I have seen several comments where someone is voting to close a question as off topic because the close voter feels that the OP should take their animal to a vet.

If this is listed as out of scope anyplace on Pets.se, I am not aware of it.

Pets.se is global web resource, veterinarians are not a global resource. Many parts of the world have Internet access, and no vets.

As per Should I be creating questions and answers for topics easily found when googled?

We have a different scope here "we're working together to build a library of detailed answers to every question about pets".

Per this meta post Should medical emergencies always be off-topic? even emergency medical questions are on topic.

You are welcome to vote however you like, but please do not say that the question is out of scope when it is not. If anyone would like to make an argument to change the scope, post a new meta discussion to attempt to get community consensus for it.

  • 1
    You are welcome to vote however you like, but please do not say that the question is out of scope when it is not. If, however, you think that these topics should be out of scope, please discuss that on meta too before acting on it.
    – JAD
    Commented Feb 26, 2019 at 14:16
  • 1
    some people feel self-importance and authority when they are given moderation rights on internet and they abuse these rights cause it makes them feel good, it's true for forums, facebook pages and even here. I'm always sad to see a cool question that could have interesting answers, but some self-important person decided "ah! I found a rule that says I can close this, no one is allowed to talk here now!"
    – Manuki
    Commented Feb 27, 2019 at 18:14
  • @Manuki - If you see what you feel is an abuse of power please report it. You can use the contact link at the bottom of any page to get in touch. This goes directly to the company that own Stack Exchange so moderators or high rep users will never see it. Please use this option to report any abuses of power that you see. If you have more questions, drop into the litter box and I can try and help.
    – Henders
    Commented Feb 28, 2019 at 17:20

5 Answers 5


Closing with "go see a vet" is not a valid reason to close.

Pets.se is a global resource, not everyone has access to a vet. There is nothing wrong with encouraging the question asker to see a vet. Keep in mind, that may not be an option for the OP, or for all of the thousands of people Google brings to see the question and the answer.

Additionally, vets are people: some are good at the job, others not so good. In this example, the OP visited the vet, got an X-ray and came to Pets.se for more information and got an answer from a person who is not a vet, that is very informative.

In a very few cases, questions might be closed as 'too broad' or 'unclear', pending more detail. For example, if an OP asks if their pet has blood disorder, and there is no lab work in the question. It can't be answered, without lab work that would require a visit to a vet.

If the OP asks if there pet might be dehydrated, there is a simple test as in this answer that can be done without a visit.


It depends on the quality of the question.

My pet is injured, what should I do?

If the obviously only viable answer is "go see a vet" then we should close the question. The help center clearly states:

Emergency medical situations may be accepted on this site provided one or more of these conditions may be met:

  • There are potential emergency measures that may need to be taken care of prior to bringing to the vet.

  • There is no possible way to seek professional veterinary care at this time.

  • The situation is, ultimately, preventable and that it is possible to provide some advice on avoiding the situation in the future.

The logical consequence is that questions that do not satisfy any of those requirements are off topic.

That means that questions like "My pet got hit by a car", "My pet is suddenly acting strange after an accident" or "My pet ate an obviously harmful substance" are clearly off topic because the situation was not preventable and there are no emergency measures we can offer without much more information from the OP.

The added (positive) effect of closing such questions as fast as possible is that the OP doesn't waste any more time waiting for answers...

Sometimes, people are just insecure and need someone to tell them what to do. Unfortunately, they tend to ask the Internet instead of a specialist. Closing a question instead of leaving it open without answers hopefully gives it an air of finality and makes the OP redirect their question to a vet.

An example of such a question is: Cat doesn't eat anything and shiver (sic) sometimes.

My pet has this specific injury, how can I treat it?

This kind of question may lead to a single answer stating that only a vet can treat the injury, but it could also get answers of first aid measures or home remedies.

In my personal experience, if the OP described the problem or injury in detail:

  • the quality of the question in general is good enough to deserve an answer;
  • the question satisfies at least one requirement to be on topic.

These questions should be left open even if the only answer is "go see a vet".

An example of such a question is: Dog has eaten plastic 'doggy' bags.


New custom close reason has been recently added to the list and is now accessible for use. It is available in the closure menu; please follow these steps to access it:

  1. "Close"
  2. "A community specific reason"
  3. "This problem needs direct veterinary care and cannot be reasonably solved via self-help advice."

Please make yourself familiar with the usage guidance before using this custom closure reason (this guidance is also accessible in aforementioned closure menu):

Use this option only for questions about medical problems that are so severe that first aid measures or any treatment options at home are unlikely to improve the situation, or if the problem was unforeseeable and unpreventable (like an accident or an attack), or the question lacks any details about the keeping of the animal that might have caused the problem. If possible at all, try to provide information about how this problem could have been prevented instead of closing the question.

