Veterinarians and WebMD

We all know that the Internet can be both a blessing and a curse. It’s a fantastic tool for finding information on any subject, but it can also be a dangerous source of misinformation. How often have you had to debunk some erroneous self-diagnosis by a pet owner that they found on the Internet and are absolutely convinced is true?

Well, in an effort to provide moderated, credible and accurate information about pets and their care, we’ve partnered with the highly respected WebMD to offer a brand-new forum for pet owners that will rely on AVMA veterinarians to provide the right information. Dubbed “The Pet Health Exchange,” and anticipated for launch in early 2010, the new Web page will touch on a wide range of topics, from obesity to arthritis and hyperthyroidism, and we believe it will further increase the veterinary presence on the Internet while also inspiring more pet owners to visit their veterinarian.

The AVMA, thanks to the efforts of our Communications Division, has already lined up several AVMA veterinarians to serve as online experts who will answer posted questions and provide a “thought starter” each week to get conversations going. These folks won’t diagnose; they will provide information and advice while always urging pet owners to seek the ultimate advice from their own veterinarian. We can always use more guest experts to assist us in this exciting new venture. So if you’d like more information, or are interested in becoming a guest expert, contact Dr. Kim May, assistant director for Professional and Public Affairs, at We’d love to have you join the conversation.

9 thoughts on “Veterinarians and WebMD

  1. well i think that animals are very healthy an d i think that every househood should have a animal of some sort yo know what i mean !!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. From the WebMD Third Quarter Shareholder Report at URL:

    Take a look at their earnings and page views. Then look at page 2:

    “WebMD Launches Healthy Pets
    In October, WebMD launched the WebMD Healthy Pets channel on, which provides pet owners with the latest
    health and wellness information to help their pets live healthier lives. WebMD Healthy Pets provides veterinarian-reviewed
    information on pet diet and nutrition, behavior and training, and preventive care. More than 75% of WebMD users are pet
    owners who also care for the health of their pets and nearly $700 million is spent annually on marketing pet supplies and
    services in the U.S. Mr. Gattinella said, “We continue to invest in new markets that have the opportunity to significantly expand
    our user base and penetrate new areas of revenue opportunity for the future.””

    How about reviewing the new WebMD Healthy Pets site using a handout from Veterinary Economics, Jan 2008 titled “Should You Trust Pet Healthcare WEb sites” a one-page handout for clients on the DVM360 Web site linked from an article titled “Help Clients think critically about Web sites”
    at url
    Ann Viera
    Pendergrass AG-VET MED Library
    University of Tennessee

    • Ms. Viera,
      The criteria listed in the article you reference are just a few of the criteria we evaluated when we were considering this partnership. WebMD was not the only site to request AVMA partnership, and it offers a large and receptive audience looking for good information about pet health. Our goal for this partnership is to provide the pet-owning public with opportunities for discussion and interaction as well as accurate information that has been “vetted,” pardon the pun, by experienced and knowledgeable veterinarians and board-certified specialists.

  3. I may need a web source for animal care since the vets in our area of NE Texas no longer make farm calls even to put a large animal out of its misery. Why, I do not know. In the 30 yrs I have been here, I have always paid my vet bills before anything else. Why should my 28 yr old horse have to suffer when it comes her time? And I have vet that lives about 1/4 mile away. And yet the AVMA wants a mandatory NAIS. Think of all the trouble that will be, people having to bring their critters in for microchipping and file reports of movements, births and deaths and then the depopulation should there be disease suspected. All this just so corporate ag, who gets one lot number per groups of animals, can say the meat they raise on factory farms is safe?!?!?!

  4. I think it is a terrific idea to post/answer basic concepts for the public Re: common diseases in pets, interpretations of various test results, what medications are used for. I can’t imagine it not being a win-win for both client/patients and veterinarians that find themselves busy and not inclusive of every information needed for informed care.

  5. I maintain a Web site on pet health. I have used MedlinePlus as a guide in developing the pet health site. Medlineplus is one of the top ten sites recommended by the Medical Library Association ( Medlineplus is what I recommend to veterinarians and their staff when clients ask for human health information. When speaking to veterinarians and clinic staff at CE conferences, etc. I compare Medlineplus with WebMD. Medlineplus is completely private and contains no advertising. There is a Spanish version of Medlineplus and quality health information in many other languages. Veterinary Partner from VIN (I have no affiliation with VIN) is well-known as the first place to look for pet health because of quality and no adverts. I suggest AVMA partner with the National Library of Medicine and VIN and others (AWIC) to build a comprehensive, add-free pet health resource. I suggest that AVMA disclose fully the terms of the AVMA/WebMD partnership.
    Ann Viera
    Pendergrass AG-VET MED Library
    UT Knoxville

  6. Can we do WebFoodMyths or something similar? I’ve had to respond to something over 5 inquiries about hormone use in poultry/pigs in the last month, and a couple more about how antibiotics are used in food animals. There seems to be a great deal of misinformation available on these two subjects.


  7. The AVMA should have considered, a VIN resource already available to the public, for the AVMA’s partnership. They are already committed to providing information that assists veterinarians in relating reliable information to the public about veterinary issues. The infrastructure that is already established and the reliance of so many veterinarians on VIN could have greatly benefited the AVMA in this pursuit, both in terms of cost and commitment to serving the interest of veterinary medicine.

  8. I think this adventure could turn against the AVMA very quickly without very careful training of the consultants before this process begins. You are going to catch all of the “I can’t afford the vet, I want free medical advice”, and even worse, some clients wanting the online expert to “second-guess” the attending veterinarian. I had an unfortunate experience with this sort of advocacy from one of the vet school online help information sites. It quickly turned into a “battle of the experts” which could have resulted in court action. In retrospect, I should have filed a state board complaint agasinst the student involved.
    I also think it’s very unlikely this associastion is going to benefit the membership in any real, quantifiable way. Thinking this is going to send tens of thousands of people to a veterinarian is naive.
    I wish everyone the best of luck with this, but I would caution to keep every option open, and be willing to pull the plug on this if it creates a lot of negativity against the AVMA by it’s membership.
    In the interest of full disclosure, I am a consultant on VIN, and would never dream of being an online consultant to the general public.