Owning a pet is not as simple as getting a cuddly buddy whom you think you'll just have to feed and shelter. It's so much more than that! Some people will get a pet when they feel like it and will just be aware of the massive responsibilities later on! It's extremely important to know that getting a fur baby means you're responsible of another life which can affect you finances, your time, and your lifestyle!
A lot of veterinarians claim that a lot of pets are brought to them because of the improper handling of their owners. Not having the right knowledge about your pet or how to take care of a pet you chose to take is a big no-no! If you think you may be one of them, consciously or unconsciously, here are 7 common mistakes pet owners make you need to be aware of:
1. Impulsive Adoptions
- Picking the wrong pet
Many people can't resist the temptation of seeing a cute pet perhaps in pet stores or even on the streets immediately. It can be so hard to resist those puppy-dog eyes especially if it’s a stray who needs a home. But owning a pet needs some research to find out everything you need to know about a particular type of pet and what kind of care and lifestyle. Don’t forget to include all family members in the decision-making process.
You can read more about the overall cost of adopting a pet if you finally decided to adopt after lots of thinking and researching: How Much Does It Cost to Adopt a Pet in Singapore?
- Assuming that smaller animals are easier to take care of
You should never think that the smaller the pet, the easier it is to take care of. Even some types of fish require water that is exactly the right temperature and even precise time feedings. Carefully consider the pet and especially their breed to know how to take care of them in the right way!
2. Lack of Training and Socialization
Every pet needs basic training and socialization whether they are a dog or a cat! Some need more than others, but they all need some part of it. I mean, how will they know the rules they need to know? How will they know if another pet is a threat or is actually a friend? Don't think of training as a chore for it will help your pet live a life full of confidence, fun, and even avoid health problems!
- Teach Socialization at an Early Age
Socialization allows a pet to get used to things in the environment, such as children, adults, animals, and even objects! Socialization should start between 3 and 12 weeks. Pets can develop fears, aggressions, phobias, and behavioral problems without proper socialization.
But if your pet is already grown up, that’s not a problem at all! Socialization is not just for puppies. You can socialize your adult dog, too! It may be harder because of some things they are already used to, but commitment and consistency never fail!
Another crucial thing to remember before you start socializing your pet is to keep them away from areas frequented by dogs with an unknown vaccination history. Remember to do this with caution and do not make them meet nose to nose for the first time! You can't predict how pets will react to another pet. You can prevent dangerous confrontations from happening by first asking the other pet owner from afar if their dog is good with other animals and with an okay signal from another pet owner, you can start to allow your pet to sniff the tail of another pet first. It is the proper and non-offensive way for pets when meeting another furry friend!
- Skipping training sessions
When your puppy is 8 weeks old, this is the best time to start training them. Skipping training sessions of your pet can lead to bad habits, behaviors, and it will be very hard to un-train them. If you don’t know how to train dogs, it’s better to seek a professional to help you with this matter. But don’t lose hope if you read this and your fur baby is already grown up for it may be harder to train them because of some things that they’re already used to, but as I just said, commitment and consistency never fail! Never give up your pet’s chance to be happier and healthier! This may help to jumpstart your pet's training sessions: Dog Training: Basic Tips for Successfully Training your New Dog
3. Not Offering Enough Exercise and Activity
- Regular exercise is essential for pets
Studies show that pets who regularly exercise more have a longer lifespan than the ones who don’t. Lack of exercise can lead to health problems and behavior issues. Are they restless and bored? Are they hyperactive, and excited all the time? Are they overweight? These are all signs of a need for more exercise!
If you have a dog, then you should know that he/she needs at least 2 30-minutes walks a day. If you have cats, make sure you play with them for at least 10-20 minutes daily. You can check this Expert Advice on Obese Pets & How to Prevent It to learn more!
- Pets need mental stimulation too
Try an exercise that involves games. Toys and treats (but not too much) can be a great way to do this activity and I’m sure it will bring you so much enjoyment and exercise as well! We suggest for you to try this interactive toy that will surely boost your pet's activity: Wickedbone - Smart & Interactive Dog Chewing Toy
Encouraging them to also go outside for a walk especially for a dog would be great! This could also help with their socialization.
