It is a new age, or maybe it is just the changing of the tides and me getting older. Online I am a member of a Wire Fox terrier group. I love seeing the pictures of peoples’ ornery pets, but sometimes it is people asking advice about the breed as well. These sites can be wonderful, entertaining and enlightening. Lately I have noticed a lot of “free” veterinary advice. It might be because of my chosen occupation that I take more notice of this behavior. Some of the advice is good, but other times the advice is atrocious. Just because one time so and so got diarrhea from petting a dog does not mean that all dogs have diarrhea and so you will get it too. I am paraphrasing but not all online advice is sound. There seems to be a trend of vet shaming online too. A whole post was about how a vet tried to kill his dog. The vet prescribed a medication and the owner gave it but then read online that this medication is the root of all evil and when he told said vet about the internet find they didn’t seem to respect his findings. I wanted to defend the vet, but there are two sides to every story so I didn’t. We hide behind our keyboards to become more connected but we find ourselves being more isolated sorting through a web of miscommunication, experiences, authentic sites and knowledge.
Suicide and confusion about who we are is becoming shoved down our faces. I feel that most people genuinely care about animals. What ever happened to caring about the person who owns that animal too? Online reviews are a way to lash out over prices or opinions when general decency and a conversation probably could have solved a lot. We get calls at the office daily from owners wanting to make decisions for their pets without even seeing or talking to the vet. For many years, I have thought that being a veterinary receptionist is probably second hardest to being the vet. Owners trying to bully the staff about the timing of an appointment or the cost of a blood test, etc. When push comes to shove, you own the pet and it is your responsibility to have plans for their care in place, whether it be a routine wellness program and relationship with a vet you trust, to knowing where the closest 24 hour care facility is in a time of need. When something doesn’t go as planned, don’t take it out on the person answering the phone for a company or go on an internet war against a small business. Many people don’t have jobs where they are on-call and expected to act at the drop of a hat all day, every day.
Be an advocate for your animal, take the time to build a trusting relationship with us as veterinarians. Owners see the pet and their changing behaviors at home. This can tell us a lot about what is wrong. A good physical exam is the best way to get information from the pet in the moment. However, with an owner’s history, samples of pertinent problem areas, and the exam, you and your vet can work together wonderfully.In this day and age of the internet, don’t distance your pets from primary care. The keyboard warriors won’t be there for your pet in the middle of the night but your veterinarian might be.