Sleuth wants to know if you have seen the latest video showing the Bulldog who rides a skateboard. How about Keyboard Cat? There’s lots of animals and animal related advice on the Internet, but how do you know what sites are trustworthy and best for you and your pet?
1) With more than 73 million households owning pets, Internet searches for pet related information, products and entertainment is at an all time high.
2) When researching your pet’s health online, remember that NOTHING can take the place of your veterinarian’s physical examination. This is key and often legally necessary.
3) When you do take time to look online, start with your veterinarian’s website or even Facebook page. Join their social network to keep up to date on all things animal!
4) Look for sites that are affiliated with national animal or veterinary organizations or that have information from experienced veterinarians.
5) Be wary of sites that try to provide answers to you, but then recommend that you buy “their” product to solve the issue. It’s clear, their answers are biased!
6) Many breeders and trainers might have some good, SPECIFIC knowledge of certain breeds or behavior. BUT, they should not be providing health advice about pets online!
7) We encourage all pet owners to shop locally, but there are many sites that provide brand name pet toys and other products at great prices. PetCo.com is just one example.
8) Similarly, when considering adopting a new pet, look at local rescues and animal shelters. They are always in need of foster homes, “forever home” and volunteers to help them with their work.
9) If you aren’t sure about a specific site, ask your veterinarian. He or she will often be able to tell you if the site is legitimate or simply out to get your money.
10) For more trustworthy and accurate pet health information, visit www.MyVNN.com or www.PetDocsOnCall.com .
Pet websites vary from product sales to medical information, from rescue organizations to breed clubs. There’s even entertainment available! As we continue to pamper our pets, we often turn to the Internet for all kinds of information.
So how does a responsible owner know where to search on-line and which pet or veterinary websites can be trusted?
By: Dr. Jim Humphries, Veterinary News Network
With thousands of pet related sites out there, searching for needed information can be overwhelming. So we have helped narrow the field to some key sites that all pet lovers can use and trust.
HEALTH & BEHAVIOR INFORMATION
“Dr. Google” may provide thousands of sites with health and behavior information, but nothing replaces your real veterinarian. Only your pet’s doctor can see and treat actual symptoms, so a face-to-face relationship is key and often legally necessary. But, don’t forget to also visit their website and even their Facebook pages. Join your veterinarian’s on-line community of friends and join in the conversation. It’s fun and you might learn something new!
When you do your research on-line, you’re your focus on websites where the information comes directly from experienced veterinarians and animal health organizations. Be very wary of any site that appear to provide answers, but are really selling their own product or service. It should be clear, their answers will be biased.
Also, even though breeders and trainers may have specific knowledge of certain breeds or behavior, they should NOT be dispensing health advice about pets online – this is a sure indication to stay away.
Quality sites maintained by legitimate animal health organizations provide research based and up-to-date veterinary information, not conjecture and anecdotes. Here are a few favorites:
• ASPCA.org – Great extensive database on potential toxins of our pets
• Healthypet.com – Wellness care articles written by experienced veterinarians
• PetDocsOnCall.com – The largest number of actual veterinarians providing answers at no charge!
• CatVets.com – Cat specific information from veterinarians specializing in our feline friends
• DogChannel.com – learn about different breeds and many other aspects of dog care.
PET FOOD AND PRODUCTS
Buying on-line to find bargains is great, but if the deal comes with risk to your pet, then it’s not so great.
“Cheap” on-line pet pharmacies are often problematic. Pet owners should ALWAYS look for the Vet-VIPPS® logo (Verified Internet Pet Pharmacy service). Today many veterinarians also offer “online pharmacies” in their own “store” on their hospital’s websites. This is the best place to look for your pet’s medication needs because you know the source.
For non medical products, like toys, chews or diets, there are many options, including your locally owned pet store. We encourage pet owners to support local businesses whenever possible.
• PetCo.com – A huge selection of products for many types of pets, savings of quality brand-name products and possible delivery to your door!
• K9Cuisine.com – a specialty dog food retailer with a reputation for outstanding customer service and delivery.
• Dogologie.com – need some “pjs” for your pup? How about a hoodie for your hound?
• CatToys.com – don’t leave your feline friend out of the fun! Everything from catnip to motorized cat toys!
• OliveGreenDog.com – trying to be eco-friendly? Find your green, natural and organic pet products at this site.
If you are looking for websites providing stories, cute photos and videos of pets, you are in luck! Even Facebook is in the act as owners create profiles for their pets! And don’t forget to search You Tube for videos like “Keyboard Cat”!
Some top pet entertainment websites include:
• ICanHasCheezeburger.com – Better known as “LOLcats”, this site posts new pet pictures daily and visitors can add their own captions. And remember, at this site, spelling does not count!
• PeoplePets.com – Find out what Paris Hilton’s Chihuahua is doing or how the royal Corgis prepare for high society wedding!
• FunnyAnimalVideos.com – Sit back and enjoy other pets’ antics or upload your own amusing videos.
• Animal.Discovery.com – Expand your interests to animals beyond those in our home. Funny home videos and clips from Animal Planet shows are here.
PET RESCUE & ASSISTANCE SITES
The best way to adopt or support pet organizations is to ‘go local’. There are many excellent organizations helping place animals in homes, providing rescue and health related services.
• PetFinder.com – The best national resource for pet rescue and adoption. Search for local results and specific breeds.
• Use Google! Just type in your favorite breed, then “rescue”, then your state to find nearby groups with pets.
• CharityNavigator.com – Not a pet related site, but one that you can use to check out how efficient and financially sound your favorite animal charity is.
Don’t forget, pet-friendly consumers can help in ways beyond adoption too. Assist locally. Donate locally. Volunteering, donating items like old blankets, even fostering are all helpful to animal welfare organizations.
With over 73 million U.S. households owning some type of pet, it’s not surprising that hundreds of thousands of websites have evolved. No doubt there is much good information available on-line, but the best medical and behavior advice should always come first from your veterinarian and also their presence on the web!
Join our discussion about the pros and cons of various pet related websites at www.PetDocsOnCall.com.
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Dr. Jan Bob is a veterinarian at the Whatever Veterinary hospital and can be reached at DrJan@aol.com.