3 Reasons You Shouldn’t Use the Internet to Diagnose Your Pet

In​ ​the​ ​age​ ​of​ ​information​ ​and​ ​with​ ​Google​ ​at​ ​our​ ​fingertips, ​​many​ ​of​ ​us​ ​opt​ ​out​ ​of​ ​taking our​ ​pets​ ​to​ ​the​ ​vet​ ​at​ ​the​ ​first​ ​sign​ ​of​ ​an​ ​illness.​ ​When​ ​all​ ​the​ ​knowledge​ ​and​ ​wisdom​ ​of​ ​the world​ ​is​ ​at​ ​the click of a mouse button,​ ​why​ ​not​ ​type​ ​in​ ​a​ ​handful​ ​of​ ​keywords​ ​and​ ​answer​ ​your​ ​worries​ ​from the​ ​comfort​ ​of​ ​your​ ​couch?

Ask.Vet,​ ​an​ ​online​ ​service​ ​that​ ​allows​ ​you​ ​to​ ​text​ ​in​ ​your​ ​concerns​ ​to​ ​a​ “virtual​ ​vet” ​​for quick​ ​answers​ ​to​ ​your​ ​animal​ ​healthcare​ ​questions, ​​explains​ ​that​ ​75 percent​ ​of​ ​people​ ​choose​ ​to​ ​turn to​ ​the​ ​internet​ ​due​ ​to​ ​the​ ​price​ ​and​ ​inconvenience​ ​of​ ​going​ ​in​ ​person,​ ​and​ ​21 percent​ ​only​ ​go​ ​for emergency​ ​situations.

Before​ ​you​ ​decide​ ​to​ ​skip​ ​the​ ​drive​ ​and​ ​pull​ ​out​ ​your​ ​smart​​phone, ​​here are a few​ ​things to​ ​think​ ​about​ ​before​ ​going​ ​to​ ​Google​ ​for​ ​the​ ​answers.

1. You’re​ ​not​ ​a​ ​veterinarian

Most​ ​of​ ​us​ ​probably​ ​didn’t​ ​go​ ​to​ ​veterinary​ ​school,​ ​so​ ​what​ ​makes​ ​us​ ​qualified​ ​to diagnose​ ​our​ ​pets?​ ​While​ ​the​ ​information​ ​is​ ​definitely​ ​out​ ​there​ ​on​ ​one​ ​of​ ​the millions​ ​of​ ​websites​ ​that​ ​make​ ​up​ ​the​ ​internet,​ ​the​ ​chances​ ​of​ ​you​ ​finding​ ​the correct​ ​one—​even ​when​ ​you​ ​know​ ​what​ ​you’re​ ​looking​ ​for—​are ​slim.​ ​Add​ ​in​ ​a severe​ ​lack​ ​of​ ​experience​ ​to​ ​the​ ​mix​ ​and​ ​sorting​ ​through​ ​all​ ​the​ ​possible​ ​options from​ ​a​ ​Google​ ​search​ ​is​ ​nearly​ ​impossible.

​Veterinary​ ​School​ ​is​ ​a​ ​long​ ​hard​ ​four​ ​years—after ​another​ ​equally​-​as​-​taxing​ ​four years​ ​of​ ​pre-veterinary​ ​school​—for ​a​ ​reason. ​​There’s​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​of​ ​information, ​​and​ ​a​ ​lot of​ ​practice​ ​that​ ​comes​ ​before​ ​calling​ ​yourself​ ​a​ ​veterinarian. ​​Much​ ​more​ ​than most​ ​can​ ​absorb​ ​from​ ​a​ ​couple​ ​hours​ ​surfing​ ​the​ ​web. It’s much more likely that you will pick the​ ​wrong​ ​diagnosis​ ​for​ ​your​ ​furry​ ​friend​.

2. Time​ ​is​ ​of​ ​the​ ​essence—​for ‘​Spot’​ ​and​ ​your​ ​wallet

With​ ​the​ ​average​ visit to ​a​ ​vet​ clinic​ ​ranging​ ​between​ ​$35-$145​ ​just​ ​to walk​ ​in​ ​the​ ​door, ​​it’s​ ​understandable​ ​that​ ​people​ ​are​ ​hesitant​ ​to​ ​go​ ​when there​ ​might​ ​be​ ​nothing​ ​wrong. ​​But​, ​when​ ​it​ ​comes​ ​to​ ​any​ ​form​ ​of​ ​medicine, ​​the sooner​ ​you​ ​treat​ ​the​ ​better—and ​the​ ​less​ ​it​ ​will​ ​cost​ ​in​ ​the​ ​end.

