Owning a pet can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience, but it also comes with a lot of responsibility and challenges.  

Whether you have a dog, a cat, a bird, or any other animal, you need to provide them with proper care, attention, and love. Your first pet is a learning experience, and many new pet owners unintentionally make mistakes that can impact their pets’ health and happiness.  

Here are 10 common mistakes made by new pet owners. 

1. Not properly considering the commitment of pet ownership 

Pets are not toys or accessories that you can get on a whim. They are living beings that depend on you for their survival and wellbeing.  

You need to consider the time, space, lifestyle changes, and costs that come with owning a pet. You also need to research the specific needs and characteristics of the pet you want to get and make sure you can meet them. 

2. Not changing to new food or litter properly

When changing foods, slowly introduce the new food over a few days. You need to take your time transitioning them to the new food because sudden changes in diet can cause stomach upsets.  

Suddenly changing the type of cat litter you use can cause stress in some cats. If you want to change cat litter, follow a similar transition strategy to changing food: slowly introduce the new litter over a few days or weeks.

3. Giving their puppy or kitten milk

Many people think that giving milk to their puppies or kittens is a good way to nourish them, but the truth is, once they’re weaned, they don’t need it.  

Most dogs and cats are lactose intolerant, which means they cannot digest the sugar in cow’s milk. You can get milk made specifically for puppies and kittens; however, by the time a puppy is ready to go to a new home, they’re fully weaned and can get all the nutrients they need from solid foods.  

4. Overfeeding their pet

While you may think that giving your pet more food is a way to show your affection, you are actually doing them more harm than good. Overfeeding can lead to obesity, which can cause a range of health problems. 

How much food should you feed your pet? It depends on the food and their age and size. Start by following the feeding guidelines on the food’s packaging and adjust as required.  

5. Not cleaning up toilet accidents properly

Accidents happen, especially with young or untrained pets. However, how you deal with them can make a big difference in your pet’s behaviour and hygiene.  

When your pet goes to the toilet, scent cues are left behind which tell them that spot is a toilet area. These cues are undetectable to our human noses, and not all cleaning products successfully clean them. Make sure to use an enzymatic cleaner to remove the scent cues. 

6. Not knowing how to read their pet’s body language

Pets communicate with us through their body language, such as their ears, eyes, tail, posture, and vocalizations. Sometimes similar body movements and expressions can convey more than one emotion. For example, some people may think that a wagging tail means a happy dog, but it can also mean nervousness or aggression depending on the context and the rest of the dog’s body language. 

If this is your first pet, you probably don’t know what subtle differences indicate different emotions. Read up on dog and/or cat body language or attend training sessions like puppy school to learn how to identify your pet’s emotional state. 

Enrol your puppy in Petbarn's Puppy School

7. Not cleaning up after their pet frequently enough

It’s not a pleasant task, but picking up poo is a part of pet ownership, even if you only have a dog who goes to the toilet outside in the backyard. Removing faeces regularly improves hygiene and reduces the risk of transmission of some diseases and parasites.  

When it comes to cat litter, you should remove solid waste from the litter tray daily. The frequency with which you fully change the litter depends on the type of cat litter you use, but most need to be changed at least monthly, if not more frequently.  

8. Not trimming their nails regularly

An aspect of pet grooming that some new pet owners may neglect is nail trimming. Long nails can cause your pet discomfort or injury as they can get caught on things or curl into your pet’s paw pads. Long nails can also damage your floors, furniture, or clothes. 

It can be intimidating to trim nails if you’ve never done it before. Read our guides on trimming dog nails and cat nails to learn how to do it and what to avoid. Have plenty of treats ready to make it a positive experience for your pet.  

If you don’t feel comfortable trimming your pet’s nails, book them in for regular nail trimming appointments at your local Petbarn grooming salon. 

Petbarn dog grooming

9. Not taking their pets to the vet for regular wellbeing checks

One of the most important things you can do for your pet’s health is to take them to the vet for regular wellness checks. These are not only for when your pet is sick or injured but also when they are healthy and happy. Wellness checks can help detect and prevent potential health problems, such as infections, diseases, or parasites.

10. Not being on top of parasite control

Parasites are organisms that live on or in your pet and feed on their blood or nutrients. They can cause your pet a lot of discomfort, pain, or illness, and some of them can also infect you and other people or animals. You should protect your pet from parasites by using appropriate and effective products. 

Owning a pet can be a wonderful and rewarding experience, but it also requires a lot of responsibility and care. Remember that your pet is not just an animal, but a member of your family, and they deserve your love and respect. 

If you ever need advice about caring for your pet, be sure to ask the team members at your local Petbarn or Greencross Vets.