While pet parenting is enormously rewarding for pet parents, many of us – often subconsciously – take short cuts that can compromise our fur babies’ wellness in the long term. Obviously there’s no ill intent, and with a few tweaks here and there, potentially problematic situations can be turned around. With February designated as Responsible Pet Owner Month, our Veterinary Medical Director Clay Jones D.V.M. has put together this list of five common mistakes pet owners make, along with advice on how to resolve the issues.
1. Forgetting to Clean Your Dog’s Teeth
Brushing Fido’s teeth isn’t always the highest on your list of priorities but the cost of veterinary intervention (and potentially extraction) may be prohibitive. If the tartar buildup and decay gets too much, this can cause infection leading to significant pain and discomfort for your canine buddy. The other issue is that many dogs who aren’t getting their teeth brushed regularly clearly dislike the process! This is common but the more often you do it, the more you will both learn to adapt. It’s advised you brush your dog’s teeth once per week at the very least. Not a huge commitment and, as an alternative, many groomers offer a teeth cleaning option if you find yourself struggling for time. I’d also recommend getting your dog’s teeth cleaned professionally by a vet once per year. The benefit being the vet will be able to provide a full oral exam checking for tooth decay, gingivitis, abscessed teeth, and even signs of oral cancer.
February also doubles up as Pet Dental Health Month, so there’s no better time to think about your dog’s pearly whites. There are plenty of teeth cleaning treats and toys on the market to help out too.
2. Neglecting Kitty’s Veterinary Needs
Cats are masters at hiding ill health. They also loath traveling in crates and cars, making your job that much more difficult. Cats age much faster than humans, so regular check ups with your vet help identify potential problems before they become larger, more serious ones. A hands on examination and blood tests will help identify warning signs that could lead to greater health issues later down the line. Serious health problems for cats include internal diseases such as Hyperthyroidism, Diabetes, and Kidney Failure. Early detection is key to favorable outcomes in many of these cases, so don’t forget to take kitty to the vet at least every six months, giving your vet an opportunity to update shots and test for parasites.
3. Litter Box Etiquette
Cats are very private and particular creatures. Especially when it comes to using the litter box. A common issue is neglecting to clean the litter box on a regular basis. FYI, this should be done at least once – if not twice – per day, ideally as soon as kitty has finished up. Otherwise she might become apprehensive about going to the bathroom. Regular cleaning can also be beneficial to your family’s health because, if left long enough, feline waste can become hazardous to humans. Also, there should always be one spare litter box depending on the number of cats in your household; 2 cats = 3 trays, 3 cats = 4 trays and so on. The location and ergonomics of the tray also play a part in your feline’s contented bathroom habits. Put them in a private area of the house (a spare room perhaps), well away from their food and water, and make sure it’s spacious enough for your cat to fit in comfortably.
4. Forgetting the Monthly Parasite Protection
Most of us have pets that go outside at least once a day. While it’s beneficial for them to be exercising, there is also the risk of coming into contact with parasites like Fleas, Ticks, and Heartworms. Heartworms are transmitted through mosquito bites and an infection can be fatal. Symptoms of an infection can also be very difficult to spot, with most signs manifesting only in the later stages. A monthly heartworm and flea prevention dose is advised throughout the year and plays an important part in maintaining good overall health for both dogs and cats. Both canines and felines should be tested for heartworm infection yearly and before beginning their prevention medicine.
What kind of list would this be without some mention of diet? It’s estimated that over 50% of dogs and cats are obese here in the USA. While many pet food companies encourage us to feed our pets to make them happy, I’d advise restraint. Overfeeding leads to obesity which itself can lead to conditions like Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Liver problems. Needless to say these can and will prohibit a healthy, natural life for your fur baby so you should take control of their feeding habits. Most good quality pet food comes with daily feeding guidelines based on the ideal size and weight of your pet. For extra guidance consult with your vet who will be able to assess your pet’s body condition score and help craft a diet plan.
Meet the Author
Dr. Clayton Jones
Dr. Jones has 25 years of veterinary medical experience as a staff veterinarian and medical director of his own practice. As well as being the Chief Veterinary Medical Officer for Activ4Pets, Dr. Jones is also a member of the American Veterinary Medical Society and President of the US-Cuba Veterinary Cooperation Society.