Top 5 Common Pet Owner Mistakes

Pets Aren't Always Fun and Games

By Jessica Vogelsang, DVM

Pets can present a variety of challenges, even to the best prepared of owners. Here are our picks for the 5 common pet owner mistakes that may be making your life challenging. Let us know if anything sounds familiar?

1. 'He’s Not Fat, He’s Big Boned'

Actually, he probably is overweight or obese, along with more than half of pets in American households. Because the majority of dogs and cats are packing on extra pounds these days, our minds are fooled into thinking this is normal. Your veterinarian can assess your pet with an objective tool such as the Healthy Weight Protocol to give you an accurate idea of what your pet’s weight should be, as well as a specific diet plan to get you to that healthy goal.

2. 'I Only Go to the Vet When My Pet is Sick'

Animals are tremendous masters of disguise; they don’t want to inconvenience us by letting us know they feel poorly. Usually by the time owners notice signs of illness, a pet has been sick for quite some time. Annual preventive care exams at the veterinarian allow you to catch diseases like arthritis and renal disease much earlier in the process, saving you money, and your pet pain and stress.

3. 'The Store Employee Told Me to Change Pet Food'

Choosing a pet food can be confusing. Meanwhile, the person at the pet food store, convincing as they may be, doesn’t know your pet’s medical history the way your vet does. If your veterinarian recommends a specific diet for your pet, there’s usually an excellent reason. Diet plays a key role in your pet’s health, so make sure to include their number one health advocate in that decision.

4. 'Don't Be Scared; Give Him a Cookie'

When a pet is exhibiting a fearful behavior, such as growling or snapping, it can be tempting to try and calm them down with attention. But rewarding a fearful pet with hugs and consolation can actually worsen the behavior by reinforcing it. If this behavior worsens over time, a pet might actually wind up in a shelter, and aggressive pets have lower chances of being adopted. If your pet shows any signs of fear or aggression, talk to a certified trainer, your veterinarian or a veterinary behaviorist ASAP!

5. 'My Dog Doesn’t Need a Leash, He's Trained'

It’s important to be a good dog ambassador by obeying local dog ordinances about leashes and cleaning up after your pup. If you live in an area where leashes are required by law, you should obey that law without fail. Many people — and even some dogs — are frightened of other dogs, and they can be very distressed by being approached by any canine- even one as sweet as yours. Many cities and towns have designated areas where dogs can run off leash, so if your dog is feeling the call of the wild, find a dog park and let loose.

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