23 August 2022
Dog on operation table. Photo: Artem Zakharov // Colourbox.com
📷 Artem Zakharov // Colourbox.com

Compete or Cooperate with ‘Dr. Google’? Small Animal Veterinarians’ Attitudes towards Clients’ Use of Internet Resources — A Comparative Study across Austria, Denmark and the UK

Springer, S., Grimm, H., Sandøe, P., Lund, T.B., Kristensen, A.T., & Corr, S.A. (2022)
Animals. MDPI

Simple summary

Owners of dogs, cats, and other companion animals increasingly make use of the internet to find out how to best care for their animals. This may affect owners’ relations with veterinarians in both positive and negative ways. A positive consequence could be that owners are better informed when they approach a veterinarian. However, there can also be challenging situations in which the owners may question veterinarians’ professional advice based on online infor- mation. Using a questionnaire, we found that a majority of Austrian, Danish, and UK veterinarians (n = 641) surveyed were occasionally confronted with clients who question their medical advice based on information obtained from the internet. In addition, the veterinarians were concerned about the potential for clients to misunderstand information found on the internet, or to develop unrealistic expectations of what is possible in small animal practices. As internet use becomes ever more widespread, we suggest that the types of resources that are available and used by animal owners should be further explored.


Veterinary medicine is increasingly affected by animal owners having the opportunity to become better informed on pet health issues by using various internet resources. Using an online questionnaire including a section on clients’ use of internet resources to obtain medical information, this study aimed to investigate veterinarians’ estimates of the percentage of clients using internet resources, how often clients question veterinarians’ professional medical advice based on online information, and veterinarians’ attitudes towards clients’ use of internet resources, across Austrian, Danish, and UK veterinarians (n = 641). The results show that 48.8% of respondents estimated that 40–79% of their clients use internet resources to find medical information. Further, 70–80% of respondents stated that they are occasionally challenged by clients questioning their advice based on online information. Although veterinarians recognized the potential advantages related to clients’ use of internet resources, such as an increased acceptance of advanced diagnostics and treatments, they also highlighted clients’ increased expectations or false impressions of small animal practices as potentially negative aspects in this context. As internet use increases, it seems likely that these issues will become increasingly important in the future.

Compete or cooperate with ‘Dr. Google’? Small Animal Veterinarians’ Attitudes towards Clients’ Use of Internet Resources — A Comparative Study across Austria, Denmark and the UK (URL)