by Barry B. Burtis D.V.M.
Your Pet and the Net
Have you ever thought about how your mouse can keep your cat healthy? Now the mouse that I am talking about, of course, is attached to your computer. Also, that mouse can help many other pets besides cats. These days, searching the internet is a means of accessing all sorts of information and advice. It is quite natural, then, that pet owners would use this method to learn more about many topics related to pets.
It was quite a shock, though, when I was first exposed to the full power of this amazing tool, nearly a decade ago. An owner had made an appointment to bring in his ill ferret for a visit. Once in the examination room, he had barely said hello, before he handed me five typewritten pages of information he had downloaded from his computer. The diagnosis for his sick pet had already been made. It was right there for me to read. His ferret was suffering from hyperadrenocorticism. The internet material contained a full description of the clinical signs of this disease. It related the specific nature of the surgery that would be necessary to treat the disease. It even told what fee should be expected to perform the operation!
While being very grateful for the assistance, I did insist it would be necessary for me to examine the little ferret and reach my own conclusion. But, you guessed it. The internet diagnosis was smack on. Simple, eh, all I had to do was treat the patient.
Of course, life and veterinary medicine is not always that simple. However, I have always maintained that veterinarians should not feel intimidated by the internet. Rather we should use it as the strong ally it can be. I believe a veterinarian's job is made much easier with a well educated and knowledgeable pet owner. No one could argue that surfing the net is not one way for a pet owner to learn. The caution, though, is that you must sort the wheat from the chaff. You cannot rely on the truth and accuracy of all that you find on the internet. Much information is anecdotal or testimonial in nature. Statements are made,cures are recommended that may have no scientific basis. It may not be true in general just because someone believes it to be, with respect to their pet. With these limitations in mind, here are some of my recommendations for you to source information about your pet.
Go to http://www.ckc.ca/ if you are thinking about buying a puppy or selecting a breed of dog that would be a good fit for you. Here are some good web sites to learn more about your pet once you own one: http://www.healthypet.com/ ; http://www.avma.org/ ; www.animalhealthcare.ca Try http://www.dogfancy.com/ or http://www.catfancy.com/ to explore a great range of interests to cat and dog owners.
The internet is a great place to learn about non-traditional pets. If you own a pet rat visit http://www.petratscanada.com/, for rabbit information, http://www.houserabbits.com/ has lots of great advice and http://www.ferretcentral.org/ has lots of ferret facts.
If you are trying to learn more about foods available for your dog, www.canineworld.com provides links to dog food companies around the world. Information about the foods they produce and other pet related topics are discussed at http://www.purina.ca/ and http://www.hillspet.com/ .
The list of things you can do on the net goes on and on. You can learn about pet health insurance at http://www.petcaregift.com/ or http://www.petplan.com/ , you can investigate puppy classes for your new pup at http://www.mccanndogs.com/ or consider a better method to control your dog on leash at http://www.gentleleadercanada.com/ .
Next time you are out there surfing, remember your pet and take the opportunity to become a more knowledgeable and informed owner.