Google Gone Wrong
Google is a useful tool that we all use from time to time (yes, even us vets!), But this is a plea for you to be very careful when searching for information about your precious pets.
I have had a few troubling 'Dr Google' instances over the years, but the one I will share today is of a dog I recently examined at the clinic.
Lucy* had ingested some rat bait 14 days prior to her consultation with me. Lucy's owners had ‘googled’ Rat Bait Toxicity in dogs and had read that the antidote was Vitamin K, which they already had at home. They had read that they would need 100mg for Lucy’s treatment.
In this case, the dose on their Vitamin K packaging was recorded as 100mcg (which is the American way of writing 100μg). This looks similar to 100mg (100milligrams) but is 1000x less concentrated than the actual treatment dose required, which was close to 100mg per day.
Not only this, but the Vitamin K used was Vitamin K2 (an over-the-counter supplement for bone health) and not Vitamin K1 (which is the one vets use in animals to treat rat bait toxicity.) As a result of this mistake, Lucy lost a lot of blood and nearly her life, at a great cost to her owners (both emotional and financial).
Lucy’s owners, of course, feel terrible and want other pet owners to be aware of the dangers of using google to come up with a treatment plan.
Please remember too that medications and neutraceuticals (natural products derived from food used to promote health and well-being) have different regulatory bodies controlling what can be displayed on the packaging.
So, don't always trust what you read (there may be no scientific evidence behind it)! If in doubt please ask us; at Mill Road Vet Clinic. We are here to help you and your pets.
Dr Elaine Mcilhinney
*Name changed for the purpose of this article