The Top 10 Mistakes We Make With Our Pets, According To Veterinarians

We all love our pets, and we try to do our best by them, but obviously, it's easy to occasionally make mistakes. Okay, fine, we make them all the time, but we try to learn from each and every one. And since we only see our veterinarian when something is wrong or during our annual checkup, we often turn to the internet for a little expert advice.

Recently, reddit user ovalseven asked the vets of reddit, "What common mistakes are we making with our pets?" Several different veterinarians and veterinarian techs responded to explain some of the main mistakes we as pet owners make, and what we should be doing instead. Here are 10 of their most important suggestions.

Little fat pug sitting on sidewalk in summer park
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1. Letting our pets become obese.

As humans, we often equate food with love. When you love or appreciate someone, you might bring them food to show how much you care. Naturally, we do the same thing with our pets, often more so, because we can't verbally tell our pets how we feel about them. Add on the fact that we use treats to help train our pets and reinforce good behavior, and that can lead to too much food for our furry friends.

Reddit user and vet Seven_Dead_Horses listed obesity as one of the most common and preventable problems in pet care. The user explained that owners don't need to make their pet's diets complicated, and that it's important to pay attention to the recommended feeding guidelines, based on your pet's size. Use a measuring cup if you have to. Seven_Dead_Horses explained, "A lean pet will have much better chance at remaining healthy. The majority of animals I see with lumps and bumps are overweight or not neutered or both."

Cat Brushing Lion's Teeth
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2. Forgetting to care for our pets' teeth.

We as humans usually spend time every day taking care of our teeth, but how often do we think about our pet's chompers? Multiple vets on the reddit thread brought up the fact that we're making a mistake ignoring our pet's teeth.

Reddit user SeriesOfAdjectives, who is in veterinary school, explained that dental disease can be very serious. The user explained, "One of the most common things we see, and a very serious issue at that, is dental disease in pets, and often the owner has no idea that their animal's teeth are bad at all. Dental disease affects all body systems (bacteria and dental disease go hand in hand, and those bacteria end up all throughout the body, affecting organs such as the kidneys and the heart), not to mention it flipping hurts!! Some owners are under the impression that because their animal is still eating, that must mean that they do not have an oral health issue. The truth of it is, is you eat or starve. I like to tell people that the most common symptom you'll see in dental disease (besides, of course, the yucky mouth itself) is no symptoms."

User Seven_Dead_Horses also weighed in, explaining that dogs need regular dental treatments. The vet explained, "Dental cleanings are important, pets usually need a cleaning at or soon after 3 years of age, sometimes younger. A "teeth cleaning" at the groomer is not a dental. I'm talking about an anesthetized prophylactic cleaning and polishing. Similar to what you get at your human dentist."

Bulldog Spay and Neuter Clinic
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3. Failing to get our pets neutered.

We hear this advice a lot as pet owners, because there is already a major problem with too many animals. However, according to vets on this Reddit thread, there are still plenty of pet parents who don't spay and neuter their animals. We of course know that getting our pets spayed and neutered helps control the animal population, but a vet on reddit mentioned another reason.

Reddit user explodingcranium2442 explained that allowing your pet to have babies can actually endanger their health. The user wrote, "No, Fifi does not need to have a litter, and it might actually endanger her health to do so (look up pyometra). There are too many unwanted dogs/cats in the world. Please don't add to the burden."

We took explodingcranium2442's advice and looked up pyometra. Pyometra is a uterine infection that can happen to both dogs and cats when they go into heat. Their hormones inhibit white blood cells from entering the uterus, which, along with side effects like cysts from multiple heat cycles without any pregnancies, can lead to an infection. The condition is serious and aggressive, and it can often be fatal. Just another reason to get your pets spayed or neutered.

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4. Waiting until your puppy is 16-weeks-old and fully vaccinated to socialize it.

When you adopt a new puppy, many new dog families are told to be careful not to let their pet around other dogs until it is vaccinated. Puppies that have not been vaccinated are very susceptible to disease, which is why many experts recommend waiting until your dog is vaccinated to let it interact with other dogs. However, a vet on reddit explains why that rule may be a little too strict.

A Reddit user and veterinarian explained that the puppy socialization window closes at about 14 weeks, meaning your dog may react in fear or aggression to things that it wasn't introduced to at a young age. "They need to be around other dogs (and other people) in controlled situations: puppy socialization classes, friends houses, etc. Make sure the dogs they are around are healthy, vaccinated, and good with puppies and let them have positive experiences with other dogs and people," cloud_watcher explained, "Every happy, positive interaction with something makes them less afraid. Every lack of exposure, or negative interaction, makes them more afraid."

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5. Putting fish in small bowls.

