From Chew Toys To Bee Stings: 40+ Lesser-Known Pet Care Tips

By Ruby M

This article was originally published on racooned

Pet owners often tend to think that, because they are the pet parent, they know what is best for their furry companions. But with false marketing, dangerous chemicals in chews, myths that are thought of as facts, and simple ignorance, many of these responsible parents have misconceptions about their pets. We’ve been watching TikTok, and thanks to the knowledgeable (and oh, so handsome) veterinarian, Dr. Hunter Finn (@dr.hunterfinn on TikTok) and his helpful videos, we’ve been able to put together a list of little-known facts about pet care. We bet that you’ll read at least one thing about your pet that you didn’t know before. So get cozy and snuggle up to your furchild, because this is going to be a very interesting read.

Round Boys — Cute, But Unhealthy

Now, we know and agree that the likes of @round.boys and @round.animals on Instagram are extremely popular, and let’s face it — round, floofy animals are adorable to look at. However, a pet so chonky they’re practically round is really unhealthy.

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Just like people, pets suffer from health conditions if they’re overweight. Obese dogs can suffer from heart disease, diabetes, and even forms of cancer. If your doggo is overweight, try putting him on a diet or a different meal plan.

Cool Cats

If you’re feeling the heat wearing a tank top and shorts with the fan blasting at the highest temperature, then you can bet your bottom dollar that your furry friend is feeling it too. And they don’t have the luxury of peeling back those layers. 

Image source: Hunter Finn/TikTok

If you notice that your kitty is overheating, you can use this nifty trick to cool them down. Petting your kitty with a cool, damp paper towel or even a lightweight cloth will make them feel a little less hot.

True or False?

Let’s play a quick game of true or false. We’ll say a sentence, and you need to tell us if it’s factual, or just a myth. “Did you know that if dogs eat a lot of grass it means they might have a nutritional deficiency or are sick?” The answer: false!

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According to this beloved TikTok star/vet, Dr. Finn states that grass does make dogs vomit, but they could just be eating it because they like the taste. After all, dogs have eaten much worse — dead birds, their own poo, and just about anything you can think of.

Kitty Loves You

While the world doesn’t exist in binaries, some pet owners will stand firm on one side of the “cat vs dog” debate. Dog lovers will tell you that their canines are nothing like cats. For one, they will show unwavering affection…

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…which is something cats can do, too. They just show it in different ways. If your kitty exposes their tummy to you, gently nibbles you, or stares and blinks at you slowly, then they’re communicating (in cat, of course) that they love you.

Fat is not the new Black

Fat pets might look cute, but under that adorable floof and “flubber” is a very unhealthy body. You should always be aware of what your pet is eating, and in what quantity — the same way you are mindful of your own dietary intake.

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If you’re feeding them some of your own meals, then remember that what you’re eating might not be good for them. If you notice that your pet is gaining weight, you might need to change their diet or incorporate more physical activity into their day.

Sorry Lily Lovers — You Need To Choose

If you love cats but also adore lilies, then we suggest that you make a decision because cats are highly allergic to lilies. The plant is so toxic for cats that it can cause kidney failure — which can become fatal.

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If you think you can get away with it by keeping the plants in a vase somewhere away from your kitty, then think again. Just the pollen in the air can affect your four-legged feline companion, and if they decide to taste the water, too.

Doggo Love

We know that dogs are known as “man’s best friend” for their ferocious loyalty to their humans, but how do we know that they truly love us? First, they recognize your name when they hear it — and they know it’s yours.

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They also tend to feel the need to protect you, especially when you’re eating. Yes, there many dogs loiter because they’re hoping for some treats, but a dog that looks away is showing signs of submission and are just there to keep you safe.

Grapes Are a Big No-No

While some fruits (e.g., apples, strawberries) are perfectly fine for dogs, others can be toxic. Just like some people are allergic to peanuts while others love eating PB&J sandwiches, dogs can sympathize with the former. Just one grape can cause a dog to go into kidney failure.

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The exact toxin in the grape that causes such distress to a dog’s kidneys is unknown, but this vet recommends that you be very careful with grapes. If you’re eating some and one drops to the floor, pick it up! Don’t let your dog eat them — it isn’t worth the risk.

Dental Health

If you want to make sure that the snacks you’re giving your dog also have dental benefits, then make sure you aren’t just taking the brand’s word for it. Look for the VOHC or relevant approval stamps. These ones have actual dental benefits. 

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Another tip to ensure that your doggo’s chew is good for their teeth and won’t be damaging is to slap it against your knee. If it hurts, chances are that it is too hard for your dog to chew and could damage their teeth and gums.

The Perfect Pill Pocket — Strawberries!

Throw out all those rumors you heard about strawberries being bad for dogs because we have news for you. Dogs love them, and they aren’t bad for them at all. They are however packed with sugar so make sure not to give them too much.

