5 Things I Wish Every Pet Owner Knew

I spend a lot of time with pet owners, and I love them and their animals. But there are a few simple secrets that will help them to have an even better relationship with me and with their pets.

Here are five things that can improve your life with your dog or cat a hundredfold ó and make your veterinarian pretty darn happy, too.

1. Watch your pet’s weight. Obesity is arguably the No.1 pet health problem we see. Fat cats and pudgy pooches are funny in cartoons, but in real life, theyíre like tubby ticking time bombs. When pets are overweight, the extra pounds can stress the heart, making it pump harder than it needs to. Joints groan under extra weight, too, contributing to pain from arthritis, hip dysplasia and other joint problems. And obesity can play a role in development of metabolic diseases, such as diabetes. If you love your pet, put your hands on him to gauge his body condition. If you canít feel his ribs beneath a thin layer of fat and muscle, folks, itís time to put him on a diet. Measure his food and offer it twice daily instead of leaving kibble out all the time, swap out treats for bits of apple and carrot, and schedule more or longer walks or playtimes.

2. Brush your petís teeth. I know I say this over and over, but regular brushing really will improve your dog or catís oral health ó and, by extension, his overall health. After all, the mouth is the gateway to the rest of the body, and if it’s teeming with bacteria, well, they are going to spread to other organs. I have to admit, though, that many veterinarians and vet techs donít brush their own petsí teeth. If your pet resists brushing or you just canít find the time to do it, provide other forms of daily oral care: Use an edible toothbrush, such as C.E.T. Hextra Chews, Greenies Pill Pockets or Milk-Bone Brushing Chews.

3. Tell us if youíre having trouble giving your pet medication. Donít be embarrassed if you canít give medications or follow through on a treatment plan outlined by the veterinary team. Sometimes itís hard for those of us who work with pets for a living to give pills to certain animals, even when we are working as a well-rehearsed team. If you are having difficulty ó and lots of people do ó we can help you find an option that works better, such as having the medication compounded into a tasty liquid or treat, or giving your pet an injectable antibiotic that will last up to two weeks. (See: Top 10 Ways to Give Your Pet a Pill)

4. Consider getting pet health insurance. If I could wave a magic wand and do one thing that would benefit the most pets, I would magically guarantee that all pet owners have pet health insurance. When your pet is covered for emergencies or diseases that require expensive treatment, you are less likely to be faced with the heartbreaking decision that you just canít afford the needed surgery, chemotherapy or hospitalization.

5. Reward your vet with a treat. Your pets aren’t the only ones who love treats ó your vet and his staff do, too! Bring the practice a plate of warm cookies or brownies early on a rough Monday or midafternoon on a busy Friday ó or, heck, any day. Youíll be a practice favorite immediately.

By Dr. Marty Becker

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Carole R.
Carole R3 years ago

Some good tips, some not really necessary.

Crystal G.
Crystal G3 years ago

Not all vets are able to give injectable antibiotics and pet insurance is a COMPLETE ripoff. You'll pay more to that insurance company then you EVER will on your pet (surgeries included). Plus you lose all that money and they only help with a partial payment on the bill. This crap should NOT be pushed by ANYONE who cares.

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Lisa Zarafonetis
Lisa Zarafonetis4 years ago


Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill4 years ago


Susanne P.
Susanne P4 years ago

Thx for posting

Nena C.
Nena C4 years ago

some people just don't need pets as they are not programmed to take care of them and they don't

Angie P.
Angie P4 years ago

I always have the hardest time brushing my dog's teeth. He gets his Dentastix everyday because I want him to have good teeth and the brushing thing did not work out for me.

Lorene Farnsworth

Thanks, Dr. Becker, great advice, except no one in NYC will eat warm cookies from strangers, and I am never going to brush a dog's teeth.

Winn Adams
Winn A4 years ago