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Pets don’t want snake oil

Paul Ingraham ARCHIVEDMicroblog posts are archived and rarely updated. In contrast, most long-form articles on PainScience.com are updated regularly over the years (see updates page).

Podcast recommendation: listen to veterinarian Dr. Brennen McKenzie interviewed on the Oct 18 episode of The Body of Evidence. It has plenty of relevance to human medicine and some to pain, and Dr. McKenzie of SketVet.com is a super articulate guy.

For instance, the animal-placebo thing: it’s a myth that animals are immune to placebo, which I have been peevishly pointing this out for years. This is a tricky topic and I think he just nailed it. R-e-s-p-e-c-t. Not surprising, perhaps, since he’s written an entire book about animal placebo!.

Nothing gets my blood up to a full boil faster than people who project their misguided satisfaction with alternative medicine onto their pets. Dr. McKenzie told a story about a woman who was convinced she was controlling her dog’s pain with homeopathy/acupuncture. She wasn’t. Awful.

Most people who think they have been helped by alt-med have not actually been helped (see The Power of Barking). This is absolutely standard in the history of quackery: most healing testimonials are bullshit, always have been, and always will be. And so I get upset enough by people who are convinced that they were saved by the psychic healer or the homeopath. When ideological fever and wilful ignorance leads to the delusion that they are relieving a dog or cat’s pain… it’s hard for me to be diplomatic!

A picture of a handsome, serious-looking rottweiler, with the caption: “Of course I believe in the power of barking. I don’t need a study to tell me that it works. The only reason I am alive today is because of barking. Every day I bark my fool head off at the mailman. Every day he goes away, leaving my family unharmed.

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