Top 5 Mistakes Pet Owners Make

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

Today I’ll share with you my personal list of the 5 biggest mistakes pet owners 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.

A loving pet owner 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 owner believed something written on a website — “Dr. Google,” as we call him.

Which sites are trustworthy? Besides Pets Adviser 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 pet owners 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, pet owners 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 owner.

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 (aka 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 pet owners 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.

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Editor’s Note: Petful’s first choice in pet insurance is a company called Embrace Pet Insurance. You can get a free, instant quote right now: FREE QUOTE

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7 Comments

  1. Paul Anderson
    June 19, 2012

    This is
    undoubtely true. A friend of mine who is also a pet owner told me that he read
    in the internet on how to remove pet lice by using a certain product. It ended
    up hurting her dog. Good think she rushed it to the veterinarian and the dog is
    better now.
     

    Reply
  2. EMTchic
    June 21, 2012

    Ack! Please tell me the owner in number 1 was educated and resceduled their rottie’s surgery 🙁

    Reply
  3. Unicornsewr
    July 06, 2012

    A good alternative to pet insurance is the Care Credit card. You have up to six months to pay off each charge before interest is added. It can also be used for dental and eye care for the humans in the family. (No I don’t work for the company who issues it and Im not advertising for them, lol) It Our vet suggested it to us last year when our oldest cat was ill and we didn’t have the needed funds to pay for his treatments.

    Reply
    1. David Deleon Baker
      July 06, 2012

      Care Credit saved my butt once with medical bills for my basset hound. It gave me a $3,000 lifeline when I/we needed it most. And, as you mentioned, it was interest-free for a short while, long enough for me to pay it off without incurring interest. However, if you don’t pay it off within that time, I think that all accrued interest is then charged. Not sure if I remember that correctly, but I think that’s how it went.

      We’re going to be doing a separate article soon on the Care Credit card, pros vs. cons.

      Reply
  4. Nikole Fairview
    August 27, 2012

    I love your advice. When I read the article title, I was kind of expecting generic advice that you can find anywhere, but I really like the way you think. “Not listening to anybody” is awesome. People have such nonsense advice to give you about dogs. A lot of people don’t even consider them to be more than second class creatures. Many pet parents like me consider our dogs to be family, I have met people that, for example think nothing of letting their dogs live outside all the time.

    Though the dogs are okay and have food and shelter, I could never do that. My dog sleeps in the bed with me and can climb on furniture. I think some people like this love their dogs, but there is just a different thinking about pets that some owners have. Everyone doesn’t love your pet the way you do.

    Procrastinating, not trusting the web and not following directions are all great too. This article is a little gem. This is really a valuable article for taking care of animals in the real modern world! Cool! Thank you for the fresh perspective.

    Reply
    1. David Deleon Baker
      August 27, 2012

      You’re welcome, Nikole. Glad you like it so much. We try not to give “generic advice” around here.

      Reply
  5. Olivia Biederman
    November 04, 2013

    Pet insurance and pet wellness plans are something that, in my opinion, every pet owner should have. It should be viewed as a cost of having a pet, you shouldn’t buy a pet if you are not willing or able to buy food and the same thing goes for insurance or wellness plans.

    My dogs go to the vet located in Petsmart- Banfield Pet Hospital. At first I was concerned that it would not be up to par with a private vet, but I was completely wrong. I prefer Banfield over any other vet that I have been to. One of the things I love so much about it is that they offer wellness plans for pets. All of the plans include unlimited free office visits, a number of free tests, deworming, comprehensive physical exams, and a percentage off all medicine and procedures.

    They have different plans for different stages of life and health. The puppy plan also includes free vaccinations, spaying/neutering, and a 10% discount. The adult dog plan also includes a yearly dental cleaning procedure and the anesthesia it requires and a 15% discount. The special needs plan also includes a number of expensive tests, xrays, and provides 20% medications and procedures. I have had a dog on each of these plans and I have saved thousands of dollars and gotten exceptional care. The cost of the plans can vary depending on location, but you are able to pay a small amount each month instead of a lump sum. I paid $25 a month for the puppy plan, $30 a month for the adult plan, and $35 for the special needs plan.

    Reply

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