How to evaluate online pet health articles
by THERESE on JANUARY 31, 2010
If you’re like me, when one of my pets is diagnosed with a major illness, one of the first places I turn is to the Internet. Type any pet related health condition into your favorite search engine and you’ll find something – probably a lot of somethings! The question is, how accurate is the information you find? A savvy pet owner will not only read what’s online, but will evaluate the source of that information. Here are a few tips to help you decide whether or not the articles you find online are worth the time it takes to read them.
Consider the source
Look for articles written by researchers and other experts at veterinary schools, organizations that do research on animal health, and well-known websites. Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, Pet Connection, DogAware.com, and VeterinaryPartner.com are just a few of the many highly respected websites that cover pet health.
If you see an article on a website that doesn’t seem to have any credentials, look on some of the websites that do offer credentials to see if they have any corroborating info. As the old saying goes, “don’t believe everything you read.”
Look for current articles
While older articles are definitely worth reading, if you’re doing research on something like feline cancer (which I’m in the midst of learning about with Tequila), also try to find articles that are as up-to-date as possible. The newer articles will likely cite recent studies and/or advancements made about the condition you’re dealing with in your pet.
Look for articles by respected authors
Writers like Christie Keith and Gina Spadafori, (from Pet Connection) Dr. Patty Khuly (from Doolittler), Lew Olson (from B-Naturals), and Mary Strauss (from DogAware.com) are all well respected pet health writers. Anything you see written by them is going to be well-researched and based on facts. On the other hand, not every Joe Blow who sets up a website and posts his theory on how to heal dogs of cancer is going to be worth your time. Some of the information you find, will be written by people who mean well, but just aren’t qualified to be offering medical advice. And of course, be wary of the scammers who have the miracle cure you’re looking for. Chances are, the only thing you’ll be making healthier by sending them your money is their bank account!
Evaluate personal accounts carefully
Regardless of what type of illness your pet has, you’re probably going to want to hear from others who have gone through the same thing with their pets. I know I did when when Lydia was diagnosed with cancer in 2008 (and I do now that Tequlia’s been diagnosed with cancer). I wanted to hear from others who have dealt with the same type of cancer. I wanted to know how the pets were treated, what they fed them, what supplements they gave their pet, how the disease progressed. And of course, I wanted to hear from people who had dogs who survived! I found happy and sad stories, but every time I read something I reminded myself that Lydia’s situation was unique, and that her story wouldn’t be identical to any other. It’s important to keep this fact in mind no matter what type of problem you’re facing with your pet. Not every disease in every pet is going to progress in the exact same way. Get input from others, but don’t get too hung up on exactly how things progressed in their pets.
Being faced with a major illness in one of your pets is stressful enough without wasting time reading articles that prove to be harmful, or inaccurate at best. Finding information online about your pet’s condition is the easy part – evaluating it can sometimes be a bit tricky. So, before going too far into what you’re reading take the time to decide whether it’s worth reading. It could save you a lot of time and heartache.