13 Things Your Vet Wishes You Knew
Facts that will help you look after your pet well
1. Your pet eats too much. “Pets being overweight is very common,” says Dr Narendra Gandhi, a veterinarian based in New Delhi. “Excess weight can lead to a host of illnesses,” he adds. Sometimes love means saying no to those pleading eyes.
2. Your pet’s ideal weight should dictate their calorie intake. “You need to target the lower recommended limit,” says Gandhi. “For instance, if your dog’s weight range is 28 to 35 kg, you should aim to maintain 28 kg.
3. One way to steer clear of health issues caused by synthetic substances in ready-made food, is to give your pet home-cooked meals. “Carnivore pets need animal protein for energy, so make sure your pet’s meal consists mostly of animal protein with some carbs and fat added to it,” says Dr Archana Bapat, a veterinarian at Bapat’s Pet Animal Hospital in Thane. “You can add beetroot or sweet potato if your dog is constipated,” she adds. But don’t vary the diet too much as that tends to cause digestive issues
4. Exercise is crucial, especially for dogs. “Your medium-sized dog needs to be exercised for 45 minutes, three times a day,” says Gandhi. And this means engaging in an activity that gets the dog’s heart racing. “Your dog casually strolling along with you is not going to help. They need to run.”
5. Your pet’s metabolism slows down after they are neutered. “Post neutering, you should give your pet 25 per cent less food forever,” says Gandhi. He also recommends getting the procedure done early—before your pet reaches puberty or right around then—to avoid complications.
6. Chocolate isn’t the only food that’s lethal to dogs. Xylitol (an artificial sweetener), grapes, raisins and macadamia nuts can also cause severe illness or death.
7. 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 Dr Gwen Jeun, a veterinarian in Ontario, Canada. “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.
8. Don’t ignore certain symptoms, especially in summer. “It’s common for furry animals to get heatstroke. Don’t ignore your pet if they pant a lot, has a bluish tongue or seems to have difficulty standing up,” says Bapat. Other symptoms that need immediate attention are blood in stools, urine or vomit, particularly if your pet has just had a tick or flea infestation.
9. Vets aren’t just for shots—annual exams can make the difference between catching a problem early and making a diagnosis too late.
10. Stop using retractable leashes. You’ll never be able to get your dog out of harm’s way in time.
11. Vet fees may seem high, but consider that clinics are often stocked with the same state-of-the-art equipment used on humans. Veterinary physicians and surgeons are full-fledged doctors, requiring a minimum of five years of university education.
12. 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.
13. Word of mouth is the tried-and-true way of finding a good vet—but do your homework. Find out if your vet has a history of disciplinary actions or complaints against them.