4. Avoiding the Veterinarian
- Only going to the vet when your pet is sick
Do not go to the vet only when your pet is sick. Yes, it saves you a lot of money but it will be more costly and even deadly to your fur baby if they got sick! Pets are masters of disguise; they don’t want to inconvenience us by letting us know they feel poorly and by the time owners notice signs of illness, a pet has been sick for quite some time. Annual preventive care exams at the veterinarian allow you to catch diseases much earlier in the process, saving you money, and your pet pain and stress.
- Overlooking Ticks
Don’t just remove a tick on your pet and then forget about it! Ticks can lead to serious diseases like Lyme, Rocky mountain spotted fever, and many more. Never overlook ticks and if you find any ticks on your fur baby, always remove it with tweezers. You can also follow few home remedies for it like using natural oils, covering them, and rubbing lemon on the affected area. If you have spotted 3 or more ticks in a week, make sure to visit the vet asap!
Here's 7 Tips on How to Prevent Flea and Tick Bites on your Pets
- Not spaying or neutering pets
This is one of the most common mistakes pet owners make that leads to serious consequences. Unfortunately, some people still think that if they spay or neuter their pets they will get lazy and fat, but aside from the fact that there is a serious pet overpopulation problem that spaying and neutering can help decrease, doing so also means your fur baby will less likely to wander around looking for a mate and in doing so potentially get lost, hurt or contract diseases. Spaying and neutering will greatly increase the length and quality of your pet's life.
Check this Top 9 Reasons Why You Should Have Your Pets Spayed or Neutered to learn more!
- Skipping Heartworm Prevention
Your vet will make the same recommendation because heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal disease caused by an infestation of the parasite Dirofilaria immitis, heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes and can affect any pet anywhere in Singapore.
If you think heartworm prevention is expensive, then you have never needed to pay for heartworm treatment. The heartworm treatment protocol may cost as much as $1,000–$1,500, and your fur baby can easily be reinfected in the future. Monthly heartworm prevention will cost about $35–$250 per year depending on the size of the dog and the brand of prevention.
In addition to cost, heartworm treatment is risky for pets, especially older pets or those with other health issues. Talk to your trusted vet and you'll realize that heartworm prevention is the better choice.
- Neglecting Dental Health
Home dental care is key to prevent halitosis which is a sign of some kind of dental disease. Everyone should brush their pet’s teeth daily. Commit to a tooth-brushing routine. You can also use a good dental home care product (ask your vet for recommendations), but it won't take the place of brushing. You should plan for regular veterinary dental cleanings. But if you decide that home care is not for you, your pet will need a veterinary dental cleaning about one to two times per year.
Here's some tips you can do to improve your pet's dental health: 6 Tips to Improve Your Pet’s Dental Health
- Ignoring your pet’s vomit
Some may not think too much of their pet vomiting now and then, especially if they have a dog who likes to eat grass or a cat who is always expelling hairball, but ignoring vomiting is a big mistake! Vomiting is never normal for any pet, and even if your pet appears to feel well, it should be investigated. Talk to your vet especially if it happens frequently!
- Ignoring mandatory vaccine shots
In some places, certain shots are mandatory. Keeping your pet up to date with their shots is an easy way to prevent a costly medical problem. Vaccines help prevent very common diseases in pets. By not vaccinating, you are putting your pet and other people's pets at risk!
- Giving your pet Human Medicine
Never ever give your pet any drug without consulting first to the vet! No matter what you read on the internet, pet owners should never give their pets any medication that's intended for humans! It's also important to note that medication that is meant for dogs may be harmful or fatal to cats, and vice versa.
5. Letting Behavior Problems Get out of Control
- Spoiling pets in the wrong way
Many people feel they are being mean if they don't give their fur babies everything they want when they want it and the result is usually that it will be too hard to eliminate the developed wrong behavior. Set clear rules and boundaries like with children to help your pet stay safe and happy
If you really love spoiling your pets but wants to do it in the right way, here's 9 Affordable Ways You Can Spoil Your Cats if you have a cat.
- Punishing them rather than giving rewards
Do not punish a pet’s behavior by yelling or even beating them! Pets think in pretty simple terms so it is best to reward them when they do good so they will continue doing that good behavior. Punishing them will develop aggression and fear because pets usually don’t understand why you’re punishing them and often cause negative side effects and will result in more bad behaviors worse than what you wanted to resolve in the first place. Punishments are also likely to damage your relationship with your pet. Here's some ways on how to enforce positive behavior on pets instead of punishing them: 10 Effective Ways of Positive Reinforcement on Pets
- Not resolving bad behaviors asap
Behavior problems in pets may start small and then get worse and worse as time goes by! Giving a treat to an aggressive dog tells that dog that it is doing the right thing. Don't let these issues continue and be more aware if your actions help to resolve your pet’s bad behaviors. When issues are just starting, you may be able to address them quickly. If these behavioral problems continue, find a professional to help your pet before it gets out of control!
