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Who Can I Trust?

Animal Health Care Information Online

We’ve all been there before – out with some friends, driving through some new neighborhood looking for somewhere to eat when you spy what looks like a really fun little Italian joint. Problem is, none of you have eaten there before and you are your pals are some picky eaters! How do you find out what this place is all about?!? The answer is simple….you Google it!!

The internet has become a pretty amazing tool for gaining knowledge and information with the quick click of a few keys. And much of those little bits we acquire online have real value. The challenge, of course, is knowing which website give us information we can trust – and which websites are misleading or, worse yet, simply false.

The same challenge rears its head when we start looking up information about the health and wellness of our furry family friends. But have no fear, your Boulder’s Natural Animal Hospital staff is here to help!

When looking at a website about pet healthcare information ask yourself the following questions:

Who runs the website?
The thing about the internet is it’s essentially free and open for anyone to access. And with the tools available today it is quite easy for anyone to make a professional looking website. Don’t be fooled by the look or feel of what you see – ask yourself, “is it clearly indicated on this website who runs it?” For example, www.vetstreet.com, a great website for all sorts of information on Animal Healthcare, has the company information and logo, as well as the names of prominent contributing veterinarians, clearly indicated throughout the website.

Who funds the website?
It costs money to run a website – how much depends on a variety of factors such as the content, type of website, number of contributors, etc. One quick way to know what type of funding source the website has is to look at the end of the web address; sites ending in “gov” are government funded; “org” is typically used by a non-commercial group; “com” usually denotes a commerical business of some sort. Keep in mind, the source of funding can affect what content is presented and how it is presented. While many websites are intending to simply disseminate knowledge, some may have a more personal, ulterior motive.

Where does the information come from?
One challenge of finding information online is deciphering the difference between fact and opinion. Knowing the original source of the information a particular website presents is important. For instance, content written by an “expert in the field” is often more reliable than the commentary of a “non-expert”. Furthermore, content that clearly cites other, well documented content, tends to be more reliable as well. A well intended website will do some of the work for you by clearly stating which content is meant to be taken as opinion.

How is the information being presented or reviewed before it’s posted?

A good website offering information “as fact” will have a strong staff of qualified contributor(s) behind it’s content. For example, consider a website offering legal advice - we would consider the information offered more reliable if it were a professional site written or reviewed by an attorney rather than a paralegal. We can take it a step further – let’s say we are researching some tax laws and come across two blogs; one written by a tax attorney and one written by a divorce attorney. We’d likely trust the tax attorney’s information on tax law over the divorce attorney’s.

How current is the information?
Human knowledge is evolving and growing at almost breakneck speeds – sharing that new knowledge online is happening almost as quickly! When researching information online consider how current the information being offered is. Is the site you’re looking at regularly maintained and active or has it been several weeks, months or years since the last update? Even if the information offered hasn’t changed in a long time, it’s nice to know that those in charge of maintaining the website are checking up on it frequently.

What type of websites does the site link to?
Check out some of the pages the site you are assessing links to – do they give you suitable responses to all the above questions as well? Knowing the types of websites a site links to can be a strong indicator about its integrity. Some websites will link to any other website (without considering the image the linked sites present) to help increase its visibility. Some links are actually paid for.

Asking the above questions when searching for Animal Healthcare information online (or really any information online) can go a long way toward assuring yourself a reliable, true knowledge base. At Boulder’s Natural Animal Hospital we strive to have the most well-informed client base in the industry – we hope this page helps us (and you) achieve that goal.

As always, if you have ANY questions at all, please email us at bouldernaturalanimal@gmail.com or call us at 303-494-7877 anytime!