Pet Owner’s Biggest Mistakes

There are 4 biggest mistakes that pet owners make:

  1. Overfeeding

I’m always surprised by how many fat dogs and cats I see on a daily basis in practice.  I’m constantly treating diseases that otherwise wouldn’t exist if the pet was an ideal weight.  Diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and kidney disease are just some of the problems that increases due to being overweight.

It also costs more. The heavier your pet is, the more medication you need to treat any problem, especially when it comes to dogs.  The cost of giving a dog an anti-inflammatory medication to a 80 lb. dog is so much more expensive than a 30 lb. dog.  It can cost more than $100 a month to treat arthritis in a large breed dog, where if it was an ideal weight, it may never needed this in the first place.  Keep your dog at an ideal weight and you will keep your wallet in good shape as well.

Our pets are overweight for 2 main reasons.  High calorie diets and LOVE.  If your pet ever sniffs a food and walks away, will you ever buy that food again?  Of course not.  Therefore, pet food companies are making their diets extremely rich and flavourful so this doesn’t happen.  It’s important to work with your veterinarian to make sure you’re feeding the right type of food and the right amount of food.  The other reason our pets are overweight is because we love them.  Everyone loves to feed a pet and give them treats.  We have our pets in our lives to enjoy them more and its fun to give them treats.  Try replacing store bought treats with cut up raw vegetables and you dog will still love you for it.

  1. Picking the wrong breed

We like selecting the pets we have by the way they look.  My father got a Border Collie because they are beautiful dogs.  However, my dad was an executive and worked a lot.  A Border Collie is a working breed and needs to run hours a day, every day.  It was something my dad just couldn’t provide in his busy downtown lifestyle.  The dog developed behaviour problems from lack of exercise and stimulation and was a great challenge in his life because of it.  Every owner needs to think about these things and research a breed before getting one.  Select a breed that matches your way of life and you’ll find a lot more harmony in both your ives going forward.

  1. Treating a dog like a baby

Do you own a dog that gets carried in a purse?  If so, you may be guilty of this.  I’m not saying you shouldn’t carry your dog in a purse, but like a good parent, a healthy amount of proper structure and discipline that will produce a desirable disposition in your pet.  When I have encountered people who don’t discipline their pets, these animals typically ‘act out’, have behavioural issues, demonstrate anxiety or excessive aggression, and the owners are often overwhelmed by how difficult they are to take care of.  It’s important to start young and provide your pet with a healthy amount of structure to prevent these problems.  It would be great to go to training classes, work with a behaviourist, do some reading on training, or implement simple training procedures so your pet learns to respond positively to you and other people, pets and places they are exposed to.

  1. Not comparing medical issues in their pets to themselves.

I love this point.  A common call a veterinarian will get at the office is something like this…”my dog has been vomiting and having diarrhea for 3 days, do I need to bring them in?”  Well, what would you do if you were vomiting all day for 3 days.  I would go to the hospital.  At least I would.  So comparing your pets symptoms to yourself, may help you make appropriate decisions.

Here’s another example I love.  I have clients who say, “oh I’m taking care of his teeth by giving a dental treat every day”.  I don’t know why we think these things work.  If a treat could clean teeth, then I know one thing for sure, this same type of treat would be available for people.  I’d give them to my kids every day! It doesn’t exist because they don’t work.  A pets teeth is no different than ours.  Brushing teeth is really the only thing that helps keep them clean in any significant way.  There are foods now that I’ve seen definitely help, but I have never seen a significant positive impact to dental health by feeding a treat.

In medical terms, just compare your pet to yourself and you’ll make better decisions.


by Dr. Clayton Greenway, DVM, B.Sc