Tiffany Major, DVM

By Tiffany Major, DVM

We’ve all done it. Whenever we start to feel like we are coming down with something, we type out a list of our symptoms and send them over to “Dr. Google”. While some find answers, others have scared themselves into believing that what they thought was the flu is now full-blown Ebola.

Most doctors feel that googling treatments isn’t the best idea, and we agree. When it comes to diagnosing your pet, I only have this to say: the internet is no easy answer. As humans, we have the gift of speech. We are able to communicate with others to let them know when we don’t feel right. And when we are getting worse.

Your pet on the other hand cannot always let you know what is wrong, and sometimes, the symptoms only show when it is too late. Annual check-ups are strongly recommended and one of the most important factors in preventative care. But too often I see emergencies where a pet is brought in with an exacerbated condition because their owner decided to treat them with a Dr. Google prescription.

Not everything on the internet is bad. While some “Ask a Vet” websites could be useful when asking non-emergency questions such as “can I give my dog turkey on Thanksgiving?” or “what’s the easiest way to crate train?” These are non-threatening questions and don’t need emergency medical care.

And there are many websites that provide useful information for our pets to live long, happy lives including ours. I cannot speak for all websites, but I know that is here to help you identify signs that you may need to seek medical help from a professional. Our website is here so that you have information on what to do in the first few minutes of an emergency until you can get to a professional, and information online so that you know when you need a professional.

Performing a routine check up.

But when your pet is experiencing rapid weight loss, vomiting, pale gums, coughing, having diarrhea or anything along those lines, please get professional help.

We would never diagnose anything over the phone or through our website because just like humans, all animals are different. The only way to know what is wrong is to bring in your pet to get checked out. Just like many other states, Nevada law says it is illegal for a veterinarian to diagnose, treat, or prescribe anything to a pet if they haven’t completed a physical exam on them within the past 12 months or if they have a new condition.

Common problems I run into when owners’ google signs and symptoms on their own are misdiagnosis, giving their pet the wrong treatment and even death. One client came in with a very sick dog and told me that they read on the internet that you can give your dog any human medication. No, you can’t. As a result, they gave their dog human pain medication and poisoned a four-legged family member. By the time we saw her, she was near death.

While there are human medications safe for your pet, it is always best to check with a professional prior to giving to ensure it is okay to give, and the proper dosage to give.

A 10 to 20 pound dog cannot take the same dosage as a 60 pound dog or a 200 pound human being. Furthermore, human medications can be poisonous for your pet if given at an improper dose – just like some foods are.  

We love our pets and never want them to be in any kind of pain, but one of the reasons why Dr. Google is no good is because it is purely information without any context.  Veterinarians have over eight years of schooling plus years of experience in the field. We call it “practice” because we practice veterinary medicine throughout our careers.

If you ever feel that something is wrong with your pet, please don’t wait. Come see us, our job is to give the best care possible so that your loved one can get back to their normal selves.