Since I'm open about being willing to take emails and questions from readers, I will from time-to-time get someone asking about a sudden problem with their pet. Here is an actual question (name withheld):
My houndog was chewing on a medium sized rawhide strip, she choked on it and then swallowed it ( about half of it) before I could get it out! Will it hurt her??? What do I watch for? Bloating? I'm worried! Thanks for your time!
I am very careful on my sidebar and disclaimer to note that my advice or comments do NOT take the place of a veterinary visit, and that any response I make can be very delayed. Yet I still have people contacting me during a possible emergency. I know that this is because people want free advice and don't want to have to pay for a veterinary visit. I know that people like me are partially to blame for the "Dr. Google" phenomenon so common nowadays. But I still don't get the lack of urgency and common sense in sending a small-time blogger like me an email.
In the time it takes someone to do an internet search, find my blog, read a few posts, discover my email, and send me a message, they could have already been on and off the phone to their local veterinarian or veterinary emergency clinic. And they could have spoken to a real person. Now, that person would likely have told them that a diagnosis could not be made over the phone and the would need to bring their pet in, which would have cost money. But you know what? That's what I would say also. If one of my readers were able to get me immediately and chat with me online, my response would be "Call your emergency vet." I would say that every single time. I've even told friends that over the phone, since I can't be there to see their pet.
Does that mean that sometimes you're going to pay the vet and it turn out to be a minor issue? Yes. But there's no way to tell if it's a major or minor issue without the exam. I know that personally from a few days ago when I had to have surgery for acute appendicitis. I thought it was just gastroenteritis, but I ended up at the ER and in surgery within a few hours. There is no way to know what's going on without an in-person visit.
So here's the bottom line. If you have a simple question, it's okay to look on the internet. But if you have a possible emergency, call someone. Don't take the chance of waiting for a reply online that may or may not come, as a delay could result in a health risk for your pet. It's worth paying a little money to have the best possible outcome. And when you're contacting someone on a blog, read ALL disclaimers and don't expect to hear back right away.