Millions of people own and totally adore their pets. They make us smile, they see us through the rough times, and they’re definitely important parts of our family.
That said, most of us aren’t experts on dogs, cats, birds, or other commonly-owned animals. We turn to our veterinarians (and sometimes the internet) when we have questions or need advice.
If you’re wondering if you’re doing everything possible to give your animal the best life, here are 15 vets sharing their favorite tips for achieving just that.
15. Never a good idea.
My dads a Veterinary Radiologist and a big thing that pet owners do that they shouldn’t do is feeding their pets human food. Leads to pancreatitis. Also please don’t take your pets to animal chiropractors.
I could ask him for more if interested.
14. A specific plea.
Not a veterinarian but my heart aches every time I see a kid, or even adult, post a picture of a Red Eared Slider (RES) turtle and one of those shitty plastic ‘beach’ habitats.
Turtles in general, but specifically RES need a lot of water to thrive. Your turtle is miserable and their bodies will atrophy if they don’t have enough room to swim around. Also, lettuce is not enough, nor are pellets. They eat live prey, fish.
But the worst isn’t even that. They also need two kinds of lights if you’re gonna have them indoors. A UVB and a UVA to bask with. Which have to be replaced every 6 months or so too.
They need vitamins, constant water cleaning/changing (They’re nasty, this has to be done regularly), they need the water to be at a certain temperature, a good filter… AND they live for up to 25 years, and grow several inches long. And I mean up to 12 inches or more.
A pet turtle is much more of a time, money and care investment than a dog. But it’s one of the animals least properly cared for. DO NOT give turtles away to people who didn’t ask for one or haven’t looked into it. Please.
13. A short but important list.
Tech in emergency here.
I’ve had people whose dog we treated for multiple rattlesnake bites gasp in horror when I mentioned snake avoidance training could involve an electric collar. It would probably save your dog’s life, since it likes to boop snoots with snakes, but suuuuure the electric collar is a problem…
Crate train, please. If you’re not home, crate your dogs if you have multiple/multiple pets. Noone wants to come home to a dead pet/puppy with a skull fracture/cat that has been flayed open. Crates are fine if used appropriately.
Desensitize your puppy and kitten to being touched everywhere, ears, paws, teeth, etc.
No people food.
Keep the goddamn cone on.
Give meds as directed.
Fleas, ticks, mosquitoes do not care if your dog only goes outside to pee, or if you live in a gated community, they will get on your dog.
Keep your cats inside, or outside on a leash or in a catio.
12. Just say no.
DONT F**KING FEED YOUR PET AFTER 10PM THE NIGHT BEFORE SURGERY I DON’T CARE HOW SAD THE PRICK LOOKS
I love when the dog I’m recovering vomits and aspirates as I remove his tube. Adds the drama to the day that we all crave /s
11. Dogs are not wolves.
The amount of myths and ignorance regarding domestic dog diets is absolutely ridiculous. FAD DIETS ARE BASED ON MARKETING, NOT SCIENCE. For example: GRAIN FREE DIETS:
Dogs have co-evolved with humans for tens of thousands of years; they evolved to digest grains via the AMY2B gene when ancient humans began to cultivate crops.
Sure, kibble is a recent invention but dogs have been eating cooked, starch-ladened food for much longer than people realize.
Dogs are not wolves.
10. Get the vaccines.
Not a vet, but worked at a clinic. vaccine schedules. You want to go as soon as your pet is due, don’t wait a few months or even a few weeks.
We had a clients dog die of lepto because they were behind in the vaccine.
Preventatives are another. You need them year round, bc fleas and ticks still come out and heartworm is not something to f**k with.
9. They will cost you money.
Please please please plan ahead financially. You may be getting a $20 bunny, a tiny gecko or a 2k fancy cat but that’s not where the finances end! Get your pet insured – you’ll find yourself in an emergency situation where your pet will need a 1k surgery and hospital stay (maybe they swallowed a sock, maybe they have a pyometra, maybe their teeth need pulling), but please have that money available.
It’s devastating to see clients desperation when we do a bill estimate… unfortunately medicine is expensive, our schooling is very expensive and with surgical intervention it’s not just the surgery itself – it’s the induction, the drugs, the space in the clinic, the vet that has studied and practiced for hours to do the surgery, the nurses that stay and care for your pet before during and after surgery!
Don’t just mindlessly adopt animals when you cannot give them the care that they deserve.
Then, as mentioned already, obesity! Honestly obesity is a risk factor for so many conditions.. if you can’t get on top of that condition treating everything else will be more of a challenge.
8. Rabbits are a special case.
The top one for me (and I’m sure it’s been mentioned somewhere) is a rabbits general needs. Dietary, husbandry, and housing. Rabbits have so many needs that need to be met- they are not easy animals!
They have burrowing needs, hay and straw are necessary, so many vegetables they cannot be fed or shouldn’t be in high amounts that people ignore, and the majority of hutches they are kept in do not meet their needs!
My friend specialises in rabbits and the stories I’ve heard from her are just terrible. Please do genuine research into rabbits before you buy them or ask a vet advice.
7. They have feelings, too.
Leaving your pet alone. I know this sounds stupid but if you had a dog that you never left during lockdown and them suddenly you have to leave it for 6 hours a day it’s not going to be very happy
6. Checkups are necessary.
Veterinary technician here, worked in general practice and emergency/specialty.