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If you struggle with getting your doggo to take medicine, then we have another unknown secret for you. If you remove the strawberry’s stem, the space left is the perfect spot to hide medicine in before feeding it to your unsuspecting pup.

Avoid These Foods At All Costs!

We already mentioned grapes, but there are a few more human foods to be aware of that might taste good to you but can be fatal to your dog. Five of the most toxic things for dogs are alcohol, onions, macadamia nuts, grapes, and, of course, chocolate. 

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These foods might contain some feel-good hormones or great nutritional value for people, but those same contents are toxins in your dog’s body. Keep these foods out of your dog’s eager mouth. Be aware of what you drop on the floor and your pup will be just fine.

Baby Talk

You know, the silly voice we put on when we are talking to our children (fur and human alike)? If you’re wondering if dogs actually like being spoken to in this manner, then you’re in luck! We have the answer. 

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Dr. Finn states that doggos do indeed enjoy a good, exaggerated and excited high-pitched tone — only when using words that are relevant to them like “walk,” “treat,” “play,” and so on. Other words don’t mean anything to them, so they have nothing to be excited about.

Is Your Kitty Bored?

Cats might seem as if they’re quite content with just sleeping, eating, and occasionally biting at your toes, and many cats live perfectly happy lives following this routine. After all, it is normal for a cat to sleep the day away.

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However, if your cat is picking fights, peeing outside of the litter box, tearing up furniture, sleeping much more than usual, or over-grooming, then chances are that your cat is bored. They can’t speak, so it’s the only way they know how to tell you. Try stimulating your cat with toys, cuddles, and maybe even catnip.

Beware of Bones and Chews

Another thing any dog owner should be aware of is the dangers of bones and hooves. Sure, your dog might love them, and it might give you some time to relax while they’re munching away at their chew, but they can cause excessive wear on your dog’s teeth.

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Bones and chews can also cause gastrointestinal problems for your animal as pieces can often become lodged in your dog’s small intestine and might even have to be surgically removed. Here’s a pro tip: if it’s too hard for your finger to make a dent, then it’s too hard for your dog’s teeth.

Bee Sting? Here’s What To Do

Pets love to explore the wonders of the outdoors, and sometimes that means they might accidentally monch on a spicy jalapeno fly (bee) or get stung by one. If your furkid has been stung, don’t panic! Here’s what you need to do. 

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First, remove the stinger without using tweezers. Next, make a paste of water and baking soda and apply it to the sting. Then, ice it. This is good triage, but it’s no substitute for proper medical care. Once your pet’s wound has been treated, call your vet.

Watch Out For Hyperthyroidism

Humans aren’t the only ones who can suffer from thyroid problems. Your cat can suffer from these issues, too. If your cat is suffering from hyperthyroidism, they might be displaying these symptoms, and you’re going to need to consult your vet.

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If your cat is hyperactive at times, always hungry but losing weight, and seems to be drinking endless amounts of water, then your cat might have a hyperactive thyroid. This can be treated simply with medication, but don’t delay because, if not treated, hyperthyroidism can kill your cat.

Make Friends with Your Vet

People usually want to develop a good relationship with their doctor — they know your medical history and get to know you as a person. Most people have a primary doctor they go to; perhaps even the family doctor who has treated them for years. 

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It’s comforting to have a familiar face when medical problems arise. Well, the same logic should be applied when choosing your vet. You want someone you can call in an emergency and trust that they will be there to help you. Another great tip: get pet insurance in case of any big emergencies.

Stinky Feet

Just like our own feet, dogs’ feet smell too. And, like humans, some dogs may have stinkier feet than others. This is due to microbes like yeast and bacteria — they are barefoot all day, every day after all. It’s only worrying if it starts getting worse. 

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If you’re worried about the smell of your dog’s feet or if you notice that your dog is chewing or licking them a lot, then it might be worth taking your doggo for a trip to the vet to make sure that there isn’t an infection.

Myth Busters: Dog Years

Dog years are often calculated with a 1:7 ratio, meaning that one dog year is technically seven human years. According to our handsome veterinarian, this math is incorrect. We don’t really understand how it works, but luckily Dr. Finn has calculated it for us. 

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Because a dog’s body ages much faster than ours (sadly), a 1-year-old dog is considered 31 in human years. As the dog grows older, the age in human years slows down; so by the time your dog is eight years old, they’re 64 human years old.

Peanut Butter For Dogs

Much to the surprise of some readers, peanut butter is perfectly fine for dogs. However, you do need to ensure that the peanut butter you’re feeding your dog is in small quantities, as too much will make them gain weight. 

