Hard to believe, but my first post, What is Open-Mindendess?, appeared June 4, 2009. Lots of things have changed in the ten years since I began this blog. My subjects and the tone of my writing are often different from the early days. And I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to share my enthusiasm for evidence-based medicine and my skepticism in a wide variety of other venues, from veterinary conferences and journal articles to media interviews and my monthly column in Veterinary Practice News. It’s impossible to know what the impact of this work is, but despite the steady trickle of hate mail it generates, I get a lot of support from folks in the veterinary field and also animal owners who find the ideas and information I share useful. I shared some of this positive feedback on my 5th Blogiversary post, and I will continue the tradition with some examples below.
I also want to celebrate the occasion with an announcement. As a further contribution to the cause of rational, evidence-based veterinary medicine and the health of our animal companions, I have spent a lot of time over the last few years working on a special project, and I happy to say that this work will finally come to fruition later this year in the form of a book for pet owners and veterinary professionals.
I can’t provide a lot more detail at this point, but my hope is that this will become a useful reference and an introduction to science-based veterinary medicine in the way that some of my favorite books, such as Don’t Believe Everything You Think and Trick or Treatment, have been for science-based human medicine.
Finally, thank you all for reading and for sharing the ideas information I pass along here. If we can help just a few people and their animals make sound, science-based decisions about healthcare for pets, we have done something worthwhile!
My dogs and cats appreciate the work you do. Alt med, and woo hucksters in general, don’t typically have a great moral compass. As skeptics, if we could shut off the ethical side of our brains, we could make loads of money.
@SkeptVetyou are fantastic, and any ridiculous insinuation that you have anything to do with the mental health crisis in the vet med world is entirely ludicrous. Thank you for all that hard work that you do! Please – keep it up!
Thank you for your truth and insight on various subjects. I have worked in the veterinarian field for over 20 years, and live in the same city as Rodney Habib. When I would question a few of his claims, he would block or ban me. As I was being respectful and professional in my questioning. I can only surmise he didn’t have evidence to back up his claims. We have seen many sick animals on the type of nutrition he preaches. He is a social media celebrity that is very slick with the smoke and mirror show when it comes to fear mongering pet owners against conventional and science based medicine. Too bad so many people listen to him, as he does give out much misinformation.
[SkeptVet] is one of the most knowledgeable, capable, thoughtful, insightful, thorough, caring, intelligent vet/person that I’ve had the pleasure of knowing and working with ever.
They believe what they want to believe no matter the evidence to the contrary. Thank-you so much for this article skeptvet…This saved my partner from wasting money & getting hopes up for nothing. … It upsets me to discover so many trying to profit off of others… creating false hopes from folks who’ll do just about anything to help their pet.
Thank you so much!…I really appreciate you taking the time to address my concerns and provide me with reliable –evidence based, and hallelujah for that!…I also appreciate you taking the time and effort to provide factual info in a world where “belief” grows ever more important than evidence….and being willing to take the attacks that arise because of your efforts.
Great response doctor
So proud of you as a fellow veterinarian
Thank you so much for this article and the associated comments.
As a fellow veterinarian I applaud you for publishing true science and facts in the face of a continued stream of ignorance and hatred. Ours is an exhausting profession involving (in my case at least) ten years of university and two professional degrees. How anyone can insinuate that we are uneducated is beyond me. Carry on with the great work!
So pleased to discover this. Very interesting…I am so grateful for the time you take to write your opinions. Thanks.
Thank you SkeptVet for all the time and energy it must require to compose your thoughtful and well written blogs. I am trained as a pharmacist however I now work with horses, mostly training. I often feel very alone in my skepticism as horse people in general seem to be very susceptible to all kinds of blarney. I am also dismayed to find that a lot of folks have only a vague idea of how bodies function much less the realities of chemistry and physics. Your blogs have touched on things I come across all the time in the horse world and I often feel like the Lone Ranger in my skepticism or outright challenge of certain modalities that are accepted with no question. I try to be circumspect because alienating people does not advance my cause. But maybe I throw out a comment or two that might spark some investigation (e.g. most folks have no idea what homeopathy is, they think it is herbs or home remedies). Most of the time this goes nowhere but on rare occasions I can change someone’s thinking. So thanks for letting me know I’m not alone.
