I think it’s safe to say we can agree that we want to do everything we can to make the lives of our pets better.
And today we’re gonna get a big dose of advice about our beloved animals!
AskReddit users offered advice about how we can make our pets’ lives better.
Take a look.
1. Two good points.
“Don’t love your pet with food. The amount of morbidly obese pets.. It really does shorten their life and their quality of life people.
And be a big enough person to let them go before they suffer. Don’t drag the end out because you can’t say goodbye.”
2. All about love.
“Love your pet. Tell them every day. They can hear it in your voice and see it in your actions.
They will repay you with everything they have. If you can’t love your pet, don’t get one.”
3. Ask away.
“Do not be afraid to ask questions. When my vets come out To my barn I have a list of questions for them.
Don’t be afraid to ask.
They are there to help, and if you think you’re annoying the vet find another one.”
4. Pay attention.
“Please pay attention to your pet in the quiet moments of life. Simple things like an elevated respiratory rate while sleeping can indicate cardiac or respiratory changes that should warrant investigation.
If your dog normally wolfs down food and then one day just kinda slowly picks at it, something may be wrong. Teeth chattering can indicate pain. All these little things add up. Owners will beat themselves up when things have gone too far and there’s not much to be done, but they didn’t know to look. Look up the the cat grimace scale or Colorado pain scales to get a good feel for painful body language.
Pet obesity is a terrible and unfortunately common thing.
Look at the pet nutrition alliance if you want to see what companies are willing to share information about their ingredients.
And for the love of Christ, I cannot look at your animal and figure out what’s wrong so please please please let me run diagnostics. I have a debt to income ratio of 4:1, I am not asking to run a blood smear just to make money.”
5. A big one.
“My girlfriend is a vet tech.
Don’t leave your pets to be e**hanized without you. It’s hard to be there and it’s hard to watch, but if you leave them they will d** scared and looking for you.
She had to try and comfort pets whose owner’s couldn’t bring themselves to stay and it’s one of the few things that makes her cry.”
6. Medicine is good!
“Just vaccinate your pet regularly, give worming tablets routinely, and if possible keep up to date with ticks preventions and heartworms prevention.
Yes it costs money but in the long run those are cheaper than seeing your pets suffer. Heartworms disease and blood parasite are no joke.”
7. Keep ’em inside.
“Cats do not belong outside unless they are leash trained or are confined in a catio or fully secure yard.
They are invasive, they k**l animals you don’t see, they pick up diseases, they fight, they have unwanted litters, at risk of cars, people, predators.
The best thing you can do to keep your cat healthy and safe is to provide it a stimulating environment where it is contained.”
8. For exotic pets.
“Here are some tips for our more exotic friends!
Training! More animals can be trained than you think, such as rabbits and birds. It’s a great bonding experience and good enrichment especially for more intelligent species eg. Parrots. Birds can use their training to make vet visits less stressful, such as if they are used to stepping onto strange perches or being in a towel.
Birds also benefit from lots of enrichment, parrot species need a lot more mental stimulation than many people expect (even budgies!) and there’s loads of great online resources for enrichment tips!
Rabbits are so much happier with companions (although typically not a guinea pigs). Look up the rabbit welfare association for great ways of enriching their lives, and how to introduce new companions.
Spaying your rabbits/rodents at a young age (ask around your local vets for who has experience or look on the rabbit welfare association’s rabbit friendly vet list) can help prevent a number of future health issues such as mammary tumours, uterine cancers, and pyometras.
If your exotic pet – rabbits, birds, reptiles, etc. is looking sick, take them to a vet ASAP. Lots of them are very good at hiding their symptoms, so if they are looking visibly unwell, it could be a lot worse than it seems.
And of course love your pets! They love you too!”
9. From a vet.
“I am a veterinarian . Please be kind to me and have patience with me. I see so many sick animals every day.
I work 10-13 hours per day, 4 to 6 days per week. I’ve taken a lunch three times in four years. I’ve put so much blood, sweat and tears into cases, only to have the owners trash talk me by name publicly on Yelp because they don’t understand how medicine works, and they get mad when I explain it to them.
The best thing you can do for your pet is to believe me, trust my recommendations, and follow my instructions.
Yelp reviews of doctors or prescription medicines are meaningless and are irrelevant. People don’t know what they’re talking about, are controlled by their emotions, and write fabricated stories.
If you ask me to do a physical exam or diagnostics, there is going to be a fee associated with that. People stealing my services is fairly common.
