Some days it can feel like everyone seems to have an opinion on practically everything. So it’s vital that we look to the advice of seasoned professionals so that we don’t get lost in the sea of information when it comes to important things like the health of our beloved pets. 

Luckily for all of us, there are a lot of friendly people on the internet. For instance, some veterinarians took to the r/AskReddit subreddit to give pet owners some great advice that’ll help make their pets’ lives better.

Read on for some interesting and useful vet tips, dear Pandas. And if there are any animal experts in the crowd today, we’d love it if you shared some of your personal pearls of wisdom with everyone else in the comments. We’re all animal-lovers after all. We want what’s best for our four-legged furry friends. Feathered, scaled, and two-legged, too! We don’t discriminate.

Bored Panda was interested to learn more about keeping our pets healthy, so we reached out to the wonderful team at the PDSA, the UK’s leading veterinary charity. PDSA Vet Claire Roberts was kind enough to go into detail about everything with us.

“Cats, dogs, and rabbits should have yearly vaccinations where they will get a full check-up from the vet at the same time. Older pets or those with specific medical conditions may benefit from seeing the vet more regularly, to help pick up any problems early. And of course, all pets should be taken to see a vet if they are unwell or injured at any time,” she told us how often owners should take their beloved pets to see the vet. Scroll down for the rest of our interview with the pet health specialist.

#1

30 Things Pet Owners Should Know, According To Vets 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.

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Community Member
4 months ago

Yes, so important! Be there when your friend needs you. Sent them on their last voyage with the best possible memories.

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PDSA Vet Claire went into detail with us about getting pets used to being handled. She drew attention to the fact that some animals will naturally be scared of people picking them up.

“Some pets, including rabbits and guinea pigs, are naturally prey species which means they will be nervous of larger animals such as us humans!” she warned. “They will generally not enjoy being picked up high in the air, so try sitting on the floor with them in a secure area or in their enclosure, where they can choose to come to you. As they become more comfortable with you, you can groom them, or even carefully lift them onto your lap. Children should always be supervised when with animals.”

However, when it comes to larger animals, it’s best to help them get accustomed to being handled, touched, and groomed from a young age. It’s a great way to bond with them. What’s more, you can slowly make them get comfortable with being looked at by a vet.

“When you go to the vet, a check-up may include the vet or nurse looking at your pet’s ears, mouth, and feeling over their body for lumps and bumps—if they are used to being touched in these areas, it will be a less stressful experience for them,” Claire told us.

#2

30 Things Pet Owners Should Know, According To Vets 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 adequacy, 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.

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Samantha Lomb
Community Member
4 months ago

Honestly I cannot pill my girl cat. She is a champion spitter. But I CAN give her shots.

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#3

Please don't get overly short-nosed breeds like french bulldogs, pugs or persian cats. And no, I've never met a single one who was healthy, even though the owners assured me IT was a special case without problems. Yeah....No, it's cruel and breeding them should bei illegal. (The dysfunctional breathing ist just the icing in the cake, there are many more problems with those breeds)

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Mazer
Community Member
4 months ago

MUNCHKIN CATS. Pleeeease. A world of potential health issues. Hyperthyroidism, Pancreatitis, Uremia (end-stage kidney failure), Feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUDT), Lymphosarcoma (cancer in the lymphoid tissue), Hesrt problems.

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According to the PDSA, the “most important thing owners can do to improve their pets’ lives is to make sure they are meeting all their welfare needs correctly.” There are five needs that we as owners need to meet for our companions like cats and dogs, and these include environment, diet, behavior, companionship, and health.

“All pets should have the right environment with warm and comfy spaces to rest, exercise, and play. They also need areas where they can behave naturally. For example, cats like to have some higher spaces where they climb and can look down on us, and areas to scratch. Rabbits will need a large space with room to lie down, stretch, stand on their back legs, and areas to hop around and dig. Smaller animals like hamsters and gerbils will also have their own requirements including space and materials to burrow and nest,” PDSA Vet Claire shared with us.

What’s more, she stressed the fact that we, as owners, need to protect our animal buddies from pain, injury, suffering, and disease. “Preventive care will help to keep pets healthy, including vaccinations and treatments against parasites like fleas. If a pet gets ill or becomes injured they should receive prompt veterinary care. And don’t forget about their dental health!” she said. Meanwhile, here is a useful video on how to brush your dog’s teeth.

