Yes, you’ve made sure your pets are regularly vaccinated and constantly showered with love (and even the occasional bath). But chances are you might be going overdoing it (or even ignoring issues) in some areas. Here, seven things your vet would really (really) like you to stop doing.
1. Getting medical advice from breeders and groomers
Breeders and groomers “can have useful information,” says Dr. Katja Lang (aka Dr. Kibble), a licensed and practicing vet in New York City. “But, they do not know what is best for your pet when it comes to matters like parasite control and vaccinations.” Even if a breeder is knowledgeable about general labradoodle behavior, it’s unlikely they’re trained in treating or diagnosing any medical issues. Stick to licensed veterinarians when it comes to getting the 411 on your pet’s health.
2. Replacing your vet with Google
The same thing goes for what Dr. Lang calls Dr. Google. “Dr. Google has a nice ring to it,” she admits. However, only an in-person visit to the vet can determine what’s wrong with Wrigley, especially since your vet has Wrigley’s entire medical history on file. If you’ve ever used WebMD to casually search the word “headache,” you know it only causes panic and answers nothing.
3. Following food fads
Trends in the pet food industry are easy to get sucked into, especially when they align with human food fads. According to Dr. Lang, pet food companies appeal to pet owners with phrases like “gluten-free,” “grain-free,” “organic” and more. These buzzwords are much less important than the digestibility of the ingredients and each animal’s nutritional requirements. “A fad that is popular with humans is not what is best for our furry friends,” says Dr. Lang.
4. Following food bag instructions
Rather than basing your pet’s portions on the instructions listed on pet food packaging, check in with your vet about how much to feed Fido. Serving sizes listed don’t account for how active your pets are or whether they’ve been neutered or spayed—and yes, this does matter. “Spayed and neutered animals will have a significantly lower metabolic rate,” Dr. Lang says. This means that following what a bag of food says about portion control could lead to overfeeding and weight gain.
5. Going overboard with treats
What better way to show some love than doling out treats, right? Actually, exercise and playtime are better, way better. Fit dogs with healthy weights tend to outlive overweight dogs by two years. So reach for the leash instead of the MilkBones.
6. Waiting it out if your pet is sick
Catching a serious medical issue early is often the key to successful treatment. Dr. Lang encourages pet owners to visit the vet as soon as any troubling behavior presents itself. This includes repeated vomiting, avoiding food for more than one day, having diarrhea for more than two days or displaying signs of an allergic reaction. This is not a complete list, so any strange behavior should be reported to your vet ASAP.
7. Turning down pet insurance
“Medical care is expensive and becoming costlier with the advanced options we now have,” warns Dr. Lang. Investing in pet insurance today can save you tons of money in the future, especially if your pet is getting up there in years. Plus, insurance doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions. So, waiting to get coverage until after receiving a diagnosis or scheduling a surgical procedure won’t pay (literally).