While it’s true most pet parents would never intentionally do things to cause harm, some habits can have dire consequences for our four-legged family members. We asked two local veterinarians, Dr. Jim Goodbrod of Lincoln Road Veterinary Clinic in Grants Pass and Dr. Nile McGhie at Bear Creek Animal Clinic in Ashland, what they would most like to warn pet owners about.
Q: What are some of the worst things you see pet parents do?
A: Goodbrod says, “I’ve seen some truly horrifying consequences from untethered dogs either falling or being thrown out of the backs of trucks. The road rash and broken bones can be catastrophic. Even tethered, they can hang themselves if they go over the side. I don’t recommend ever leaving a dog in the back of the truck. Hot cars are also one of the worst things. People say, ‘well, I’m going into the store for just a couple of minutes,’ but a car with the windows rolled even part way up can get hot very quickly, even on a cloudy day, and dogs can easily overheat and die.”
Q: What bad habits come under the, “But we’ve always done it that way!” justification?
A: McGhie says, “Giving dogs bones to chew on. They can break a tooth or swallow large pieces and then it’s a painful, and often expensive, trip to the vet. Use this rule of thumb: if you can dent the surface of the bone or chew toy with your thumbnail, it’s safe to chew on. Always supervise your pet when it’s chewing on a chew toy or other tough treat to ensure they don’t choke or swallow dangerously large pieces. And though it’s commonly done, I also tell people not to leave the seat up on the toilet bowl. Most toilet bowl cleaners are very toxic, and it can be very easy for puppies or kittens to fall in and drown.”
Q: What habits might be less obvious but still can have dire consequences?
A: McGhie says, “Feeding a grain-free, boutique, raw or home-cooked diet without guidance from your veterinarian. New studies suggest that these diets may be linked to fatal heart disease in our pets. A veterinarian has a doctoral degree in animal health including nutrition. They have been trained to read through the marketing fluff to help you select the best food for your pet.”
Another danger, Goodbrod warns, is taking puppies that are not fully vaccinated to a dog park, or anywhere they can be exposed to the parvo virus. “Socializing is great, but parvo can live for a couple of years in the eliminations of an infected dog, so it can be trouble for an unvaccinated dog.