5 things every dog owner should know

We know you love your dog, and we know you want what’s best for your dog. But many dog owners are under dangerous misunderstandings that concern me as a veterinarian, and my wonderful technicians. Speaking candidly, here are 5 things we do our best to tell every client.

I hope that these points will help more dog owners better understand their dog and their veterinarian.

Dogs playing with a stick

1. Recognize pain and suffering

Most dogs are extraordinarily stoic. It can be extremely difficult, but is very important to recognize when dogs are suffering. If they are limping, they hurt. If they are vomiting, something is wrong. If they have difficulty breathing, they may be, in fact, suffocating, and it’s terrifying for them. Seek help immediately.

2. Denial about weight can be deadly

If you have to use words such as “solid,” “big boned” or “fluffy,” chances are your dog is overweight or obese. It takes years off of their lives, it makes anesthesia riskier and it makes recovery from surgery more difficult. Love your dogs in a way that makes them healthy and happy: hugs, petting, playing, brushing, various interactions and walks are all calorie-free forms of love your dog craves!

3. Know whom to trust

As the saying goes, “You are what you eat,” so choosing the correct dog food is a big deal. Please talk to your vet when picking food. Feeding the wrong food for your pet can lead to obesity, bladder stones and a poor hair coat. In addition, given the regular pet food recalls, choosing a reputable brand is very important. The composition of pet food should be based on scientific research, not slick marketing.

4. Never assume

We sometimes need to run lab work to find out what is going on with your dog. Yes, that fee is going to be in addition to the exam fee, but these tests are best for the health of your dogs. These diagnostics are our X-ray glasses to understand your dog’s condition, and without them we might be blind. This is really no different than in human medicine.

5. Spay or neuter your dog

Spaying a female before the first heat cycle virtually eliminates the risk of breast cancer. Spaying also totally prevents pyometra, a deadly uterine infection.

Neutering prevents testicular cancer and almost eliminates prostate conditions. Beyond those medical reasons, spayed or neutered pets are less likely to run away and get hit by a car. They also have a lower incidence of behavior problems.

Phil Zeltzman, DVM, DACVS, CVJ, Fear Free Certified

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Dr. Phil Zeltzman

Dr. Phil Zeltzman is a traveling veterinary surgeon in Pennsylvania & New Jersey. An award-winning author, he loves to share his adventures in practice along with information about vet medicine and surgery that can really help your pets. Dr. Zeltzman specializes in orthopedic, neurologic, cancer, and soft tissue surgeries for dogs, cats, and small exotics. By working with local family vets, he offers the best surgical care, safest anesthesia, and utmost pain management to all his patients. Sign up to get an email when he updates his blog, and follow him on Facebook, too!