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You should also make sure that the peanut butter you’re giving to your doggo does not contain any xylitol because it is poisonous for dogs. Xylitol can cause liver failure, seizures, hypoglycemia, and worse. The safest option is a peanut butter specially formulated for dogs.

Stay Away From Pig’s Ears

Unfortunately, some major dog treat/food corporations put more spend into their marketing than actually checking if what they’re concocting is safe, or even recommended, for dogs. It’s up to you as your doggo’s caretaker to do your research and make sure that what you’re giving them is safe.

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Take, for example, chews. Many chews are actually bleached, which is terrible for a dog. Pigs’ ears are also not recommended because of their high-fat content, which can contribute to weight gain and cause obesity, vomiting, diarrhea, and increased chances of bacterial overgrowth.

Butt Why?

It might seem strange, but there is a very good reason why dogs sniff each other’s butts, especially when meeting for the first time. A dog’s anal gland secrets an odor that is very specific to that animal in particular, and dogs can smell it. 

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When a dog sniffs another dog’s butt, the smell that the gland gives off provides your dog with information that guides them on how to act and to determine whether or not the animal they are sniffing is a friend…or a foe.

Cat Years

Whoever thought that a cat’s life was calculated by adding seven years to it, you were halfway to being correct. However, the first year of a cat’s life is actually a little bit longer. The first year of a cat’s life is equivalent to 15 human years.

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The second year is equal to ten human years. It is only from the third year of a cat’s life that we begin adding the number 7. So by the time your cat is five years old, they are technically 47 years of age.

Rawhide is a Big No-No

Rawhide might be a chew that dogs love to munch on, but they are often whitened with a number of harmful chemicals, including hydrogen peroxide and bleach. Rawhide can also be contaminated and lead to digestive distress. In addition, it’s a potential choking hazard.

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Vets and animal welfare associations globally advise against rawhides and suggest using alternate options instead. Great, healthy alternatives that won’t risk your dog’s life are carrots, bully sticks, and salmon skin bones, which are all gentler on your dog’s teeth and digestive systems.

Be Careful With Rope

Rope toys aren’t always dangerous, but when they become a problem, it can be life-threatening. Rope eventually frays, and if your dog ingests a little bit of it, usually it will pass through their system, and you might even find evidence of it in their poop. 

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However, if the rope gets caught and your dog is unable to pass it, then it could mean that it’s become lodged in their intestine or stomach. This can cause terrible pain, constipation, and possibly be lethal to your doggo.

Marketing Ploys: They’re Everywhere

We’ve mentioned before that pet food companies have one main priority, and it isn’t usually your pet’s health. It’s making money, and a lot of it. So much money, in fact, that they can usually afford a top-notch marketing team. 

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These marketing ploys often aim to trick a pet owner into thinking they are buying the best of the best. The truth lies in the fine print. Take, for example, meat as the “first ingredient” of pet food. Technically, the first ingredient is water as it’s the most abundant.

A Dog’s Nose

If a dog’s nose is wet, fret not — it’s perfectly normal. It’s if it’s dry that you need to be concerned. A dog’s nose is wet because it helps them with their sense of smell, and it also helps them to cool down.

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If your dog’s nose is too wet and runny, or if it’s too dry, then you may want to consider taking a trip to the vet. It could just be a change in season affecting your doggo, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Tick Removal

The best way to make sure your dog doesn’t get stuck with a tick is to make sure you’re giving your dog oral tick prevention or even a collar (although oral is preferred). If it’s too late for prevention, there is a way to remove a tick. 

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It’s important to remove the entire head of the tick or your dog can still get sick. The device in the picture can be purchased to assist dog owners with the full removal of ticks. Prevention is always important because ticks can also create risk for other diseases.

Choosing the Right Chew

If you want to invest in a chew that is safer for your doggo than a big bone or hooves, then healthy edible chew toys made especially for dog consumption are the way to go. They are soft enough for your dog to chew, but you still need to be careful. 

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It’s recommended that you supervise your dog while they’re enjoying their chew to ensure they don’t choke on anything or hurt their teeth. If you notice that your dog isn’t eating or is crying a lot, then they might have a toothache and you should take them to the vet. Those hard chews may have caused some damage.

Brush, Brush

You might be giving your dog dental bites, breath mints, and those minty green toothbrush chews that all the big brands are selling, but don’t let that fool you into thinking that they’re a substitute for brushing your dog’s teeth.

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Our knowledgeable Dr. Finn recommends brushing your dog’s teeth at least once every three days — using dog-friendly toothpaste, of course. Concentrate on the molars at the back because that’s where most of the chomp and monch action is happening.

Brush The Fur!

It’s not just their teeth that need regular brushing. Their fur does, too, especially if they are long-haired. Not brushing can lead to matted fur that eventually needs to be cut out. Extremely matted or tangled fur is actually considered a dangerous medical condition. 

