Pet Ownership 101: 7 Mistakes You Might Be Making and How to Fix Them

Having a pet isn’t always about playing games or having furry cuddles. It also comes with a big responsibility.

Providing the best possible care for your furry baby is rewarding but also quite challenging. Whether you are a new pet parent or you have been one for years, you’re bound to realise that taking care of your furbaby requires a lot of effort, time, and expense.

Aside from the basics, every pet owner should brush up on their knowledge of proper care for the animal they have at home. Sometimes, the things you do with the best intentions may even cause harm to your pet.

You may be unknowingly doing it, but that doesn’t change the fact that it still has a negative effect on your pup or kitty. Below are the seven most common mistakes you might be making and what you can do to fix them:

1. Skipping visits to the vet

When it comes to pet sickness, prevention is easier – not to mention, less expensive – than treatment. Despite this, many pet owners sometimes skip visits to the vet.

Don’t make the same mistake by taking your pet for regular examinations, deworming, and vaccinations. Keep in mind that even heartworm disease – an ailment that is challenging to treat and can be fatal to dogs – can be prevented with a simple trip to the vet.

Think about it like this: Annual medical exams allow vets to catch problems early, which means they won’t need to prescribe lengthy (and expensive) treatment for conditions that are chronic or have already progressed to their advanced stages.

Besides vaccinations, complete vet check-ups also include:

  • Faecal examination to check for intestinal parasites
  • Blood work
  • Eye, ear, gum, lung, and heart checks

2. Cutting matted fur on your pet’s ears

Proper pet hygiene is directly linked to their overall health. You need to keep a supply of dog care products at home and ensure that their teeth, nails, and fur are always in tiptop shape.

Besides having enough supplies, you must make sure that you groom your pet properly.

One common mistake that cat and dog owners make when it comes to hygiene is cutting off matted fur on their pets’ ears. Sometimes, this is done to long-haired animals that haven’t been groomed for a while.

However, cutting thickly matted fur in this part of their body is a big no-no. You see, using scissors to deal with this can lead to ear injury as it is easy to make a mistake since the matted ends won’t be easy to spot.

Instead, take a soft-bristled brush and comb out the matted fur gently. If this is too difficult because of an uncooperative pet, you may want to visit a professional pet groomer to deal with the matting.

3. Keeping your new puppy all to yourself

As tempting as it may be to keep baby animals like puppies all to yourself, you must make sure that they have every opportunity to socialise during their early years of life. Letting them meet as many new animals and people early in their lives would greatly help with their development.

Sure, new puppies should be kept away from dogs with uncertain vaccination histories, but you should still make sure that they become properly socialised. Arrange puppy playdates with owners of vaccinated dogs to help your pet learn the right way to interact.

This will ensure that they don’t become fearful of or develop aggressive behaviour towards other animals and people.

4. Neglecting the health of his teeth

While having lots of food and treats (thanks to a pet food delivery service) available for your furry baby is a good thing, you mustn’t forget one important thing: their dental health.

Like humans, dogs and cats also need to have their teeth cleaned after eating. Otherwise, the plaque will build up, and they’ll be more susceptible to gum disease, tooth decay, and other dental issues.

If left alone, the plaque can cause decay, inflammation, and even tooth or bone loss. What makes it worse is that your furry babies may be hiding the pain they are experiencing, with this silent war going on in their mouths.

Like other pet health issues, this can be easily avoided with preventive measures like proper oral hygiene. Besides regular brushing, you can also help keep their teeth healthy by providing good-quality pet food and safe teeth-cleaning tools and chew toys. Periodic oral exams and cleaning during their check-ups also help.

5. Allowing your pet to skip exercise

Exercise is another common need humans and animals have. Lack of exercise can cause cats and dogs to experience health issues. Consequences also include behavioural problems.

Some pets need more physical activities than others, but the general rule is that domesticated animals should get more than just short walks around your property.

The key is to assess your pet’s specific needs. Check if he gets bored or restless. Does he seem excited and hyperactive all the time? Perhaps you found out that he’s overweight.

All these are signs that your furbaby needs more exercise.

Of course, physical activities comprise only half of what your pet needs. They also require mental stimulation.

Research games that offer pets a well-rounded activity. This can come in the form of animal sports (e.g., dog obstacle course) and tracking activities (which are great for hounds and other curious sniffers).

6. Ignoring chronic vomiting

While cats often expel hairballs and dogs experience occasional upchucks after gnawing on grass, pet owners must never ignore chronic animal vomiting.

Even a cat who often barfs out hairballs shouldn’t be spewing their food involuntarily. Keep in mind that vomiting food is never normal for any pet, so it’s best to have your furry pal checked when this happens too often.

A vet should be able to tell you what’s making your pet sick or whether it’s caused by an underlying medical condition that should be addressed immediately.

7. Allowing face-to-face meeting between newly introduced dogs

Letting your dog meet others of his kind may not be the best first encounter as it only takes a second to bite the other’s face off. Not only is this risky for the animal, but it is also quite dangerous for you as the owner.

To prevent such confrontations, you must first confirm with the other pet owner whether his furry pal is good with other animals. If he gives his OK, guide your dog so that he encounters the other animal’s tail end first before they meet face to face.

Some dogs do not want to meet a new canine nose-to-nose. To ensure that your pet is okay with the meeting, observe his ears and fur. If his ears dip close to his head backwards or his fur perks up on end, calmly guide him away from the other dog.

Keep Your Pet Healthy

Ensuring pet health lies in knowing the right things to do and avoiding those that may harm them. Aside from practising basic pet care, avoid making the mistakes listed here to keep your furry baby healthy and happy.

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Farah Al-Khojai is the Managing Partner of Pet’s Delight. A passionate entrepreneur, Farah holds a Bsc in Government from the London School of Economics. She is always on the lookout for new opportunities to develop and grow the pet and equestrian retail and wholesale market in the UAE and beyond, and is proud to be at the helm of the first and the largest pet care provider in the market representing world-class brands including Orijen, Applaws, Hunter, Savic, Flamingo, Ruffwear and Rogz.

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