What Are The Best Internet Sources Of Information

About My Pet's Health ?

Ron Hines DVM PhD

These are the websites I find most helpful in learning about current treatment trends for your pet :


When you surf the net for information, remember that commercial sites that sell products can never be relied upon when discussing the possible benefits of those products and that sites that describe surgical procedures that they themselves perform, tend to overstate the success rates of those procedures. (The profit motive can have a bending effect on science. (ref)

The following is a list of informative sites that you can generally trust:

ncbi - The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) This site is run by the National Institutes of Health - my alma mater. The Federal government requires that all published research findings that receive federal dollars have an abstract published in this data base. Abstracts of projects that received no federal or state funding are often submitted as well. The studies should have been reviewed at three levels, first, by the NIH if funding was granted, then by the research institution that performed them and then by "peers" of the scientist at the request of the publishing journal.

But that system is rapidly breaking down. As of mid 2017, 5,632 journals are included in the medical portion of ncbi with more added all the time. Unfortunately some of the scientists who publish in those journals - including veterinarians- are not above gaming the system. So you must not assume that all articles and conclusions listed in the ncbi are valid. You can read more about that worrisome problem here and here .There are tell-tail signs that indicate possible low quality: studies that include too few animals, studies that are funded by product manufacturers or include product manufacturer employees as co-authors, studies, the results of which are published by the author multiple times with only minor variations, studies that rely on questionnaires distributed to pet owners, studies that have not been duplicated elsewhere, conclusions where dog and cat studies contradict the results of human studies.

Merck Veterinary Manual Published online by the non-profit arm of Merck Pharmaceutical Company, the Manual gives a brief, but remarkably comprehensive summary of cause, diagnosis and treatment of all common diseases of pets. First published in 1955 the Manual was completely revised last in 2016. It represents the combined knowledge of 470 experts in veterinary medicine. Use their internal search engine to find specific information.

Cornell Feline Health Center Cornell University, College of Veterinary Medicine sponsors the non-profit CFHC. The highly-urban nature of much of New York, made Cornell a leader in feline health care long before cats became the most popular pet in the United States. CFHC publishes online client information articles that give a brief - but accurate - summary about the condition. Simply typing in the name of the medical condition, followed by the word Cornell, will bring up these articles on a Google search.

Veterinary Partners.com and The Veterinary Information Network (VIN). The, VIN, based in southern California, distributes information to keep veterinarian's up-to-date on the diagnosis and treatment of health problems in your pet. One of their services is to maintain this series of well-written healthcare articles that veterinarians can distribute to their clients. These articles will give you a good overview of the treatment options available for your pet. Type in the condition you are interested in, followed by the letters vin and it should come up on a Google search.

Wikipedia Wikipedia, the Web-based, free-content encyclopedia, founded in 2001 by Jimbo Wales, is an excellent starting point to understanding your pet's health problem. I link back to it frequently regarding medical terminology and basic medical science. But Wikipedia's non-judgmental approach and the possessiveness of some pet health-topic editors make it less helpful when it comes to evaluating the benefits of current treatment options for your pet. People who serve as the site's policemen (topic administrators or editors) sometimes hold and promote strong personal opinions. (ref) My personal experiences in correcting article errors and omissions have been quite mixed. (ref)

AAHA The American Animal Hospital Association published a list of treatment guidelines that represent a consensus of their member's opinions as to what constitutes optimal treatment and care. Veterinarians and veterinary hospitals that participate in AAHA tend to be the most dynamic and advanced in their communities.

The Cochrane Library The Cochrane Library is the most respected reviewer of medical studies in the field of human medicine. Insurance companies, medical schools and contemplative physicians use it when deciding which treatments are likely to be effective and which are not. No such organization exists in veterinary medicine. But I go to it frequently. If something is not an effective treatment in humans, it generally is not an effective treatment in pets either. NCBI gives short abstracts of their results.

Quackwatch This site, operated by retired psychiatrist, Stephen Barrett, scours the internet for worthless remedies and treatments. Eventually, most of the products he zeros in on are offered to the pet-owning public as well.