Helpful Veterinarians Share The Most Common Mistakes Pet Owners Make

Helpful Veterinarians Share The Most Common Mistakes Pet Owners Make

Helpful Veterinarians Share The Most Common Mistakes Pet Owners Make

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Pets are NOT merely pets. Our pets are our friends, they are our family, mi familia. We love our pooches, kitties, horses, ferrets, birds... etc like they're our blood. I'd be willing to donate a kidney for my dog. But like any decent parent we are destined to screw our babies up, 'tis life. Instead of animal therapists we bombard our vets.

So Redditor ovalseven sent out a call for veterinarians who may be able to share wisdom for fur baby owners asking... Veterinarians of Reddit, what common mistakes are we making with our pets?


1) Letting them get fat 2) Not taking care of their teeth

Obesity and dental disease are far and away the most common problems I see.


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Trim your pets' nails. I can't tell you how many times I've had to wrestle an ingrown nail out of an animals flesh. And that stuff can get in there deep. And most of the time, the animal doesn't give you any signs that it's in pain and the owners don't even notice it's happening.


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Veterinarian here. Not going to sift through all these comments so apologies if I'm echoing others.

Getting and relying on medical advice from breeders and groomers (with no medical background). I once saw a rat terrier with a fractured humerus, which typically requires surgical correction. As I stepped out of the room to check availability with a surgeon, the client called the dog's breeder who said not to follow my advice and to "just put the dog in a sling" and that she's "done on her own dogs plenty."

Also, not exercising dogs enough. Many behavioral problems can be solved with ample exercise daily.


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I'm seeing a lot of dog/cat posts so I'll throw one about snakes:

Snakes are not supposed to sneeze/cough. They lack diaphragms so if yours does this, take it to the vet immediately.

Please please do not drive with your snake free-roaming. This is extremely unsafe for the snake as it causes stress and could get stuck somewhere while you are driving.

Different snakes require different bedding's, humidity levels, enrichment etc. Just because it works for a corn doesn't mean it's meant for a ball python.

It is best, and highly recommended, to feed frozen to snakes. This is because live rodents can be dangerous to the snake if the snake does not want to eat (I've seen so many dead snake pets due to this) and also, easier storage. If your snake prefers a more lively meal, try dancing or running said dead mouse around the tank for it to attack.

Understand your snake and stress. Do not humanize your snake into thinking that it's behaving in a mammal/human like way. It could be showing signs of clear stress and your seeing it as "awe look at it's sassy face!" You can love your reptile while also respecting it's boundaries.

This is my personal rant/tip: If you want a cool, look at me accessory may I suggest a new hair do, a cool jacket or literally anything else besides a snake. These animals are surprisingly delicate to their environments and require everyday husbandry. You scaring people with it or using it as a way to get chicks is not helping the reputation of these pretty awesome creatures. They have fears, intelligence and likes/dislikes like any other animal. They are not breathing jewelry.

Reptiles in general are very complex pets to keep healthy. Do your research please. Learn the diets, the vitamins, the lights, the humidity etc. These animals can live to be over 20 yet rarely do due to poor husbandry.

And my tip for all animals in general is ENRICHMENT! Play with your pets, train them, give them puzzles, new toys, new hiding boxes, etc. Literally anything to keep their minds and bodies fit. These creatures rely on us for their whole lives, they do not have phones, tvs, books, etc. They have us, their owners. It's our responsibility to keep them entertained and living full lives. Even a fish could enjoy some new plants and scenery every once and awhile.


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Hello! Veterinary Nurse here!

Kind of surprised I haven't seen this posted yet (might of missed it) however....

Please, if your pet got into your weed or edibles, just tell us! No we are not going to call the cops on you. We just want to treat your pet correctly & not waste our time!! We really don't care that you smoke!

Also, please put your weed up where your pets can't reach! If dogs will eat literal crap then yes they certainly will eat your pot & definitely all of your baked edibles & candy!

