Locally-Owned in Oakdale and St. Paul, Minnesota

Proof that Dr. Google is NOT a Licensed Veterinarian

Dr. Google, veterinary advice, medical questions, ask your vet, Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota, pet emergency, veterinary emergency

Even after 17 years, Google University still unable to achieve accreditation by the American Veterinary Medical Association. The public remains stunned.

What do you use your smartphone for the most?  I recently polled our hospital staff, and I was not at all surprised to find that surfing the internet came in second, right behind texting.  We have become really used to, perhaps even dependent upon, having a lot of information available to us.

While the internet search engine may be extremely helpful in answering pop culture trivia, finding a song lyric, or resolving the burning question of who that actor was, medically-based information from the internet is often inaccurate and may even be dangerous. Loving families that want to help their animal can actually cause harm or even worsen their pet’s problem by following advice from an internet source.

Dr. Google, veterinary advice, medical questions, ask your vet, Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota, pet emergency, veterinary emergency

The following are examples of why Dr. Google is a hack and will never be properly licensed. Remember, these examples are from actual websites! These are examples of what not to do!

  • Home remedy for worms: Garlic.

    • NEVER give your pet garlic! Garlic is actually toxic to pets! It is an Allium species plant that can cause severe anemia (low red blood cell count), impaired ability of the remaining red blood cells to carry oxygen, high heart rate, vomiting and diarrhea. If you give your pet garlic to treat worms, you’re trading a simple, easy-to-treat problem for a much less easy, more dangerous problem. Just say no to garlic.
  • Treatment for stomach upset: Imodium AD.

    • Imodium AD is an over-the-counter medication that slows the contractions of the intestinal tract.  It may actually make some causes of diarrhea and vomiting worse and can cause abdominal pain! Additionally, animals can become quite sedate after receiving Imodium. (Which may or may not be what you wanted…)
  • Home care for wounds: Clean the wound with hydrogen peroxide.

    • Hydrogen peroxide kills bacteria, but it does this by damaging cell walls. Hydrogen peroxide can’t discriminate between bacteria and your pet’s cells, so normal tissues are also damaged. (I know, when I was a kid my mom put it on my scraped knees, too – but it probably wasn’t a great idea!  Don’t tell her I said that, though.  We don’t want her to feel bad.) Anyway, our goal is to heal the wound, not make it worse!
  • Inducing Vomiting at Home: It’s our old friend, hydrogen peroxide again!

    • When you make your pet swallow hydrogen peroxide, it can severely damage the lining of the esophagus and stomach and can cause persistent vomiting and diarrhea.  If your pet eats something he shouldn’t, please see your veterinarian. Your vet can induce vomiting with a medication.
  • I found two significant mistakes on a blog about when and how to breathe for your dog if he stops breathing.
    • The blog stated, “If the dog goes unconscious, then perform artificial respiration. Never perform artificial respiration on an unconscious dog.”  Hmmm…[finger tapping chin.]  Methinks these are contradictory statements.  Hopefully, there was a typo in that second sentence, and the author intended it to read “Never perform artificial respiration in a conscious dog.”  When you are stressed because your dog is not breathing, though, contradictory information only amplifies your stress and makes your efforts less effective.  The article also advises, “When the dog is breathing, get it to the vet immediately.”  You would be wasting precious time if you followed these instructions, and when a pet stops breathing, time is critical.  Instead, have someone drive you to the vet’s office while you are performing artificial respiration.

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If your pet is having a medical problem, it is always best to contact a veterinarian rather than consulting internet-based (mis)information.  Veterinary technicians and vets are always available at both of our AERC locations, and we are always happy to talk with you about a problem that your pet is having. That way, you can avoid any complications that a house-call from Dr. Google may cause in the diagnosis and proper treatment of your pet.

Sarah Humphrey, DVM, DACVECC, board-certified criticalist, Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota












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