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Protect your pet: five dog care tips

Costly veterinary bills may be avoided by following a simple dog care routine, says vet Rebecca Davies from Which? Local-recommended Victoria Veterinary Centre in Glossop.

1. Regular exercise

Problems prevented or controlled:

Obesity; osteoporosis; joint and muscle deterioration including heart problems.

Without regular exercise, dogs lose mental stimulation and gain weight.

Obesity puts strain on your dog’s heart and joints. