UK pet owners’ use of the internet for online pet health information

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Abstract

The internet has been found to be a popular source for human health information. However, there is a lack of information on pet owners’ use of the internet to source pet health information and implications for the owner–veterinarian relationship. Therefore, the aim of this study was to address this gap in knowledge by focusing on UK pet owners’ general use of the internet to find online pet health information and the impact of this behaviour on the owner–veterinarian relationship. An online survey targeting UK pet owners resulted in 571 respondents. Respondents reported the most frequently used source for pet health information was the internet (78.6 per cent), followed by their veterinarian (72 per cent). Veterinarians and other pet owners, however, were rated as the most trustworthy sources. The topics searched for most often online were specific medical problems (61.3 per cent) and diet/nutrition (58.5 per cent). Regarding the owner–veterinarian relationship, 42.1 per cent of participants reported discussing information they found online ‘sometimes’ with their veterinarian. When asked if their veterinarian recommended specific websites, nearly half (49.6 per cent) stated that their veterinarian ‘never’ made such recommendations, yet over 90 per cent said they would visit veterinarian-recommended websites.

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