How to Manage Misinformation from Dr. Google

Sarah J. Wooten, DVM, CVJ, Vets Against Insanity, Silverthorne, Colorado

ArticleLast Updated December 20222 min read
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Dear Second Opinion,

A recent wellness exam (with a client who has been coming to our practice for years!) got awkward when she asked for a diet recommendation for her healthy, 2-year-old mixed-breed dog. I suggested a chicken-based adult maintenance kibble made by a well-known pet food company.

At first, she was quiet. But then she said that she had been doing research online, and that she no longer wants to feed commercial food made by any of the big pet food manufacturers because it’s all “garbage” and that veterinarians must only recommend those foods because we’ve been “brainwashed.” Instead, she is going to feed a homemade raw diet because it’s “natural,” and she thinks it will protect her pets from diseases that they would likely develop if they stayed on a commercial diet like the one I had recommended. Not wanting to upset her or potentially lose a good client, who has referred several other clients to our practice, I responded with something neutral and continued my exam.

Later, we talked about other topics including vaccines and heartworm prevention (which she keeps up to date) and she seemed to be OK with the visit, but I can’t stop thinking about it. 

How could I have handled this better? I don’t want to lose a client, but I do want to be able to confidently convey my medical opinion over Dr. Google.

—Can't Compete with Dr. Google

Dear Can't Compete,

I have definitely been in that position! Sometimes a client says things I don’t agree with and I’m left wondering how to share my knowledge without creating barriers. You are definitely on the right track of being respectful, not wanting to lose a good client, and engaging in objective analysis of the situation.

A couple of ideas on what NOT to do in these situations:

A few ideas on what TO do in these situations:

Lastly, let it go. You showed up and did your best to be respectful and informative. Good job! That is all that matters. Now on to the next case.


Sarah Wooten