Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Pooches: What I Wish I Knew About Dogs

I never knew what a huge responsibility it was to own a dog until I had my own as an adult. I was suddenly needing to make decisions about diet, encountering strange illnesses, and figuring out adequate exercise programs. I did a lot of trial-and-error. And I made a lot of mistakes. But I also learned some things along the way.
If I were going to adopt a new dog, these are some things I would do differently:
1) Get good pet insurance immediately. I can't stress enough how happy we are to have pet insurance, especially when Miss M had a several thousand dollar kidney issue that only ended up costing us a couple hundred dollars. The thing about pet insurance is it's best to get it as soon as possible. This way your dog won't have any pre-existing conditions and most ailments will be covered.
I didn't research well enough when I got Miss M's pet insurance, and her plan under PetCare doesn't cover breed-specific conditions, which include all of her allergies and skin problems. I also had several problems with the company making claims. Several times I had to resubmit claims, and once they decided not to cover a procedure that wasn't "approved". It wasn't until I faxed back their approval letter that they suddenly found the approval in their computer.
Needless to say, E did a lot of research when choosing Mr B's insurance. We really like Trupanion which may have a higher premium, but covers all breed-specific conditions. We especially like them more than Embrace which increased our premium nearly 40% for a single year. E's research and complete write-up can be found here.
2) Brush their teeth every day. As our dogs are aging, I'm noticing their teeth are looking a little green. Hound Girl just wrote about how important it is to start early and be consistent; neither of which we have done. I was always envious of this dog's teeth, whose owner had been brushing since he was a puppy. If I could do it again, I would begin a consistent teeth-brushing regimen.
3) Rotate their diet. We had found a food we liked and stuck with it. Unfortunately, this caused our pooches to develop sensitive stomachs that were affected by any slight change in diet or treats. We have slowly started rotating their food, but I wish we could have avoided all the previous upset stomachs.
What are some things you've learned along the way that you wish you'd done earlier?


Unknown said...

Awwww thank you for the kudos on the teeth brushing :)

I do have to report we have successfully been brushing every other day!! Ill be doing a post on the bacon toothpaste soon! - The dogs actually loved it a little too much and it became a pain when brushing their teeth!

I love this post - I could go on for days about what I would do diffrent as well but your top 2 are def on my list of the top 2's!

Hugs to Mr B, Miss M, and Miss W!


Two French Bulldogs said...

Ms M please tell mom to stop reminding our mom about teeth brushin and stuff. And yep.. Our moms need to make big girl decisions about us kids. Have a fun day
Benny & Lily

Rescued Pittie Family said...

Oh we have to start the teeth brushing thing.
Is is hard? Do they like it?
I'm so worried they're going to have fits over it.

We were told by someone when Haleigh was a puppy to get a Gentle Leader.
We didn't really like how they looked - people think it's a muzzle so we shied away from it.
But after a year of her dragging us around we finally gave in and got one.
We SO wish we had just started that when she was still a puppy.

Wyatt said...

Good Advice. I love having my toofers brushed! Stanzie not so much..


Anonymous said...

I wish I had discovered clicker training and our current trainer when we first got Ranger. I am amazed at how much more quickly Mayzie picks up on stuff with the clicker than Ranger did without. Even though we use the clicker with Ranger now, it's still not second-nature to him like it is Mayzie. Ranger's a very smart dog (sometimes too smart) and I often wonder how much more he would know if we'd started out with him on the clicker.

I also wish we'd gotten pet insurance for Ranger. We have it for Mayzie and have never had to use it. But with Ranger, it's just been one thing after another - without insurance.

And I'm totally with you on the teeth-brushing thing.


Laura and Hans said...

I've really been lax with the tooth brushing thing. Wilbur has beautiful strong white teeth so I guess I better start back up again (whether he likes it or not). Thanks to you I went with Trupanion Insurance and just the other day received a message that their coverage has changed from a $20,000 life time limit to unlimited!!!! Good news!

Shauna (Fido and Wino) said...

Great tips! If we ever get another puppy we will be *way* more strict right from the start and we'll do insane socialization before they are 6 months old. We tried to do a lot to socialize our dogs and they are fairly good, but I will seek out many more "learning" opportunities.

brooke said...

I agree with the teeth brushing... and Id add nail clipping. Though we were pretty good about it at first, it slowed down, and now Darwin fights us whenever we try and clip her nails (which reminds me, we need to have a clip attack soon).

little princess Luna~ said...

as first time pawrents--those are great things read about and think about. thanks for pointing them out~!! :)

miss j

Kari in Alaska said...

I wish we had done the teeth brushing as well. We still don't but we know we should.

don't forget, we moved to dogisgodinreverse.com

houndstooth said...

Oh, the tooth brushing is so important!

Our first Greyhound had epilepsy, so insurance was pretty much a no go. I haven't researched it lately, but I know that I should.

I'd have started obedience training with mine much earlier!

jet said...

Insurance is a big one. Our insurance has saved us a lot of money with Bender's tendency to hurt himself. Barbie has a better sense of self preservation but she is also insured, just in case. I learned the lesson when my first dog eventually succumbed to a non-diagnosed neurological condition. Spent a lot of money trying to figure it out, but had eliminated everything that could have been treated anyway.

1000 Goldens said...

Great advice. I wish so much that we started brushing teeth as a puppy because Farley will have no part of us poking around in his mouth!

Lola and also Franklin, too said...

That's all very good advice. I'm very glad that Franklin and I both have insurance. We figure it probably won't cover some things, but it's really just in case of catastrophic illness.

lotsa licks, Lola

Janet Dillon Robinson said...

This is all really great advice. Our little frenchie just turned 8 months and we have encountered all kinds of 'first-time parent' issues... All these tips help.

pibble said...

Oh, no! I just started both Charlie and Ollie on Embrace. I considered Trupanion, but I thought it was for emergencies only. What to do, what to do?!

Kitty+Coco said...

Thankfully, I have done well with home nail clippings and I am gaining ground with the teeth brushing. Kitty (Ms. M's mini-me) is really fighting it, but the momma prevails. If we could start over, I would ABSOLUTELY crate train! I am considering it even now. This would have helped so very much. I agree that clicker training has been successful.

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