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15 Secrets Your Veterinarian Won't Tell You

Seriously, stop dyeing your dogs!

According to the American Pet Products Association, there are roughly 85 million families in the United States that own a pet. (For perspective, know that that amounts to 68 percent of all U.S. households.) However, for all of our enthusiasm for furry sidekicks, it's amazing how little attention is cast on the experts who keep our pets healthy: Veterinarians. Want to know what those vets really think about your pet? Read on, and you'll forever think twice about giving them those decadent treats. And for more on your pets, discover these 40 Amazing Animal Facts!

Vets Have Strong Feelings About Declawing

cats have complex muscles in their ears

Think your vet is neutral when it comes to declawing your cat? Think again. "I am firmly against declawing as it is of no medical benefit to cats. Declawing is the amputation of the last bone of each digit which is like cutting a finger off at the last knuckle," says Dr. Rachel Barrack, DVM, CVA, CVCH of Animal Acupuncture, who notes that the practice is already outlawed in many places both in the U.S. and abroad. And when you want to know more about your animal companion, discover the 20 Amazing Facts You Never Knew About Your Cat!

They Think Those Pet Outfits Can Be Cute, Too

Dog in sweater

If you think your pet looks adorable in a little outfit, don't be afraid that dressing them up will incur the anger of your vet. However, don't be surprised when the first thing your vet does is ask you to take it off. "Pets in costume make everyone smile, even veterinarians!" says Dr. Kelly Ryan, DVM, Director of Veterinary Services for the Humane Society of Missouri's Animal Medical Center of Mid-America. And when you want more amazing info, discover the 100 Awesome Facts About Everything.

They May Have Some Concerns About Your Feeding Style

whiskers help dogs see in the dark

You're not the only member of the family who could stand to work on their portion control. "When your pet looks at you with those sad eyes and begs for food, it is hard to say no. Before you feed them your table scraps, give them another treat, or dish out another scoop of food, know that overfeeding pets is a serious problem. Half of all dogs and cats are considered obese!" says Dr. Ryan.

"Carrying extra weight comes with many health issues, like diabetes, liver disease, and permanent bone and joint damage. Studies have shown that extra weight can even decrease your pet's life expectancy." So, before your vet feels obligated to bring up your pet's weight, nix those extra treats. And when you want to find out why you prefer a specifically kind of animal, discover Why You're a Dog Person or Cat Person.

They Think You Should Be Cleaning Up After Your Pets More Often

small dogs live longer

They may not tell you this in an appointment, but your vet likely thinks you're slacking when it comes to cleaning your pet's dishes. "Believe it or not, food and water bowls should be cleaned with hot water and soap daily," says Dr. Gary Richter, a Veterinary Health Expert with "Toys and bedding should be washed at least monthly—even more often depending on how quickly they get dirty." And for more surprising animal news, check out the 20 Celebrities Who Look Like Their Pets.

They Want You to Be Extra Careful When Taking Your Pet in a Car

You probably know not to leave your pet in the car on super-hot days. However, your vet's threshold for heat might surprise you. "It is important to remember: '70 and Over, Don't Take Rover,'" says Dr. Ryan. "When it is 72 degrees outside, a car's temperature can rocket to 116 degrees, even with the windows cracked. Leaving a pet in a hot, unattended car is inhumane, illegal and can cause severe injury or even death within minutes." And when you want to know more about animals, check out the 15 Animal Species Miraculously Saved From Extinction.

They Are Every Bit As Much a Doctor As an MD

chocolate is bad for dogs
EsHanPhot / Shutterstock

Don't assume that your vet is any less skilled a doctor than the one who treats you. "The course work in veterinary school is the same as medical school the only major difference being that veterinarians need the knowledge to treat multiple species instead of just one," says Dr. Barrack. "For this reason, some may say veterinary school is an even harder course of study than medical school."

They Really Want You to Stop Dyeing Your Pets

Dog at spa vet secrets

Dyeing your pets may seem like a cute idea, but it can put undue stress on them or even make them sick.

