Play or Pass… What’s True Online And What’s Not?
We’ve all heard it before… “Well, if it’s on the internet, then it MUST be true.” In a totally “yeah, okay” kind of way. I’ll admit, the internet is pretty awesome when it comes to finding information. But I’ll also admit that the internet is pretty not awesome because there’s SO much misinformation on it, too. So how do you know if what you’re reading is true? Semi-true? Or just totally bogus?
It’s tough, actually. Especially when it comes to our animals.
One of my biggest pet peeves is when I see big-box pet retailers selling products that are completely unsafe for animals. Constantly. Toys containing unsafe dyes, toxins and residues are marketed as safe. Or how about when you see Chinchilla food containing seeds, nuts or fruits? We’d love to just assume, that since these are pet retailers, they have our pet’s best interests in mind. Unfortunately, it’s not that way. So when you’re shopping for pet supplies online, do your research.
Research is totally where it’s at. But what can you do to assess if the content and the writer is legit?
Number one? Absolutely check the source. There are SO many fake websites that sound pretty darn credible. Go to the “about” tab and read more on the site’s purpose and what they stand for. A repeatable source will probably include hyperlinks to research. Watch for sites with no backup, or spelling and grammar errors. And if you see these things, be cautious.
It matters, too, who wrote the article. Check social media accounts… this is such a very powerful tool. If you see a blue check mark near their name on Facebook or Twitter, the writer’s occupation has been verified, and you’re in luck - they are who they say they are.
But honestly? The best outlet that I’ve found when I’m in doubt about what’s safe for my animals and what’s not? SOCIAL MEDIA GROUPS. Hands down, 100%. There are groups for rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, hamsters, gerbils, mice, cats, dogs… probably even llamas. There are thousands of experts in these groups, and when I have a question, I post it. Members who know (or have had experience with the issue), are more than helpful and I’ve always received comments answering what I don’t know. Be wary of opinions, though, and don’t be afraid to ask the commenter’s background. Nothing is personal… you just want the best information… and the correct information, to be able to take care of your animal as they deserve to be taken care of.
Be cautious. That’s what I can say. Because you don’t know what you don’t know. (That’s why you’re scouring the internet for answers anyway, right?) Research. Check sources. Check writer’s backgrounds. Ask questions (and don’t be afraid to ask questions). Our animals rely on us to educate ourselves, as pet parents, to know what’s good and what’s bad. What’s right and what’s wrong. It may take some time and effort, but that time and effort is totally worth our pet’s health. And their safety.