The OurPetsHealth difference
After over 10 years as a vet on the front line of general practice, I believe that one of the major stumbling blocks when it comes to the successful treatment and optimisation of our pets health is owner education and more importantly miseducation resulting from the proliferation of the use of "Doctor Google". We live in an age where professional expert opinion is frequently ignored and the internet is awash with self-styled "experts" and a vocal minority who do not believe in science, have no relevant training or reject anyone who disagrees with their fantastical view of health as being corrupt or naive. You need look no further than the human anti-vaccination movement to see the evidence and tragic consequences of this. Despite this information having no supportive evidence, the noise it creates can help to create doubt, worry and anxiety and so cause both animal and owner health to suffer.
I firmly believe that with the acquisition of reliable, in-depth knowledge and proper understanding through education, we can ensure that our pets live a life to their full potential.
Most vets will try their very best to educate their clients within the limited consultation time-frame available, in most cases I'm sure they do an excellent job. The difficulty comes from the fact that our knowledge of disease and the range of diagnostic and treatment options is expanding incredibly rapidly. In a single ten or twenty minute consultation it is simply not possible for a vet to deliver a diagnosis, discuss the disease in question and then evaluate all the treatment options in a way that a client can fully digest and understand so as to make a truely informed decision. This may lead to misunderstandings or an owner feeling pressure to make a decision there and then which they may subsequently be unhappy with.
Worse still occurs when a client arrives having made their own diagnosis based on what they have read on the internet. I have had clients in tears convinced their pet had cancer when in fact all that was wrong was a simple bladder infection. These issues can all result in unnecessary worry, sub-optimal diagnostic testing, inappropriate or incomplete treatment, missed progress checks and compromised health care. In fact, based on interactions with human doctors, it is well known that 40-80% of information given in a consultation is forgotten immediately and of the small amount of information retained half is actually mis-remembered! In other words if a doctor was to tell me 10 things I would forget 6 remember 2 and think I remembered another couple but actually be completely wrong. I have been there myself when dealing with the diagnosis of loved ones and I am a medical professional! This communication breakdown not only affects patient care but can also compromise the vet - client bond of trust.
It is from this experience that OurPetsHealth was born. I hope that by providing a reliable, thorough, evidence based review of pet health topics in a format that can be reviewed again and again, you will be able to make clear decisions that you are completely happy with. We are all individual and all our families each have unique circumstances and challenges. It follows then that the best path for one patient and their family may be completely different to another patient and their family when presented with the same condition.
I hope that this knowledge will also foster a better, closer relationship with your family veterinarian. After all, it is only your vet who can evaluate your pet in their entirety, it is only your vet who can diagnose any disease present and it is only your vet who, after discussion with you, can formulate the optimum recommendations and plan based on your individual circumstance. It is only your personal vet who will look after your pet at every stage of their life.
There is already much information on the internet so why is OurPetsHealth different? Unfortunately, most of this current information falls into one of 3 categories:
The first of these is information that is unreliable, based on hear-say or anecdotal stories. Unfortunately, just as with human health, animal health is incredibly complex. Individuals can suffer with a number of different diseases at the same time, medication instructions may not have been followed appropriately, a diagnosis may be mis-remembered, advice and warnings given but forgotten. While tales of problems and miracle cures are mostly well meaning, it is always worth taking peoples stories with a pinch of salt and maintain a healthy degree of skepticism. In science terms, an anecdotal story is the weakest form of evidence possible. We just can't draw any conclusions from stories.
The second category is information delivered by people with an underlying agenda, generally with beliefs contrary to that of the general veterinary community and so the reverse of that proven by either robust scientific methodology or expert veterinary consensus. These people may have no formal training yet present themselves as experts or, worse still, be vets who have rejected all of their training. On these sites and forums you will find information based on principles which have been proven not to work or for which there is little evidence apart from anecdote to support their claims. The authors also often peddle the belief that every vet is part of a big cover-up and in the pocket of either a pharmaceutical or pet food company. Let me assure you there is no veterinary conspiracy.
The final information category currently available is superficial information that is accurate but does not answer fundamental questions and so fails to help to fully educate and allow informed decisions to be made. It gives a summary of some of the facts but leaves many questions unanswered: why, who, what, when and how.
At OurPetsHealth.com I will provide detailed, independent, evidence based information that, to the best of my understanding, reflects the current thinking and knowledge of the wider veterinary community. In other words, information that has been proven to be the case. In some instances research is weak or lacking, or our knowledge contains gaps and in these cases the information delivered will be the veterinary communities majority consensus. Of course, veterinary care is developing at a rapid pace, what we know now, diagnostic methods and treatments available will undoubtedly change over time and will also be influenced by the area we live in and the resources available to us.
By providing this information in videos, audio and written form I also hope that this will be delivered in a way that suits you. After all, much like our pets, we are all individuals and learn in different ways. Reading articles do not suit everyone, with videos allowing a more personal and varied delivery of information and audio allowing it to be reviewed at times when the other options are inappropriate.
This website is for you and your pet. I hope you find the information accessible and informative and as a result has a positive impact on the health and happiness of you and your pet. Get in touch if you have questions or if you have any topic suggestions. I would love to hear from you!