Internet advice leaves troubled pets out in the cold

Research reveals dog owners are putting pets’ lives in peril by turning to internet advice.

Research from pet insurer MORE TH<N has revealed pet owners are taking their pet’s lives into their own hands with over a third turning to the internet to diagnose health problems.

Of those pet owners, 50% admitted they self-diagnosed online because it was quicker than visiting a vet, 38% turned to the web to save money and 27% did so because their vet was closed at the time.

Worryingly, 48% of these owners administered treatment to their dog based on articles they had read online – despite the dangers of doing so.

Turning to the internet for a diagnosis is even more likely in winter as, nearly a third (32%) of dog owners claim their pet has been noticeably down in the dumps during the chillier months.

What’s more, one in five (20%) even believe their dog has suffered from an animal equivalent of Seasonal Affective Disorder – demonstrating symptoms of being disinterested in playing (44%), or going for a walk (35%), having reduced appetite (22%) and being less sociable (29%).

Reacting to the research findings, MORE TH<N and partner vetfone teamed up with dog-friendly pubs in the UK to host drop-in sessions, giving pet owners access to free, professional advice from an RCVS registered vet nurse and help them better understand their pet’s wellbeing.

The doggy drop-in sessions have been running in addition to MORE TH<N’s existing customer offering that gives MORE TH<N insured pet owners access to a 24-hour-a-day vetfone service that they can call with any concern about their pet to receive advice from a professional on what to do next.

Andrew Moore, Director of Pet Claims for MORE TH<N, said: “Our research shows that dog owners can often be confused about what to do when they spot changes in their pet’s behaviour. The vetfone service is a brilliant resource that helps take the guess work out of responsible pet care and points pet owners in the right direction, whether that be to visit a vet or make changes in their routine that could make for a happier pet.”

A spokesperson for vetfone said: “There are a number of symptoms that could indicate your dog is feeling down, including increased licking, changes in diet, apathy, changes in sleeping patterns and if they are hiding from you. If you notice any changes in your dog’s behaviour or suspect something could be wrong, it’s important to see expert advice as soon as possible in order to safeguard their wellbeing.”