HomeNewsNov 3, 10 Pet Health Tips for Small Dog Lovers

    Nov 3, 10 Pet Health Tips for Small Dog Lovers

    Pet Health Tips    By Janice A. Jones  | Updated 11-03-2021

    you have high vet bills?  Does it feel
    like you are always making an appointment, taking time off from work and
    stressing out your dog by keeping those appointments?

    I wrote Pet Health Tips because I was frustrated with the
    amount of money I was paying my vet. 

    In 2013, I spent over $8000 on
    vet bills.  Ok, so I admit I own 15 dogs
    and many of those are intact breeding males and females. 

    I’ll be the first to admit that if you have health insurance for your dog, you’re likely to spend much less. But as they say, hindsight is 20/20.

    Some of those expenses were for emergency
    C-sections, health screenings, and prenatal/postnatal

    But a whopping $3000 was spent on routine everyday problems the dogs had.  I had to get those costs under control.  By the end of 2015, my costs were down to 1/3
    what I spent in 2013. 

    How did I do it?

    Pet Health Tips: Common Problems in DogsPet Health Tips: Common Problems in Dogs

    Focusing on health prevention was much cheaper than “curing the disease.

    Don’t get me wrong, I
    won’t skimp on my dog’s health, but it makes so much more sense to administer
    heartworm preventative than treat heartworm disease, as an example. 

    I began accumulating pet health tips from my veterinarian,
    dog breeders, books and the internet. 

    What I found was so simple: 

    on the major causes of canine disease and prevent them from the beginning.  Many ailments that dogs get can be avoided or lessened by good care.

    Veterinarians see dogs for a variety of reasons, but many of visits are routine problems that we could prevent with a little planning. 

    I usually break down health problems into two categories: 

    • Problems common to all dogs
    • Problems that are breed-specific

    This article focuses on the first category–health problems that any dog could get.

    Some of these tips will sound familiar
    because you can use them to keep yourself healthy too.

    Common Health Problems in Dogs

    • Ear Infections
    • Vomiting and Diarrhea
    • Obesity
    • Infectious disease
    • Urinary tract infections
    • Dental Disease
    • Skin Problems
    • Broken bones
    • Cancer
    • Parasites
    • Diabetes

    Take a look at the major problems in dog health that the
    veterinary profession is dealing with.

    Obesity, Allergies, Infections, Dental Disease, Chronic
    problems associated with aging…

    Sound Familiar?

    Dogs have becomes such an integral part of our lives these
    days that many of us think of them as surrogate children.  (Especially
    small dog lovers) 

    We want them healthy,
    happy, and able to share our lives for as many years as possible.  How do we keep
    them safe and healthy?

    Pet Health Tips

    There are 10 categories of pet health tips that I have
    identified (listed below).  I hope your
    small dog can benefit from them too.

    1. Supervision
    2. Training
    3. Grooming
    4. Diet and Exercise
    5. Routine dental care
    6. Protection from extreme temperatures
    7. Prevention of Infectious Diseases
    8. Early identification of potential problems
    9. Play
    10. Plan for the unexpected

    Pet Health Tip No. 1:  Supervision

    When dogs and puppies, in
    particular, are not adequately supervised, they can get into all sorts
    of trouble.  You’re probably thinking
    house training mistakes, chewed up furniture, and dug up rose gardens. 

    But what we fail to anticipate is the puppy who becomes
    lethargic, stops eating and has loose stools and vomiting. 

    What did he get into? 

    There are so many things that a dog can
    ingest that is potentially lethal.  If you don’t know where your dog is, you’d
    better find him. 

    Puppy proofing a home is the first step.  Keeping everything that can cause harm far
    from his radar is crucial. 

    Supervision means much more than throwing out all your
    poisonous houseplants or allowing your
    puppy access to where the anti-freeze is stored.  Management
    also means assuring that your adult dog or puppy does not have access to busy
    roads.  Car accidents are entirely preventable through supervision and
    control.  Training is critical and leads
    to the next topic.

    Pet Health Tip No. 2:  Training

    Training is not only meant to teach puppies and adult dogs
    how to live successfully in our homes and our society,
    but it is also intended to keep your dog safe. 