#4

30 Things Pet Owners Should Know, According To Vets Don't buy animals as a gift or on a whim...it most likely ends unfavorable for the animal.

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Cactus McCoy
Community Member
4 months ago

It's sad this needs to be said in 2022.

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#5

30 Things Pet Owners Should Know, According To Vets 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 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.

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Samantha Lomb
Community Member
4 months ago

Yep. Learned this with horses. I can clip my cats' nails, brush their teeth and was able to restrain my boy at the vet to be catheterized without a sedative.

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#6

30 Things Pet Owners Should Know, According To Vets 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.

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Mazer
Community Member
4 months ago

Most vets understand that when your pet is sick, it can be super hard, super expensive and super emotional. They get you might need to make hard decisions they can’t make for you. They can help by giving you choices based on education and best practices. I have witnessed owners who are struggling really be abusive to the veterinarian, only to apologize profusely later, just remember, for the most part, with few exceptions )there are bad vets, but not many) your pets vet is there for you and your pet, often doing the best they can. Like medicine, veterinary work is a practice.

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Earlier, Bored Panda spoke about the health of our pets with Dr. Ernie Ward, the founder of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. He said that vets overwhelmingly agree that obesity is the biggest health threat to dogs and cats.

“Dogs suffering from obesity have a much greater risk of developing arthritis, high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer. Studies also show that dogs with obesity live about 2.5 years less than those at a healthy weight,” he told us.

“More recent research proves that overweight or dogs with obesity have a lower quality of life, as reported by their pet parents. To put it bluntly, the fact is that dogs with obesity aren't able to live and enjoy their best lives, and we must do better,” Dr. Ward said.

#7

30 Things Pet Owners Should Know, According To Vets If you think your pet might need a vet but you're not sure, pretend your pet is your child. So if your kid was: vomiting everything they ate for 3 days, scratching their ear until it started bleeding, not able to stand up from sitting without help, limping after playing at the park...etc, you'd probably book an appointment with their pediatrician right? So, book an appointment with the vet.

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Mazer
Community Member
4 months ago

I can’t stress this enough. Good pet owners know. They know when their B pet is off a bit. Heck our German Shepherd came back from an escape day and was licking his paw, my friends checked his paw…nothing. I checked his entire front, he had sliced open his chin on a sharp can of food someone discarded. 12 stitches

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#8

30 Things Pet Owners Should Know, According To Vets (Obligatory not a vet, but used to work in a vets and have a BSc degree in Animal Sciences and Animal Management.)

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.

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Jo Choto
Community Member
4 months ago

I think there are very few domesticated animals that thrive when they are alone.

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#9

30 Things Pet Owners Should Know, According To Vets 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.

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troufaki13
Community Member
4 months ago

Yup, my scratched hands and arms can confirm that me and my cat are very close!

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“When people ask me if it's better for a dog or cat to have obesity, I tell them ‘neither.’ Obesity is a disease and, as a veterinarian, I swore an oath to prevent animal disease and suffering. My goal is to prevent pet obesity and I've spent the last twenty years researching and teaching nutrition and weight loss methods to committed veterinary professionals and concerned pet parents.”

Dr. Ward noted that we’re very similar to dogs when it comes to our health and weight loss journeys. Humans and dogs are omnivores and benefit from aerobic activities.

“For dogs and humans, the weight-loss equation is about 60% to 70% diet and 30% to 40% physical activity. For cats, a species with different physiology and metabolism, it's about 90% diet and only 10% exercise,” the animal health specialist said.

#10

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.

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Mazer
Community Member
4 months ago

I pulled clothing out of the laundry and put it in a pillowcase so my pup had my stinky sweaty clothing scent right there with him after surgery

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#11

30 Things Pet Owners Should Know, According To Vets If you have a long haired pet BRUSH THEM. I'm so sick of shaving off giant one piece carpets of mats that have been building up for years. Also, clean their buttholes. They get caked in sh*t....and Fluffy probably sleeps on your pillow

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Mazer
Community Member
4 months ago

And please keep your cats indoors. Get the some cat trees and set up the house to keep them happy. Feral and outdoor cats kill millions of song birds every year, they have wiped out the reptile and ground birds in areas where the outside population of cats is high. Don’t dump your pet. If you can no longer care for it, please find it a home or rescue organization

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#12

30 Things Pet Owners Should Know, According To Vets 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

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Jo Choto
Community Member
4 months ago

I feel like some vets are reluctant to give that advice to pet owners when it matters.

