It seems more often than not that pet owners come in with a self-diagnosis on their pets. “Doc, I read on the internet about blah blah blah and I think my dog has blah blah blah”. Not that long ago, I had a dog owner come in convinced his dog had Hypothyroidism because it was showing decreased energy levels. He’d googled some of the dogs symptoms and decided that was what was going on. Trouble was, the dog actually had a kind of cancer called Hemangiosarcoma and was tiring easily because he was anemic. He wasn’t hypothyroid at all. Any doc worth his or her stuff would have this disease high on the list for a geriatric Golden Retriever, especially after a physical exam revealed an enlarged spleen. Sadly for my patient, enough time had lapsed since he first showed signs that it was too late to do anything for him and he ended up dying. I didn’t have the heart to tell his owner that, but his attempts at playing doctor probably killed his dog.
The internet is a great resource, but there’s just as much misinformation and myth out there as there is accurate stuff. Sometimes one can do a lot of harm trying to figure out what’s wrong with oneself or with one’s pet. Don’t forget that your veterinarian or your physician has at least 6 years of university training and many more years of clinical experience. How can reading articles on the internet for an hour or so replace that?
Here’s an article in USA today about why Dr. Google is sometimes a quack.
My suggestion? Go see your veterinarian when your pet is sick. Then, after the doctor has performed an exam, run any necessary tests and come up with a few rule outs for what may be the cause of illness in your animal, then read up on those and other similar conditions. Better yet, ask your vet to email you links to trusted web sites where you can educate yourself on what’s wrong with your pet. You and your veterinarian can work together towards your pet’s health.