Absolutely! Positively! I couldn’t agree more. Thank you, skeptvet, for writing this piece, and thank you, Veterinary Practice News, for also publishing it!
After reading the kind of response you get from those who disagree with the importance of skepticism in medicine, I appreciate the work you do even more so. I am about to head into a small animal internship, and the value of science based medicine when available can’t be any more important. I take this into account with my own health and medicine too. Thank you for your inspiration!
Sorry you are the target of so much rage and outrage. I must admit, it’s puzzling to me, too, why so many people who don’t agree with you get so upset and vicious about it.
As a counterpoint, let me say that I GREATLY appreciate all the research and time you put into creating this blog–it’s a wonderful and unique resource for those of us who value evidence-based medicine. I never realized how little it’s actually being practiced out there til I started reading your articles. I really rely on your analyses and only wish you could cover even more topics!
Wow. I am not skimmed a few, and found them pretty strange and not great reading. I admire you for your balanced viewpoint and for remaining courteous – not something most of your detractors manage, I see. Thank you for writing and thinking.
As I have said before I really appreciate the effort you put into this blog, when you could no doubt be doing far more entertaining things or even just sleeping. I also appreciate that you manage to maintain a polite tone, while I love me some Respectful Insolence the field of sceptical scientific bloggers is small enough that we still need all of the straight analytical posters we can get. So once again THANK YOU!!!!!!
Wow, that’s some heavy stuff. I applaud you for expressing enough clear opinion to piss people off.
Thank you for your quick and helpful response!
Hello there. I *really* admire and enjoy your blog posts. I have forwarded a link to this latest one to several more junior colleagues who are very interested in this topic…I find your work on this blog outstandingly good and very enjoyable.
I really appreciate this blog.
Excellent commentary, as usual.
I appreciate your blog and I am so glad that I found it several years ago. You provide a great service, especially for pet owners such as myself. The articles you have published have helped me have informed opinions about different alternative treatments. Plus, your discussions about EBM approaches in conventional medical care have helped me understand how to better discuss and interact with our vets when we seek care for our poodles.
I love this blog and check it often…Thanks for all your writing, time and assistance.
I love this blog. You have no idea how much. I’m a retired pharmacist and I like my medicine evidence based and my science peer reviewed. You are a rare voice in the blogosphere these days but a badly needed one. I am constantly getting in heated discussions over woo. I recently saw someone suggest a person nebulize their sick puppy with colloidal silver. I nearly swallowed my tongue but I could not keep quiet in the face of such insane ideas. I often think we are totally losing the battle for common sense and good judgement. I would be even more depressed if not for your blog.
I just came across your blog as my husband asked me to look at an herbal product being marketed for Cushing’s. Our 14 year old mixed breed dog has this. She is on Vetoryl. I am a retired psychologist who knows the value of relying on good scientific research. I just wanted to tell you that I appreciate your good advice and will be following your blog. I may be asking for some of your advice in the future.
Someone recommended ozone therapy for my dog who is having repeating diarrhea episodes…It sounded like homeopathic/holistic nonsense to me from the description I read so I thought “where can I get some reliable info on this?” Of course I came to you first. Thank you for providing facts and reliable information on these types of subjects so those of us who shun all the hocus pocus inflicted on our animals in the name of healing can make informed decisions and feel better about telling well-meaning people “no, thanks!”
I appreciate your website and insightful comments, and I agree that a few individual cases do not amount to proof…Thank you!
Thank you so much for the information provided on your website. I have been working for an Internal Medicine Practice for 12 years under 3 Dip. ACVIM doctors. On currently practicing for 47 years. As time goes by more and more of our clients are being stooped into believing non-science based information they read online. Most recently, Glacier Peak Holistic Pet Life Scan. I have provided my client with your review of their rubbish. Thanks again!!!
We need more vets like you fighting for veterinary medicine to be based on the same requirement for evidence that human medicine is.
