Back in June, I enumerated my own personal list of the top 5 biggest mistakes that pet owners make. To recap, they were:
- Trusting anyone
- Trusting the Internet
- Not following directions
- Looking at pet insurance as an “investment.”
Well, I’m not done yet. Here are three more big mistakes that pet owners make. And even after this batch, I’m still not done. I’m already working on my third and final installment on this series — and next time I’ll include a video.
6. Not Knowing Your Breed’s Classic Conditions
Jake, a 2-year-old German Shepherd, was retching and not feeling well. His owner rushed him to the emergency clinic, where he was diagnosed with bloat (aka a stomach full of air, which can then twist on itself). This condition can quickly kill a dog. Yet his owner had never even heard of it. Had she waited a little bit longer, wondering if this would just go away with time, she could have lost her dog.
Winston, a 4-year-old Bulldog, came in breathing very heavily. He was so weak that he could not even get up. He was rushed to an oxygen cage until it was safe to perform surgery to open up his airway. His owner had no idea that Bulldogs can have serious difficulty breathing because of their flat face and messed-up airway.
You may think these owners were exceptions. Yet I would say that less than half the owners I meet know the common conditions their cat or dog may face.
Blacky, a silly 6-month-old kitten, swallowed part of a string after playing with it several days in a row. He required abdominal surgery to remove the “linear foreign body,” with one incision in the stomach and two in the intestine. His owner had no idea cats are fascinated by linear foreign bodies — i.e., strings, floss, ribbon, etc.
So please educate yourself before (and after) adopting a pet, so that should a classic problem occur, you know what to do.
7. Not Spaying or Neutering
Millions of cats and dogs live on the street or end up euthanized because of unwanted litters. Still, many people are reluctant to spay or neuter their pets.
The fact is, spaying and neutering is a healthy choice for your pet. It reduces the risk of potentially deadly conditions: breast cancer and infection of the uterus (pyometra) in females and testicular cancer in males. Neutered males are also less likely to run away from home (and get hit by a car), mark their territory, or exhibit aggressive behavior.
8. Being Too Politically Correct
If you feel you are not getting the answers you expect, or if your pet is not getting the care he or she deserves, then I do believe you should seek help elsewhere. Sure, some health problems are notoriously difficult, if not frustrating, to treat. So you must use your judgment as far as when to make the switch.
How will you know where to go? Simply ask to be referred by your family vet to a specialist. As you surely know, there are specialists in virtually every area of medicine these days: surgeons (such as yours truly), internists, dermatologists, ophthalmologists, pain specialists, etc.
If communication is not so great with your vet, talk with other pet owners or visit the Internet. This can be a risky proposition, but used wisely it can quickly lead to websites of local specialty clinics.
Another way to find a specialist is to visit the website of the specialty college you are in need of. For example, you can find a surgeon by searching the website of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons by location.