Top 5 Mistakes Pet Parents Make

Mistake #4: Not following directions. Your vet gives you instructions for a reason! See the rest of the top 5 mistakes pet parents make.

Today I’ll share with you my personal list of the 5 biggest mistakes pet parents make. Let’s jump right in.

1. Trusting Anyone

Some of my clients very carefully do their homework. They will research conditions on the internet (more on this in #2 below) and/or talk things over with their family veterinarian.

Others will trust anybody. Recently, a young woman brought her Rottie to discuss options to repair a torn ACL. I suggested a TPLO on a Friday. But she talked to “a guy” at a barbecue over the weekend. He told her that ACLs heal fine on their own (which of course is not true). She canceled the surgery.

As someone with pets, you should be wary of strangers, family members and “people” in general.

I don’t believe this because I’m a surgeon — the same applies to (un)solicited advice about your car, your legal affairs and your financial life.

2. Trusting the Internet

Most vets can tell you scary stories about pets getting hurt because their well-intentioned human believed something written on a website — “Dr. Google,” as we call him.

Which sites are trustworthy? Besides Petful and my own site, info given by universities and specialized clinics should be reliable. Some Yahoo groups are excellent — just remember that they are only as good as the people who visit them.

Some people with pets may not have a clue what they are talking about. I would probably trust a “veteran” over a “rookie” in groups like that.

3. Procrastinating

It can be tough to afford quality veterinary care. The irony is that delaying veterinary care can actually be costlier.

For example, people may wait for days while their pet has ongoing vomiting or diarrhea. Then they may be forced to visit the local emergency clinic over the weekend, where they will pay more, not to mention that the pet is often in a much worse situation.

Another common situation in my (surgery) world: large skin masses. By the time I see them, they may be the size of a grapefruit, or a pineapple, or even a pumpkin!

Had they been removed when they were much smaller, they would have been easier to remove, which is less invasive for the pet and cheaper for the human.

4. Not Following Directions

I don’t think anyone should ever follow instructions blindly, but your family vet gives you directions for a reason:

  • Always give medications as prescribed (in amount, in frequency and in duration).
  • Always take food away after 8pm the night before anesthesia or surgery.
  • Allow your pet to drink water until the morning of anesthesia or surgery (to prevent dehydration).
  • Come back for rechecks or X-rays or bandage changes as directed.
  • Keep your pet confined after surgery.
  • Keep the plastic cone (a.k.a. E collar) on round the clock to prevent licking or chewing at the stitches. (We hate it too, but it’s there for a reason…)

5. Looking at Pet Insurance as an ‘Investment’

It is very sad that only about 3% of pets are insured in the United States. Unless you can afford a $1,000, $2,000 or $3,000 bill without getting into debt, I think it’s one of the greatest inventions out there.

One of the complaints I hear from my clients is that they fear they will not get their money back.

Well, here’s the way I see things: If your pet doesn’t need expensive veterinary care because they never break a leg or get cancer, well gee, you shouldn’t be sad; you should be thrilled about it!

It’s like fire insurance. Are you ever disappointed because your house didn’t burn down and you didn’t get your money back?

If your pet ever needs life-saving care, with insurance you can have peace of mind knowing that you will be able to afford the care they need.

Curious about the cost of pet health insurance? Get a FREE, no-hassle quote (affiliate link) from a company Petful highly recommends, Embrace Pet Insurance.

Dr. Phil Zeltzman, DVM, DACVS, CVJ

View posts by Dr. Phil Zeltzman, DVM, DACVS, CVJ
Dr. Phil Zeltzman, DVM, DACVS, CVJ, is a traveling, board-certified veterinary surgeon in the Allentown, Pennsylvania area. He is a certified veterinary journalist, an award-winning author and a prolific speaker. He co-wrote Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound, about weight loss in dogs and humans. He also writes a free weekly newsletter, available at

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