I have seen way too many cats that have not come in for regular annual wellness appointments. They come in when kittens for spay/neuter and vaccines, and them reappear when they are a mature adult or senior and starting to get health problems (that may have been caught and managed earlier). Like talking around 14-18 years old often. Just because a pet looks fine, doesn’t mean they are – sometimes clinical signs aren’t obvious (may only be picked up on bloodwork that is often recommended for older pets), or owners simply don’t know what they are looking for.
Dental care – so many pets with teeth rotting out of their mouth and absolutely gross in appearance and odour.
Obesity, which is hard for cats when you have the combination of not wanting them to lose weight too fast (risk of health problems) and cats tending to be more picky eaters if attempting to use a weight loss diet.
Risks of injury/illness for outdoor cats, very apparent after working in emergency – cars, wildlife, other cats, dogs, toxins, etc. Let alone other things to consider like fleas. I’ve seen a lot of pretty serious injuries, and sometimes cats that come in dead on arrival or are euthanized due to injuries.
Training, especially evident with many pets people got during covid. Little dogs tend to be ignored since they are small and are limited in damage (aren’t going to knock you over). There’s also people that have large dogs that drag them around that they can’t control. Then when they get to the vet, there’s a risk to staff trying to treat them, and fearful behaviours worsen.
There’s many reasons why things are ignored, missed, or delayed (ex. Dog has ongoing diarrhea for a few weeks before an appointment is booked) – financial, busy home/work life, lack of knowledge, and more. I would much rather have owners ask us questions than Google the answers or otherwise self treat/diagnose, don’t be afraid of looking stupid!
5. Dog food is for all dogs.
Not a vet, but a vet tech many years: its become popular to try to feed dogs and cats these super expensive, organic/all natural whole food products that are essentially a scam. People will argue with you tooth and nail that the red meat diet they’re giving their dog is better than the dog food that has corn in it.
You don’t have to get insane with expensive dog foods. Learn how to read a label. Dog food is made for dogs to eat it.
4. Your dog shouldn’t be gluten free.
Grain-free/high pea-based protein diets are, generally, not good for your dog. Grain-free became popular when humans were temporarily gluten intolerant(lol), and very little feeding trials went into this, initially. All of a sudden, dog breeds that didn’t have issues with cardiomyopathy(enlarged heart), started dying. Universities did studies finding that dogs on those diets had a significantly higher rate of these issues and sent these to the FDA, who made a statement in 2019 about it.
There are properly balanced grain-free diets, but few companies do feeding trials and have proper staff on the job(prescription diet brands like Hills or Royal Canin being good examples of brands that do their homework). However, unless your dog had a diagnosed Grain allergy, which is unlikely(but not impossible, its less than 10%, though) since the only food they have a rarer allergy to is carrot, you don’t need to do Grain free.
Notice how many GF brands have been putting out “ancient grain” or similar, lately? The FDA may have made a statement, but they haven’t enforced anything, so many brands are trying to phase in grains again. While I like stores like Mud Bay, they are at the mercy of the many boutique dog foods they sell. In a totally not biased study, they found no problems with their many brands that didn’t do prior food trials.
Things are still early in figuring out every aspect of this health risk, but the evidence has been damning. If you do want to pursue boutique dog foods, make sure to do bloodwork and physicals once a year to make sure your dog isn’t one of many who react to these diets. A small breed as young as 7 months died due to cardiomyopathy while on these poorly balanced diets. There’s no guarantee that this isn’t going to affect your dog with long term use, so be safe with them and get them checked.
The four brands I currently know of that do proper feeding trials with vets and have proper quality control when packing are: Royal Canin, Hills Science Diet, Purina Pro Plan(only Pro Plan part of this brand, not One or the others), and Eukanuba(iffy with quality control, but still a good choice). I mention quality control because many outsource packing the food, and cleaning equipment between flavors happens, but not as well as you think. If your dog has food allergies, I strongly recommend the brands I mentioned, they don’t outsource(except Eukanuba sometimes iirc, could be wrong) their packing.
3. Care about their health.
Obesity. Its essentially neglect.
Your dog isn’t a “cute heckin chonker.” He is likely in pain and in a low quality of life.
2. Behavioral issues aren’t cute.
Not a vet, in industry. Owners fixate on things that are an inconvenience for them. Skin/ears and diarrhea are two most common things seen at vet. Both cause irritation to the owner in the form of messes or interrupting sleep. Diarrhea is, in almost all cases, a temporary issue caused by some kind of food indiscretion.
Skin and ear trouble is often caused by pet owners believing they can stop a treatment because they think it’s better and won’t believe that it’s a chronic issue.
Obesity-this is especially true of obese pet owners.
Teeth-pets need their teeth cleaned at least once a year. Anesthesia is expensive and for some owners scary.
Behavioral issues-it’s not cute. It’s dangerous. And saying he doesn’t bite is almost always because you or someone else has pulled themselves away in time.
1. Make sure to socialize them.
Im a dog groomer so I guess no one asked me but….
Socialize your pup when they’re young and don’t let them be possessive over you.
A customer had to put their dog back up for adoption after having him for 3 years, due to being possessive over the owner! They recently had a baby. However, the dog got jealous and tried to attack the baby. So the family had to get rid of the dog, for the safety of the baby.
So to stop dogs from being possessive! When your dog is eating, pick up their food/take some food and see their reaction. Are they possesive? Or do they not care?
If not, try having someone living outside the household to try and touch their food. (Be safe, be smart)
Another thing, Is your dog able to share his toys with other dogs?
These seem like little things but it can help indicate if your dog might have personality traits that would lead to being possessive or defensive towards the owner.
I mean, I was definitely taking notes!
I hope that all pets everywhere are as cherished as they should be – tell us in the comments your favorite (healthy!) ways to spoil yours.