    Teaching your dog to walk nicely on a leash,
    confining him or her to a securely fenced area and learning basic commands such as “wait” at the open door or “come”
    when called can prevent major catastrophes
    from happening. 

    Another fundamental
    command, “leave it” will assure that your dog will not get into something that
    can potentially cause harm whether it is an object that could poison him to one that could cause an
    infectious disease, avoiding anything that could possibly send you to the vet is well worth the effort.

    Pet Health Tip No. 3:  Grooming

    Who would think that grooming your dog could be considered
    to be a pet health tip?    Consider what you do when you groom your dog:  Bathing, Brushing, checking ears, eyes and
    teeth and clipping nails

    Let’s examine each one individually.

    When you bathe your dog, you are removing all the dirt from
    his coat, but you are also looking for potential external parasites such as
    fleas, ticks or mites.   A bath
    will kill off fleas and alert you to remove pesky ticks. 

    Any skin problems are clearly visible during
    bath time, and those issues should alert you to possible solutions.  Plus, many dog shampoos can also soothe itchy skin, kill fleas, and treat mite

    When you check your dog’s
    , you look (and smell) for potential infections.  Stinky ears mean
    it is time to clean and find out what is at the root cause of the odor. 

    Build up of hair and ear wax can lead to ear infections, but if you take care of both the
    hair and the wax, you won’t need to take your dog to the vet.  Neglect either and you and your small dog
    will end up at your vet’s office.

    Pet Health Tip No. 4:  Diet and Exercise

    Here are two areas that deserve a great deal of

    Obesity is not only a problem in the human population, but it is
    increasing problematic in our canine friends also. When the vet tells you that your dog needs to lose weight, they are advocating for your
    furbaby’s best interests. 

    Losing weight is not
    easy for humans or dogs.    Far better,
    it is easier to prevent weight gain than to treat it after those extra pounds
    have crept up on your favorite canine friend. 
    Diet and exercise are probably the
    most important things you can do to save money at the vet and maintain your
    pet’s health.

    Exercise can take many forms from long leisurely strolls to brisk walks, to active play in the backyard or at your
    home.  Make sure your small dog is
    getting some daily exercise.

    Diet is a critical
    element when it comes to pet health.  Whether you choose to feed your dog a homemade
    diet or a commercially prepared food, providing
    the best food you can afford will save you so much in the long run. 

    Cheap foods such as those purchased at the
    supermarket do not always contain the
    necessary ingredients that your dog needs. 
    Some of those ingredients can also be dangerous and lead to health
    problems such as allergies and gastrointestinal problems. 

    Do your research and find food that offers
    optimal health benefits and all the necessary vitamins and minerals a dog needs
    for good health.

    Pet Health Tip No. 5:  Routine Dental Care

    Everyday dental care
    is so important, not only for people but
    also dogs.  Acclimate your puppy to tooth
    brushing from an early age so they will avoid costly dental procedures in the
    future.  Start off right with a puppy
    toothbrush and a canine toothpaste. 

    Never use human toothpaste on a

    accumulates faster than you can imagine, so start early and make teeth cleaning part of your routine.

    Teeth are so important for health, not only for humans but
    canines too. 

    Establish a routine for teeth cleaning and you are likely to save
    big $$$ at your vets. Remember if a dog needs to have professional teeth cleaning, they will probably need general anesthesia. 

    Cost can mount exponentially
    with general anesthesia, pre-op blood
    work, post-op care, and all the cleaning,
    extractions, and dental work in
    between.  One easy way to avoid all those
    costly procedures is to brush your dog’s teeth on a regular

    Pet Health Tip No. 6:  Protection from Extreme Temperatures

    Some breeds can withstand
    cold better than hot temperatures.  The
    reverse is also true for some breeds, but the not dog is safe when temperatures
    soar or drop below the freezing point. 
    Even dogs that are normally OK outside should be brought in when the
    temperature drops.  Dogs can get
    frostbite just like people.  

    Summertime highs can be just
    as dangerous and heat stroke is common especially in breeds with thick double
    coats and brachycephalic breeds

    Air-conditioning is recommended and plenty of fresh cold water.  Hot cars are also a killer of dogs, so never
    plan to take your dog with you if you must leave them in the car. 