Big thanks to Elmy the Moderator:

enter image description here

for writing these custom template messages for this custom closure reason.


I am new. I do not know all rules. This is number one.

However, I have been using Stack Exchange for long time as knowledge base.

The problem with this sort of question I see:
You can have hundreds of people, all asking for their specific symptoms, and each time it results in a new question. But you would not get a base of knowledge with this.

My suggestion is to craft both question and answer in one. Asking with the main symptoms, answering with the detailed illness report.

Questions with "My pet does this and that, what illness is it?" could be linked to the illness or marked as duplicate.

People web-searching (with Google, etc.) will most probably find the crafted answer first. (Others will be linked / duplicate-marked.)

And one question could be "My pet is ill, what should I do?" with the answer: what information should be in an "illness" question, and if worried "please visit the vet".

Maybe it would be useful to wait with the "best answer" tag of the questions more than a week or two ^^ so it is this one, the community counts as "best answer".


Do we answer or close questions that seem to ask for medical help beyond the typical laymen's knowledge base?

The standard SE Help Center guidelines What topics can I ask about here? suggests that we should only answer critical/life threatening issues. But then, we have to consider that a large portion of the world isn't going to have local access to veterinarian care. Fair enough. Is it then for us to assume that site visitors will have the presence of mind to tell us that they have no veterinarian's nearby? How else could we know?

Case in point: I voted to close My cat is still nursing kittens and pregnant which explains that the cat got pregnant while nursing a litter and later birthed (all) stillborn kittens from the subsequent litter. The OP wants to know if their cat is ok(?). Frankly, I don't know. Would any of us? Naturally, there may be people in our community, that have experienced something similar, who could say, "it happened to me and my cat was ok, therefore yours is too".

Stillborn births happen in all breeds/mammals/animal/fish/bird/etc./etc. and it doesn't necessarily indicate anything about the Mother's health. It clearly isn't an emergency, the OP does not provide any information that would suggest that the Mom Cat is in distress, only that the second litter has been delivered (stillborn). What's done is done, no lifesaving tricks will help these little ones and the birthing process is clearly "over".

So then, let me ask this: How could anyone possibly say that this particular cat is healthy and the OP doesn't need to seek a more knowledgeable source?

  • 1
    I think you have some false assumptions. 1. The site is populated by laymen. This is not true we have Veterinary Doctors, and all of veterinary support staff as active answer posting members. 2. That the OPs access to veterinary support has some bearing. We are creating a Library for everyone in world, if the OP has has access the next person reading might not. Commented Feb 26, 2019 at 20:42
  • 1) I did not say we have Veterarians answering questions. In fact, a licensed professional wouldn't touch this particular question with a 10 foot pole. Why? Because they know that a proper answer involves examining the cat in person, gathering a number of details and assessments, and labwork, before they would even try to determine if the cat is healthy or not.
    – elbrant
    Commented Feb 26, 2019 at 22:32
  • 2) I wasn't suggesting their access to Veteranarian support was critical at all. I was supporting your comment(s) that the site is for everyone all over the world. What I did say is: We don't know if they have access or not.
    – elbrant
    Commented Feb 26, 2019 at 22:35
  • My point is, this question is far to broad for a reasonable answer and would be best suited to be handled by an educated professional. Are there reasons that an entire litter would be stillborn? Probably. Are any members here likely to be able to determine that? Probably not. Does this question follow the guidelines (linked above)? No, I don't believe so. And more importantly: Would we be doing a disservice to answer the OP in any way that suggests this Cat does not need to be examined by a Vet?
    – elbrant
    Commented Feb 26, 2019 at 22:41
  • append to comment "1)", I misread your indication that there are Veteranarians actively answering questions. Honestly though, how would anyone know that? I still believe that a licensed Veteranarian would not attempt to diagnose the health of this particular cat online without an examination.
    – elbrant
    Commented Feb 26, 2019 at 23:42
  • In this case the OPs question is not if the cat is healthy, the question if nursing while pregnant was the probably cause of the still birth "Could that be a cause of her still nursing the kittens from her precious litter?" we have answers addressing that for rabbits no reason we can not do the same for cats, Commented Feb 27, 2019 at 11:33
  • If you are going to suggest that repeated pregnancies will result in death, (as you did in the rabbit link), why wouldn't you advise a trip to the Veteranarian? This wasn't presented as kittens dying one by one, or half the kittens fine, half sickly. It was a full litter of stillborn offspring and that should be cause for concern.
    – elbrant
    Commented Feb 27, 2019 at 14:28
  • Then your answer said "The only definitive way to get an answer about why they kittens were stillborn, is by having a veterinarian look at the stillborn kittens", In other words, "Go see a Vet"! LMAO
    – elbrant
    Commented Feb 27, 2019 at 14:32

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