I think we can all agree that we want to do everything in our power to make the lives of our pets better in any way that we can.
And today we’re gonna get a big dose of pro tips about our beloved animals!
AskReddit users offered advice about how we can make our pets’ lives better.
Let’s get smart!
1. In your hands.
“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 practice 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.”
2. Stop doing that.
“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.”
3. Keep them healthy.
“Removing a mass when it’s small is faster (less anesthetic 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.”
4. Get them used to it.
“10 years working at a Animal Hospital. Help your pet get used to being touched.
Especially when they are young. You and by extension your vet needs to be able to look into your pets mouth. Look into their ears. Touch their feet and toes.
Vet visits are tourture for animal who don’t like being touched. And you can miss something important if you don’t look at these things yourself regularly, because “he doesn’t like it”.”
5. Quality of life.
“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!”
6. Take care of the older ones.
“Get your old babies checked out, cats and dogs. They get sore joints like old folks do to, if you notice your cat doesn’t jump anymore or drags the self up the bed, maybe their joints are sore – go see a vet and see if they need long term pain relief.
If you old lab is slow to rise and fast to lay down, go the the vet, they might be able to go on long term pain relief. The amount of old animals I’ve seen turn into ‘a puppy again!’ is amazing. Pain relief folks! Also dentals. Cats have teeth too, get them checked at the vet and see if they need a dental.
Just basically go to the vet and get your animals checked out. You don’t win a prize when you come in with an old skinny, chronically painful dog saying ‘this is his first ever vet visit!’.”
7. Do your research.
“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.”
“Former vet tech here. If you aren’t willing to pay for monthly medications in the event your new pet were to develop a condition or allergy…don’t get a pet.
YOUR DOGS CAN HAVE ALLERGIES JUST LIKE YOU. The saddest thing was seeing dogs come in with sores from scratching/gnawing or covered in hot spots. Once saw such an itchy golden retriever she had sores head to toe even on the inside of her ears. Owners let her itch fervently for months before bringing her in.
Yes, apoquel for allergy relief can start to add up but your dogs quality of life is worth more than $50 a month. Imagine being itchy 24/7 bc you have a grass allergy but you spend half your day in grass. Makes me angry to think about.”
9. Love it!
“Rather than just getting them a bunch of toys and hoping that keeps them entertained, sit on the floor and actually interact with them for a bit.
It establishes a connection and is cheaper than a bunch of fancy products that you toss to them and hope they are enthralled.”
10. Good advice.
“Vet here. Here’s my best advice, condensed.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Know what’s toxic for your pet. DEFINITELY don’t have lilies in the house if you have a cat.
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.
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 h**e YOU, we probably love your pet.”
How about you?
Do you have anything else to add to this conversation?
If so, please talk to us in the comments. Thanks a lot!