Friday, August 9, 2013
We live in interesting times. It’s true that every generation has it decidedly different than the one before, but the disparity seems to get wider with every decade. One reason for this is the internet. I used to get answers to all my burning questions by phoning the library reference desk. If the librarian didn’t know the answer, she always knew where to find it… in those archaic things called books. Remember those? LOL. Now, I can find the answers online in less time than it takes to pick up the phone.
It’s easier than ever to be an informed pet owner nowadays, provided you know how to tell the difference between reputable websites providing accurate information, and sites looking to make a quick buck with keyword-stuffed content. Just because you see the same info on many websites doesn’t mean it’s correct; online information tends to multiply like rabbits, and the “daddy” site that everyone else copied from could be erroneous.
So I always approach my online research with a healthy dose of caution, especially if it concerns my pets’ health or my own. I also do not attempt to self diagnose, and I never substitute the opinion of my trusted vet with information gleaned from a website. That being said, the internet can complement veterinary care because it allows you to ask your vet more questions and gives you the opportunity to learn and become a more informed pet owner.
I always thoroughly research anything my own doctor recommends or prescribes for me, and I do the same for my cats. I have a wonderful vet; she doesn’t roll her eyes when she seems me getting out my “list” of symptoms or things I want to ask her about. (I can’t say the same about my M.D.). My vet always takes the time to discuss all medications, treatments and options with me so I’m confident in the decisions we make together about my cats’ care. I trust her expertise completely, but I still believe a responsible pet owner has a duty to be as informed as possible about the various options.
Thus, if I’m going to give my cat some new medicine or treatment, I always do my own research first. The one time I didn’t do that, things went horribly wrong. I’d taken Annabelle to my regular vet on a Friday because she wasn’t eating and had vomited six times the night before. Despite extensive lab work, x-rays and a thorough exam, the cause remained unknown.
She was much worse the next day, so off to the emergency vet hospital we went. They recommended hospitalization, fluid therapy and an appetite stimulant. Because we were in crisis mode, I didn’t even think to ask which appetite stimulant and if there were any side effects or known issues.
Unfortunately, Annabelle had a horrible reaction to it and became very agitated, had vision problems and suffered frequent tremors, among other things. It was awful, and the worst part was that it took four days for the drug to clear from her system. Later, after I did my research, I learned that some cats do not tolerate this particular appetite stimulant, and Annabelle was one of them.
I felt extremely guilty for not knowing this before I agreed to give it to her, but I just wasn’t thinking. I was, after all, in the emergency room with a gravely ill cat. Yet the drug made her worse instead of better, so I felt that I hadn’t lived up to my credo to be a responsible pet owner and to always make informed decisions about my cat’s care.
Thankfully, my cat recovered from that ordeal, but you can bet I won’t make the same mistake again.
Top photo by DeluXe-PiX
Bottom photo by Tambako the Jaguar
Read more articles by Julia Williams