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When fur becomes knotted and clumped, it can create pressure on the skin and can even cause painful bruising. Mats also cause the nearby skin to become stretched and delicate, leaving it prone to tearing. Fortunately, brushing your dog is an activity both of you will enjoy doing often.

Fitness For You and Your Furry Friend!

Taking your dog for a walk — more than just down the street — isn’t just good for your dog; it’s good for you, too. Health benefits of walking include improved cardiovascular fitness, body strength, lower blood pressure, and improved mood for both you and your furry friend.

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Walks are also a great way to spend some quality time with your pet and give them some stimulation. If you have a puppy, evening walks can help to tire them out so that you aren’t dealing with an excitable pup late at night (but no promises).

When Should You Start Training Your Dog?

Many people wonder when they should start training their puppy. Truthfully, you can start teaching them things like “sit” and routines such as potty and meal times from about eight weeks. More challenging tricks require a little bit more time. 

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By the time your pup is 3-4 months old (12 – 16 weeks), then you can start moving on to things like “shake” and “roll over.” Remember that consistent, daily practice, patience, and rewarding treats are the only way to succeed. Again, patience is key — every dog is different and some might need more time.

Why Do Dogs Stick Their Tongues Out When Sleeping?

There are many dogs who sleep with their tongues peeking out, and as adorable as the sleeping mlem is, it is also a sign that your dog is feeling deeply relaxed and safe. Often, it is a sign of sheer contentment.

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Another, more physiological reason, according to Dr. Finn, why dogs stick their tongues out when sleeping is because it helps to regulate their body temperature. Doing so will help them to keep cool during the warmer months of the year.

Beware of the Double Knot

There seems to be a trend with treats marketed as perfect for dogs that are actually a major health hazard. Raw hides with those cute knotted ends are a choking hazard. We’re sorry if you’ve had to clear out half of your dog’s treat bin by now.

Image source: Hunter Finn/TikTok

Don’t worry, as we’ve mentioned before, there are plenty of safe treats available for dogs. If you’re unsure what to get your pup on your next trip to the pet store, Vetrenatiran Hunter Finn has plenty of suggestions for you.

Doggos Get Anxious, Too

If you have a Covid dog (a dog that you adopted during the pandemic), then chances are they become anxious whenever you leave the house. They grew so used to you being home so often, after all, that this is their norm. 

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Even if your dog is used to being left alone, it might still feel anxiety — especially if there is a lot of noise, like fireworks. This vet recommends giving your dog a calming chew before you go so that your doggo isn’t so anxious when left alone.

Leave the Leftovers

This is the sort of concoction you don’t want to give your dog to eat. Sure, they might look at you with wide, begging eyes as they watch you clean out the fridge and throw away the leftovers, but it’s best to let the trash can have them.

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Many spices we use in our own food are not good for dogs, and neither is that week-old steak, salad, or any other items you didn’t end up eating. If you want to give your dog a tasty snack, try a carrot or slice of apple instead.

‘Ear ye, ‘Ear ye

It is sometimes necessary to check your dog’s ears for any signs of infection, though it’s not always easy to tell if there is actually something wrong. That’s why, instead of simply tending to their ears with an Q-Tip at home, it’s best to see the vet. 

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Their ears might even look healthy, but might smell yeasty or bad, which are signs of a possible infection. Your vet has the tools to run tests on your dog’s ear wax and give them medication that will help to resolve the problem.

Sunlight is Important

Have you ever wondered why you feel so much more miserable when it’s a rainy day as opposed to when the sun is out? Well, sunlight contains vitamin D, which helps our brain release more serotonin (the “happy” hormone) into our bodies.

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Animals, like people, need sunlight or they might get extremely depressed. Vets recommend a minimum of 20-40 minutes in the sun every day. Light shining in through the window will warm them up, but it lacks ultraviolet rays that provide most of the health benefits you get from the sun.

Seriously, Stop

Stop giving your food scraps at the table. For starters, if you have guests, it’s just bad manners. But beyond that, if everyone keeps giving your dog “just one bite,” your dog will be overeating and that can lead to weight gain and obesity.

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Obesity, like with people, can drastically shorten one’s life. It can lead to heart disease, kidney failure, diabetes, and high blood pressure. The heaviness can cause breathing issues, a lack of fitness, and an overall much lower quality of life.

How Close Is Too Close

Dogs are the number one family pet of choice, and for good reason. They are gentle, caring, very trainable, and make amazing cuddle buddies. However, that doesn’t mean that you can overlook the safety of your family just because you have a well-trained pooch.

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If your child loves cuddling with their furry friend, it’s important to teach them that the dog sometimes needs time and space away from them. As loving and adorable as this may look, it could turn ugly if your pup feels stressed, overwhelmed, or in need of rest but can’t get it.