I recently was part of roundtable discussion that took place at BlogPaws 2013, an annual pet blogging conference. The panel for the roundtable consisted of veterinarians and bloggers. We discussed how veterinarians and bloggers can work together for the benefit of both as well as for the benefit of pets. During the discussion, we took a number of questions from the audience. One of the questions was this: “What do you think about people who are not experts or professionals (i.e. veterinarians) writing about pet care or pet health topics?”
It’s a great question and one worth exploring. The general consensus in the panel was that a writer does not necessarily need to be a pet health care professional in order to write about the topic. Any decent writer can research a topic and write an article or post about it. I believe that to be very true. I know a number of writers who are not veterinarians that focus or at least cover some pet health issues on their blogs or publish similar content elsewhere. And the vast majority of them do the job well.
I would submit that, if you thoroughly research and write about a subject in depth, it is possible to become an expert in that subject yourself. I know many writers and bloggers that I would consider experts by virtue of their knowledge even though they are not veterinarians.
So, in answer to the question: No, you do not need to be a professional such as a veterinarian to write about pet health or pet care topics. If you write on these topics often and accurately, you may come to be recognized as an expert in your own right.
With the decision to write about pet health topics comes an important responsibility though. Your readers, by virtue of the fact that your words are in print, are likely to view you as an expert whether you view yourself that way or not. As such, they will look to your words for guidance in regards to their own pets. As a result, it’s important that the information you offer is accurate and up-to-date. The health of your reader’s pets may depend on you.
On that same line, if you’re publishing new information or information that may not be widely known, include your source or sources. If you gathered the information in an interview with someone, include the name and credentials of the person you interviewed. If the information is from a text, journal, or other written publication, include the reference information. When writing online, including a link to the reference where possible is preferable.
By referencing your sources, you add authority to your post or article. And if a reader wants additional information or questions the accuracy of what you’ve reported, they know where to go for further information. As a veterinarian, when I write about diseases and procedures that I deal with on a daily basis, generally my readers accept my word as an expert. However, even as a veterinarian, if I’m referencing a particular study or research paper, I’ll include the reference information and a link to the resource, if possible. In addition, if I’m writing about new information in the field, I will include a reference to the source.
Even if you’re not a pet health care professional, there is no reason you shouldn’t feel free to write about pet health topics as long as you present the information in a responsible fashion. You may be surprised to learn that you are considered an expert if you provide topical, accurate, and well-researched information on a regular basis.