I just want to say I am really enjoying the site and I am learning lots which is always good
Thank you. Your reply has done more good than you may realize. ?? Compassion and science – a powerful medicine.
Your website is invaluable for accurate information. Thank-you!
Excellent article, thank you for your efforts.
If I had an animal, you would be my vet.
Just found this in a Google search on standard process. I love the thoughtful analysis.
I really, really wish I’d found this post–or something similar, lol–5 years ago. Thanks.
Thank you so much! There are so many anecdotal stories about these products (and everything dog related) online, which as you point out, does not constitute evidence. I sincerely appreciate such a considered post. You are doing great work, it’s often difficult to separate marketing from real science when dealing with a pup with behavioural issues and I’m so glad to see someone working to address this.
Since I found this blog a while ago I’ve been a fan. The main problem I have is that a lot of veterinarians will advertise “acupuncture”, “traditional Chinese medicine” or “holistic” (which generally has acquired a different meaning than just “considering all aspects”). It seems to be not easy to actually find a veterinarian who tells you that they are doing science based medicine. It leaves me as a pet owner to try to check up on the vet (refused to buy glucosamin supplements from 3 different vets so far) and trying to figure out what aspects of their medical practice I can trust and which I can’t. I tend to come here to check.
I too was happy to stumble on your blog via the NPR article , while browsing “News” on my phone. Having spent 13 years in scientific research before becoming a vet, I was originally shocked by the idea that medicine was NOT entirely evidence based. I just assumed it would be. But after ten years in practice I am getting worn down by the lack of rigorous data
And scientific information, pressure of colleagues, pressure of pet owners to practice unproven methods left and right. It is great to have your reasoned voice out there. I hope more pet owners will come across your blog.
I came to your blog after a friend posted your interview. I have now book marked your blog! Keep advocating for science based medicine – my dogs thank you for it.!
I just found your blog through the NPR interview and have been impressed while perusing it. Thanks for the enormous amount of time, effort, etc. you’ve devoted to this fantastic resource. As a pet owner (2 cats) with longtime professional expertise in research synthesis — mainly meta-analysis — and personal interest in scientific skepticism, I’m heartened to see this sort of critical thinking emphasized for the well-being of creatures who depend heavily on their vets and owners to make responsible healthcare choices.
I can say that it would have been extremely helpful to have had the benefit of this blog at the time we were weighing our options. Thank you for this site, which does an excellent job of providing fact based information to assist in making critical choices about the care and well being of cherished members of our family.
I am new here. I appreciate what you do. Found out about you on NPR. Thank you for taking the time to do this.
P.s. love your site, as usual. Many hours slip away from me some days perusing and reperusing your very entertaining and thoughtful analyses :b
As a professional, you are always one of my first choices to take care of my pets or someone that I refer others to take their pets to. Your open mindedness, willingness to look at the whole picture and willingness to listen to the client about their concerns makes you very competent in my eyes. Screw this tool who doesn’t even know you.
And to @Skeptvet, I just came across your site today in trying to do research on this product as it was prescribed for one of my patients. I am impressed with what I have read, and if this is any indication of the rest of your site, bravo to you for such a thoughtful, helpful and fact-based approach to the problems many owners confront. Keep up the good work.
I am so glad I found this site. Keep it up! Many more clients asking about ‘Veterinary naturopaths’ these days.– a concerned DVM student
Thanks for your clear explanations, skeptvet.
On another note, thanks for your blog, @skeptvet. I consult it frequently to help me keep my eye on the ball when it comes to the care of my digestively challenged, highly allergic white boxer/staffie angel.
Thank you for this article, I am very glad I stumbled across you.
As another evidence-inspired practitioner, I am grateful for the time and effort Skeptvet puts forth in this continuing discussion.
This is EXACTLY what I needed as we try to understand what’s happening with her kidneys, and as we look to exhaust all of the options that are both within our financial reach and that are most likely to have a positive impact on her health. Thank you.
I want to thank you for doing this.
Not everyone can contact a friend and have her go to a friend who is a knowledgeable veterinary researcher. I am glad your site exists. There’s so much trash out there, it’s good to have a voice of reason.
