TikTok Docs

Leveraging social platforms effectively can be challenging for veterinary professionals, but in the right hands they can also be a powerful tool to combat false claims and provide reliable content to pet owners.

By Linda Childers

Vets Turn to Social Media Platforms to Combat Misinformation


Molly Brinkman, DVM

Molly Brinkmann, DVM, of Beauchamp Animal Hospital in Franklin, Tennessee, knows how common it is to find misinformation about pet care on social media.

Brinkmann is part of a new generation of veterinarians who have taken to social media platforms—including TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram—to address false claims about pet health while also providing reliable and educational content to pet owners.

“I remember when another TikTok user tagged me in a post where someone who was not a veterinarian was advising pet owners not to use heartworm medication,” Brinkmann said. “I explained that heartworm disease can be fatal to dogs and cats, and that when heartworm disease preventive products are used correctly, they’re both safe and effective.”

Brinkmann has amassed a loyal following on both her Instagram and TikTok accounts (@drmollysays) with a mix of fun and informational videos including “If Animal Breeds Were Humans at the Doctor” where she imitates breeds such as a nervous husky and an excitable Lab, to more serious fare such as “Arthritis in Dogs” or an explanation of Cushing’s disease in dogs.

“I work to debunk misinformation pet owners get online from people who have no medical credentials,” said Brinkmann, who has over 154,000 followers on TikTok. “As a vet, I want my videos to give pet owners a source of good information and to help them make informed decisions about their pet’s health.”

Brinkmann launched her TikTok account in 2021 and tries to record four to five new videos each week, as time allows. She gets ideas for her videos from both questions posed by followers and those that arise in her practice.

“I explain common medical issues that I see in my practice, but I don’t offer medical advice,” Brinkmann said. “I love posting content and just launched a YouTube channel where I hope to reach even more pet owners.”

The “Dr. Pimple Popper of Exotic Pets”Rachel Siu, DVM.jpg

On her TikTok account, (@exotic.pet.vet), Rachel Siu, DVM, of Summertree Animal and Bird Clinic in Dallas, Texas, has over 708,500 followers who tune in to watch her videos on everything from caring for corn snakes to tips for getting into veterinary school.

Siu’s first foray into social media began with Instagram when she started an account detailing her adventures as a veterinary student at Texas A&M University.

“I didn’t join TikTok at first because I was more comfortable posting pictures than videos, but after some gentle encouragement from other social media creators, I decided to try it out,” she said. “After a few of my TikTok videos went viral, I found it was a great way to reach a new audience and educate the public about animals and veterinary medicine.”

Siu said one of her primary social media goals is to provide accurate information on proper pet care. “Working with exotic pets, I unfortunately see a lot of sickness that is 100% preventable had the owners just been educated on proper husbandry,” she noted. “I hope to make a difference in pets’ lives by informing owners and preventing these issues before they happen.”

Siu has grown her accounts by covering topics that interest her followers and posting interesting cases she sees in her work. “Many people are very interested in gross but satisfying procedures such as abscess popping and cuterebra removals. I’ve even been dubbed the ‘Exotic Pet Dr. Pimple Popper,’” she said with a laugh. “I always get permission from a pet’s owner before using them in a video, and occasionally I have followers who ask me to make a video on a specific topic.”

Siu also posts time-lapse videos of one of her hobbies: skeleton articulation. “I’ve put together a few skeletal articulations for clients that have found me through social media,” she said. “Although it might seem weird to have your snake’s skeleton on display, some owners prefer it over an urn as you can really appreciate the beauty of their anatomy.”

Siu says she’s received a positive response to her videos and that some of her followers have even become clients.

“Treating exotic pets is a niche in the veterinary field, so I’ve had some clients drive hours to see me after watching one of my videos,” she said. “I’ve also had pet owners who didn’t realize there were vets willing to see their bird, reptile, or pocket pet until they watched one of my videos.”

Marcus Dela Cruz, DVM and his dog CharlieA “Friendly Vet” Offers Pet Owners Engagement and Education

Marcus Dela Cruz, DVM, an emergency veterinarian with PETS Referral Center in Berkeley, California, launched @thefriendlyvet on Instagram in January 2021 with three goals in mind: to serve as a resource for pet parents, to build back trust in the veterinary community through transparency and reminding his audience that veterinarians are people too, and sharing fun and funny stories from his daily interactions with patients and clients.

“I realized there’s a whole generation of pet parents I would never reach if I didn’t also use TikTok, so now I create and post content for both platforms,” he said. “I also started a website where I can post longer blogs to cover more complex topics (thefriendlyvetblog.com).”