Sometimes I spend the money and try my hardest to save the pet, and the pet still does poorly. There are no guarantees in medicine. People will often abuse me and my staff because they are grieving. Grief is not an excuse to be abusive.
Some problems are preventable! You can prevent heartworm disease for $8 per month.
I am not in the pocket of Big Kibble, and I truly want you and your pet to do well.”
10. Do it!
“For the love of god brush your dog and get their nails clipped on a regular basis.
The amount of owners who have gotten upset when the groomer explains they need to shave their dog astounds me.
Like you try not combing your hair for 3 months and then go to your hairdresser and see what they say.”
11. Think about the finances.
“If you think of getting a pet, think of finances too.
Not just how much food, litter and some vaccinations are, but be sure that you’re able to pay the vet bills if an emergency occurs or even for if your pet needs regular care due to something chronic, an injury that makes them need physiotherapy etc. We have way too many people struggling with their bills. Some put their needs back, some the animal’s. Some of the stories are horrifying.
If something is off on how your pet behaves, if it suddenly doesn’t let you touch certain parts of their body or anything else you can’t put your finger on is happening, go to your vet. Don’t wait too long. Many animals are extremely good at hiding severe pain and illness. If you notice anything off, go to the vet.
Care about their teeth. If you can’t brush them, let your vet have a look every now and then. They can cause extreme pain and severe inflammation in there is really dangerous.”
“Visit your pets when they’re sick and staying in the veterinary clinic overnight.
Obligatory not a vet disclaimer: when my cat was sick I’d visit him at the vet every day and bring an old towel so he would have something soft to cuddle that smelled like home.
After a few days the staff mentioned a lot of people don’t do that. “The animals think they’re being abandoned and they get depressed. They don’t understand why they’re here.”
20 minutes of mama time lets them know they’re still loved.”
13. In your hands.
“I think the best thing you can do for your new pet, especially a puppy or kitten, is handle it A LOT when they’re young.
Getting them used to having their feet handled, nails trimmed, mouth opened (even extra benefit if you get them used to teeth brushing daily – gold standard for at home dental care), ears touched (particularly breeds prone to ear infections – huge benefit in the future if you have to administer topical ear medication)…
Restraint is also a big thing. I always tell my clients to practice restraint with their animals. That wriggly puppy that is cute when it nips when you hold it still grows up into a large dog that can’t be safely examined because it hasn’t learnt to be okay with restraint.”
14. Stop doing that.
“For small pets, stop shoving them in tiny cages and then forgetting about them!! Most pet store cages are incredibly tiny compared to the bare minimum the specific animals need.
Do your homework and make sure you are getting something large enough. And for pets that you can, LET THEM OUT! Guinea pigs, rabbits, some birds, they want to be let out and love the extra space.
Just do it safely. Again do your homework to make sure you create a safe space for your pet to play.”
15. Keep them healthy.
“Removing a mass when it’s small is faster (less anesthetic risk), less invasive, less painful, less expensive and has a better chance of curing cancer should the mass turn out to be cancerous.
This is even more pressing on delicate areas like eyelids and feet where there may not be a lot of extra tissue to work with should a large lump need to be removed.
Cartrophen/pentosan/zydax injections are relatively cheap and can keep your pet comfortable by not only helping to prevent future arthritis but by helping to ease any that is already present.
Dental disease is serious! Pets will continue to eat even with their teeth forming abscesses. The infection can spread through their body, including to their heart. Removing rotten teeth is the kindest thing you can do for your pets as they age, especially if you haven’t been proactive in preventing periodontal disease.
They can still eat even with full mouth extractions, and will be /so/ much happier! People often tell me how their pet seems younger again after their rotten teeth are extracted.”
16. Get them used to it.
“10 years working at a Animal Hospital. Help your pet get used to being touched.
Especially when they are young. You and by extension your vet needs to be able to look into your pets mouth. Look into their ears. Touch their feet and toes.
Vet visits are tourture for animal who don’t like being touched. And you can miss something important if you don’t look at these things yourself regularly, because “he doesn’t like it”.”
17. Quality of life.
“I am a veterinarian. I’d like to see people focus not just on quantity but quality of their pet’s life.
The best thing you can do for that is just incorporate them into your life as much as possible. Pay attention to them! Love them! Lots of walks! Lots of games! You’d be surprised what they can learn. Play hide and go seek. Play fetch. Sit beside them when you watch TV, pet them. Train and socialize them early and well so you won’t avoid them because they’re not well behaved.
