Just when I think I've heard everything when it comes to my four-legged patients, in walked in an adorable and obviously very pregnant pit bull. Her owner was in complete denial. He told my receptionist that he already knew what was going on with his dog because he googled it.
Seriously. You read that right. This man actually asked GOOGLE to diagnose his dog.
According to Google, his precious "child" was going through a false pregnancy. Here is the conversation that followed after I picked my jaw up off the floor. Not only could I feel at least two puppies in her uterus, I heard their heartbeats with my stethoscope. Her mammary glands were full of milk and getting ready for the arrival of the pups. Her body temperature was a little low as well. This is another indicator that BIRTH IS COMING!!!
"Cuz it's only been a month since she was in heat. She's not been around any other dogs except at my friend's house."
"When was that?"
"Two months ago, but that can't be it. She wasn't in heat then when they tied up."
Now I got him. "Dogs won't breed unless they are in heat and definitely won't be tied up unless the female is in heat and receptive to the male."
"I don't get it. I bred her twice last time and it didn't take. She was definitely in heat then and all she did was fight the other dog off."
Here's where I wanted to smack my head against the wall repeatedly but I refrained myself. I had a hell of a time keeping from laughing though. "Uh, hate to tell you this, but when she fought the male off, she wasn't in heat. THIS time she was, and at the right time to get pregnant. Your dog due any day now."
"But Google said—"
I held up my hand. "With all respect to Google, I disagree. If you want, we can take an x-ray and count the puppies to see how many and how big they are."
"Don't have any money for that, Doc. I just want you to fix her false pregnancy. That's what I came here for today."
"It's not a false pregnancy. She is going to give birth. Nothing false about that."
"Google said her symptoms go along with a false pregnancy so there ain't no pups in there. I used to work at the shelter and I learned a lot. What I didn't know, I looked up on Google. So far I've done right by all of my dogs, except for the two puppies that died last year."
"Oh, sorry to hear that. What happened to them?" I had a pretty good idea. The most likely cause of their death would have been parvovirus. It is a deadly virus that is highly contagious. Too many people in our area don't get their puppies vaccinated early enough, or for a long enough period of time. Because of that, these pups are unprotected when their owners take them to the local dog parks and beaches.
"Well, Google said they had worms so I gave them dewormers, but that didn't work."
"Did you give the puppies vaccines?"
"Naw. They weren't old enough yet. Everybody knows you don't start vaccines on pups until they are five or six months old."
"Where did you hear that?" Oh I regretted that as soon as I said it.
"My friend who's raised dogs all his life told me. He's raised tons of litters. Just to be sure though, I googled it."
"How about you take these handouts that explain everything you need to know about your dog giving birth. They also tell you what to look for while she's nursing them and how old they need to be when they have their first veterinary exam and vaccinations."
"Thanks, Doc but you didn't need to go through all this trouble. If I have anymore questions I'll just hit up Google!"
Take home message:
Getting veterinary advice from Google or any other search engine on the Internet is a bad thing. Using Google to look up information your veterinarian has discussed with you can be a GOOD THING. Take the time and ask questions of your veterinarian while your pet is getting it's annual and semi annual exams. Just because someone has raised animals all of their lives doesn't make them experts. Please, please please be responsible pet owners and seek proper veterinary care for your new and current fur babies.
Being a pet guardian is not a right. It's a privilege and an honor.