- Not having consistent rules
Another big common mistake is not having consistent rules for your pet. You allow your pet to do a certain behavior and then make them stop doing it when you don’t want them to do it anymore! Your pet will surely be confused and won’t understand how they’re supposed to behave. Sit down with the whole family and make some main rules for your pet that your family member will work together to fix and agree on.
6. Failing to Provide Their Needs Properly
- Keeping the food bowl full
Weight increase is one of the most common problems in pets and overeating is one of the reasons why weight increases! You should always give a proportionate amount of healthy food to your pets according to their needs, breed, and health issues. Also, take note of the proper food that should be given to your fur babies! You can do some research about it or talk to your trusted vet.
- Lack of attention
A pet lacking of attention becomes whiny and adopts habits like chewing, digging, and barking. They do this to gain your attention so remember to always keep your pet’s attention and make them feel loved. Games can be a great way to bond with your pets!
- Not being aware of your pet’s medical history/ breed
Since animals aren't able to talk to the vet themselves, it is up to you to keep note of their pet's medical history. You should also answer the vet's questions honestly so that your pet can be given the best possible treatment. If there is any missing or incorrect information, your furry friend's recovery could be compromised! You can also do some research about their breed for some health issues and behaviors stems from what bred your fur babies are.
Too many treats
Using treats as a reward is an essential part of the training, but too many treats are surely a big pet-owner mistake! Treats help in positive reinforcement and also encourage your dog to learn faster and do better but giving too much of it causes to lose the treat’s value in your pet’s eyes. Keep treats only to reward your pet’s really good behavior!
- Failing to Budget for pet’s expenses
Expect that owning a pet costs money so make sure that your budget includes all of the routine costs such as food, pet supplies, and veterinary care. Don't forget extras, such as the need to take a training class. If money is tight, you can find ways to save money on pet expenses, but you still need a budget.
Also, expect the unexpected! Emergency vets cost a lot more than your regular vet. Therefore, it's important to have the funds and a plan in place in case you need sudden veterinary care. Here's some Basic first aid for pets that every pet owners should know!
- Not trimming your pet’s nails
Shelly Zacharias, veterinarian and vice president of medical affairs at Gallant, told Insider that, if left unattended, overgrown nails can be a source of pain and even medical problems.
"Overgrown nails can cause a number of problems, including growing into the footpad, which can cause extreme pain and infection, breaking off and bleeding excessively, or partially breaking off, which often needs sedation to fix," said Zacharias.
Even more troubling, Zacharias also explained that chronically overgrown nails can even change the natural angle at which your dog stands and can cause arthritis to occur in those limbs in the long term. So please check your pet’s paws regularly!
7. Prolonged isolation
- Leaving pets alone for long hours
It is recommended not to leave your dog alone for long as they may develop destructive habits and it also leads to depression and separation anxiety. Better choices would be a pet care/café. Here’s some pet café’s we recommend for you to visit. Link here
But if it’s unavoidable to leave them for certain hours, it’s important to train your pet to survive if you can’t be present with them. You can also ask your neighbor to drop in every couple of hours or arrange for a dog walker if you have a dog. Cats are more capable of staying home alone, but make sure you leave out enough toys and cat food.
But if none of these are applicable to you as well, you can try giving your pets some interactive toys to play with while your away: 4 Interactive Toys Your Pet is Wishing For and here are 5 Ways to Keep Your Pets Entertained While You're Away
I’m sure that you love your fur babies or you won’t read this article up to this point! So if you want to have a healthy and happy pet, you should avoid these mistakes. You can also read our complete guide on how to keep your pets healthy and happy: A Complete Guide: 13 Ways to Keep Your Pet Happy & Healthy
Do you know any other common mistakes which pet owners should avoid? Feel free to leave a comment down below, we would love to read them! Also, feel free to share this with your fellow pet owners or pet lover friends who are thinking of adopting their fur babies!