Recently, Reddit user u/TimeMasterBob posted the question, "Veterinarians of Reddit, what is something most pet owners can do to make their pets lives better?" in r/AskReddit. Here's what vets (and other people who work in animal care) had to say.
1. "I think the best thing you can do for your new pet, especially a puppy or kitten, is to handle them A LOT when they’re young."
"Get them used to having their feet handled, nails trimmed, mouth opened, and ears touched. It'll help down the road."
2. "Put your 24-hour emergency vet’s address into your Google Maps/GPS favorites so you don’t have to find it in an emergency."
3. "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!"
"Play time establishes a connection and is cheaper than a bunch of fancy products that you toss to them and hope they get enthralled."
4. "Research your pets thoroughly before you do anything. Make sure you’re acting in the best interests of the animal and not just what’s convenient for you."
5. "Give them general health checks twice a year."
"Animals can't talk. They won't tell you, 'My bladder feels weird,' so by the time you know something is up, it can be too late or a very big deal. By giving them biannual health checkups, you give the vet an opportunity to discover health issues early, making treatment easier and faster."
7. "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."
9. "Know what’s toxic for your pet. DEFINITELY don’t have lilies in the house if you have a cat."
10. "Read up on the food you buy for your pets...you might actually be spending more money for worse-quality food."
11. "If you're thinking of getting a pet, think of finances too."
"And 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. Also consider that your pet might need regular care due to something chronic, an injury that makes them need physiotherapy, etc."
12. "Stop smoking around your pet! (And just in general.)"
"Pets can and do get lung disease — including cancer — from secondhand smoke. It's also terrible for their skin. Not to mention, pets that live with smokers absolutely reek. You know how walls and fabric in a smoker's 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 stuff."
13. "Visit your pets when they're sick and staying in the veterinary clinic overnight."
"The animals think they're being abandoned, and they get depressed. They don't understand why they're here."
14. "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."
15. "Get your pet a series of Cartrophen (or Zydax, or pentosan polysulfate) injections when they turn 8."
"They help slow down the progression of arthritis and are safe and cost-effective."
16. "If something is off about how your pet behaves, 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."
18. "Unless you can provide the right exercise, do not get a working breed dog."
"Kelpies, Cattle Dogs, Sheepdogs, Huskies, hunting breeds, herding breeds — they're made to run all day, not live in your backyard."
19. "Make sure you’re with your pet when they are put down."
"Chances are it’s at a vet clinic, aka the scariest place for the pet. So many people leave the room because they just can’t bear to watch, but what a sad way for your pet’s life to end. Some vets will come to your home to euthanize your pet."
20. "Get joint supplements for both cats and dogs."
"The earlier you start, the better! Preserve what joint cartilage your pet has before it’s degraded."
21. "Don't love your pet with food."
"The amount of morbidly obese pets is astounding. It really does shorten their life and their quality of life."
22. "Be a big enough person to let them go before they suffer. Don't drag the end out just because you can't say goodbye."
23. And finally: "Love your pet. Tell them every day."
"They can hear it in your voice and see it in your actions. They will repay you with everything they have. If you can’t love your pet, don’t get one."