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13 Pet Care Tips Your Veterinarian Wishes You Knew

To keep your fur babies healthy and happy, make sure to follow these pet care tips from Canadian veterinarians.

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Veterinarian tipsPhoto: Shutterstock

Your pet eats too much

About half of all cats and dogs are overweight or obese, according to the Canadian Animal Health Institute. Excess weight is linked to joint and heart disease, as well as diabetes and cancer. For your pet’s health, sometimes love means saying no to those pleading eyes.

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Dog food in bowlsPhoto: Shutterstock

Portion control


Use a kitchen scale to portion food in grams, not scoops, to get a better idea of how much you’re giving Fluffy, says Dr. Gwen Jeun, a veterinarian in Windsor, Ont. As for treats, Jeun recommends including them in the total calories you feed your pet in a day and only giving these rewards if they’ve been earned.

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Dog with foodPhoto: Shutterstock

Watch out for poisonous foods


Chocolate isn’t the sole food that’s lethal to dogs. Xylitol (an artificial sweetener), bread dough, grapes and macadamia nuts can also cause severe illness or death.

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Cute dog with toothbrushPhoto: Shutterstock

Dental hygiene is important

Ideally you’d brush your pet’s teeth every day, but most vets know that’s not easy. “I understand that people are busy,” says Jeun. “I recommend annual dental cleanings, under anaesthesia, to remove tartar and polish the teeth.” Doing so can stave off periodontal disease and bacteria, which can be harmful to the heart, lungs, kidneys and liver.

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Veterinarian examining catPhoto: Shutterstock

You need regular check-ups

Vets aren’t just for shots—annual exams can make the difference between catching a problem early and making a diagnosis too late.

Make sure you haven’t been misdiagnosing your pet.

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Cat clawsPhoto: Shutterstock

Kitty has claws

Don’t declaw your cat. The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association views the procedure, which is banned in some provinces, as unethical. “There are so many alternatives, like nail trimming, nail covers and teaching your cat where to scratch,” says Jeun.

Learn how to keep your cat from scratching the furniture.

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Animal surgery procedurePhoto: Shutterstock

Don’t trust a clinic that isn’t staffed overnight

Post-surgical complications in the wee hours will require a licensed vet. Since there are no laws mandating this level of care at non-emergency clinics, be sure to ask about it before booking.

Watch out for the signs your dog is having heat stroke.

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VeterinarianPhoto: Shutterstock

Head to the pharmacy

Some pet medications, like insulin and antibiotics, can be purchased cheaper at your local (human) pharmacy. All your vet needs to do is write you a prescription, an option the College of Veter­inarians of Ontario, for example, requires them to offer.

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Dog leashPhoto: Shutterstock

Stop using retractable leashes

You’ll never be able to get your dog out of harm’s way in time, and getting tangled in the thin cord can lead to burns, cuts and even finger amputations for humans.

Keep your fur baby happy with these summer dog safety tips.

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Veterinarian with small dogsPhoto: Shutterstock

Veterinarians are doctors

Vet fees may seem high, but consider that clinics are often stocked with the same state-of-the-art equipment used on humans. Vets are full-fledged MDs, requiring a minimum of six years of university education—more for specialists.

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Dog medicinePhoto: Shutterstock

Painful goodbyes

Saying goodbye is difficult, but euthanasia is part of a vet’s job. The hardest aspect can be the agon­izing discussions. “It’s hard not to be affected by the owners’ grief,” Jeun says. You’ll know it’s time when your pet’s bad days outnumber the good.

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Pet insurance claim formPhoto: Shutterstock

Get insured

Pet insurance can save you a lot. “An emergency surgery—can cost several thousand dollars, and insurance can cover up to 80 per cent of that,” says Jeun. What might not be covered: routine visits, shots and pre-existing medical conditions.

You can eliminate these health risks for pets right now!

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Veterinarian with white fluffy dogPhoto: Shutterstock

Finding the right fit

Word of mouth is the tried-and-true way of finding a good vet—but do your homework. Look up prospects on the website of your prov­incial licensing body to find out if your vet has a history of disciplinary actions against them.

Next, check out these secrets your pet wishes they could tell you.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest Canada