We’re all so busy, it’s so easy to make them an afterthought. You are their whole world and unless you live on a big farm where they run free, you are their only outlet for activity and happiness. They get bored fast, just like we do. They can’t wait for you to get home. They’ve missed you! Take them for a walk. Do a fun training or agility class with them if you’d like.
For health, the biggest things are 1. Exercise, 2. Pay attention to what can be dangerous/toxic for them and avoid it (heads stuck in potato chip bags is one people miss lately, and keep your drugs out of their reach! They’re small and more easily affected), 3. Brush their teeth.
Enjoy your pets! They love you!”
18. Take care of the older ones.
“Get your old babies checked out, cats and dogs. They get sore joints like old folks do to, if you notice your cat doesn’t jump anymore or drags the self up the bed, maybe their joints are sore – go see a vet and see if they need long term pain relief.
If you old lab is slow to rise and fast to lay down, go the the vet, they might be able to go on long term pain relief. The amount of old animals I’ve seen turn into ‘a puppy again!’ is amazing. Pain relief folks! Also dentals. Cats have teeth too, get them checked at the vet and see if they need a dental.
Just basically go to the vet and get your animals checked out. You don’t win a prize when you come in with an old skinny, chronically painful dog saying ‘this is his first ever vet visit!’.”
19. Get smart.
“Actually research your pet before buying them.
It sounds obvious, but so many people don’t, and they just assume that they know how to care for an animal based on what they’ve seen on TV or heard from friends/family/pet shops.
For example, rabbits are one of the most neglected animals in the UK, because people still think that they belong in hutches. Rabbits actually need a LOT of space, and a companion, as well as platforms, rearing up space, and foraging opportunities.
I’m a rat owner, and it shocks and saddens me to see the amount of people who keep lone rats, in a cage with minimal enrichment, and fleece covering the base instead of a suitable substrate that enables them to display their natural digging & foraging behaviours. Not to mention cages with height, but insufficient floor space for rats to run & play, or cages just full of hammocks but no active enrichment.
Research your pets thoroughly before you do anything. Make sure you’re acting in the best interests of the animal, and not what’s convenient for you.”
“Former vet tech here. If you aren’t willing to pay for monthly medications in the event your new pet were to develop a condition or allergy…don’t get a pet.
YOUR DOGS CAN HAVE ALLERGIES JUST LIKE YOU. The saddest thing was seeing dogs come in with sores from scratching/gnawing or covered in hot spots. Once saw such an itchy golden retriever she had sores head to toe even on the inside of her ears. Owners let her itch fervently for months before bringing her in.
Yes, apoquel for allergy relief can start to add up but your dogs quality of life is worth more than $50 a month. Imagine being itchy 24/7 bc you have a grass allergy but you spend half your day in grass. Makes me angry to think about.”
21. Love it!
“Rather than just getting them a bunch of toys and hoping that keeps them entertained, sit on the floor and actually interact with them for a bit.
It establishes a connection and is cheaper than a bunch of fancy products that you toss to them and hope they are enthralled.”
22. Good advice.
“Vet here. Here’s my best advice, condensed.
Thin pets live longer than fat pets. Google a BCS chart and make sure your pet has a visible waist and palpable ribs. No crash diets.
Dental disease is WAY more serious than you think. Get the scale and polish. If we have to extract teeth (and believe me, we would prefer not to), they will still be able to eat.
Get your pet a series of cartrophen (or zydax, or adequacy, or pentosan polysulfate) injections when they turn 8. They help slow down the progression of arthritis and are safe and cost-effective.
If your cat is stressed at the vet, take home some gabapentin to put on her food before her next visit. She will be safe, happy, and calm, and the vet will be able to examine her more thoroughly.
Know what’s toxic for your pet. DEFINITELY don’t have lilies in the house if you have a cat.
Discuss finances. Your vet wants what’s best for your pet, and is obligated to recommend all your best options….but if you tell us what you can afford we can usually come up with a reasonable plan.
You deserve a vet you trust. If you don’t trust yours, find one that you do.
8 ) Put your 24-hour ER vet’s address into your google maps/GPS favorites so you don’t have to find it in an emergency.
9) High-quality kibble is fine unless your vet tells you otherwise. Don’t feed a dog a grain-free diet unless YOUR vet tells you to (like for an allergy).
10) You can almost definitely give your cat a pill. Ask us for tricks.
11) BE NICE. We are human and we all care INTENSELY. Even if we h**e YOU, we probably love your pet.”
Now we want to hear from you.
In the comments, give us some more advice on how we can love our pets even more!
Thanks a lot!