Dela Cruz, who now has 27,000 followers on TikTok, said he knew misinformation about pet care was a huge online problem based on the countless number of pet parents who visited his hospital after using “Dr. Google” to try and self-diagnose or solve their pet’s health problems by themselves.Veterinarian holding a Facts flag, defeating the misinformation monster

“I didn’t fully grasp how common misinformation was online until I got on social media and found myself constantly combating myths, misconceptions, and just bad information,” he said. “I try to always lead with compassion and the understanding that pet parents are well intentioned and want what’s best for their pets. The goal of my content is to either provide helpful information or to make people laugh—to me, the sweet spot is being able to do both at the same time.”

He said his most popular videos have covered topics such as “Five Things I Would Never Do with My Dog as an ER Veterinarian” that received over 3.5 million views on Instagram and 2.3 million views on TikTok. Other popular videos focused on “How to Determine if Your Pet Is Overweight,” and “Common Misconceptions About Wait Times in the Vet ER.”

“The best way to grow your account is to post regularly and engage with other accounts,” Dela Cruz said. “When my account was in the beginning stages I tried to post one to two times per week, but my life is hectic these days and I’ve been posting two to three times per month.”

In addition to getting positive feedback from pet owners, Dela Cruz has also met many colleagues in the #vetmed community on social media.

“When I started my accounts, I wasn’t expecting to build such a robust network within the veterinary profession, so that’s been an exciting unintended outcome,” he said. “I have built some great friendships through social media and have had the opportunity to connect with some incredible veterinarians and veterinary technicians from around the world.”

Dela Cruz encourages other vets who are passionate about client education and feel confident speaking on certain topics to consider having a social media presence.

“Start by following other veterinary accounts to see what they do well and how you might do something similarly or differently,” he said. “Take some time to think about who you want your audience to be and develop some clear goals for what you hope to talk about and accomplish through your account.”

Greg Echols, DVMA Pandemic Hobby Becomes a Popular TikTok Account

Greg Echols, DVM, a relief veterinarian in Charlotte, North Carolina, began posting TikTok videos under his account (@dogter_echols) during the early days of the pandemic in 2020.

“I had a lot of downtime then, and TikTok helped me get through COVID,” he said.

Today Echols has 141,600 followers on TikTok, where he posts educational videos about the veterinary profession.

“Vet medicine can often lead to burnout, and a lot of people don’t fully understand what it means to work in the field,” he said. “I try to present some of the challenges and clientele we see, but I do it in a fun way, without degrading anyone.”

“I try to present some of the challenges and clientele we see, but I do it in a fun way, without degrading anyone.”

—Greg Echols, DVM, @dogter_echols

Echols also hopes his accounts will help to raise awareness about the importance of vet techs. “They don’t get nearly enough recognition, and I think it’s important to let pet owners know what they do and how critical they are to the veterinary field,” he said.

Sometimes, Echols will field questions from prospective students who are interested in a career in veterinary medicine. He’s produced videos on topics including good study habits, internships, and different career paths. He also offers client education on a variety of topics including drug-resistant hookworms, heart murmurs in dogs, and trimming your dog’s nails.

“So many people are turning to social media when they have a question about their pet’s health,” Echols said. “I want to make sure they get accurate information and to encourage them to consult with a vet before they try to self-diagnose their pet or try a potentially dangerous product or treatment they heard about online.”

Lindsay Butzer, DVMReaching a New Generation of Pet Owners

As a child, Lindsay Butzer, DVM, of Clint Moore Animal Hospital in Boca Raton, Florida, remembers watching her dad, Brian Butzer, DVM, film interviews on pet care for local television stations and Animal Planet. Butzer knows there’s been a shift in media consumption over the years with more Americans now relying on social media platforms for information.

A study released last year from the American Press Institute found the vast majority of Gen Z and Millennials consume news from a wide variety of sources, including traditional news outlets (TV, newspapers, websites) and social media platforms such as TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube.

“My dad’s work on television inspired me to create veterinary content on social media,” Butzer said. “I want to give back to pet owners by teaching them animal facts and care tips just like my dad taught me when I was a child.”

Butzer’s TikTok account (@dr_lindsaybutzer) has over 159,000 followers and features a mix of funny and educational videos. Her videos have covered topics such as the importance of dental care for dogs, what NASC quality seals on pet products mean, and herpes in kittens.

“My videos are based on real experiences I see in a typical workday,” Butzer said. “But I also create some humorous content to make pet owners laugh.”

Butzer has landed new clients as the result of her social media accounts, with some even driving over an hour for an appointment.

She said her accounts have received an overwhelmingly positive response but acknowledges there is always the rare internet troll who feels compelled to leave a mean comment.

“The majority of my followers are amazing. They love my videos, and encourage me to make more,” Butzer said.

Linda Childers.jpg
Linda Childers is a California-based freelance writer. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Cut, Rover.com, Great Pet Care, and many other national media outlets.

Photo credits: ©AAHA/Robin Taylor



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