Veterinarians Explain Which Things Pet Owners Can Do To Improve Their Animals' Lives
Image by Tran Mau Tri Tam from Pixabay

Having a pet can positively impact your life.

They lift your spirits up when you feel dejected, they'll snuggle up to you when you need it most, and they'll even make you laugh with their mischievousness when you least expect it.

So how do we even begin to ensure our four-legged pals know they're loved and also taken care of?

Curious to hear how we can make our pets happy, Redditor TimeMasterBob asked:

"Veterinarians of Reddit, what is something most pet owners can do to make their pets lives better?"

Being tactile was a common suggestion for pet owners.

Reach Out And Touch

"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.'"


Handle With Care

"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 have 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 practise 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."



"Rather than just getting them a bunch of toys and hoping that keeps them entertained...just sit on the floor and actually interact with them for a bit. Establishes a connection, and is cheaper than a bunch of fancy products that you toss to them and hope they are enthralled."


Play Time

"Actually play with them, if its inside or outside, PLAY WITH THEM"


Being attentive to their health was another topic of discussion to ensure the happiness of pets.

About Cages

"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."



"Removing a mass when it's small is faster (less anaesthetic 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."

"Edit: To add - regular checkups are very important! At least annually. People often come in saying 'my dog is so healthy he hasn't been to a vet in years.' After looking at the dog I can usually find a few major issues that should have been addressed years ago."


Keep A Healthy Diet

"Not let them get overweight. Get their nails trimmed regularly. - licensed vet tech."


Active Nose

"One of the best things for a dog is sniffing! You can crumple up paper and hide treats in the pieces and scatter them about, toss treats into long grass, or just let your dog really take the time to explore a new area! Anything that gets that nose going is a good place to start :)"


These veterinarians gave detailed points about how to take better care of your pets.

Make Them Members Of The Family

"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!"


Overall, "Be Nice"

"Vet here. Here's my best advice, condensed."

  1. "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."
  2. "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."
  3. "Get your pet a series of cartrophen (or zydax, or pentosan polysulfate) injections when they turn 8. They help slow down the progression of arthritis and are safe and cost-effective."
  4. "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."
  5. "Know what's toxic for your pet. DEFINITELY don't have lilies in the house if you have a cat."
  6. "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."
  7. "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 hate YOU, we probably love your pet."

I've never had a pet growing up, but I've always known someday I would get a dog.

Seeing other pets always makes me happy. And while I know being a pet owner takes a lot of work and dedication, I have a feeling that wouldn't be a problem.

After all, they are a member of the family.

But when the time comes when I become a dog dad for the first time, I'll definitely be keeping these helpful suggestions in mind to ensure my new best friend will be a happy pet.

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