Thanks! :D


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Not socializing/training puppies. Socialization (not just to other dogs! To people! Cats! Men in hats! Vet care! Foot touching, handling, bathing! Car rides! Etc etc etc), basic dog behavior and development knowledge, and positive reinforcement training with just a few basic commands can be the difference between a well adjusted dog in a loving home and a dog with persistent behavior issues being surrendered to a shelter. n't like it. (Thanks!!)


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I'm a vet. Not letting your dogs around other dogs until they have all their vaccines. Their socialization window closes about 14 weeks, meaning it is pretty much closed if you wait until 16 weeks. This causes a lot of dogs to go nuts and freak out whenever they see something they didn't see during that period.

Notice, I did NOT say to take them to the dog park! They need to be around other dogs (and other people) in controlled situations: puppy socialization classes, friends houses, etc. Make sure the dogs they are around are healthy, vaccinated, and good with puppies and let them have positive experiences with other dogs and people. Obviously NEVER get behind on their vaccines while you're doing this. Expose them to your tall friends, your friends of different races, your friends with beards, hats, sunglasses. Pull out the broom, an umbrella, an iron board... while giving them treats and having fun the whole time. Try to let them walk on slick floors, bricks, carpet, etc. so they won't have fears of those things. And always happy!!

Every happy, positive interaction with something makes them less afraid. Every lack of exposure, or negative interaction, makes them more afraid.

Your dog is your FRIEND, not your slave. Your goal is not to make him do exactly whatever you want no matter what. It's to make him have good manners, but also let him have his own preferences, too. You're not training him like he's in the circus to do a bunch of stuff for your amusement. You're teaching him how to move safely in the world, which means not doing something (biting, urinating in the house, jumping uncontrollably) that will be a threat to his life some day. More dogs are surrendered and euthanized for behavior reasons than any other reason.


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I'm graduating as a veterinarian in a few months. One of the most common things we see, and a very serious issue at that, is dental disease in pets, and often the owner has no idea that their animal's teeth are bad at all. Dental disease affects all body systems (bacteria and dental disease go hand in hand, and those bacteria end up all throughout the body, affecting organs such as the kidneys and the heart), not to mention it flipping hurts!! Some owners are under the impression that because their animal is still eating, that must mean that they do not have an oral health issue. The truth of it is, is you eat or starve. I like to tell people that the most common symptom you'll see in dental disease (besides, of course, the yucky mouth itself) is no symptoms. I have seen a lot of owners comment how their dog or cat is 'like they're young again!' after getting a much needed dental treatment, specifically the extraction of diseased teeth. Arguably the most important aspect of oral care that you can do at home is tooth brushing, optimally every single day with a veterinary toothpaste. Outside of that, regular physical examinations and professional dental cleanings under general anesthesia when necessary. Unfortunately, anesthetic free dental cleanings may do more harm than good, including giving you a false sense of security of your pet's dental health.


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Former vet tech here. Few things.

  1. Spay/neuter your pets. No, Fifi does not need to have a litter, and it might actually endanger her health to do so (look up pyometra). There are too many unwanted dogs/cats in the world. Please don't add to the burden.
  2. Microchip your pet, and keep the information updated! It is usually the key to help your pet find their way back home!
  3. Play with your kittens feet. Seriously. Start as early as possible. This will help with nail trimmings!
  4. Socialize your puppies to anything and everything. When this is done safely, it can help prevent behavioral problems in the future.
  5. Learn to read your pets behavior! Knowing when they are stressed out/scared/sick can really help you avoid dangerous situations.


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1 year away from being a full blown vet, worked as a technician for 4 years before vet school.

Please don't ignore cats screaming or "looking constipated," they are likely suffering a urinary blockage and they can die. Please bring them to a vet.

It's not as much the food as the kcals - read the bag. There are plenty of calculators online that will give you an idea of how much your pet should be eating. THEN compare that to the food you have (and measure out what is appropriate).

And please, please, be kind to your vet. It is all too often we are accused of "being in this for the money." We aren't, most of us take on huge loans to the tune of 200k to be your pet's doctor. We also have one of the highest rates of suicide as far as a profession goes. Please keep that in mind before you leave a mean review - we take failure personal, trust me. There may be some exceptions, but I speak for me and my colleagues. We love your pets too, that's why we spent 8+ years getting to be their doctor!


