I have always had pets since I can remember. When I was a child, we had dogs, birds, reptiles, fish and cats. We had both cats and dogs when I was a teenager, so it was only natural for me to get a pet when I’d moved out of the nest and into my own place.
My fiancé and I rescued our first dog when she was three, and when she was seven, we rescued our second. Our second rescue dog was between nine and eleven years old when we brought her home, so both of our dogs are in their seniorhood.
Because of this, we are no strangers to veterinarians. We have been in and out of the vet’s office for serious and minor injuries, cuts, scrapes, bumps, lumps and maintenance. Each visit costs a pretty penny, but we figured that is the price of pet ownership and we love our dogs to pieces so we put up with it.
A simple Google search could have saved us hundreds of dollars in two separate incidents related to our pet’s perceived medical needs.
Throwing Money Away
A couple of months ago, we noticed that our rescue dog had a bump under her skin, and with the misguided assumption that every bump is probably serious, we took her to the vet to get it checked out.
$200 later, and the vet told us that it was just a cyst. She mentioned that rarely were those types of things serious, and dogs (especially older ones like ours) get cysts quite frequently. She then said something that shocked me: “Next time you are unsure, Google it. It will save you a lot of money because it’s most likely nothing serious”.
I was surprised that she was so candid with me, because let’s face it – if everybody did that, she would be out of business. It was nice that the vet was looking out for us, but besides that it also made us second guess bringing our dogs to the vet with every bump and scrape.
Misdiagnosis and Miserable Pets
The above incident happened recently, but when we first got our rescue dog a couple of years ago, we noticed she was scratching a lot.
Because she was a rescue dog and we didn’t want anything that we gave her to interfere with the meds that she was on, we brought her to the vet to see if it was a food sensitivity, and if not, what it could be. She was already on flea medication so we were certain that wasn’t the issue.
That vet put our dog on steroids in hopes that her itchiness would clear up, but also prescribed a wheat-free diet, as the breed is notorious for their wheat sensitivity. After weeks on the medication and eating zero wheat, we were frustrated because the condition didn’t improve. The vet bill for that particular visit was only about $100, but it was still high enough for the frustration to set in.
When we took our dog in after a few months of her itching for a routine post-rescue checkup to an entirely different vet, they did a skin test and found out that our poor dog had a yeast infection literally all over her body; in her ears, chest, legs, mouth, everywhere. It had spread because it was left untreated for so long to the point where our dog was miserable.
We got her on a few medications and a shampoo and it cleared up so quickly, we didn’t even recognize our dog. She was energetic when she once was lethargic, happy, alert, and attentive.
Despite the first, incorrect diagnosis, we wouldn’t have caught the yeast infection through a Google search, so we were relieved that we decided to take her in for a check up a few months later. While we felt terrible our dog had to live with a yeast infection all over her body for so long, we also felt a little frustrated that we hadn’t tried the wheat removal first before taking her into the vet. After Googling it when we got home, it appeared that it was a very common issue and removing wheat from the dog’s diet had helped the issue for many people.
Obviously, there are some incidents that you need to respond to right away through veterinary care. However, had we learned our lesson initially with the itchiness, we would have been able to save hundreds of dollars just by Googling potential issues.
I read recently that (forgot the number) some huge percentage of medical information on the internet was incorrect. But….I wonder what they mean by “wrong.” An incorrect punctuation mark? One bad sentence in an otherwise useful post? Scare tactic by the medical community trying to get you to come in to the doctor instead of fixing things yourself maybe? What I do know is that as a runner with an injury I went to the sports medicine guy 3 times and he couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. Even had xrays and a special dye test to try to figure out why my leg was hurting. I finally decided to google my symptoms…..turns out I had IT bad syndrome and after doing the recommended stretches for about a week my leg felt great. I couldn’t help but wonder why a sports medicine doctor couldn’t diagnose (what I had come to learn) is one of the most common running injuries on the planet.
I think often, people will get that med school paranoia where they self diagnose crazy things because looking symptoms up on the internet leads them down a rabbit hole. I do think it’s hard to trust what the internet says with health though.
My dog has so many cysts on his chest that it scares me. However, the vet told us the same thing. He’s 12 anyway so it’s doubtful that we would treat any serious illness he got anyway. Love him though =)
Aw, it’s so sad to see our furry friends go through that. Even if they aren’t harmful, I can’t imagine they are comfortable for the pups!
I would think it would be so hard to look it up and not still be worried. I guess if the vet recommended it I’d have a little more peace of mind, though!
That’s the thing I struggled with. I can’t just believe Google – not when my dog’s health is at risk! But it would have saved us a lot had we done so the first time.