The internet is a very useful tool that can help us look up information that might have once taken us a lot longer. Even as a veterinarian, I use the internet daily to learn more about new products and techniques in the field. Because of this, I know first-hand how important the plethora of information on the web can be. My job also makes me aware of how dangerous, the same information can be.
It turns out that everything you read on the internet is not actually true, and rumors spread like flies at a watermelon festival in South Georgia. In fact, pretty much the first detail of the internet was a falsified rumor. Spoiler alert: Al Gore didn’t actually invent the internet.
Some of the rumors surrounding the veterinary field are harmless enough that, much like T. Swift, we just shake them off and keep moving forward. Others however can be crippling and damaging. Not only to the profession, but to our patients and clients as well. Dr. Andy Roark has a great video debunking many myths found online which can be found HERE.
Myths range from ice water causing bloat, to veterinary products causing death. I won’t and can’t list all of the many myths that can be found online, but there are infinite. My message to clients and pet owners alike, is to make sure when seeking help and advice from the internet, seek out credible sources. One great reference for pet owners is Pet Health Network.
The most significant problem with misinformation on the internet is that more and more people reiterate the same falsehood. As the message is reproduced it gains more and more reputability. This chain reaction causes many to fall into a trap of believing something that may have been posted on facebook, five years ago, as a hoax.
Many of the misinformation can be benign, but sometimes it can be detrimental to a pet’s health. Some patients die from parvo (a virus that can be prevented with appropriate vaccination), because someone somewhere decided vaccinations are evil. Others die from heartworm disease because “preventatives are a marketing ploy invented by the industry to make money” and “Trifexis kills dogs.” Dogs suffer from fleas and ticks that carry deadly diseases because “I gave my dog Bravecto and it died within 24 hours.” The list goes on and on.
The take away is to always read any of these online “ALERTS” with a certain degree of skepticism. The 5 people who read this post are evidence that anyone can read anything, written by anyone online. Your veterinarian is always your best source regarding your pet’s health. If there is truth to any of these rumors, we have probably experienced it. As a profession we have earned your trust by providing the best care we can for your beloved family members. It is never in the veterinarian’s best interest to practice medicine that is harmful to a patient. We don’t make money by selling products that harm animals. If something is recommended by your veterinarian, you can bet he or she has weighed the risks. If millions of people believe a rumor, it doesn’t make the rumor any more true.