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Common Mistakes Made by Pet Owners (Part 4)

  • Giving your dogs bones.
Giving dogs bones is not recommended because chewing on them can injure their teeth, tongue, and mouth.  You also run the risk that they could be swallowed and cause an intestinal obstruction, which may require surgery.  For chew toys the rule of thumb is that they should be big enough so the dog cannot swallow it and should also be bendable.  Ask your veterinarian for ideas about safer options.

 

  • Feeding dogs from the table.
It can difficult to not feed dogs from the table when they look at you with those big sad eyes but rewarding them when they whine or bark encourages their continued bad behavior.  Dogs are pack animals and gather together when food is available, so begging is a natural activity for them.  Just like any other kind of training you need to reinforce that begging is not going to earn them anything in order to condition them against it.  Another issue with giving dogs food from the table is that it adds unneeded calories which can cause weight gain and potentially other more serious issues down the line if they pack on too many pounds.  The best approach is to keep them away from the dinner table during mealtimes (a baby gate or their crate can both work until they learn they won’t get any food by begging).  If you must give them table food, despite the recommendation not to, do so away from the dinner table and preferably put whatever food you’re giving them into their food bowl so they learn that is the only place they eat.

 

  • Not giving your cats heartworm medication.
Pet parents that have dogs give monthly heartworm all year to prevent heartworm disease.  Heartworm disease is transmitted by mosquitos and dogs are their natural hosts.  If a dog does develop heartworm disease it can be treated.  Cats can also get heartworm disease, but unlike dogs, they are not a natural host and the disease cannot be treated.  If a cat becomes infected with heartworm there are 3 possible outcomes: they never develop the disease, they develop the disease but can eliminate it uneventfully, or they suffer from sudden death.  The safest option is to give them a once a month heartworm preventative, which can be either topical or a pill.  Ask your veterinarian what the best option for your cat would be.

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