Image by David Mark from Pixabay

Pets can be wonderful companions, reliable helping hands when farming and hunting, or therapeutic presences when people feel gloomy or alone. Nothing has proved all of this more than life at hoe during the pandemic.


But before leaping into pet ownership, it's important to think deliberately about that undertaking.

Like human beings, domestic animals are nuanced and complicated. They have physical needs that can be costly and time consuming. They're profoundly social, demanding plenty of attention.

And like all of us, they live somewhere along a spectrum of mental health.

Nobody is more aware of those subtleties than a veterinarian. And lucky for us, plenty of vets use Reddit.

mrktx21 asked, "Veterinarians of Reddit: What is one thing you wish people would know/understand about their pet?"

Just Imagine Being Stuck Home All Day Every Day...Oh Wait 

"About their pet, the best one I know is one I heard a while ago: You have your life, your job, your friends, your family to provide your social interaction per day. Your dog only has YOU."

"Interact with your dog for more than five minutes per day and maybe your dog will not go out barking every five seconds."

-- schrodingerscatty

Consistency is Key 

"Don't complain about your dog not having boundaries when you're literally feeding them scraps off your plate at dinner time! That's 100% on you." -- SquiliamFancySon95

"It's so tiring trying to get my parents to stop feeding their dog who is highly allergic to all sorts of meat food scraps off the table."

"In their minds, they're being kind and can't help pampering the dog when in reality it just causes her to chew her paw pads off when she has her allergic reactions. It blows my mind." -- takenwithapotato

You Get What You Pay For 

"Vaccines you get at the drug store on the corner or the feed and tack shop ARE NOT as good or the same as the ones you get at the vet."

"Just because your dog is scratching its ears does not mean it has ear mites."

"Your cat is not urinating outside the box because its a jerk ( it might be) it probably has an infection."

"Not eating for 3 days while vomiting and having diarrhea is a huge deal! That 5lb chihuahua or even 80lb lab cant lose that many fluids without having any intake and be ok and neither would you."

-- missnorlax

Do Your Research 

"RVT here. Exotic animals (reptiles, birds, small mammals such as rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs and rodents) may be easy to acquire and assumingly easier to take care of but most of these animals have very specific housing and dietary needs that need to be met and require enrichment."

"Also, not every veterinarian has experience with exotic animals, and exotic animal medicine is sometimes at a premium but is still necessary."

"I've met a lot of people who get a small mammal or a small bird for like $20 from the pet store and then won't pay for medical care because it costs way more than the pet was purchased for."

-- spookybunno

Bring the Enthusiasm

"Not a vet but my mom is."

"One thing that really frustrates her is the myth that neutering a cat will make them fat and lazy."

"It reduces the amount of calories they need which means they need less food and/or more exercise to maintain the same weight. Cats generally get less energetic as they get older regardless, but most will still perk up if you make the effort to wave a toy in their face every so often."

-- mylifeisathrowaway10

The Only Language Pets Have 

"I am a vet. I wish people just even had a BASIC understanding of dog or cat body language. Ffs."

"The number of videos posted on reddit of animals in distress and its tagged as 'oh my little fluffster is so cute when he plays!' or whatever makes my blood boil."

"That kind of moronic ignorance is what gets children bit by the pet dog or the cat who is now dying because the owner had no idea of the signs 4 months ago."

-- little_miss_bumshine

To Keep in Mind 

"If you see a stray cat with a cleanly clipped ear tip do not take it to a shelter. Either take it home to live with you or leave it on the street."

"Clipped ears mean they were caught, neutered/spayed by the city/county, and released. This is a way to control cat populations and, over time, protect wildlife. They compete for resources with fertile cats without adding to the population."

"In many cities, stray cats are more likely to be adopted from the street than in the shelter. If the cat is taken to a shelter they cannot legally release it because it is now abandoning the animal. That cat will be euthanized, or at best absorbs resources until it finds a home."

-- Strict_Ad_2094

Tough, But Significant 

"From my former vet tech girlfriend, don't leave your pets to be euthanized without you. It's hard to be there and it's hard to watch, but if you leave them they will die 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."

-- The-one-true-hobbit

One Vet's Take on Love and Stewardship

"If you own a pet and it's not a bird/mammal, it doesn't love you, not the way you're thinking of love. Reptiles, amphibians, and fish don't produce serotonin the way mammals and some birds do."

"They really do not care about you, they don't want to be snuggled, they don't want to be your friend, and it doesn't make a difference to them if you feed them/do their maintenance or someone else does."

"YES, they can learn to recognize you as their primary caregiver (my axolotls all know who I am and swim up to the glass if I'm there, which they don't do with anyone else), and they may come to TRUST you (which is arguably more valuable than love) but we do not know enough about them to say that they can love you."

"We just know that they can't love you the way you love them. They're biologically incapable of it, and that's not a bad thing, just different."

-- chibimonkey

Trust and Patience 

"I'm a vet."

"99% of patients are ok with drop off appointments due to COVID. The number of clients claiming 'my pet has severe anxiety, I can't believe you're making him go in alone!' is quite high. Almost all pets are fine. And the ones who aren't fine, I've allowed owners in the building to help."

"There's been 2 since March who actually were in distress despite people complaining daily about it being an issue."

"Also I think people need to learn more about the medical process in general. Tests are usually required to make a diagnosis. Sometimes even with tests the diagnosis is grey. Sometimes spending all the money will not guarantee success. Many times there's not a magic shot I can give to fix it."

-- Dr-does-little

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