While many of the vets on the thread focused on dogs and cats, the most common household pets, other vets offered advice for other animal friends. Reddit user and vet in training whereistherumgone wants to disavow all of us of the idea that fish can be happy and healthy in small fish bowls. We've inherited this belief from an unusual place. "The idea that fish can be kept in bowls comes from the fact that people in east-asian countries like Japan would temporarily put their fish on display in bowls to show off to guests, and housed them in large ponds most of the time. Westerners assumed such small containers were suitable to house fish in and this is still wide-spread today," whereistherumgone explained.

According to whereistherumgone, fish need more air contact on the water, space to swim around, and things to explore in their tank than a tiny fish bowl offers. As with all pets, they need the right accommodation and care.

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6. Knowing that our dogs ate marijuana, but not telling the vet.

This one is very specific, but it generated a lot of interest from other vets on the thread. Bastet_0, a veterinary nurse, asks that patients just tell their vets if a dog ate weed or edibles, which happens a lot. Dogs who ingest marijuana can develop lethargy, breathing problems, and loss of balance. However, it would take a dog eating a LOT of marijuana to kill it, but you still need to see a vet. But because the drug is still illegal or controlled in most areas, many pet owners won't admit to their dog getting into their stash.

"OMG, yes. Had another one on the weekend. Presented it to me as if the dog 'suddenly seemed to develop vertigo' and fell over," another user cianne_marie chimed in. "Do I look like the police? I do not give a flying eff that you have pot in your home, nice middle class lady. I care that your dog ate some weed and not something even more toxic, and that it isn't suffering a bizarre neurological episode." For the good of your pet, be honest with your vet.

Hand and Paw of Cat like a symbol of friendship between human and pet
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7. Not playing with our cats' feet, particularly when they are kittens.

Not many of us enjoy having our feet touched, and our pets REALLY don't. However, particularly when you own cats, you may need to access their paws. You might want to trim their nails, inspect something that seems to be bothering them, or give their paws a cleaning. And you don't want your cats scratching, hissing, or running away every time you so much as look at their paw, and one reddit vet said to prevent bad reactions, you need to handling your cat's paws when they are young.

Reddit user and vet tech explodingcranium2442 explained, "Play with your kittens feet. Seriously. Start as early as possible. This will help with nail trimmings!" As a part of the discussion, several cat owners chimed in, saying that doing this early made their cats totally cool with their paws.

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8. Getting a pet, but not being able to afford vet care (or pet insurance).

It may seem obvious, but so many people decide to take on an animal without considering the financial requirements. One vet on reddit explained it in the simplest of terms. Reddit user and vet kahell put it plainly, "if you cannot afford basic veterinary care then you cannot afford a pet. Period." It may seem blunt, but it is 100 percent true. Kahell expanded on that statement, "We are routinely presented with cases that could have been avoidable if you'd practiced the suggested preventative care, or brought your pet in for evaluation once the symptoms started rather than waiting 6 weeks until the animal is beyond help." We know you don't want to put your pet or your vet in that situation.

Reddit user and emergency care vet nurse,TheFeralBookworm, corroborated Kahell, explaining that too often, vets have to euthanize pets because their humans can't pay the high vet bills to fix them. "Pets have bodies that fail in similar ways as people's do - their teeth rot, their bones can break, they can get cancer. They get injured unexpectedly, just like we can. Fixing these illnesses and injuries is often possible, but it costs money," TheFeralBookworm explained.

If you worry about big vet bills, consider investing in pet insurance. It only costs a little per month up front, but it can be a huge help if your pet does develop a serious condition.

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9. Getting an exotic pet without understanding the complex care they need.

One subject the vets of reddit brought up a few times was exotic pets. While some people want to express their individuality by getting something other than a "typical" pet, too many do so without totally understanding the work involved. One particular vet emphasized that many people buy smaller, cheaper exotic pets, thinking they're easier to take care of.

Reddit user littlehamsterz, a veterinarian, explained, "People buy pocket pets/exotics thinking they will be super low key pets that are easy to maintain. I argue they are much harder because of the delicate balance you have to strike. They have specific hide box needs, humidity needs, special bedding, heating requirements, basking areas, and special diets. They take a lot more work than your normal cat or dog." So before you decide to buy an unusual pet, make sure you do your research.

Persian cat with veterinarian doctor
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10. Constantly accusing vets of being "in it for the money."

When we take our pet to the vet for what we think should be a simple fix, sometimes that fix turns out to be much more complicated and expensive than we expected. Very few of us have tons of money to throw around at any given time, so vet bills hurt. However, it's wrong to take it out on our vets or accuse them of suggesting procedures just to make a buck.

Vet and reddit user prttybyrd put it really nicely, "Vets make a living but we will never be wealthy. We do not make recommendations to take your money. We make recommendations because we genuinely care about your pet's wellbeing." Vet student and former vet tech, mollyd0g, also emphasized, "We love your pets too, that's why we spent 8+ years getting to be their doctor!" So be kind to your vet, and trust them!