British vets are competing with Dr. Google
82% say internet-using clients challenged a diagnosis, recommendation or professional opinion.
The British Veterinary Association says 67% of veterinarians surveyed have encountered clients who, for better or worse, conducted online research before a visit.
The problem is that in some cases pet owners put their trust in often-inaccurate information harvested from online forums and social media sites.
“The internet is a great tool for research, but it must not undermine the expertise and years of training that a veterinary professional has,” said BVA President Simon Doherty, BVMS, CertAqv, MRCVS. “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.”
The survey of over 500 veterinarians showed that 82% reported that clients challenged a diagnosis, recommendation or professional opinion because of what was discovered online.
In one case, BVA stated, internet users diagnosed their pets online, treated them with human or non-pharmaceutical medication, and then took the animals to the veterinary clinic “at a point when it was almost too late to save them.”
“We recognize that there is some useful information on pet health, welfare and behavior 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,” Dr. Doherty said. “The best source of information for animal health concerns will always be a vet who knows your pet.”
The BVA Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey was released in April as part of National Pet Month.