Vets Reveal Potentially Life-Saving Tips Every Pet Owner Should Know

In honor of World Veterinary Day, a California-based animal hospital took to TikTok to share several tips they believe every pet owner should know.

The video, posted to TikTok on April 30 by Alicia Pet Care Center (@apccvet), has amassed more than 300,000 views and over 500 comments from appreciative viewers, many of whom said the tips were potentially life-saving.

Here's what the doctors had to say:

Record Any 'Abnormalities'

Mellisa Rellinger, DVM, advised all pet owners to "videotape" any abnormal behaviors their pets exhibit while at home.

"When [a lot of pets] come into the hospital, they have so much adrenaline running through them, that they hide their problems from us," she said. "So videotaping at home and showing us at your appointment is so helpful."

Veterinarian smiling with dog
In honor of World Veterinary Day, a California-based animal hospital took to TikTok to share several tips they think every pet owner should know. herraez/istock

Beware of 'Toxic' Plants

Jen Lassler, DVM, reminded viewers that certain flowers and house plants are toxic to pets, and can be fatal if ingested.

"Most lilies are toxic to cats," she said, "Not all, but I just say [to] keep them out of the house if you [have] curious kitties—lilies can be toxic to their kidneys."

American Kennel Club Chief Veterinary expert, Dr. Jerry Klein, told Newsweek that "signs [of lily toxicity] may start with drooling and vomiting, painful abdomen, abnormal heart rates but can lead to serious complete urine shutdown production, which is usually fatal, within 48 hours."

Dog owners, meanwhile, should "watch out" for sago palms.

"Any part of that plant can be toxic to [a dog's] liver," Lassler warned.

Klein further explained that ingestion could cause dogs to experience "severe and sometimes fatal liver failure."

Buy Pet Insurance

According to Alicia Pet Care Center's chief of staff, Matthew Wheaton, DVM, all pet owners should invest in pet insurance.

"It is the absolute best piece of information and advice that I can give to people because, like a car, there's gonna be inevitable problems," he said.

"[Pet insurance can bail] you out of a really challenging financial situation if your pet gets very very sick or injured," Wheaton continued.

Pet insurance can cost anywhere from $11 to $29 per month for a cat, and $18 to $49 per month for a dog, depending on coverage, said the North American Pet Health Insurance Association.

Dr. Ann Hohenhaus, senior veterinarian at Schwarzman Animal Medical Center in New York City, said that pet insurance typically reimburses a pet owner for their pet's medical expenses, rather than paying the veterinary clinic directly.

"In human medicine, bills are sent first to the insurance company and then a bill is sent to the patient. Most of the time in veterinary medicine, the client pays the veterinarian and is then reimbursed by their insurance provider," Hohenhaus explained.

Male Cats Straining to Use the Bathroom

"If you have a male cat and you think he is straining to urinate or poop, have him seen immediately, or call your vet," said Sarah Cortright, DVM. "It can be a sign of a urinary obstruction, which is life-threatening."

On its website, the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals-Angell Animal Medical Center (MSPCA-Angell) further explained that urethral obstruction (UO) is a "blockage of the lower portion of the urinary tract."

"Although UO can occur in any cat, it is more prevalent in young to middle age male cats," the organization said. "Male cats are more vulnerable to UO in part because their urethra [the portion of the urinary tract connecting the bladder to the outside world] is longer and narrower than in females."

Overweight cats and cats whose diets consist solely of dry food may also be at a higher risk of contracting UO, said MSPCA-Angell.

What Viewers Had to Say

Pet owners thanked the doctors for sharing their tips, stating that the advice could potentially save pets' lives.

"My boy Batman had a urinary obstruction and it cost me over $2K to save his life. Seriously don't wait if you see pee problems! catch it EARLY," wrote Whitney.

"Recording them is a great idea, and the pet insurance is so necessary. Thank you for all this information," said mecheta93.

"Can absolutely vouch for the final one! I got my boy into the vet within hours and he still required surgery!" shared JessicaRabbit666.

"YES PET INSURANCE" exclaimed Christine Hyatt. "Absolute lifesaver! If you have a pet, you should have insurance!"