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Paws to Consider — Top 10 mistakes pet owners make PDF Print E-mail
Friday, September 20, 2013 12:15 AM

BY DR. SARA SMITH, DVM

 

Experience has taught me that a few things can make all the difference between “delightful” and “disastrous” in a pet’s life. I love to see happy people, dogs and cats! Avoid these common mistakes and enjoy a better bond with your pet:

Not bringing cats for wellness exams

I commonly see feline patients visit during their geriatric years, when their last recorded visit was 5-10 years ago. In this missed window of opportunity, we could have diagnosed diseases, such as obesity, kidney disease, thyroid disease, and diabetes before they progressed to a life-threatening stage. It is sometimes difficult to catch the cat, get him into the carrier and endure the car ride – however, there are ways to make the trip easier on you both! Just ask your veterinarian for some tips.

Ignoring parasite control

My heart sinks when I have to inform an owner that his or her pet has heartworm disease when it could have been so easily prevented with a monthly medication or six-month injection. Do your best to comply with year-round heartworm and flea prevention for your pet and make sure he stays free of intestinal parasites with yearly fecal exams. By the way, cats get heartworms, too – and there’s no cure for feline heartworm disease.

Blaming pets for their behavior problems

Excessive barking, jumping, pulling on the leash, chewing furniture and ignoring your calls are not schemes by your dog to make you miserable. They are problems that were allowed to develop due to lack of training. While some personality traits are influenced by genetics, most behavior issues can be improved with intervention by a trainer or veterinarian.

Overfeeding

Can you feel your pet’s ribs? If not, you might be “killing him with kindness” by feeding too many treats, scraps or allowing him to eat his fill of dog food. I recommend feeding measured portions twice daily for adult pets – there should be a portion chart on the dog food bag to help guide you but you should seek advice from your veterinarian as well. Schedule daily walks or activities to further help burn the calories. Obesity can lead to diabetes, arthritis and heart disease, just as for humans.

Declining the wellness test

“Wellness testing” means evaluating the internal health of a pet – things we can’t see or feel on the “wellness examination.” Wellness testing can include organ profile, complete blood count, urinalysis, thyroid level testing, chest x-rays, and more. Your veterinarian’s staff will help you decide what tests fit into your budget. Pets are good at hiding subtle symptoms of illness! Many diseases can be managed or reversed with simple measures when caught early, prolonging your pet’s life and avoiding more costly medical or surgical treatments.

Making the Internet their first source of information

For example, if you Google “Parvo treatment” you will find all sorts of crazy advice, including recipes for giving bleach solution to puppies orally. Scary, huh? Visit your pet’s hospital website for some reliable links, if the net is your go-to source.

Buying a puppy without researching

Make sure you understand the requirements for activity, health maintenance and grooming in your breed of choice before you fall head-over-heels for your furry bundle of joy. Can you really keep up with his needs and is he an appropriate fit for your family’s lifestyle? For instance, a herding dog is best suited for an owner with an active lifestyle and lots of time to devote to his exercise. And a small breed dog with a calm temperament is best suited for an elderly couple.

Not thinking their pet could bite

If your veterinarian suggests your pet wear a muzzle, don’t take offense – it’s because he or she detected body language from Snuggles indicating that a bite could be in the near future. If your pet has ever bitten, please let us know. Growling and biting are reactions to fear, so we try to make our patients’ visits as comfortable and positive as possible. We cannot always predict which dogs that are “angels” at home turn into Tasmanian devils in the office. We have to protect ourselves, our staff and YOU.

Giving human medication without asking first

Some over-the-counter human pain relievers can cause serious kidney or liver damage to a pet. There are some OTC medications that can be used safely in pets but ask your veterinarian for dosages.

Cats not in carriers or dogs off leash

Thinking a pet will not run away or bite another person or animal is a huge gamble I see many owners take during a trip to the office. Aggression and flight are instinctive responses to fear that we cannot predict. Prevent a tragedy (or a trip around the neighborhood) with these simple measures.

 

Dr. Sara is an associate veterinarian at Delphos Animal Hospital

 

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