Finding Information on the Internet
We live in an age of overflowing communication, and with so many resources available, it’s hard to identify which information is reliable. You may find this hard to believe, but many veterinarians surf the internet for information as if they were a pet owner to see what content is available online. We also do this to prevent problems by letting clients know about pet health issues during their pets’ annual exams. There are many opinions disguised as facts that can easily mislead people. In some instances, false information could harm your pet.
Here are some basic guidelines that can help you search the internet responsibly. Remember to vet the internet. (No puns intended!)
A credible web resource usually ends with “.edu” or “.gov” and sometimes “.org”. Avoid “.com” websites unless a veterinarian specifically suggests them to you. Some organizations that have websites with a .com may take on extreme viewpoints.
Education Not Emotions
Don’t seek data on the internet that supports a preconceived viewpoint to validate something you “feel” is the right answer. Instead, gather credible, reliable information first to make an educated decision.
Think Outside the Box
Some of the less credible websites have extreme viewpoints and use terms like “always” or “never” to offer an authoritative voice. Contributors to such sites instill fear and intimidation by arguing someone else is wrong and therefore they must be right.
Check the Author’s Credibility
Review the author’s credentials, ensuring he or she comes with expertise on the topic. Confirm whether the article’s sources are reliable and accurate.
Remember that you can always discuss information found online with your veterinarian at your next appointment.
James O'Bryan, DVM, is a graduate of Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine who lives in Paris, Texas. Dr. O'Bryan practices at Paris Veterinary Associates in Paris, Texas, which is a new clinic in Lamar County.