by Shelley Inon
Dr Alex Avery is a veterinary surgeon at Vetlife in Timaru throughout the day, but at night he is giving advice to pet owners around the globe.
Dr Avery started Our Pet’s Health three years ago, which is a YouTube channel, blog and podcast combined.
He now has 41,300 subscribers on YouTube and more than four and a-half million views.
He had felt inspired to start sharing his knowledge on the internet, because there was “an awful lot of bad information online”.
His videos covered a large range of subjects from vet-approved home remedies, to vitamin deficiency in cats.
He had seen patients who had spent hundreds of dollars on “lotions and potions” they had bought online worked.
One patient had arrived, full of fear and anxiety, with her sick dog.
An extensive Google search had led her to the conclusion that her dog had cancer.
After a consultation they discovered it was simply a bladder infection.
He had felt motivated to be the voice of reason, that encouraged people to take their pet to the nearest clinic.
“There really is no substitute for an in-person vet consultation.”
He said most remedies on the internet came back to apple cider vinegar.
He felt people should know that “if they [animals] aren’t getting better, it isn’t working”.
Dr Avery was born in Scotland and studied in Bristol, but he now lives in Geraldine with his wife and two children.
As well as informing the general public about pet health he is also very passionate about mental health in his profession.
He said the suicide rate among vets was four times higher than the general population.
Dr Avery felt the occupation attracted a “certain type of person” were perfectionists and worried about the outcomes of their patients.
With the rise of social media, Dr Avery felt they were more likely to hear from people when things went wrong, which did not help people with these personality traits.
There were a few things that made the occupation a struggle.
One was the conspiracy theories circulating about vets, namely that they run “pointless tests” and prescribe medicine to animals which “keep them sick”.
Because people’s own medical care was heavily subsidised by the Government, Dr Avery thought people had no perception of how much medical care cost.
The price of medicine for animals was far more than people’s subsidised medicine costs.