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“The first step toward a healthier weight for your dog is to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. They will first determine your dog's Body Condition Score (BCS), establish target weight loss goals and ideal weight, and calculate the number of calories you should feed each day,” he said that some pets may need special diets. Others can get away with a reduction in their caloric intake.

“Your veterinarian will also make sure there isn't an underlying medical condition or disease causing the weight gain and that it's safe to begin an exercise program. In general terms, a dog (and their pet parent) needs about 30 minutes of aerobic activity each day,” he said.

#13

Not a vet but volunteered in rescue for awhile. I haven’t seen any comments mentioning microchips yet.

Microchip your pets. Put tags on them. Keep your information updated. Even if you’re super careful and you’re sure they would never get out-microchip your pets.

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Susan Green
Community Member
4 months ago

This is essential. It doesn’t cost that much to get them microchipped either.

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#14

30 Things Pet Owners Should Know, According To Vets Read up on the food you buy for your pets, you might actually be spending more money for bad quality food.

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Jo Choto
Community Member
4 months ago

Yeah. There's a lot a lot of conflicting information about what animals eat and some theories say they should eat what they eat in the wild, except that makes the assumption that animals are eating optimally in the wild, which is not likely. Your vet has spent at least 8 years becoming a vet, probably longer. Listen to their advice.

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#15

As someone who has to clean the throw up from animals who’ve eaten before going under anesthesia....

When the vet says don’t feed the animal, don’t feed the animal. Fluffy can go 12-24 hours without a meal.

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Mazer
Community Member
4 months ago

THIS!!! Heavy sigh

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Going for a walk is the best way to get your pet to exercise, according to Dr. Ward. That’s because it’s very quick, efficient, and easily accessible.

“I prefer it to most other exercises because that's what dogs were designed to do best and most naturally. Plus, it's free! When walking, be sure to use a walking harness and not a neck or choke collar to prevent injury to the trachea or windpipe region of the throat and neck,” he said.

#16

30 Things Pet Owners Should Know, According To Vets Not let them get overweight. Get their nails trimmed regularly. - licensed vet tech

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troufaki13
Community Member
4 months ago

Have you tried trimming my cat's nails? It's jaguar mode on!

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#17

Not a vet, but my mom is.

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.

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Mazer
Community Member
4 months ago

Yep. My last dog cost me $3k in vet bills in 3 years. I had to borrow every cent because I was only living on disability income..$730. a month. I ate a sickening amount of top ramen while my dog had the best food and care, it wasn’t easy and yes, I would do all again in a heartbeat. Those were hard but wonderful times. Now I get my pet fix by helping others. Free behavior trouble shooting and pet sitting, I WILL find a way to get my pet fix for the day

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#18

30 Things Pet Owners Should Know, According To Vets 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.

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Mazer
Community Member
4 months ago

THIS, my friends cat suffered a massive heart attack during dental extraction surgery. Her cat was over ten years old ag the time. The vet and cardiologist gave the cat six months to live, that was over 10 years ago. Talullah has made liars out of them all.

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According to the expert, dogs can lose from 3 to 5 percent of their body mass each month, safely. However, this has to be a vet-supervised diet and exercise program. “Younger and more active dogs may lose a little more, depending on the amount of exercise the pet parent can provide. The most important thing to do is to monitor the weight each month. If your dog isn't losing the appropriate amount of weight in three months, you need to change the strategy,” he said.

“Weight loss is a dynamic and adaptive process, and dog parents must constantly evaluate what's working or not. The great news is that, unlike cats, most dogs can reach their target weight within six to nine months. Cats can only lose about a half-pound per month, meaning losing four pounds will take about eight months if all goes well.”

#19

Not me but my wife is a vet tech, and a couple points she makes is:

Mind their diet. Overweight/obese pets are not cute or funny, they're at risk of disease and injury.

Spay and neuter (breeders suck) when your pets are relatively young (edit: when I say relatively, I mean RELATIVELY, not as young as humanly possible).

Keep up with vaccines.

Do not keep a pet with a high maintenance coat if you can't give it what it needs. Matted fur can be painful to groom out when it gets bad.

If you notice something odd, don't wait until it becomes a serious problem before consulting a vet.

Don't give them the same diet you eat. They are not humans and need diets that suit them.

Don't have them if you're not going to love and nurture them. They're supposed to be your friend, not a tool or ornament.

