A nationwide survey of vets by the British Veterinary Association (BVA) reveals that 98% of respondents believe their clients’ behaviour is influenced by what they find online. Four in ten vets said the owners’ online research was unhelpful, with only 6% of small animal vets finding it helpful.

The BVA’s Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey of nearly 700 vets working with companion animals also reveals that skin conditions are the most common reason for pet owners to visit their vets, with 70% saying this is one of the most common problems they see. Other common problems include gastrointestinal disorders, such as vomiting, diarrhoea and digestive problems, (mentioned by 54%) and musculoskeletal problems, including lameness (45%).

Over 80 per cent of these vets have clients who bring their pets in later than they should. Early treatment is often vital in preventing more serious health concerns.

Of the 81% who had seen animals they felt should have been presented earlier, most suspected financial reasons and a lack of understanding were behind the delay. Attempts to self-diagnose and treat pets – through medication kept at home, bought online or in supermarkets – were also reported as problems.