News 98 Of Vets Say Owners Consult Dr Google First

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98% of vets say owners consult ‘Dr Google’ first
22nd August 2014

By Karen Pickwick

A nationwide survey of vets by the British Veterinary Association reveals that 98% of respondents believe their clients’ behaviour is influenced by what they find online. Four in 10 vets said the owners’ online research was unhelpful, with only 6% of pet vets finding it useful.

The BVA’s ‘Voice of the Veterinary Profession’ survey of nearly 700 vets working with companion animals also reveals that skin conditions are the most common reason for pet owners to visit their vets, with 70% saying this is one of the most common problems they see.

Other common problems include gastrointestinal disorders, such as vomiting, diarrhoea and digestive problems, (mentioned by 54%) and musculoskeletal problems, including lameness (45%).

Over 80% of these pet vets have clients who bring their pets in later than they should. Early treatment is often vital in preventing more serious health concerns, they say.

Of the 81% who had seen animals they felt should have been presented earlier, most suspected financial reasons and a lack of understanding were behind the delay. Attempts to self-diagnose and treat pets – through medication kept at home, bought online or in supermarkets – were also reported as problems.

One vet who completed the survey commented: “‘Dr Google often results in owners misdiagnosing conditions, followed by the client being led to believe that there is a cheap and effective ‘treatment’ obtainable online or from a pet shop…and thus animals suffer far longer than need be…”

Another vet told how a client had actually checked Google on the phone during his consultation with the vet and how another had refused an operation on her dog, only to come back with the dog minutes later ‘in a blind panic’ because the internet had agreed with his advice.