There’s no denying that the Internet has made pet care so much easier and more convenient. If you need to purchase medications or accessories for your dog, you can simply search and easily log on to thousands of pet care websites that sell dozens of products. You can even compare prices, look for customer reviews, and have the products delivered the next day!
However, most pet owners find that looking for a trusted dog care guide on the Internet is not as easy. In fact, that same simple search will net you dozens of websites, all of them claiming that they are the “ultimate authority” when it comes to caring for your beloved canine. What’s worse, there are times when these sites are giving out contradictory advice or even flat-out falsehoods, and it’s very difficult to determine which advice you should take to heart. Here is a short and easy guide to help you determine how to find reliable and trustworthy dog care guides, and red flags that you should look for.
Here is a short and easy guide to help you determine how to find reliable and trustworthy dog care guides, and red flags that you should look for.
On the Internet
Let’s get this out of the way first: most websites are NOT reliable sources of pet care information, especially if the information is about pet health. While most websites will generally agree on pet care based on breed (exercise needs, grooming needs, etc.), you will find that websites will start disagreeing when it comes to medical and health needs. Some websites might promote one product, method, or technique over another, while others might say that these same things don’t work at all! If you are a first-time pet owner, it’s quite easy to get confused and overwhelmed with all the information available to you, and you will feel anxious about believing one over the other.
While there is no guaranteed method to find credible websites, there are some factors that can help you determine whether or not the content is reliable, such as:
· The Author – always check who the original author of the content is; if it’s a random person with no credentials or authority to back up their words, you should move on and look for another website. There are many websites that post content that is written by licensed vets, and if you click on the name of the author, you will be directed to the author's page where you will see the person’s qualifications.
· The Date – considering how easy it is to post content on the Internet as well as the Internet’s virtually infinite capacity to store said content, you want to make sure that the information you are reading is as current as possible. If you use older content, there is a chance that the information you will use it already outdated and obsolete. For pet care, new research, studies, and techniques are always being done by licensed vets in order to improve the standard and quality of care that your pet can receive.
· External Sources – reliable websites will have authority links to external sources. These sources can be studies, books, scholarly articles, or even blogs written by animal care professionals.
· The website domain – look for domain names that end with .gov or .edu, as you can be sure that these websites are owned by governments and colleges or universities, respectively. You can also look for .org, although this just means that the website is owned by a non-profit organization, and it is not always clear whether the main purpose is to educate readers.
However, there is one source of information that you should never put any stock into, and that is the comments section. The most obvious reason is that the comments section is usually a free-for-all where people are not bound by any accountability towards the things that they say.
At best, the comments might come from a place of goodwill and the poster is genuinely trying to help you, but the content is usually anecdotal and hard to trust. At worst, there are people who go out of their way to troll others and put them in harm’s way. There are various reasons why people do this, whether it’s to gain some form of online clout, to make themselves feel good for being heard, to simply because they find it funny.
When All Else Fails, Go Old-School
If at this point you are still unsure as to how to find a reliable dog care guide, the best thing to do is to find a reputable breeder or a licensed vet near you. These people are usually more than happy to share dog care tips.