Pets are furry little family members, and can be of huge importance in our lives. They’re a lot of fun, and they love and protect us, but they’re also completely reliant on us for their care.

Think you’re up to that task? According to many veterinarians, you may not be.

There’s a lot to owning a pet. Many people limit their pet care to setting out bowls of kibble and water once a day, but putting down adequate food and water is only the beginning—there’s much more to learn.

Fortunately, that’s what your local veterinary clinic is for!

Vets go to school for 8 years or more in order to learn how to properly care for animals, and most have a passion for what they do. They care about you and your pet, and want to help you be the best owner you can be.

A lot of people, though, never take advantage of this great resource, thinking that a visit to the vet is only reserved for emergencies. So if this is you, and it’s been a while since you’ve been in a vet’s office, we’re going to help you out with these 7 things your veterinarian wishes you knew.

Vets Want You to Ask Questions

First things first: if you don’t go to the vet, now, because there is no one who can help you care for your pet like they can. They have the knowledge, the skills, and the passion.

You just have to make use of them.

One of the biggest things vets wish you knew is that it’s okay to ask lots of questions about pet care. There is no such thing as a stupid question where your pet’s health is concerned. You can ask about that dry nose or weird expression or why your pet insists on yowling at three in the morning.

So if you’re unsure about something, ask. It’s the best way to learn how to care for your furry little friend.

You Should Find a Vet Before You Get a Pet

This is one thing many people don’t realize, but that many vets advocate—you should have a vet already lined up before you even think about buying or adopting a pet.

So here’s what you do. Figure out where your local vet’s office is and make an appointment to talk about the pet you’d like to adopt. Tell your vet about the potential pet, and make sure you find out if there are any special health issues associated with the breed.

Ask, too, about everything you might need to know in regard to care—you may just be surprised at the specialized care some animals require.

Having a vet already in mind also helps you in case of emergencies—you’ll already have a phone number, a location, and a vet who is somewhat familiar with your animal if the worst occurs.

Find your vet before your pet, and you’ll be properly prepared.

Vets Can Demonstrate Basic Pet Care Techniques

Unsure of how to clip and clean your Weimaraner’s long nails? Do you have the proper tools to trim tangled fur? Do you know how to clean the eyes of your Persian?

If not, your vet can not only describe how to do these things, but, as most vets would like for you to know, they can demonstrate for you!

Vets are only too happy to show you the proper techniques for your pet care needs, and they will usually be willing to clip nails, trim tangles, or clean eyes right there in the office. If you’re the sort who learns by watching, this is a great way to perfect the way you care for your precious pet.

It’s Better to Adopt a Mutt Than a Purebred

If there’s one thing most vets dislike, it’s the idea of breeding “purebred” animals. These are animals that are bred to maintain a certain appearance and set of traits, but this practice comes with a huge risk of genetic diseases and many other health problems.

And just as bad, there are huge numbers of mixed-breed animals which are in need of a home. Most vets will tell you that it’s better to save one of the 1.2 million mutts which are euthanized in shelters every year than buy a purebred.

So not only will a sweet little mixed-breed dog or cat be likelier to be healthier, but by adopting one, you’ll help relieve the massive overpopulation of these animals.

Your Pet Should Have a Yearly Exam

Ninety-five percent of veterinarians strongly suggest that your pet needs at least one wellness exam each year. While this might be a little inconvenient for you, it will do wonders for keeping your pet healthy.

Your pet will need annual vaccinations, a physical exam, and more, in order to keep your pet feeling well. Remember—preventing disease and disorder is much, much cheaper than treating it after-the-fact.

Vets want to see your pet every year so they can stay up-to-date with its condition and stave off illness before it takes hold. Oblige, and you’ll actually save money in the long run.