With​ ​so​ ​many​ ​illnesses​ ​sharing​ ​so​ ​many​ ​of​ ​their​ ​symptoms​ ​it’s​ ​impossible​ ​for​ ​the average​ ​pet​ ​owner​ ​to​ ​distinguish​ ​the​ ​difference​ ​between​ ​their​ ​pet​ ​being​ ​tired​ ​from heart​ ​disease​ ​and​ ​organ​ ​failure​ ​versus​ ​if​ ​Spot​ ​is​ ​simply​ ​getting​ ​old.​ ​In one​ ​of these​ ​examples​ ​it is​ ​perfectly fine ​to​ ​stay​ ​home​ ​and​ ​wait. It ​costs​ ​nothing and​ there ​isn’t​ ​actually​ ​a​ ​problem​. The​ ​other​ ​is​ a ​worst​-​case​ ​scenario​ ​where every​ ​second​ ​counts​ ​for​ ​you​ ​and​ ​your​ ​pet​ ​and​ ​you won’t​ ​care​ ​how​ empty you ​wallet​ ​looks when​ ​you’re​ ​done​ ​as​ ​long​ ​as​ ​both​ ​of​ ​you​ ​get​ ​to​ ​go​ ​home.

3. You​ ​can’t​ ​have​ ​a​ ​conversation​ ​with​ ​Google

Any​ ​time​ ​you​ ​go​ ​to​ ​the​ ​doctor​ ​they​ ​ask​ ​you​ ​a​ ​multitude​ ​of​ ​questions. ​​Some​ ​seem relevant, ​​others​ ​not​ ​so​ ​much. ​​They​ ​get​ ​your​ ​weight, ​​they​ ​measure​ ​your​ ​height, take​ ​multiple​ ​vital​ ​signs​ ​and​ ​compare​ ​those​ ​to​ ​your​ ​last​ ​visit. ​​The​ ​process​ ​is​ ​far more​ ​complex​ ​than​ ​simply​ ​asking​ ​a​ ​single​ ​question​ ​and​ ​walking​ ​out​ ​cured. ​​Why wouldn’t​ ​the​ ​same​ ​be​ ​true​ ​​ ​for​ ​your​ ​animals. ​​Part​ ​of​ ​any​ ​vet​ ​visit​ ​is​ ​a​ ​conversation between​ ​you​ ​and​ ​the​ ​veterinarian. ​​The vet needs to know how your pet has​ ​been​ ​eating, ​​your pet’s ​energy​ ​level since​ ​you​ ​started​ ​noticing​ ​symptoms, ​​etc.​ ​The​ ​list​ ​goes​ ​on​ ​and​ ​on.

On​ ​the​ ​other​ ​hand,​ ​there​ ​is​ ​no​ ​discourse​ ​with​ ​Google​ ​when​ ​searching​ ​why​ ​Spot has​ ​seemed​ ​extra​ ​tired​ ​as​ ​of​ ​late.​ ​The​ ​internet​ ​can’t​ ​ask​ ​how​ ​long​ ​the​ ​problem has​ ​been​ ​going​ ​on,​ ​or​ ​tell​ ​whether​ ​or​ ​not​ ​your​ ​pet​ ​has​ ​gained​ ​or​ ​lost​ ​an​ ​unusual amount​ ​of​ ​weight,​ ​or​ ​compare​ ​their​ ​health​ ​with​ ​your​ ​last​ ​visit.​ ​Instead,​ ​only knowing​ ​that​ ​he’s​ ​been​ ​tired,​ ​Google​ ​will​ ​give​ ​you​ ​a​ ​website​ ​with​ ​a​ ​list​ ​of​ ​diseases that​ ​have​ ​that​ ​one​ ​symptom​ ​on​ ​their​ ​list,​ ​which​ ​leads​ ​us​ ​to​ ​the​ ​first​ ​two​ ​points.

In​ ​the​ ​end,​ ​the​ ​best​ ​thing​ ​you​ ​can​ ​do​ ​if​ ​you​ ​think​ ​that​ ​Spot​ ​is​ ​sick,​ ​is​ ​go​ ​seek​ ​professional advice.​ ​To​ ​spare​ ​yourself​ ​wasted​ ​time,​ ​money​ ​and​ ​potentially​ ​the​ ​loss​ ​of​ ​a​ ​part​ ​of​ ​your family,​ ​it’s​ ​best​ ​to​ ​avoid​ ​using​ ​the​ ​internet​ ​to​ ​find​ ​quick​ ​fixes​ ​and​ ​advice​ ​and​ ​seek guidance from a professional veterinarian ​for​ ​the​ ​proper​ ​care​ ​and​ ​answers.

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