This Vet's Take on the 10 Things Your Pet Won’t Tell You


6. I need more exercise. This is a corollary to No. 5, but it deserves its own line item on this list. That’s because dogs and cats who get regular exercise are not only more likely to be leaner, they also tend to be happier. Promoting exercise is a key goal of environmental enrichment, after all.

7. I’m sick. As with pain, dogs and cats are masters of masquerade when it comes to illness. Cats are especially proficient at this kind of obfuscation. Indeed, unless you’re really, really careful about watching their every move (appetite and litterbox activities, especially), you might not catch a critical issue until it’s well under way.

8. I need to be socialized. It’s not just puppies; cats need to be socialized, too. In fact, poor socialization is the No. 1 reason pets become fearful. (Abuse is a far less common cause for fear aggression, but it's one many pet owners mistakenly assume is to blame.)

Trouble is, the optimal socialization window for pets is both early and brief. Start this conversation with your veterinarian, who may refer you to a certified pet trainer or veterinary behaviorist to address how your pet’s socialization can be best accomplished.

9. I need a professional trainer. Training is not just for puppies! And training is not just for dogs who misbehave. Training is forever. Some dogs might even benefit from working with a certified trainer who can hook you up with Canine Good Citizen or therapy pet status and other niceties, including training for athletic endeavors, if your pet is so inclined. Not only is it intellectually stimulating, it’s also great for your relationship with your pet.

Now, training your cat? That’s a whole ’nother story — but it's possible.

10. I need pet insurance! Pet insurance is a must! Without pet insurance, you might not be able to do what’s best for your pets. Consider my recent bill at the board-certified veterinary dentist: Would you be able to pay $6,000 for two root canals? I'm guessing some of you wouldn’t. Hate to say it, but some owners might leave their dogs in pain or simply extract teeth that have an important function (for $1,500-$2,000) if they couldn’t afford it. Sad, right?

But if pet health insurance will happily pay 90 percent of that bill, why not take out a policy?

OK, so that’s my list. Have any extra oft-misunderstood pet signals to share?

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