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Im in the middle of training right now, but one thing I see absolutely everywhere that kills me inside is fish being kept in small tanks or bowls. The idea that fish can be kept in bowls comes from the fact that people in east-asian countries like Japan would temporarily put their fish on display in bowls to show off to guests, and housed them in large ponds most of the time. Westerners assumed such small containers were suitable to house fish in and this is still wide-spread today. Not only does a bowl destroy your fish's health due to the lack of air touching the surface per unit volume of water, but the space you're giving your fish is basically comparable to keeping a human in one room the whole of their life. Fish are cleverer than people give them credit, and they feel pain and emotion more than people give them credit for also. They can't pull facial expressions that we can empathise with, so their mental wellbeing is often overlooked. Even small fish need a decent amount of space to live, and things in their tank to hide in or "explore". They grow much larger and live much longer than most people think. They absolutely need to be housed in the right accommodation, in the right environment (the amount of fish I've seen being kept on shelves next to loud speakers etc), and with the correct amount and type of other fish. It takes a lot of space, time and money to look after them decently- they're not the low-maintenance pets so many treat them as.


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Heartworm prevention. I am in a rural place where the common theme is "dogs are tools" and therefore kept outside off leash. I have never made a grown ass redneck cry faster than telling him his favorite hunting dog has heartworms. Everyone knows the treatment is expensive and somewhat risky so they often have no choice but either euthanize or just let it run it's course. When they refuse treatment, prior to release we're obligated to tell them exactly what will happen and that's when the tears flow.

BUT... But... We offer ProHeart6. One shot = 6 months of protection. We offer AdvantageMulti. One pill covers fleas, ticks, heartworms, a few internal parasites and even mange. We have the options, please use them. I haven't steeled up yet. I still cry at every dog put to rest, especially a preventable one. You need meds if you live in an orange or red area.


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I'm a vet. I can list a million things I wish owners would understand about their pet's health, but equally important is understanding that if you cannot afford basic veterinary care then you cannot afford a pet. Period. This is an industry with serious mental health concerns. We are routinely presented with cases that could have been avoidable if you'd practiced the suggested preventative care, or brought your pet in for evaluation once the symptoms started rather than waiting 6 weeks until the animal is beyond help. We are routinely berated by the public for being uncaring or having no compassion for not providing our services for free, though often veterinary diagnostics are performed at a fraction of the cost of human diagnostics and the turn-around time is considerably shorter. I do not want to euthanize your beloved family member, but if you have no ability to cover the estimated cost of care, you put us both in an unfortunate situation. The fact that I have to euthanize multiple pets on a daily basis is one of the worst parts of my job. Sometimes it's unavoidable, but oftentimes a traumatic end could be prevented with basic yearly checkups. Also please don't expect me to cry over every euthanasia. If I didn't distance myself from the heart wrenching sadness, I would never be able to perform my job.

SHOW ME THE $$$$$!!

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I Am a vet.

Please don't say that vets are "in it for the money." I'm raising a family of four and last year I brought home less than 60k. Vets make a living but we will never be wealthy. We do not make recommendations to take your money. We make recommendations because we genuinely care about your pet's wellbeing. I have been a vet for 13 years and just last year made enough to buy a car. A Honda. And I still owe $80k on my student loans.

Vets are NOT in it for the money.


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Lack of dentistry or dental hygiene is probably the main thing I see. Dental cleanings are important, pets usually need a cleaning at or soon after 3 years of age, sometimes younger. A "teeth cleaning" at the groomer is not a dental. I'm talking about an anesthetized prophylactic cleaning and polishing. Similar to what you get at your human dentist. However we can't ask your pet to hold still and open its mouth or we take x-rays and clean the teeth and probe to check for pocketing, so anesthesia is necessary. Most veterinary hospitals use up-to-date equipment that provides safe monitoring for your pet. Just be sure to go to a reputable veterinary clinic or an animal dentist.

