1) Diet-I shudder when I think that I used to feed Iams and that at the time I truly believed it was the best food for my dogs and cats. I saw the commercials in which it was recommended by vets and saw that it cost more then the supermarket brands and thus felt it would keep my dogs healthy. I kept feeding it, at my first vet's advice, even though Norbert, Tubby, and Ping were never enthusiastic about eating it and Norbert frequently suffered gastrointestinal distress. It wasn't until three years into pet ownership that I started reading more about dog nutrition and realized that Iams was not a good quality food. I started reading about grain free food options and got a subscription to the whole dog journal. I know read ingredients lists carefully and rotate my dogs kibble with a wide variety of grain free options and make sure to change protein sources between chicken, fish, and beef. I've learned to always store my dogs food in the bag, keeps it fresher and locks in nutrients, and I read up on each new food at dog food advisor. I'd love to feed raw but with so many dogs I find it a big beyond me.
2) Treats-I know this is pretty much the same as diet but I've changed a lot in this regard too. I used to think nothing of feeding Tubby and Norbert Pupperoni and other treats made in China and filled with chemicals and other garbage, however based on my first vets advice I was very leery of feeding them "people food." I know realize that healthy so called people food like lean meats, healthy fruits and veggies, sardines, cottage cheese, yogurt, and eggs are the best treats I can give my dogs. I regularly add such foods to my dogs kibble.
3) Vaccines-When I first got Tubby and Baby the cat I felt that more vaccines was probably better. I said nothing when Tubby's vet gave him every vaccine bordatella, lyme, parvo, rabies, at once and was horrified when he had an allergic reaction. I now am very minimal with vaccines and do titer testing on my dogs every three years. I made sure that Bob and Weasley had their puppy vaccines spaced apart and luckily there have been no reactions.
4) Training-I can't say I really changed on this, more like I found others who validated my way of thinking. When I first got Tubby someone gave me the Monks of New Skete's How To Be Your Dog's Best Friend, first addition. I read the book and liked plenty of their advice but I was uncomfortable when they mentioned adversives. However I figured they knew best and that a balance of rewards and aversives was probably the most successful way to train. Most dog owners I met 12 years ago agreed and the training advice I got from experienced owners I met at the dog park involved a fair amount of punishment and lots of pack leader talk. I never used punishment, but at the same time I never really looked down on it. Now I know that positive reinforcement is really the only effective way to train a dog and I'm so happy that it seems that most training facilities and owners agree. These days when I hear someone use the term "pack leader" or "submissive" I shudder internally, or if I know them advice them to read Patricia McConnell.
5) Vets-I used to never question my vet. I figured they knew best in all situations and never considered researching something my self. Now while I still respect my vet, I actually totally love my vet, I research everything and always ask a ton of questions. What I love most about my current vet is even though he is a standards vet rather then a Holistic practioner, he is willing to research thing that I am a curious about and never minds my research into certain topics or the questions I ask. I also would never hesitate now to get a second opinion or see a specialist in an emergency. In fact Id see a specialist in any emergency.
How have your pet care standards changed since your first days of pet ownership?