Giving dog a pill
When it comes to caring for our furry friends, pet owners are often ashamed or embarrassed to tell their veterinarian that they made a mistake or failed to follow instructions. But it happens all the time, even for well-intentioned folks. In fact, you may have made a medical mistake of your own with your pets. The first thing to do is admit it.

Everyone makes mistakes — it’s a fact of life — and yes, when it comes to your pet’s health, a mistake can be dangerous, even fatal. But that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to withhold information from your vet. Often, you can turn a mistake around by reaching out to your veterinarian as soon as you realize you’ve done something wrong.

Here are some common mistakes that people make when caring for their pets — and what to do about them.

Medication Missteps

Getting a pet to take a pill — or medicine in any form — can be a struggle. And sometimes, our best efforts do more harm than good.

Are you cutting pills in half or sprinkling the contents of capsules on food? If you didn’t get your veterinarian’s okay, your pet may not be getting the full benefit of the medication.

Forget a dose of medication? Don’t assume it’s okay to double up on the next one. Check with your veterinarian first to find out how to proceed. Intentionally skipping doses can cause problems, too. Your pet may need to maintain a certain amount of medication in the bloodstream for it to be effective. Missing a pill once isn’t going to cause a lot of harm but consistently forgetting or skipping doses can lead to problems. If you’re having trouble giving medication regularly, talk to your veterinarian to see if the two of you can work together to come up with a solution.

Stopping medication before you give all of it to your pet is another medical mishap. Your pet seems better, so no harm in saving it for next time, right? Wrong. If your dog or cat doesn’t get the full course of treatment, he could suffer a relapse or the bacteria involved could develop resistance to an antibiotic, making it more difficult to treat him in the future.

When your veterinarian asks if your pet is taking any other drugs, it’s not just out of idle curiosity — some medications clash if taken together. Even if you don’t think it’s important, you should mention any vitamins, supplements, natural remedies or over-the-counter products you give your pet, even if it’s not on a regular basis.

Ignoring the Signs

Sometimes pet owners know their furry friends have health issues, but they don’t know what to do about it — so they don’t do anything. This is never a good idea.

For example, you know your pet needs to go on a diet. You and your veterinarian have talked about it, and you’ve promised to cut back on the amount he eats and make sure he gets more exercise. But, well, you didn’t, and now he’s not doing well. Fess up — your veterinarian will understand. Ask for guidance in making that dietary change your pet needs and commit to it. Everyone involved will be happier.

Or maybe your pet has been acting funny or you’ve noticed a lump or bump or something else out of the ordinary, but you’ve been too busy to get him to the veterinarian. Now you’re starting to see the problem become worse. Don’t just hope it will go away. We all indulge in magical thinking at one time or another, but it doesn’t really work. Getting your pet to the vet for help usually will. You may find that the condition won’t be as difficult or expensive to treat as you had feared. Be honest about how long you think your pet has had this issue — your vet needs to know in order to make the best decision about how to treat whatever is wrong.

The bottom line? The more your veterinarian knows, the better he can care for your dog or cat.

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