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3 Essential Things Every Dog Owner Should Know

Sandra is a veterinary assistant and has worked at various animal hospitals. She is a mother to a GSD, Siberian Husky and two cats.


It's been such a pleasure learning more about animal behavior and pet care in the last year. Being in the veterinary assistant program has given me the chance to learn things that will be valuable to me whether I'm out in the field or hanging out at home with my furry children.

There have been many times in the pet clinic where I, the technician, or the veterinarian have had to educate a dog owner on things they may or may not have known to look out for. For some of these issues, owners will come in because of an existing problem that could have easily been prevented, but the more we educate, the better.

Here are a couple of things you may not know about caring for your pup.

1. Dogs Sweat Through Their Paws

Have you ever wondered why dogs always have that corn chip smell on their paws? It's not because they found your leftover chips in the pantry, you can be rest assured. It is almost definitely a collection of sweat and elements that have been accumulated over time. Allergies can also be a cause of this, so make sure you have a talk with your Veterinarian to get this cleared up and take the necessary steps for their care routine.

Dogs pant, which helps circulate air through their bodies, and essentially, will help cool them down. They sweat through their paws and not throughout the rest of their body like us humans.

Cuts and abrasions can hide underneath those adorable paw pads. Try to clean the paws, inside and out, with a veterinarian-approved moist towelette or gentle soap and water. Make sure to dry them thoroughly, as the moisture and heat can cause bacterial or fungal infections.

Prevention is key here.

Failure to keep up with oral health can lead to serious issues such as gum or heart disease.

Failure to keep up with oral health can lead to serious issues such as gum or heart disease.

2. Bad Breath Is Not Normal

Please, please, please do not skip this step.

Brush your dog's teeth and make sure they get their annual dental/checkup. There are many kinds of toothpaste on the market, with a variety of flavors made just for your pup. You can also find dog treats/toys that can help maintain the cleanliness of your doggo's teeth between brushes or cleanings.

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Brushing their teeth should be done at least 2–3 times a week, and the steps to achieve this are pretty self-explanatory.

  • Apply the toothpaste to the toothbrush.
  • Gain access to your dog's teeth with one hand by lifting their top lip.
  • With the other hand, hold the toothbrush and use gentle, circular motions on the top and bottom teeth.
  • There are cases when your pup will give you a hard time with this, so when this occurs, you can ask a professional for help.

And you're done!

This step is simple but often overlooked, which down the line can lead to consequences such as tooth loss and gum disease, or worse—organ damage and heart disease.

3. Stay Up to Date on Vaccinations, as Well as Flea, Tick, and Heartworm Prevention

Keeping up with these helps keep infectious disease, and most importantly, early death at bay. Heartworms can cause lung and heart failure, and ticks can spread Lyme disease. Your dog (or cat) can end up swallowing or being bitten by a flea, which could potentially be the start of internal parasites such as hookworms, roundworms, or tapeworms. Be mindful of what they put in their mouth and don't let them eat another animal's poop! This is another way parasites are transferred.

Don't let them drink water from an unknown source, like rainwater. Rainwater could potentially have urine from an infected animal and, therefore, put your fur baby at risk of contracting Leptospirosis. This disease is very hard to treat, a lot of times leads to death, and could even be transferred to you!

Puppies should get a series of boosters (DHLPP+Bordetella and Rabies) within their first few months of life, and when they're finished, every year after they should have an annual checkup and vaccinations administered.

If you like to travel, and you take your dog to a kennel, they usually require they have proof of their Bordetella and Rabies vaccines being up-to-date. This also goes for grooming salons or any other place where there are multiple dogs in one space.

Keeping up with a few simple things like staying up to date with their vaccines and prevention medication, brushing their teeth, and keeping them clean are essential steps to take if you want to keep your doggo happy and healthy in the long run.

Letting these things go can cause serious consequences down the line, and we don't want our babies to suffer because of our negligence. They depend on us for everything and love us unconditionally. Let's show them they are important to us and are loved, by keeping up with these basic things.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

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