    Pet Health Tip No. 7:  Prevention of Infectious Diseases

    Vaccines have saved many people and dogs from deadly
    diseases and so it is recommended that a puppy gets
    all of his shots and boosters at a year old. 
    There is debate as to how often dogs need booster shots past

    Follow your vet’s advice or
    if you prefer to withhold vaccines, do insist on checking titers to be sure
    your dog is protected.

    If you want to protect your
    dog entirely, keep them away from places where large numbers of dogs are likely
    to be.  This advice is good, but
    impractical because we all need to take our dog to the vet and possibly
    groomer.  Your dog may also attend
    daycare, boarding facilities, training, classes or enjoy a romp at a dog park.  

    Dog shows and other
    neighborhood events involving dogs are potential sources of germs.  To be safe, keep your dog’s shots and
    wormings up to date, clean up after your dog, and assure that he does not eat
    or get into anything that could cause harm. 

    Pet Health Tip No. 8:  Early Identification of Possible Problems

    If you are grooming your dog
    on a regular basis, you are no doubt checking his ears, eyes and skin
    for problems. 

    Fleas  and Ticks are easy
    to spot and treat if caught early. 

    Excessive ear wax, redness or swelling in the ear should receive prompt

    Unusual growths, patches of
    skin with hair loss, scratching, scooting, head shaking
    or lethargy can mean something is wrong. 
    If your dog is just not acting like himself, it could mean he’s

    It is always better and cheaper,
    in the long run, to treat a health problem before it gets too bad. 

    Pet Health Tip No. 9:  Encourage Play

    Play reduces stress. 
    Not only is play a good way to relieve stress, but playful behavior also provides exercise and reduce some of that
    energy that many highly active breeds have in

    It is good for you too. 

    If dogs do not have a way of relieving some
    of their pent up energy, they are likely to find a way that will go contrary to
    your idea of a well-behaved dog.

    Remember that play provides dogs (and our) physical exercise, mental stimulation, and emotional well-being.  Play can be as simple as a game of fetch, or
    a romp in the yard. 

    For more vigorous, playful
    activity, a run or walk may be all that is needed.  Canine treadmills are an excellent outlet for active
    dogs that need more exercise than their owners can accommodate. 

    For even more play, you can always join in on
    a canine sport such as agility.  Agility
    classes are usually available in most communities.

    Pet Health Tip No. 10:  Plan for the Unexpected

    You’ve no doubt heard the old
    advice, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”  No one likes to think about possible catastrophic
    events or possible emergency situations that put your dog at risk.  But to be safe, it is always better to be a
    little prepared should such an event occur.

    Keep a well stocked first aid

    Consider making an emergency
    plan if you had to evacuate.   Would you
    be able to leave with your dog and items he would need for the duration?  An emergency plan is imperative and something
    everyone should have.  If you also have
    pets, they should be part of your plan. 

    What about an emergency where
    you had to shelter in place.  Have you
    thought about how that might pan out with your dog included?

    Suppose your dog gets loose
    and runs off?  How will you find
    him?  Is he microchipped, tattooed or wearing an identification collar?

    If your dog gets sick or hurt in the middle of the night, do
    you know where the closest emergency veterinary
    hospital is located? 

    Most local
    vets do not have extended hours, so knowing somewhere to call could mean the
    difference between life and death.

    If your dog got into something that could be poisonous,
    would you know what to do?  Keep your
    vet’s phone number handy and also the poison control hot-line.

    The ASPCA Animal
    Poison Control Center (APCC) is your best resource for any animal
    poison-related emergency, 24 hours a day, 365
    days a year.

    If you think your pet may
    have ingested a potentially poisonous substance, call (888) 426-4435. 

    Poisonous Plants

    Foods Toxic to Dogs

    Will you have enough money to cover costly vet bills if your
    dog is diagnosed with a major health issue? 

    Health Insurance

    Have you considered getting insurance for your dog? Pet health insurance varies widely and can include all the routine as well as catastrophic care.  The more costly the plan, the more vet bills it will cover. 

    Consider your finances and if health insurance makes sense, search out the plan that works best for you. 

    The best thing about insurance for your dog is that it gives you peace of mind, knowing you won’t have to deny care to your friend because there isn’t money in the budget to cover it.

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