Long Distance Diagnosis is Tricky.

A reader of my post on Sand Colic wrote a comment asking for help with her pony, whom she believes has this problem.  I e-mailed her with general information and she asked for more specific help, as in what dosage and how to give it. 

While I am very happy to answer your individual questions about veterinary care (or anything else, for that matter), this long-distance stuff is tricky.  The animal may have some entirely different disease.  There may be factors of which I am unaware that make standard doses inappropriate.  You are going to be much better off actually seeing your veterinarian.  If you’re uncertain that their advice is appropriate, seek out a second opinion.  Searching the internet is okay, but there’s a lot of baloney out there along with the good information.  Again, I am more than happy to answer your questions to the best of my ability, but it’s no substitute for actually taking your friend to see his doctor.

Will Rogers once said that he thought "…the veterinarian is the best doctor there is.  He can’t ask his patients what’s wrong — he’s just got to know."  It is amazing to me how many people believe this to be the truth about how we work.  We are psychic, operating with powers and abilities far beyond those of ordinary men (like Superman, fighting a never-ending battle for truth, justice and the American way).

In fact, after around eight years of college education, we ought to have some specialized knowledge that the lay person doesn’t have.  After an additional twenty-eight years of experience, I really ought to know more about animal care than you do.  It would be pretty sad if I didn’t.  However, to find out what’s wrong with your pal, I’m going to have to pick your brain until we have a good history.  Then I’m going to have to do a thorough physical examination.  If that doesn’t reveal what’s going on, it’s on to diagnostic testing, maybe to a trial therapy.

While I am working in that direction, I have not yet developed my powers to the point that I can make a diagnosis by mental telepathy, nor can I effect a cure by the laying on of hands.  "Put your money on the radio, yes, yes, DEMON COME OUT!"  Can’t do it, even with the animal right there in front of me.  Sorry.

That being the case, it should come as no surprise that it is even more difficult to accomplish these feats over the telephone or the internet.   Even if you send me a digital picture and hold the phone really close to the animal, it’s much more likely that I’ll goof on a long-distance diagnosis.

When you call your veterinarian for advice and they ask you to schedule an appointment, there is a really good reason for that.  Do yourself a favor and give your pet the best chance for a proper diagnosis and treatment.  The internet is a wonderful thing, but it’s no doctor.

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