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The important things every pet owner should know, according to vets – Insider
Being a pet owner is a lot of work, but it can be incredibly rewarding. Eric Lowenbach/Getty
- Insider asked veterinarians to share important pet-care secrets that they wish all animal owners knew.
- Most of the time pet owners shouldn’t be following the serving sizes found on pet-food packages.
- Dry kibble won’t actually help keep your cat’s teeth clean.
- Proper dental care can benefit your pet’s overall health and even potentially prolong their life.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Pets can feel like furry family members, so it’s natural to want to keep them happy and healthy.
That said, there are a few bits of information about pet care that experts wish was more widely known.
Here are some important things all pet owners should know, according to veterinarians.
A chubby animal may be cute, but obesity can compromise a pet’s health.
Obesity can cause your pet to experience a variety of complications, from heart problems to arthritis. Shutterstock
Ruth MacPete, veterinarian and author of the children’s book “Lisette the Vet,” told Insider that allowing your pet to become overweight can compromise their health.
“Just like with people, obesity in pets can lead to diabetes, heart problems, and arthritis,” said MacPate.
If you suspect your pet may be overweight, bring them to the vet before making any major diet or lifestyle changes for them, MacPate told Insider. Along with providing an objective opinion about your pet’s weight, a veterinarian will also check if your pet’s obesity is due to excess calories or a medical condition.
Crunchy, dry kibble won’t actually help keep your cat’s teeth clean.
Serving your pet dry food isn’t equivalent to providing them with expert dental care. Shutterstock
Some believe that crunchy kibble is important when it comes to a cat’s dental health — but in reality, dry food won’t clean your pets’ pearly whites.
As Geoff DeWire, chief veterinarian at PrettyLitter, told Insider, dry food isn’t actually doing much for your cat’s teeth.
“Cats possess carnivore dentition and have fewer premolars and molars than dogs, which means they chew less and mostly swallow the kibble whole. Dry kibble does not act like a toothbrush,” said DeWire.
Coughing up hairballs isn’t normal for a cat.
Hairballs can be a sign of a more serious problem. Pixabay
“Vomiting hairballs is never normal and is a sign of a problem,” said DeWire. “The cat may be consuming too much hair through over-grooming due to an allergy, or there may be a gastrointestinal problem and the movement of hair through the intestinal tract is being compromised.”
If you are noticing that your cat is regularly hacking up hairballs, you may want to have your veterinarian assess your cat’s dermatological and gastrointestinal health with a physical exam and diagnostic tests.
Investing in a quality pet carrier is worth it.
Pet carriers should have two doors. Shutterstock
The quality and design of a pet carrier can make a big difference when it comes to veterinary visits and your pet’s comfort.
“Opt for a carrier that is hard plastic and is large enough for the cat to turn around and lay down comfortably,” said Travis Arndt, veterinarian and director of the Humane Society of Missouri’s Animal Medical Center of Mid-America.
“It is also important to choose a carrier that opens from the side and from the top,” he added.
Arndt said a two-door carrier can help nervous pets feel more comfortable at the vet since professionals can conduct parts of the exam without making the pet exit their carrier
In the long run, it’s almost always cheaper to pay for preventative check-ups than it is to pay for major procedures.
By spending money on preventive healthcare upfront, pet owners are more likely to avoid big costs and lots of stress and heartache down the road. iStock
Although some pet owners may balk at the cost of annual vaccines or vet appointments, MacPate told Insider that preventive care can usually be financially savvy in the long run.
“Many pet parents try to save money by skipping annual exams or other preventive treatments,” said MacPate. “It is far more cost-effective to vaccinate your dog against a virus than to risk having your dog become infected and then spend hundreds of dollars treating the disease.”
MacPate especially urged dog owners to vaccinate against parvovirus, which can be potentially deadly and expensive to treat.
Pets should never take human medication without a prescription.
You wouldn’t take pet medication, so don’t give your pet medicine that wasn’t designed for their system. Zivica Kerkez/Shutterstock
In some cases, medicines that help humans can fatally harm pets.
“Never give your pet human medication without a vet prescription. Although some human medications are fine to give a pet, most over-the-counter medication is not good for your pet,” said Ochoa.
Cat asthma can actually look like nausea.
Feline asthma is surprisingly common. Shutterstock
If your cat frequently acts like it’s going to vomit but nothing ever “comes up,” you may want to bring your pet to get a breathing checkup.
“Lots of cat owners confuse a cough with an attempt to vomit up a hairball. If your cat acts like it is vomiting by stretching its neck out, but nothing is produced, ask your veterinarian to assess your cat for lower-airway disease,” DeWire told Insider.
In many cases, these diseases and other causes of this behavior, like feline asthma, can be managed with special treatment or medication.
Proper dental care can benefit your pet’s overall health and even potentially prolong their life.
Dental issues can cause liver, heart, and kidney problems. Shutterstock
“Dental disease in pets can lead to serious health issues like kidney, heart, and liver disease. In fact, most pets have dental disease by the time they are three to four years old,” Arndt told Insider.
Dental procedures under anesthesia allow veterinarians to thoroughly inspect and clean below the gum line, where most dental disease is found.
That said, regular brushing at home with a pet toothbrush and toothpaste can help minimize your animal’s risk of dental disease and bad breath, but it shouldn’t take the place of veterinary cleanings.