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If you're reading this and feeling attacked, then it's possibly because you've had a question about a health issue or simply needed the support of a fellow pet parent and sought veterinarian advice on social media. If you've posted your question in a group, you probably received 50 pieces of advice before the discussion was shut down by the Admin. And if you contacted me, then I probably told you to speak with your veterinarian or to contact Dr. Laurie Coger for a consultation.
I get messages like this weekly and I've offended quite a few people who weren't happy with my recommendation to speak with their veterinarian. And, to be honest, I'm not sorry.
Why Pet Parents Seek Advice on Social Media
I'm not completely clueless when it comes to understanding why pet parents seek advice on social media. If your dog is sick and the vet's office is closed, you might post about it on social media to get an idea of how urgent the situation is – hell, the emergency vet is expensive ($99 to walk through the door in our town).
When Sydney had cancer, it helped to be part of a support group. So I get it.
However, I challenge you to think of this in a different way because there are three reasons why I will not offer medical advice, even something basic.
1 – Practicing Medicine without a License
I can get nabbed for practicing medicine without a license. And, in some states, this is taken very seriously, people do jail time, and the fines are insane. I have no desire to risk my business, my home, my job, and my freedom because I'm pretending to be a veterinarian online.
Many times people will say that they just want advice from another pet parent, however, I'm not just another pet parent. I've created a business and platform that leaves me open to getting into trouble if I step outside my lane. I'm a blogger, I'm a pet parent, I'm NOT a veterinarian, so I will never offer medical advice for fear of doing more harm than good.
2 – I'm Not a Veterinarian
If you have a medical question about your dog, you really should seek the advice of a veterinarian. I'm not a veterinarian.
I know that some people don't have access to a veterinarian who is pro-raw and open to alternative medicine. But we live in an amazing time and if you don't have a veterinarian in your neighborhood, you might be able to find a vet who speaks your language and also offers virtual consultants. This is going to take some time and a lot of research, so it's best to find a veterinarian when you're not facing a serious medical diagnosis.
3 – I Want to Help Dogs, Not Harm Dogs
And, finally, the reason I won't offer medical advice is because I don't want to harm anyone's dog. There are so many medical situations that I have zero knowledge about or experience with – we had our first cancer diagnosis in 2020, after living with dogs for 10 years, and although Rodrigo has had a history of gut issues, including an exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) diagnosis in 2019, there are many gut health issues that I haven't experienced.
That being said, I don't want to offer advice that may harm someone's dog. This is why I share my experience with my dogs instead of advising others on what they should do with their dog.
Veterinarians Have Their Hands Tied Too
Every week, I host a Live chat with Dr. Laurie Coger and whenever we do an Ask Me Anything, we have to remind people that we are unable to discuss specific health issues. Why? Because I'm not a veterinarian and Dr. Coger isn't able to offer medical advice if she hasn't examined the pet in person. It doesn't matter if it's a simple question and don't bother trying to word it in a way to make us think it's just a general query out of curiosity – we can tell the difference.
As frustrating as this can be, especially when we're trying to learn as much as we can about our dogs' health, it's important to respect a veterinarian's boundaries online because they are risking their license by helping people. Two amazing veterinarians who gave up their license because of the strict laws they work under are Dr. Peter Dobias and Dr. Ron Hines.
A Message to Bloggers, Vloggers, and Social Media Peeps
I'm back with a few additional thoughts. My friends over at Vibrant K9 read this post and added the following:
“Well, you omitted, bloggers and social media peeps need to stop writing like they are medical and nutritional expertsand then they won't get asked vet questions. Just a thought. Hahahaha”
And this is an excellent point and I will try to address it without offending too many people. So here goes.
Vibrant K9 is 100% correct. There are a ton of people online who have set themselves up as an expert in animal health and nutrition when they have no education or experience beyond Google and their own dogs. There are several people on Facebook who are actively giving people advice on canine cancer, encouraging people to feed kibble because raw is too hard, and sharing dog food recipes that are far from “balanced” despite their claims.
And, sadly, there are thousands of pet parents eating up every word these individuals publish on social media and people aren't asking themselves if all of this unvetted advice is good for their dog.
Just because someone is friendly with popular influencers, just because someone has a large platform, and just because someone works with a veterinarian on their social media – yeah, none of this magically turns someone into a veterinarian nor does it make someone an expert in animal nutrition or health.
The best I can offer is sharing my experience with my dogs. But, even then, my experience may not mirror your experience because my dogs aren't the same as your dogs.
So, if you're going to take advice from an influencer on social media, maybe run it by a trusted veterinarian. And if you're reading this and saying “I don't have a trusted veterinarian,” then my response will be “find one.”
Beware of Advice from Well Meaning Strangers
I love the dog lover community because this is where we find likeminded people, support when we needed, and a truck load of information. However, this is also were we find a lot of inaccurate information too. Too often I see people recommending expensive tests to “cure” allergies and food intolerances. Unproven supplements that are said to prevent cancer. And irresponsible, unvetted, and inaccurate medical advice.
I believe that 99% of the people offering advice have the best of intentions. But there are people out there who are just trying to turn a buck and those are the people you need to beware of. A woman tried to convince me to buy a $4,000 product to “cure” Scout and proceeded to guilt me into the purchase before I blocked and banned her on social media. And that's not the only experience I've had with charlatans online. So beware!
In the end, I'm responsible for my dogs and if I follow the advice of strangers, even those who have large platforms, and my dog suffers as a result – then it's on me because I should have done my own research, which includes seeking counsel from a qualified professional.
If your dog is acting strange, if your is sick, or if you suspect that your dog is sick – please please please contact your veterinarian. DO NOT contact me. Because if I do respond, I'll simply tell you to call your veterinarian.