Recent Surveys of pet owners have shown that more than 70% of them feel as if their pet is part of the family. and, just like human family members, today’s advice on healthcare, discipline, and rearing comes from many different sources, including the Internet. Can you trust everything you read on the Web?

We live in an age of almost instantaneous information. 24-hour news stations, talk radio, and of course, the Internet, have revolutionized the way we think and educate ourselves. It is easier than ever to research a topic and make decisions about almost any subject, even the medical care of our families and our pets. But is all the advice good? How do we filter what we find? How do we decide what is the best advice on caring for our four legged family members?

Many businesses have turned to the Internet to reach more pet owners and broaden their markets. Searching for pet related items on the Web will find everything from pet psychics to pet pharmacies to training aids and toys. With this explosion of information, many people might ask: “Are there Internet pet sites that you can trust?”

Many of these sites are developed and maintained by trainers, breeders, and other animal experts. Perhaps some of these non-veterinary animal authorities have good basic knowledge of a limited area of animal behavior, breed, or even potentially, health issues. No one would likely question the advice and expertise of a trainer of champion Border Collies when it comes to the best way to work these dogs, but should we listen to their advice on heartworm preventative? More to the point, when is it OK to trust our pet’s health to someone other than the family veterinarian?

For most pet owners, their veterinarian is their primary source for advice. In fact, veterinarians consistently rank in the Top 5 of America’s most trusted professions. Despite these warm feelings of trust, the urge and desire to save money on our pet’s care is a big factor in who pet owners will turn to for advice. One example would be the increase in chat rooms, blogs, and other media sources that highlight pet “experts” other than veterinarians.

Anyone can post information on the web. There is no requirement that the person actually be an expert. And while much valuable information can be found, there is also much that is inaccurate or just plain incorrect or dangerous.

When it comes to understanding how all aspects of a pet’s environment, genetics, physical health and even mental and emotional health are related, your family veterinarian, with his or her years of intensive post-graduate training in medicine and surgery, is still the best choice to provide you with the answers you need. Veterinarians have either a DVM or VMD degree. This Doctor of Veterinary Medicine designation is your assurance of proper training and the completion of a university accredited curriculum. Just like your doctor, some veterinarians become specialists, focusing on internal medicine, dermatology, or even, family practice.

Knowing this, a good place to start to find accurate and up-to-date information on animal health care, is your veterinarians website. ( Most veterinary sites have links to pre-approved veterinary medical sites. Recently, while attending the Western Veterinary Conference, I was introduced to a site that has been launched for the pet owner called This site is not meant to replace your veterinarian and PetDocsOnCall (PDOC) still believes the best part about visiting your family veterinarian or their website is the comfort of knowing it comes from your pet’s doctor-who knows your pet and your family best.

As pet owners, PDOC was created to offer a website and community for people who love their pets. Here in the Gardner area, it would be difficult to find a home without at least one pet. As a veterinarian, I get the pleasure to visit with your four-legged family members on various occasions throughout the year. Yet, I know that I am not available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. PDOC recognized this happens with all veterinarians and created a trusted site that owners could turn to ask questions or seek out information at their convenience 24 hours a day.

PDOC is a site you can trust because it is manned by the largest veterinary medical staff anywhere on the web. They are there to help guide you and answer questions. Keep in mind, they are there to answer questions, not to diagnose, recommend treatment, provide emergency recommendations, assess the care your pet is receiving or to replace your Veterinary Healthcare Team. For a small fee, an experienced Doctor of Veterinary Medicine will answer your questions. As a member, you simply post your question in the “Ask the Veterinarian” section and your question will be answered within hours. Again, this service is there 24/7.

All PetDocsOnCall veterinarians are members of the Veterinary News Network (VNN) and donate their time to support this valuable site. VNN is similar to the Associated Press for veterinarians who are also veterinary media reporters. I am very fortunate to be a member of both VNN and PDOC. You may even see me answering your questions in the “Ask the Vet” section.

The huge pipeline of information that is the Internet is wonderful. You have an incredible resource at your fingertips. But frankly it should come with a warning label-“Caution, the information you receive or the products you buy may or may not be correct!” PDOC will provide you with the trusted information your desire without the worry.

For the health care of your special pet friend, don’t rely on third party sources with unknown qualifications. You, your veterinarian and your pet are the best team to ensure your pet lives a long and healthy life.