We live in an age where information, good or bad, is readily available at our fingertips with the emergence of tablets, smart phones, computers, etc. This seems to have further perpetuated the number of home remedies people try, prior to bringing their pet in for something alarming. Home remedies have always been around; but, with Google and other search engines and blogs, it seems that sometimes pet owners prolong treatment by a veterinarian because something at home may have helped temporarily (or didn’t help), but trying it prolonged the time for the animal to get proper care for an ailment. Whether we verbalize it to you or not, a lot of these home remedies may cause us to shake our head or even cringe. What must be understood is this: there is medicating occurring without any physical examination being performed, let alone diagnostics, such as blood work or x-rays.
I will ask you, how often is there a CREDIBLE resource as to who created this information or dosage recommendations, etc.? How often do you look for the credibility of the resource? Even if there is the magic acronym of D.V.M. (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine) on the website somewhere, how do you know if this is legitimate and honest information? How often are you treating the itching caused by fleas, but never actually treat the fleas because they have gone unnoticed due to the dog’s thick hair coat? Or you’re treating for fleas (because the patient is itching) and the actual cause is allergies? I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard “my pet is itching, it must be fleas!” Another common one is the feeding of canned pumpkin or oil because the patient is straining when it defecates, and the owner thinks the patient has constipation, when in fact the patient has diarrhea and this remedy be making the condition worse!
When cross-checking some of these dosing charts with a veterinary pharmaceutical dosing book, it’s remarkable how many of them are completely wrong, which could severely compromise the health of your pet. Then, not only are we treating the initial problem, but potentially treating a secondary issue due to improper treatment. Additionally, things like aspirin use in a cat can very likely cause that cat to die and use of it in a patient with an already inflamed gastrointestinal tract or failing organs could make matters much worse. We have newer, safer drugs now that are approved for specific species of animals for reasons such as this. Most over the counter remedies are Band-Aids for an underlying cause. If you are masking the cause and not truly treating the condition, you are risking further compromise to your pet. The longer you sit in front of that screen searching for the Dr. Google diagnosis and treatment recommendations instead of calling your veterinarian, even if just for advice, the more damage that could potentially be done.
I will also ask, what does Dr. Google tell you when your internet treatment goes awry? When the side effects hit, and you are unsure what to do about it? Is it then that you call your veterinarian, or do you continue to seek the internet’s advice? Dr. Google doesn’t get the recourse when things go wrong, your pet suffers, your veterinary bill likely ends up higher than it would’ve been, and your veterinarian is likely a bit frustrated.
Just remember, if veterinarians could diagnose things without looking at a pet and using the internet, there would be place for us and we sure as heck wouldn’t suffer 8 grueling years of school and large student loan burdens.
All disdain of the internet aside, if you have a serious concern about your pet, please feel free to just call! It is often easier to help get your pet proper care or make recommendations over the phone that to treat multiple problems that have been going on for entirely too long thanks to Dr. Google. There are a lot of trends and fads out there that have no scientific or clinical basis, but someone thought they were a good marketing point!