10 Unexpected Ways You Could Be Hurting Your Dog or Cat

Lazy cat on couch
Don't let your pet lounge on the couch all day. Get her moving with toys or a game of laser tag. 

You Let Your Pet Be a Couch Potato

We’ve already told you the risks of pet obesity, but besides keeping your animal’s diet in check, you also need to give him regular exercise so he can maintain a healthy weight. Walking, running and playing with your dog isn’t just beneficial for his physical health, it’s also good for his mental health. A bored dog can become a badly behaved dog who might dig up your yard or chew your furniture. The same can be said for cats, as they also need exercise and mental stimulation. Encourage your kitty to get moving by providing scratchers, laser pointers and interactive toys. And, of course, helping your animal stay active can help keep you active and boost your health.

You Feed Your Pet a Vegan Diet

Many vets, including Dr. Marty Becker, believe it's not a good idea to feed your pet a vegan diet, especially if your furry friend is a cat. Felines are strict carnivores and need meat to live. Otherwise, a cat’s body will break down its muscle tissue to get enough protein. Dogs, on the other hand, could technically have a meat-free diet, but most vets still don’t recommend it. Be sure to talk with your vet about your pet's diet, as there are many factors that come into play in picking the right food, including the pet's age and health.

You Don’t Take Your Pet to the Vet for Annual Exams

We know: Taking your pet to the vet can be a real chore. Cat owners, we’re especially thinking of you. The mere thought of getting Tiger into his carrier can bring on a headache. But your pet’s annual exam is important for his health and well-being. During your pet’s yearly checkup, your vet will look for weight gain or loss, dental disease and other health problems that might not be evident to you. Your vet can also help spot issues before they become big problems. As your pet ages, you may need to increase that frequency to every six months.

Dog crated in car
Keep your pet safe in the car by securing him with a crate or safety harness.

You Don’t Secure Your Pet When You’re in the Car

You always buckle up when you get in the car, so why shouldn’t you buckle in your pet? He is another passenger, after all. If you get in a car accident, a loose cat or dog could become injured, be ejected from the car, or become a projectile and injure you or other passengers. Secure your animal in the car with a crate, harness or other safety restraint every single time he’s in your vehicle. It’s not worth the risk to you, your passengers or your pet. Furthermore, don’t let your dog hang his head out the window. He might enjoy the fresh air and passing scenery, but your pup could jump out, roll the window up on himself or get debris in his eyes.

You Feed Your Pet Real Bones

Feeding your dog leftovers is problematic enough, but giving him a real bone could be deadly. Whether it’s from poultry, beef, pork or fish, a real bone can cause your dog to choke, or the bone could shatter and puncture his esophagus, stomach or intestines. Your pup could break a tooth, get a tongue or mouth injury, or have an obstruction that could require surgery. We could go on, but you get the idea: Keep real bones away from your dog.

You Yell at Your Pet When She Does Something Wrong

Your first instinct may be to yell at your animal when he pees on the carpet or scratches your couch, but your negative reaction does more harm than good for your pet. In fact, it can actually reinforce the bad behavior. Punishment-based training can temporarily make your animal stop his bad behavior, but over time, the negative reinforcement can lead to aggression and other bad behaviors. Try positive reinforcement training instead. Rewarding good behavior with praise and treats is a much more effective and safe approach.

Hopefully you aren't guilty of too many of these behaviors, but if you are, it is time to begin mending your ways.

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