Unlike people, dogs' mouths are very different from one another. Think of a Yorkie vs a French Bulldog vs a Golden Retriever. The structure of the mouth between them are not the same across every dog. Cats are fairly similar to one another. The small mouths and teeth can often have more problems or need more frequent cleanings. There are a lot of factors that can vary when or how much "tartar" accumulates such as diet or dental hygiene treats or teeth brushing. Brushing a dogs teeth less than four times a week is almost ineffective. Dental hygiene treats work but aren't as effective as a cleaning and polishing. The worse it gets over time the more expensive it will be later on if you get them taken care of. Don't wait till it's too late. And yes, even if you keep up on annual dental cleanings it is still possible to have other problems like fractured teeth or root exposure, enamel loss from chewing or wearing. Dogs use their mouth like we use our hands, not just to eat but as tools. This has an effect on the teeth too.

I got a four month old German Shepherd in 2015 and have been trialing Oravet Dental Chews by giving him one dental treat every single day since I got him. He is now three years old and his teeth are still immaculate, I don't brush his teeth (because yes I'm lazy about that too) and he hasn't had a dental cleaning. Another German Shepherd that is only a couple weeks apart in age as my dog has already needed two dental cleanings.

Another common mistake with pets is obesity. Feeding the wrong foods, junk ingredients, or unnecessary nutrition. Dogs and cats are fairly simple for feeding and maintaining. Most food manufacturers provide a guidance to how much to feed based on weight. If you follow that and your pet starts gaining weight, then you know to change something. They don't eat something different for every meal like we do, it makes it easier to keep track of how much you should feed. Obviously there are medical conditions that might render this difficult such as thyroid hormones or metabolism, but generally speaking. A lean pet will have much better chance at remaining healthy. The majority of animals I see with lumps and bumps are overweight or not neutered or both.

If you have been a pet owner for several years or maybe more than a decade or two, you'll have noticed that the style of animal medicine has changed significantly. The availability of advanced medicine has increased exponentially, and so has your expectations as a pet owner. We understand this, but what comes with this is better care for your pets to result in longer lifespans while staying healthier longer.


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I wish people would acknowledge the difference between 'surviving' and 'thriving'. This is most evident with exotic pets like reptiles and birds, but I think it applies to more common animals too. Too often you see people refusing certain treatment or being difficult about something because they (or usually their friend's partner's cousin or whatever) have heard of a case where X treatment wasn't needed. Even if that were true, years of education and decades of scientific research tell me that X is probably the best thing to help your pet thrive.


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My vet told me she sees a lot of dogs with injuries from jumping out of vehicles. The owner usually says something about how they thought the dog's instincts would prevent them from jumping out while going down the road. Unfortunately, dogs have not been riding in the backs of trucks for thousands of years and don't seem to have totally evolved a set of instincts to deal with modern technology. If they see a squirrel, that might be all it takes to convince them it's a good idea to get out at 60mph. So always tie them up in a way that makes it impossible to get out.

I know, I know, your dog never does this and never would, right? That's what all of her clients said too.


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Vet here. Didn't read every entry, so some may be repeated, apologies. Could go on all day but here are a few.

Grain free is 100% marketing. You're paying extra for absolutely no benefit. While we are on the subject, by products should not specifically be avoided. Pets need nutrients, not ingredients.

Spay and neuter. Why owners elect not to do this astounds me, considering the number of conditions that can be prevented by this simple procedure.

If you cannot afford to drop $200-300 once a year on your pet, you should not have a pet. This covers only the basic routine services a pet should receive once yearly (exams, preventative medications and testing, vaccines, etc). If you have a pet, set aside a specific emergency fund for this pet. Depending on the condition, a few hundred bucks can save a life. On a similar note, do not get a Great Dane and act surprise that medications for a 150lb dog are more expensive than your old terrier's medications.

Listen to your veterinarian. "The breeder said..." is not a valid excuse for anything. It doesn't take much to put two dogs in a room and wait 60 days. Why people say this to a veterinarian is beyond me. Your breeder makes money on making sure each bitch produces a large number of viable offspring- nothing more.

Please vaccinate for the conditions your veterinarian recommends, when they recommend them.

