How to Avoid Costly Vet Visits – Basic Dog Care 101



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TheDogTrainingLady October 13, 2015 2 Comments on How to Avoid Costly Vet Visits – Basic Dog Care 101



Basic Dog Care 101 – The top five important things you should start doing when your dog is a puppy:
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that will help avoid costly vet visits, with an added benefit of bonding with your dog.

There is so much to learn when you become a new pet-parent. Understanding some simple basic dog care can help you avoid unnecessary vet visits.
Basic Dog Care 101

Being A New Pet Parent

We all know that puppies and dogs need food, water, exercise, training, play, and rest. However, there are many other things we as pet guardians need to be mindful of.

When you’re purchasing all the pet supplies; bowls, food, bed, crates, collars, leashes, and toys. The things that are not thought about are the items such as nail trimmers, shampoo, brushes, toothbrushes, and dental wipes, ear cleaner or ear wipes.

While many people will take their dogs to the groomers, you still need to handle those times in between grooming visits.


There are 5 important items that you need to be mindful of, so you can avoid an expensive, and unnecessary veterinary visit.


Keep you dogs nails trimmed. While this may be done at the groomers, not everyone goes to a groomer, and many people prefer to handle their dog’s basic care and grooming needs themselves.

Trimming your dogs nails can be tricky if they have black nails. The quick is difficult to see. Keep some Kwik-Stop® handy, in case you cut to deeply. This will help to stop the bleeding.

Dog Paw with Trimmed Nails

Remember, you don’t have to do all the nails at the same time. If you are uncomfortable doing this, please be sure to have it done regularly at your vet or groomers.

What happens if you do not keep your dog’s nails trimmed?

The nails can get too long and break, which can be very painful and sometimes cause and infection. The nails can become to long, and it will change the way your dog walks. This can result in skeletal problems.

If a dog’s nails are allowed to get too long there is a potential of the nail curling and growing back into the pad of their foot. This will make walking extremely painful.

Dog’s nails not trimmed

Infections, skeletal problems, and ingrown nails become a trip to your dog’s veterinarian. Some of these problems can become extremely expensive.

Here is a great video where Dr. Leslie, DVM, completely explains the how and why, to keeping your dog’s nails trimmed appropriately. It is about 15 minutes, but it will explain so much to you it is worth watching.


Long hair dogs need to be brushed regularly to prevent their coat from getting matted. They should also get their hair trimmed.

Beautiful Lhasa Apso with Groomed Face

When a longhaired dog is left un-brushed the hair can become so matted that it will require a trip to you’re veterinarian. The mattes get so close to the skin that it can become very difficult to remove without cutting your pet’s skin. This is also very uncomfortable, and painful for your pet.

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Other dog breeds have an undercoat that will cause shedding more than most. But most dog breeds will shed. It’s just good grooming to help rid your dog of the excess hair that would otherwise end up on your carpet or floors.

Regardless of the length of your dog’s coat, regular brushing will allow you to inspect for any hair loss, skin abrasions, cuts, and sores. Any lumps or bumps that may not have been there previously. Anything that concerns you should be brought to your vet’s attention. The sooner the better, it will benefit you dog greatly.

Basic Dog Brush

This is also a good way to bond with your dog.


You are also training your dog when you brush them regularly.
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As you are touching different parts of their body, they become accustom to this. Start this when they are puppies, and they will be use to the regular routine as they grow.


This too is something that can be done at the groomers. Different breeds have different needs. The other issue could be what your dog may have decided to roll around in outside.


Some dogs just love to find something stinky and roll around in it.

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I remember one of my boyfriends was a fisherman, and he had a husky. He would fillet the fish, and bury the remains of the fish carcass, as it was good for the ground and growing vegetables. That dog would always manage to dig it up and roll around in it. That was bath time. I was not about to put that dog in the car to get to a groomer. Dead fish smell is extremely unpleasant.

It is fairly easy to bathe your dog. If it is warm outside it can be done with the garden hose. It can be done in the shower or bath very easily also. These days there are also do-it-yourself dog wash businesses. You may be able to find one in your area.

Fun Bath Time with Garden Hose

What can happen if your dog is not bathed on a regular basis?

There are many opinions about how often you should bathe your dog. Some say once a week, some say once every month or two.

There are many things that can get on your dog’s skin and coat. Just think about all the lawn chemicals, bugs, tree sap, motor oil and other things that are just outside your door. That is why you will see many dogs sporting paw-wear these days.

