10 Pet Health Tips for Small Dog Lovers

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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. 

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

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?

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
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. 

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? 

Have you considered health insurance for your dog?  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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