If you are not willing to spend the appropriate amount of time training and exercising your high energy dog, please get a fish. If you do not have experience with any dog in the working class, please at least put in the time to research and then train your GSD, GSP, etc. Do not purchase a pet for someone else as a surprise. Getting a pet is a 10-20 year commitment and should not be dumped on an unwilling or unable family member/girlfriend, etc.

Not really a mistake, more of a PSA- Veterinarians have one of if not the highest suicide rate by profession. This is influenced by high stress environment, desire to save every pet, inability to cope with a mistake, misdiagnosis or lost pet, high student loan debt, access to euthanasia/other drugs, view on euthanasia, etc. Please be kind to your veterinarian.


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Common Mistakes

1 Declawing pet cats (unless someone in the house is immuno-compromised). It's considered inhumane. Contrary to what most people think, it isn't simply "taking off a nail." It's a literal digit amputation of the distal phalanx. That's like cutting your fingers off at the last knuckle.

2 Letting a de-clawed cat outdoors. They can't defend themselves and will die.

Edit: As some people have pointed out, "they will die" is not necessarily true. More likely, they will be horribly mauled or injured due to being largely defenseless. Is this an absolute certainty? No. But it's very possible. If you care about your pet, you should not want this in the realm of possibility, but what the hell do I know.

3 Not neutering your pets. They will lead arguably longer and happier lives if they are fixed.

Edit: Happier lives: cuts down aggressive/unwanted behavior which is usually the leading cause of being returned to a shelter; for being "bad" and misbehaved.

Healthier lives: No chance of death during pregnancy or any kind of reproductive cancers, such as testicular,, prostate, ovarian uterine etc. But what the hell do I know.

4 Never taking your pet in for an annual check-up. Things change in our pet's bodies faster than they do in ours. Think of their life-span as opposed to a humans.

Edit: I'm sorry my thermometer in your pet's tush is a bit uncomfortable and the mere sight of me get's him trembling. Believe me, when I went into this profession I wasn't expecting animals to dread coming to see me. But 15 minutes in the clinic, 1 day out of 365 is the least you can do for an animal that loves you unconditionally. But what the hell do I know.

5 Giving your pets "people medicine". A lot of the things we can ingest may be toxic to animals. You can kill your pet even with the best of intentions.

6 Waiting for weeks or days to rush in with an "emergency." Chances are your pet has been in considerable pain, treatment may be more complex/difficult and your bill will be much, much higher.

7 Equating food with love. Pet obesity is a real thing. You could be taking years off of your pet's life and causing them painful joint issues by over-feeding.

8 Feed a raw diet. Animals can get food poisoning too. Make sure to talk to your vet to ensure your pets diet adheres to certain species-specific guidelines.

Edit: As many people have pointed out, their pets are on Vet/AAFCO approved raw diets. Fine. As long as you're not throwing your pets whole chickens and calling it holistic. But what the hell do I know. Also, I was thinking of dogs and cats when I wrote this. I should have been more clear that there are exceptions for every species. Let your snake do its' raw snakey thing.

9 Make your pet vegan or vegetarian because you are. Cats absolutely need essential amino acids that can only be found in meat. They'll die otherwise.

10 Neglect dental health. This is a common issue we see at the office. Address oral health early and it'll save you money and your pet's teeth.

If you're reading this, chances are you love your pet! Thank you for being responsible owners.

Source: I'm a 4th year veterinary student


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Well since nobody mentioned camels I guess I will

Make sure your camels have plenty of areas to scratch themselves against when they are shedding their coat. I put a post up and nailed the ends of rough broom brushes all around the post. Otherwise their fur will just matt and get gross.

Make sure you fence off any trees you don't want destroyed by atleast 1.5-2 meters (like 5 foot) because they'll lean over the whole fence to get to the trees.

Check the yard for nightshade berry bushes, they're poisonous to camels.

Ensure they have constant access to blocks of salt, otherwise they will begin to stress and start digging.

If your camel grows an abscess (extremely common) wait for it to enlarge before lancing it at the lowest point where it'll fall to gravity and flush with a 5050 iodine/peroxide mix and repeat over the next couple weeks until it heals. Also spray with chloromide to keep flies away.

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