People Who Work With Animals Are Sharing The Advice They Think Every Pet-Owner Should Know

I recently asked the veterinarians of the BuzzFeed Community to share the advice they think pet owners need the most.


As a cat mom to two adorable little terrors, I definitely made mental notes of a lot of the replies I got.

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Here are some things you should definitely keep in mind if you have pets:

1."Vet here. Since COVID, we have all been extremely busy. If you are a pet owner who does your vaccines at a cheap vaccine clinic and only comes in every 2-3 years when there is a problem, don't expect me to bend over backwards for you when something urgent happens.

"The people I do that for are the people that come in every year (at least). And if you call at 5 p.m. on a Friday with a problem you've been watching for 2-3 days, I'm not going to squeeze you in. I'm going to tell you to go to the emergency clinic. Please try to remember that we are people doing a job, and we want to go home at the end of the day, too. It's not that we don't care. Of course, we do. It's just that we deserve a life outside of work. The thing that you didn't think was urgent three days ago is not urgent to me at 5 p.m. on a Friday."


Woman stroking a ginger cat while sitting on her desk with a computer
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2."I have been a vet tech for the last 15 years. I can tell you that there are zero kickbacks/incentives/bonuses for recommending or selling any medications or prescription foods. In fact, profit margins are almost nonexistent. What we sell or recommend is genuinely because we recommend it, it works, and even use it for our own pets.

"AND HEARTWORMS ARE REAL AND WILL KILL YOUR DOG! Especially in the south. Yes, fleas are annoying, but one mosquito bite can kill your dog."


3."Not a vet, but I worked reception for four years at an extremely busy 24-practice. It's usually people who can't afford a pet, yet will get the biggest dog breed possible that complain that vets are 'only after money.'

"No, their training is INTENSE, and they genuinely care about animals. Pets cannot talk, so it's extremely difficult to diagnose an illness. The amount of people who would call and expect a free consultation over the phone by saying, 'Can I just speak to a vet quickly.' No. The vet is busy, you know, saving a dog's life or monitoring a patient.

"It's the ones who can't afford medical costs and have no pet insurance are the WORST.

"I used to get abuse, death threats, things thrown, and I was only on RECEPTION. People treat vets like shit, and it's no wonder they have the highest suicide rates out of most professions."


a veterinarian and vet tech examining a dog
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4."Please, for the love of fuck, stop taking random bullshit on the internet over information from someone who went to medical school. Don’t come at me with 'my breeder says this vaccine is bad,' either. Discuss every medication with your vet, and that includes supplements. Things like CBD can have a place, but the number of people who just YOLO shit is actually unbelievable."


5."Veterinary technician here. If your pet got into your drugs, just tell us. We don't judge. You being honest makes our lives substantially easier, makes treating your pet quicker and more effective, and we can move on. If you aren't honest, we have to do way more guesswork, are FAR more annoyed with you, and are way less likely to be patient with your possibly drugged-up self. Honesty really is the best policy."


Lazy British Short Hair cat sleeping on a couch in a flat in Edinburgh, Scotland, with her face squashed as she is fully relaxed
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6."Two things. First, I won’t think you’re a bad pet owner if you tell me about a behavior problem. In fact, I’ll think you’re a better pet owner for being aware of it and letting me know.

"Likewise, I won’t judge you if your pet ate something they should not have, so just tell me what it is. I don’t care if it was your antidepressants, THC gummies, or macadamia nut cookies. Different toxins require different treatments; the more honest you are with me, the better outcome your pet will have."


7."Vet tech here. I really wish people would stop getting 'protection breeds' without doing their homework. I see a lot of poorly bred German Shepherds that live in tiny apartments. People get them as puppies, and I frequently hear from them that they want them to 'protect their kids.'

"These dogs are athletic and intelligent and are bred to be a little anxious and suspicious. Without training (for the dog and the owner!), mental stimulation, and regular exercise, these traits express themselves in negative ways! When these dogs grow, people come to me asking me how to get them to stop jumping on their kids, snapping at them, being food aggressive and aggressive with their kid's friends/relatives (not kidnappers in creepy vans), being destructive, and freaking out for nail trims and other basic care. This is the 'protection' they get if the owners don't do the work. It's not the dog's fault, but it limits everyone's quality of life. These dogs are great; give them the life they deserve."


german shepherd puppy
Kirill Gorshkov / Getty Images/iStockphoto

8."Research dog breeds before getting one!!!

"The amount of people that come in with herding breeds like Border Collies or Australian Shepherds, or other breeds like Huskies or German Shepherd, etc., and have absolutely NO CLUE what these dogs need and don't know how to handle them is astounding, and the dogs usually end up being timid or anxious. Everyone should do research no matter what breed they're interested in to make sure that it will fit into their family dynamic. Not just choose a dog based on how cute it is.

"Also, everyone should get pet insurance. Having it means that owners would not have to think about the financial aspect when making decisions about their pets' care."


9."Vet Nurse here. Prevention is always better than cure."