I love this skepticism! People need to see a balance of ideas and decide for themselves what resonates with them.
I just wanted to check, is it okay if I quote you from time to time? I would always provide the link to the article and your website.
I have been doing this, but wanted to know if it was okay?
Your site has been very helpful . Thanks For sharing information.
Thank you so much for taking the time to provide clear thought and information on these topics, Skeptvet. I just learned of your site from a friend’s post and I can’t stop reading. I appreciate all the work you have done to lay out the evidence and arguments, with explanations of how the scientific process works, and how to evaluate information. We need science more than ever!
Thanks for your blog! I’m a pet owner, and I’ve noticed that a number of local vets are into various practices that I’m sceptical of. (I’m from Canada; that’s how we spell sceptic.) Despite my doubts, I just tried hemp oil for my dog’s chronic rhinitis; no effect. Back to proven Western meds.
It was great to see you quoting the Cochrane folks! Carry on!
I want to thank you also; your website provides good information and helps me avoid quackery.
Thank you for doing this. I hope you have something that works to ‘clean’ your brain after going through so much dross.
I, too, thank you. A few months ago, before finding your website, I would have watched the series and believed it all: anti-vaccine, anti-preventative, raw food, holistic. Now i’m using Dog Food Logic to try to figure out what kibble to feed our new dog. Where do I send the Scotch??
Hopefully people are drawn to your blog since it’s extremely well researched and presented. Thanks again for everything you do!
Hi there. I reguarly seek refuge in your blog when I’m bombarded by client questions on homeopathy, natural remedies, and, the product do jour, CDB oil.
I just discovered your blog tonight. Thanks so much for this! Wow — what a tremendous amount of work you put in to helping people make informed decisions in a confusing world of real and bogus (or at least, unbacked) treatments. Much appreciated!
Thank you for your refreshing blog. I am constantly frustrated by clients who insist various non-sense treatments work, as opposed to my science based treatments. Of course, their perception is that I am just out to make money (aren’t all veterinarians? because we went into this field to make money??)
Thank you for helping me verbalize these ideas to my clients.
I am a physician and much appreciate your fine web site. Keep up the great work!!
Skeptvet, Firstly I’d like to thank you for your efforts in advocating for science based veterinary medicine. I’ve been a big fan of Dr Steven Novella and his efforts in human medicine and one of the few people I trust for good information. Your blog has become my go to source for advice regarding my dogs.
Thank you for getting back to me, and for spending so much time and effort helping to promote good, evidence-based medicine and stamping out quackery.
I love your blog by the way. Its nice to read pet/animal information that is presented in a factual and scientific way instead of all the bogus stuff on the internet that essentially tries to tell you that you are killing your dog/cat if you are/aren’t doing “xyz”. No research, no trials, no really any information to back it up with, just people spouting what they think.
Keep up the good work!
Thank you for this site! I’m a bit of a helicopter cat mom and have read so many articles debating certain ingredients in cat foods—namely carrageenan and menadine sodium bisulfate complex. I recently added weruva to my kitty’s rotational diet and kicked myself for feeding him something MSD in it after seeing it on the label until I read this!! Thanks so much for putting my mind at ease.
Your extremely articulate writing and your views are a breath of fresh air amidst what I sometimes feel is pure insanity. You are not alone, although even within the vet community it sometimes feels that way.
I just want to say “thank you.” Finding your blog fills me with relief – that I have someone to go to who uses critical thinking skills to produce relevant, science-based information about veterinary medicine…Screw those critics. Rock on.
Just want to say thank you for producing such amazingly educating contents with scientific rigor and empirical prudence. In this crazy milieu teeming with paranoiac pet parents and cultish advocates (with all due respect to those who aren’t), it is hard to find a public platform like yours with a voice so scientifically careful yet reassuringly informative. Keep up the good work!
I’m a PHD chemist, and I get a lot of questions from my friends about woowoo stuff. You blog is a REAL breath of fresh air. You focus on the science, you do not condemn (despite that fact that I would want to slap some commenters silly). Keep doing what you are doing. It really is appreciated.