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Mazer
Community Member
4 months ago

Word!!

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#20

30 Things Pet Owners Should Know, According To Vets Stop smoking around your pet! (And just in general) Pets can and do get lung disease including cancer from second hand smoke. It's also terrible for their skin. A pet that lives with a smoker absolutely reeks. You know how walls and fabric in a smokers home turn yellow? So do pets....and it sits on their skin because they don't bathe daily like we do...and when they groom themselves they're licking all that nasty sh*t.

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Mazer
Community Member
4 months ago

I have seen the inside of a couple of birds which came from a smokers home and had to be put down. Heartbreaking absolutely heartbreaking

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#21

I’ve said this other places. But huskies should require a special license and training to own.

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Auntriarch
Community Member
4 months ago

Border collies need ridiculous amounts of exercise. I'd almost say you shouldn't have one unless you have sheep

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#22

Cats are obligat carnivores. They need meat in their diet! If that's against your personal views than you should look for another pet.

Dogs are omnivores. Their gut system evolved over the millenias they spend with humans so they are actually evolved to eat vegetables and meat. If you only feed them raw muscle meat they will lack important nutritients. There are actually specialised vets who can help you to develop a healthy diet for the individual animal.

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Mazer
Community Member
4 months ago

Spot on!!!

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#23

30 Things Pet Owners Should Know, According To Vets 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!

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Mazer
Community Member
4 months ago

In my experience owners need to take into consideration the individual quirks of a pets personality, then traits of the breed, then species. I hear too many owners proclaim breed traits without embracing their pets individual personalities. IE: corgis hate water, except my friends one corgi, which has blown her away by breaking with breed standards and traditions by loving to swim. She had owned corgis her entire life of 40 plus years and has never met a water loving corgi until recently. Embrace your pets quirks

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#24

30 Things Pet Owners Should Know, According To Vets Vets don't "over vaccinate" to make money. Vaccines don't make a lot of money compared to dogs hospitalized with distemper or parvo and cats with upper resp on long term meds. (Edited: some vets do. The ones I work with don't. We do our core vaccines every 3 years and others based on the pets lifestyle)

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Mazer
Community Member
4 months ago

Thanks for the edit, I have worked with and had vets who were only money oriented, causing lots of suffering for both pet and owners.

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#25

30 Things Pet Owners Should Know, According To Vets Stop feeding bullsh*t diets because they have good marketing. Raw food, grain free, any sort of other boutique brand that doesn’t own their own food mixers, and isn’t AAFCO tested, is not a good diet.

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Paula Marowsky
Community Member
3 months ago

Stop feeding vegan/vegetarian

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#26

30 Things Pet Owners Should Know, According To Vets 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.

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Kel_how
Community Member
4 months ago

I used to take my rabbits and guinea pigs in the backyard. I bought a little fence to keep them contained, provided some toys and water, and sat down to play with them. They always loved it and got to eat grass and dandelion leaves.

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#27

30 Things Pet Owners Should Know, According To Vets Don't give your pets human meds without vet recommendation. Why, just this week I've got at least 3 separate cases of acetaminophen poisoning.

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Hutt'nKloas
Community Member
4 months ago

🤨 The metabolism of a pet is not equal to that of humans. If they require meds, go to a vet.

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#28

Please only get animals from trustworthy sources and get a buying contract as well as the vaccination document. If they sell the animal very cheap or in a shady parking lot you should not buy the animal. They try to get you with the emotions of a suffering puppy but buying it enables them to keep their shady buisness going, as sad as it is.

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Mazer
Community Member
4 months ago

Spot on. If the seller gives you bs about their place is too hard to find it means they are a backyard breeder and don’t want you to see the filth and neglect the animals are raised in. “Meet us at McDonald’s or Wal-Mart etc, HUGE RED FLAG

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#29

30 Things Pet Owners Should Know, According To Vets It is a lot cheaper and easier to prevent diseases than treat them. Get your pet vaccinated, put it on heartworm prevention, and make sure you’re feeding a food with grain.

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Kishibe Angelo
Community Member
4 months ago

aawwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww ppuppppppyyy

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#30

30 Things Pet Owners Should Know, According To Vets Stop googling. You can literally find something to back up every single theory or opinion on the internet. That doesn't make them right.

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Tom Hanlin
Community Member
3 months ago

So, research is bad? Fascinating idea! How about suggesting reputable sites instead of discarding the entire concept of learning?

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