment or lead to further issues and distress for the animal. The best source of information for animal health concerns will always be a vet who knows your pet."