Maybe you’ve been gently chastised by your vet for letting your cat pack on extra pounds or letting your dog’s teeth get out of hand. But there are plenty of times that veterinarians have held back, keeping their opinions to themselves about how we’re messing up with our pets. When the question was raised in a recent Reddit thread “what common pet care mistakes are we making with our pets?”, veterinarians weighed in with gusto, prompting more than 8,700 comments.
Here’s a look at the most common pet care mistakes that we, as pet owners, make according to the mostly polite, frustrated animal docs.
Listening to other people for medical advice.
In today’s world, it’s hard to deny that everyone seems to have a different opinion when it comes to pet care. Many vets weighed in about clients who argued against their advice, saying that their breeder, trainer or groomer disagreed and told them to do something else. You can find admittedly passionate (yet still wrong) pet care advice everywhere – not only from breeders and groomers, but also animal trainers, pet stores employees, farriers, your eccentric neighbor, your friend, your parents, some random guy on the street, etc., etc.
Thanks, but we prefer the advice of highly-skilled and educated veterinarians when it comes to the health of our furry family members. You wouldn’t let your barber perform your root canal; why would you listen to pet advice from Barb next door, who burned the casserole for the block party last summer?
Get it together, Barb.
Letting them get overweight.
Obesity is another common mistake people make with their pets. Being chubby isn’t cute or a sign of love. Instead, it can lead to all sorts of medical problems. Experts suggest you feed the best quality food you can afford, take guidelines from the bag about how much to feed and then make changes if necessary. Table scraps, junk ingredients, and overfeeding are all very unhealthy pet feeding practices. Luckily, maintaining a healthy diet for your pet is one of the easier pet mistakes to solve. Dogs and cats are fairly simple when it comes to feeding and maintaining weight. Most food manufacturers provide guidance as to how much to feed based on weight. If you follow that and your pet starts gaining weight, then you know to change something.
I can has cheeseburg- NO, YOU CANNOT.
Not taking care of their teeth.
Vets and vet techs posted a lot about dental care, pointing out that having annual dental checkups as part of your pet’s annual exams was key. But don’t leave it to the vet to take care of your pet’s teeth. Good oral health for your pet should be practiced at home. Brushing every single day with a vet-approved toothpaste is the single most important component of your pet’s oral care. They suggest getting your pet accustomed to regular brushing. If you can’t get your furry best friend to cooperate, try dental rinses and chews.
Waddya mean say “awww”?!? I’m saying “aww”! I’m saying “aww”!
Forgoing basic nail care.
Do you clip or grind your pet’s nails? Many pet owners never do this for their pets. Veterinarians urge pet owners to regularly check and clip, or grind, their pet’s nails. Nails that have been left untended can result in serious and painful issues. Ingrown nails are a common and painful problem for animals with unkempt nails. These have to be surgically dug out of the animal’s flesh. Most of the time, an animal with an ingrown nail will give no outward indication that they are in pain. In return, this can cause owners to be unaware of how much their pet is suffering by not trimming their pet’s nails and this in turn can lead to costly and needless vet bills. A $5 pair of pet nail clippers, or $500 surgery? Tough decision, isn’t it?
When you said we were going to get my nails done, I thought you meant at a salon!
Not socializing puppies.
Puppies need to experience other dogs and meet people early in their life. Puppies go through a socialization period in their development. This window for socialization closes in about fourteen weeks of their young lives. If puppies aren’t properly socialized before approximately their sixteenth week of development, it can have lasting and detrimental behavioral effects.
Young pups need to be around other dogs and people in safe and controlled environments. We suggest puppy socialization classes, but arranging a play date at a friend’s house, or your own, works great, too. Notice that we are NOT saying to take them to a dog park! Ensure that the dogs your puppies will be around are healthy and vaccinated and make sure they will play nice with your puppies so that it is a positive experience for your pups.
We also encourage you to let your puppies experience as many new things as they can during the socialization phase. Introduce your puppies to humans of all shapes, sizes, and race and let them experience walking on many different surfaces; smooth tile, carpet, steps, bricks, stone, etc. Show them common household items as you use them so that your pups will not be fearful of these items later. Be sure to offer treats and praise and have fun with your puppies while socializing them!
Choosing unhealthy breeds.
When certain dogs walk in the door, vets sigh and know they can expect a lifetime of health issues. One of the biggest pet care mistakes that many pet owners make is buying dog breeds that have low life expectancy and a proclivity for serious illnesses. Many breeds like bulldogs and other ‘flat-faced’ pet breeds are poorly bred and can be expected to result in routine and costly vet bills. It can be easy to forget that these traits were bred into these dogs and are not a natural part of the dog’s physical characteristics and therefore, not necessary. Research different breeds and consult with a veterinarian to ensure that the breed you want has a reputation for being healthy and long-lived.
Cute? Maybe. Respiratory problems? Definitely.
Skipping the annual checkup.
Nobody likes being poked and prodded and maybe you don’t want to see your pet uncomfortable either. But it’s worth the yearly trip just to make sure there’s nothing going on with your dog or cat’s health. The health of our pets can change much more rapidly than they do in the human body. This makes sense when you compare the lifespan of your pet to your own. Vets understand that, despite their dedication to the health of your pet, your pet might not share that passion and would rather skip the office visit.
Consider that a fifteen minute visit, once a year, is worth the time and effort to ensure your pet’s continued health. In return, they give you unconditional love. Pretty fair deal, if you ask us.