"I am against dyeing a pet," says Dr. Barrack. "Rodents and chinchillas can get pneumonia from bathing and cats are fastidious groomers and may be sensitive to licking their dyed coat.  The process likely would be extremely stressful for them.  Although dogs may tolerate this more readily, it is still inadvisable." Her suggestion? "If you want your pet to make a fashion statement, get them a sweater."

They Need You to Stop Playing Dr. Google

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Sure, the internet is an amazing resource, but it definitely doesn't trump the experience of an actual veterinarian. "The internet gives us so much information at our fingertips, but many well-intentioned pet parents are diagnosing and treating their pets by searching online instead of talking with their veterinarian," says Dr. Ryan. "There is a lot of misinformation on the internet when it comes to pet health, so it is best to consult your veterinarian for any pet health-related concerns or questions."

They Don't Care About the Size of Your Home

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While some pet owners may think their vet is side-eyeing them because they're keeping a Mastiff in a one-bedroom apartment, that's not the case. "I think that a dog (even a big one) can happily reside in a small apartment if given the proper amount of exercise daily," says Dr. Barrack.

They Think Pets Can Improve Most People's Lives

Woman with dog in park

Vets aren't just in the business of taking care of your furry friends, they're pretty pro-pet off the clock, too. "Owning a pet is a lot of responsibility but the rewards are countless," says Dr. Barrack. "Pets provide their owners with unconditional love. This can improve one's quality of life in many ways. Physically owning a dog forces someone to be more active. Emotionally, pets help to reduce loneliness and give owners a sense of purpose and object of affection.  Interacting with pets has also been shown to reduce stress and even blood pressure levels." Additionally, "Who doesn't love meeting a cute dog or cat?" she asks.

They Want You to Stop Treating Your Pets Like a Gym Buddy

dogs are not completely colorblind

Exercise is essential for your pets, but that doesn't mean all workouts are created equal.

"Pet parents often exercise with their pets, which is a good thing. But biking with a dog can be dangerous. There is a lot that goes into training a dog for this type of activity, and you need the proper equipment. Plus, you will need to be vigilant about your pet's safety at all times. For example, is the ground clean of debris? Is it too warm outside? Is your dog in danger of overheating? Are you moving at a slow enough pace? These are just a few questions you need to answer," says Dr. Ryan.

They're Not Against Alternative Therapies

Facial Acupuncture Anti-Aging

You're not the only one who can benefit from non-traditional therapies in conjunction with your medical treatments. In fact, they may be an asset to your pet.

"I take an integrative approach to medicine, utilizing the best of Western and Eastern medicine to best benefit animals in my care," says Dr. Barrack. "I have seen numerous patients (including dogs, cats, and horses) benefit from using Chinese medicine as addition to or in lieu of Western treatment."

They Don't Believe in the Bad Reputations Some Breeds Get

Shelter dog, pit bull

Don't assume that your vet has prejudices against certain kinds of dogs just because other people do. "Pit bulls make incredible family dogs," says Dr. Barrack. "Without proper training, any breed has the potential to exhibit aggressive behavior."

They Know Your Pet is an Angel, Even if They Behave Badly for Them

a purr is a sign of good healing

Don't get embarrassed if your pet freaks out during a check-up; it's not going to sour the vet on your beloved furry friend.

"We understand that the pet is probably just scared and possibly in pain or not feeling well. We also understand that the behavior isn't typical for him or her," says Dr. Ryan. "Many veterinary clinics are making every effort to make the visit an enjoyable experience. At the Animal Medical Center of Mid-America, we spray calming pheromones on towels, bandanas for the dogs, and even on ourselves to help the dogs and cats feel less stressed. We also give cats and kittens a quiet space away from barking dogs while they wait to see the doctor."

Saying Goodbye is Hard for Them, Too

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You're not the only one who gets misty-eyed when Fido's at the end of his life. "Euthanizing animals is always difficult for veterinarian, myself included," says Dr. Barrack. However, she looks at it as an act of compassion in the long run. "It is a blessing to be able to prevent unnecessary suffering." And when you want more amazing info, read up on the 20 Crazy Facts That Will Blow Your Mind.

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Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more
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