"Don’t want to pay for those tick prevention tablets? How about a couple of thousand dollars in treatment instead for a tick-borne disease…? (I’m not even going into vaccines, but I’m talking any type of preventative care for a huge variety of conditions.)

"Not only does it save you money in the long run but also prevents so much pain and suffering for your pet, and grief for you and your family."


Young veterinarian examines a domestic cat in a veterinary clinic
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10."Preventative care is key! Ideally, schedule your first vet appointment as soon as you get your new pet. If the old owner tells you it is up to date on vaccines, do not believe them without PROOF.

"Parvovirus can be prevented by vaccines. Pyometra, a fatal infection of the uterus if untreated, can be prevented by spaying. Prostate problems can be prevented by neutering. Do not let your dog run loose so they can be hit by a car. Do not let your dog ride in the back of a truck where they can fall or jump out. Inside is the safest place for a cat to live. Know what is toxic. Most of what I see as an emergency vet can be prevented.

"Be honest about your budget. We will try our best to work with you.

"Be nice to the doctors and staff. I promise you we are always doing our best for your pet."


11."Former kennel manager at a vet's office: I definitely gave as much love to the animals as my schedule allowed. We all did. We all had our favorites, and when they died, we mourned them. Especially if they spent a lot of time with us. The pay isn’t great, so everyone that works in the field does it because they love what they do.

"Also, if you get upset and lose your cool, your pets can sense it, and it makes a bad day worse for them. It’s best to wait until they are in the back and then ask to speak to someone away from the waiting room so you don’t upset the other patients. The amount of people who don’t get this (or don’t care) is infuriating."

Travis Reinhart

Close up of a young family taking their dog to the veterinarian
Marko Geber / Getty Images


"Vet tech here, and one of the things that I have noticed lately is we got a lot of 1.5-2-year-old dogs (aka COVID babies) that have zero training or manners and lose their shit being at the vet. We do not want to be the scary place; we want to love and care for your animals, and it makes our job very difficult if your pet won't let us even touch them.

"I know people got puppies during lockdown due to more time at home; but to these dogs, all they ever have known is being alone with only you safely at home. If you don't consistently expose them to different social situations/environments, they won't know how they are supposed to be. Play with their feet, hold them laying on their sides, give them a bunch of cookies. That way when we have to do similar things at the clinic, your pet doesn't automatically assume we are trying to murder them."


13."Common dog toxicities: grapes, raisins, onions, garlic, xylitol, caffeine, chocolate, sago palm plant, macadamia nuts, rat/snail bait, human medications.

"Common cat toxicities: lilies(!!), onions, garlic, caffeine, chocolate, rat/snail bait, antifreeze, human medications, dog flea medications."

Corks B

pile of onions
Karayuschij / Getty Images/iStockphoto

14."If it is your first time at a new vet office, and your pet has been to other vets in the past (including ER), make sure we can get those records in advance! It will help ensure that we’re not wasting your appointment time trying to call around for information, that we don’t repeat expensive tests or treatments that have already been done, and that we have all the information available to best care for your pet."


15."I've posted this in an article before, but please think twice before feeding your pet raw or boutique pet foods.

"My clinic especially has been seeing a rise in salmonella and campylobacter infections as well as intestinal parasites due to improperly prepared raw food, and we’re starting to see an uptick in nutritional diseases in both dogs and cats that studies are beginning to link back to raw and protein-only diets.

"The fact that feline taurine deficiencies and dilated cardiomyopathy are becoming more common is frustrating, but even more frustrating are owners who reject prescription diets (such as ones that help manage kidney disease) in favor of whatever diet’s being marketed at the time because they saw someone online or their breeder promoting it. We just want what’s best for your pet, and we don’t get any sort of kickback from food companies, contrary to popular belief (if we did, so many of us wouldn’t be in debt lol).

"I understand that commercial diets aren’t right for every pet, but talk to your primary care DVM before deciding to switch to a boutique diet that has flashy marketing but might not have gone through the same safety and nutritional testing as more common foods."


hungry dog holding a bowl in their mouth
Chalabala / Getty Images/iStockphoto

16."Not a vet, but a former veterinary nurse (tech if you are in the US). If you have to put your pet down, stay with them for it. This is the last moment of their life, and they are ill, confused, and possibly scared. They do look for you when you leave, and it's heartbreaking. Though we do everything in our power to make their last moments comfortable and full of love, they still want you there. You owe them that, no matter how difficult it is for you, because they would not leave your side if you were dying. While I am not judging those that leave, or can't stay for whatever reason, it's not the choice I would make or recommend.

"Veterinarians have one of the highest suicide rates as a profession, and while I don't have information on techs, they are probably not far behind. No one can work for free, and the average, small veterinary practice is barely turning a profit. They're trying to eat, not rip you off. It's rewarding and emotionally taxing to do this kind of work."


17."Please just say thank you. It’s an exhausting career with a lot of stress. When owners are genuinely appreciative, it goes a long way."


parent and child watching a veterinarian check their cat
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