Today I want to talk about something a little different…DOGS! I have two dogs – a 6 year old Austrailian Kelpie named Daphnie and a 5 year old Chocolate Lab named Mya. They are the cutest, funniest little fur balls I’ve ever known. But, having one, let alone two, dogs has been a serious learning experience. And while I got plenty of advice before getting a dog, my hope today is to shed some light on 3 Things People Don’t Tell You Before Getting a Dog.
#1 Hair, Hair, EVERYWHERE!
I know there are breeds that you can get that don’t shed, but from my own experience, and lots of other dog owners I know, most dogs shed, and they shed a lot. I literally sweep my floors every day, and I am amazed at the amount of hair that comes up on a daily basis. I use every hair removal/cleaning product out there – swiffers, dusters, lint rollers, robot vacuums, you name it, I’ve probably tried it. Unless you are deep cleaning your apartment or house on a
hourly daily basis, than anticipate hair to be a normal part of your life.
Pro Tip #1: Brushing your dog regularly will severely cut down on the amount they shed. I recommend a brush similar to this one. I can fill up a grocery bag of hair every time I use this on my lab – especially when the seasons change (that’s when they shed the most).
Pro Tip #2: Just like brushing, a regular bath schedule will also cut down on the amount your dog sheds. My vet recommends that I wash my dogs every 4-6 weeks with an organic oatmeal shampoo. Every dog will have different bathing schedules and shampoo needs based on their fur and skin type. I recommend checking in with your vet to confirm what is best for your pup.
#2 Unexpected Medical Expenses
This is something that I think everyone has in the back of their mind when getting a dog, but doesn’t really understand until their dog has their first medical issue. And I’m not talking the normal medical issues – ear infections, fleas, shots etc. I’m talking about the bizarre doggy issues that you’ve never heard of. Let me run through a couple of scenarios I’ve gone through with my dogs over the past 7 years.
At 2 years old, Daphnie developed this bubble on the interior flap of her ear. It literally felt like her ear had a pocket of liquid in it. It didn’t seem to irritate her too much – unless you touched it too much. So, we took her to the vet to get it checked and found out that she had an ear hematoma. Our vet let us know that this is an issue they normally see in senior dogs and that it can occur from a dog shaking their head too much.
Now, you have a few options to repair this.
#1 You can have the ear drained, but you risk the possibility of it just filling back up.
#2 You can leave the hematoma alone and let it drain slowly and naturally. This option would most likely be the most uncomfortable for the dog and could leave them with a cauliflower shaped ear (if you don’t know what this is – think of a pro boxer or MMA fighter’s ear). Our dog’s hematoma was pretty small compared to many others you can look up on the internet, so this was an option our vet provided us with – if it had been a larger issue, this option would have been off the table from the beginning.
#3 The vet can perform a surgery where they drain the ear and then place a series of cross patterned stitches in the ear, which would heal in a way that the ear could never fill up again.
We inevitably went with the surgery. While it was more money initially, we didn’t want to risk it happening again down the road.
Now, scenario #2 takes place about 3 years later, with our other dog, Mya. One day we noticed a trail of blood spots in our kitchen, through the living room and into our bedroom. At the end of the trail, is Mya sitting in her bed in a small pool of blood. As you can imagine, I went into full hysterics thinking she had some massive cut somewhere. I laid her down and saw the blood was coming from a spot near her ankle. We wrapped her up and raced her to the vet. Once we get into the exam room they tried to stop the bleeding, but it just kept coming out, so they took her into the back room. We just had to sit in the lobby waiting to find out what was going on.
They finally brought her out and showed us the stitches before bandaging her up. All this blood was from a cut on her ankle literally no bigger than .25 centimeter. SERIOUSLY THE TINIEST CUT! Whatever she stepped on just happened to nick her right on a vein, which is why there was so much blood. They had to burn it closed and then stitch it up.
Now granted, all of this happened on a Saturday, so we couldn’t go to our normal vet. Luckily, we found a vet that was open that day and didn’t have to take her to the ER. This wasn’t a cheap visit, but obviously a necessary one.
These are just 2 stories of unexpected medical expenses we have experienced – there are others. And it isn’t always something as dramatic as a pool of blood, there are other small things that can develop over time that require vet expertise.
Some people recommend getting your dog pet insurance. I have heard mixed reviews about it. Some have had great experiences with it, only having to pay 10-20% of a vet bill in an emergency situation. Other people I’ve talked to have said their insurance didn’t cover the more expensive issues. I never purchased insurance for my pups, but I do think it is worth looking into when getting a dog to see if it’s right for you.
Pro Tip: Find a vet you love! We went through a couple different vets before we found one we absolutely loved – and we still drive out of our way to take our dogs to her, because we have had such good experiences! I am of the opinion that some vets are in it for the money and some are in it for the animals. And I’ve experienced both. The thing I love about my vet is that she is brutally honest and will tell me things I absolutely need to have done for my dog and things that are optional. I never feel pressured to do unnecessary tests or labs and I know that if I go in there with an urgent situation they will take the time to see my dog and treat her appropriately. If you have trust in your vet, it will make all of those unexpected medical situations that much less stressful.
#3 Two Isn’t Always Better
My final tip is for those of you that are considering getting a second dog. Now let me preface this by saying I love both of my dogs, a lot! However, having two dogs is a lot of work. I think back to the days of only having one, and it was significantly different. Besides the money associated with vet bills, food, flea medicine, etc. there are also two dogs that need to be watched every time you go out of town, two dogs that need baths and walks and play time.
The whole reason we even decided to get a second dog was because people we knew at the dog park recommended it. Their exact words were “It’s so much easier with two. They just play with each other all day and wear one another out”. Now that is a nice sentiment for two dogs that actually like playing with one another. My dogs, however, do NOT. They will have an occasional tug of war, but that’s about it. So now when we get home, not only have they not played with each other all day, we have two dogs that want our individual attention.
Now, just because they don’t like to play with one another doesn’t mean they don’t love each other. They actually formed their own little pack, and they basically exclusively like one another – no outside dogs allowed 🙂 Plus I catch them cuddling every now and then.
Pro Tip: All dogs have extremely different personalities. I know this sounds like common sense, but it is something to think about before getting a second dog. I thought that when we got a second dog that they would immediately become play pals. As you know, this didn’t happen. And, as they get older, their personalities have become even more distinct. Daphnie loves a soft blanket, laying on the couch and cuddling all day – that girl seriously could sleep all day. In addition to sleeping, she also loves barking at anyone and everyone that walks by. Not a habit we wanted her to pick up and have tried many tactics to reduce. Meanwhile, Mya loves to play with tennis balls. She will literally play fetch until she can’t stand anymore – and I know this, because Theo has had to carry her home from the park before. But, unlike her sister, she loves people and wags her tail every time someone walks by. The moral of the story here is that both of these dogs were raised and trained the same way, yet they are totally different. So while you may love the personality of your current dog and think that if you bring in a second dog you will just have a replica of that dog, think again. While I love both my dogs and both of their crazy personalities, I never thought I would have two dogs so completely different.
I hope this post was helpful to anyone who is considering getting their first (or second) dog. I have a ton more tips, but these stand out to me as things I wish I had known before getting a dog 🙂 Leave a comment below with any of your first time dog owner tips!