Internet Sources for Veterinary Advice

People are searching the internet for information on how to care for their pets.  Some veterinarians hate this.  Not me.  It would be pretty hypocritical for me to rant about "Dr. Internet" when I sort of am "Dr. Internet". 

The thing is, I try to confine my advice to subjects that I personally know well.  If I don't feel qualified to answer, I look for a trusted resource, such as the specialists at a teaching hospital, referral hospital, or Veterinary Information Network.  The searchable database on my own website is provided by Veterinary Partner.

PrintoutsIt doesn't bother me when a client brings in a pile of printouts like this. What does drive me crazy is the tendency to accept baloney as holy writ, just because it's on the internet.  I've written about this before,  but this new episode just underscores its importance.

These clients have raised Collies for many years, and are pretty knowledgeable, and VERY conscientious.  They know that many Collies carry the  MDR1 mutation that makes them exceptionally sensitive to some drugs.  The high doses of ivermectin used to treat demodectic mange could kill a dog carrying the MDR1 mutation.

The tiny dose of ivermectin in Heartgard is considered safe for Collies by the internists and clinical
pharmacologists.  Despite this, many Collie fanciers prefer to use heartworm preventives without ivermectin, or even the other avermectins.  That's okay, but the alternative medication they had preferred (Interceptor) has been unavailable for several months.  These nice folks are terribly conflicted about this.

I have tried to reassure them about the safety of other products in their dogs, but they are unconvinced.  They have told me about the information they have received from their breed associations advising them against it. I am open-minded about this, and am more than willing to look at this information.  More than once I have asked them to bring it in so that I can learn what the objections are.

I want to know what the objections are, and I want to know the qualifications of the person who is presenting the data.

They had trouble finding the Collie association publication, so they brought me some things that they had googled up.  No problem…   Okay, actually there are two problems.

The first problem is that the articles only address the general concerns about dogs with the MDR1 mutation and their ability to handle certain drugs (and do not mention the FACT that this is in part dose dependent).

The second problem is the source of the information.  The articles are well-written, easy to understand.  They should be.  The "authors" are writers by profession, not scientists of any kind.  They write on a wide variety of subjects for eHow.   I'm sure they are nice people, but they are just googling up stuff and re-writing it.  Just click on the link with their names and you

"___________has been writing and editing health, science and technology related material for nine years. A lot of her experience was established in producing articles and business documents for organizations that are not proficient in English. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology with a pre-medical background."

"__________ has been writing since 2009 for various websites, specializing in gardening, travel and green lifestyles. She graduated summa cum laude from Northeastern Illinois University in 2001 with a major in English and a minor in history."

Do these people sound like they are doing research in clinical pharmacology or genetics?  Do they even own a dog?  My clients are more knowledgeable than the "experts" they found on the internet.

So feel free to surf the net all you want to.  BUT, when you are looking for something that is important to you, also investigate the source.

3 thoughts on “Internet Sources for Veterinary Advice

  1. raef says:

    hi dr, i just wanna ask u some questions plz….i ve just bought a male dog, whose owner told me that the dog is 1 year and 2 months old….how can i confirm that the dog is that age….at least to know if he is less than 2 years or not?
    another question….i bought a female dog 1 month ago….she’s 1 year old, but thin….i gave her the deworming tablets from 2 weeks ago….and i’m giving her lots of food for the last month…but she’s not gaining wait….just her leg muscles are build up better …i need to know how to increase her weight fast..thanks

  2. Doc says:

    Hello, Raef,

    Once the dog has all permanent teeth erupted and quits growing, there are no purely objective criteria for accurately determining the age. We make a subjective determination instead. In other words, we have seen many dogs whose ages we know. We compare what we see in the dog in front of us to those dogs we have seen in the past. This is what we have to base our judgment of age upon.

    In regard to the dog that is not gaining weight, I would recommend that you have your veterinarian check her out to see if there are other medical problems. He/she can also check the dog’s poop under the microscope. Most worms do not pass out for you to see them. Instead, they lay microscopic eggs that come out in the feces. This is how the worms are spread from one dog to another.

    By examining the stool under the microscope for parasite eggs, you can see if the dog has worms, AND what kind.

    There is no one de-worming drug that kills all the different kinds of worms that a dog can have. You need to use the right medicine, and use it on the right schedule, or the dog stays wormy.

    In addition to handling medical problems, you might try feeding a good, high-quality name-brand puppy food. Puppy food has more nutrition in the same size bowl than the regular adult dog food (even from the same manufacturer).

    Thanks for reading and writing.

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