Today, a client called in a panic because her dog ate a bluebird and she was concerned that the dog would get rabies.
“Birds don’t get rabies,” we told her.
“Oh,” she said. Then, hopefully, “Distemper?”
Dogs are, at the end of the day, dogs, and one of the imperatives of dog-dom is eating stuff they’re not supposed to, including dead things, things with eyeballs, and entrails. While there are specific instances that cause concern- a dog playing with a dead bat, say, or eating a rat that might have died from rodenticide ingestion, by and large it’s just one of the things our gross pals do and usually involves no intervention aside from perhaps a dewormer. Clients describe the murder scene, and we tell them if they need to come in.
In this case, I’m really grateful that the client called us and let us put her mind at ease. It could have been worse. She could have worked herself up into a frenzy online instead (though that might have been exactly what she did right before calling us.)
It got me thinking about the sorts of interesting things people can find on the web -because somehow, somewhere, this client had gotten the impression that the bird probably ended up in her yard because it was rabid. Resist the urge to oversearch! The internet will only take your worst fears and magnify them a thousandfold!
Fun With Google, Volume One- “My Dog Ate a Bird”:
So now that you have deduced that your pet might have been exposed to rabies, what should you do? Continue to search Google, of course.
Here’s an example of too much knowledge being a bad thing:
A veterinary technician tells the person to induce vomiting. Besides the obvious overkill factor here, inducing vomiting with hydrogen peroxide carries the risk of GI ulceration and aspiration if done incorrectly. It is not a benign procedure.
Now we’re really going to get ourselves freaked out:
Oh no! My dog could have rabies AND Ebola?
Now, in a froth that our dog has rabies, Ebola, and West Nile, we rush to the ER, spend $500 to be told not to worry about it, then when he gets worms next week we can’t afford the dewormer since we spent our budget on the ER visit and rabies antibody titers.
The internet is a great source of info, but it can also wreak havoc on those of us with wild imaginations or perhaps a touch of hypochondria.
Or at least distract you from the things you should actually be concerned about. At least someone on Yahoo had the good sense to respond in the negative to this person who wants to keep a pigeon as a pet. Oh, wait. She also said West Nile is caused by pigeon poop. Shoot, this internet is so confusing.