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It helps prevent getting these chemicals and other things on, and in their paws. The temperature of the asphalt can cause damage to the pads of their feet. Dogs also tend to lick their paws, so any chemical or other nasty is now being ingested.

Bathing your dog with a good quality shampoo is the equivalent of giving them a massage. Now who wouldn’t want that? This also gives you another opportunity to find any lumps and bumps that may be of concern.

Dog being bathed in the tub

Bathing helps keep your dogs skin in good condition, and if you do find any lumps, I would recommend you have your vet check it out immediately.

If you catch potential problems early, it is generally much easier for your veterinarian to resolve the problem.

This is something that if you let go could become a much bigger and costlier problem.


Brushing your dog’s teeth. Yes, you heard me right. I know 30 years ago this was unheard of. However, dental disease is a huge problem that can cause other problems.

How to Brush Dog’s Teeth

You hear the term “dog breath”, well that’s a sign that something is wrong.

According to VCA Animal Hospitals

“Over 80% of dogs over the age of three have active dental disease.”

Dogs will get plaque and tartar build-up, if you don’t brush their teeth. The next problem comes when their gums become red and inflamed.

Start brushing your dog’s teeth when they are puppies. Get them use to you looking in their mouth, and brushing their teeth.

Clean Healthy Dog Teeth

Photo Credit: Mario Alberto Magellans Trego

There is special toothpaste made for dogs, because obviously you’re not going to get them to spit, so this is specifically made to be able to swallow.

Yes, there are dental chews such as Greenies®, and dental wipes than can help with your dogs teeth. Nothing beats being able to brush your dog’s teeth. This will give you the opportunity to look and see if there are any issues of concern.

Havanese enjoying a Dental Chew

What happens when you don’t care for your dog’s teeth?

This can get extremely expensive. Just scraping plaque and tartar off their teeth will require your dog to be put under anesthesia. Which I am sure will be traumatic for your dog, and you.


Dog’s ears get dirty, and dogs with long floppy ears are more likely to get infections. However, all dogs have the potential of getting an ear infection. Ear cleaning should be a regular grooming procedure.

A Springer Spaniel has Long Floppy Ears

There are many commercial products available to help keep your dog’s ears clean. Some commercial products will also help with ear mites.

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Keeping your dog’s ears clean and wax free can avoid a lot of problems. Ear mites are highly contagious and can be passed from pet to pet, dogs and cats.

How will you know your dog has ear mites?

  • If your dog is constantly shaking his or her head
  • If you see any black or brown secretion
  • If there is a strong odor coming from your pets ear
  • If the ear is full with coffee ground looking discharge

These are all signs of ear mites. If it has gotten to this point, you will need to get to the vet before things get worse. He will likely provide parasite medication that will be applied directly in the ear. If there is a lot of inflammation, your dog’s veterinarian may also prescribe an anti-inflammatory drug.

If it is extremely bad, your vet may have to sedate your dog, so he or she can clean out the ear canal.

As you can see, ears are an important part of the grooming process. Most dogs do not like getting their ears cleaned. Start them young as with all the other basic care, so they learn that this is a routine. Dogs are routine oriented.

This is Basic Dog Care 101. If you start this with your puppy, they will get used to the routine. Keeping this routine can prevent costly veterinary visits.

5 Basic Dog Care Routines

Nails – keep them trimmed. Have this done at the groomers or vet if you are not comfortable doing it yourself.

Brushing – brush your dog regularly; especially longhaired dogs, as their hair can become matted, you may also consider getting them a haircut. This will also help with shedding.

Bathing – regular baths will help wash away many of the environmental items that can adhere to their skin and fur. This also allows you to easily detect any lumps, bumps, and skin irritations.

Teeth – start brushing their teeth when they are young. Use special toothpaste made specially so that it is not harmful if swallowed.

Ears – keep ears clean of dirt and wax. There are commercial products available to help you clean their ears. Be on the lookout for ear mites.

Happy Healthy Dog

As always, you should discuss basic dog care with your vet from the beginning. If you have any questions or concerns, that first visit is the best way to get started on the right paw.

Starting these grooming basics while they are young will help you avoid costly vet visits.
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It will also create a wonderful bond between you and your dog or puppy that will last forever.

Until Next Time

Paws & Wags

Suzanne Dean, ABCDT & Mary Dog

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