Sunday, May 15, 2016

Your Vet vs. the Internet

As technology gains a stronger and stronger foothold into our lives, it becomes easier to look up symptoms rather than talk to a professional. We can look up symptoms by tapping our smartphones a few times and accessing an app or website that gives us all the possibilities and treatments we could ever think of.

The only problem with the flood of the information age for our pets is that it’s very easy to misdiagnose their symptoms (and our own) because an app or website runs on logarithms, not experience.

Here’s why you should call your vet the next time Spot looks a little worse for wear.

Your Vet is Educated
Becoming a veterinarian is not unlike becoming a “people” doctor. You must obtain a 4-year bachelor’s degree, pass certain exams, and then join a throng of very competitive applicants for the 30 accredited vet schools available in the US. And when we say competitive, we mean competitive—less than half of the applicants to all vet schools in 2013 got in.

So what does a vet study? First of all, they’ve already prepared for vet school by obtaining a bachelor’s in a complementary field, such as veterinary or biomedical sciences. Usually something to do with biology or chemistry. Not only that, but they have maintained a higher than 3.5 GPA, garnered experience working with animals in a clinical setting, scored highly on the GRE or MCAT, and been highly involved in student clubs. Upon being admitted to vet school, students take an oath of ethical conduct and continuing education.

So you see, vets know their stuff, and pretty much have to be highly motivated individuals—great criteria for getting your pet the best help!

Your Vet is Experienced
Not only is your vet very knowledgeable, he is experienced. While internet databases of pet symptoms are also knowledgeable, they can’t compete with experience. Yes, you’ll find the equivalent of experience on the internet in forums where others have posted their pet problems, but those experiences are subjective at best.

Not to mention that your vet knows your pet by name, and likely knows his medical history. Can a logarithm compute that? The staff at NippersCorner Pet Medical Center in Nashville, TN, will tell you that having experience as a vet is one of the best ways—sometimes the only way—of diagnosing a pet’s symptoms.

Every Case Is Different
But what if it’s the middle of the night and you can’t find the number to your clinic and you need help fast, you say? You need a real vet if you’re facing an emergency in the middle of the night, and that’s what pet emergency clinics are for. You think you can’t look up the phone number to your local pet hospital just as easily as search databases for symptoms?

Every case is different. Every case. There simply is no substitute for having a rapport and history with a vet, who knows the nuances of Spot’s digestive system and his affinity for damaging foods over healthy ones. Vets and their techs and assistants can more accurately and quickly determine the source of your pet’s symptoms, and this is why you need your vet more than your internet.

Has looking up symptoms ever backfired on you?
That’s not to say that general symptoms can’t be identified and treated via online databases. It is sometimes useful to treat unconcerning symptoms at home before appealing for professional help. But in situations where you truly don’t know where to begin, dial the vet instead of the database.

What about you—have you ever tried to treat symptoms from the internet and found that it wasn’t effective? Leave your story in a comment below!

This article was provided by guest blogger: Sally Baggett. Sally holds a master's degree in literature and has been a copy editor and blog writer since 2009. Not only does she also teach writing at the college level, she is a busy mom to two precious little girls.


  1. we looked up symptoms for our pet and tried some over the counter remedies which just delayed treatment.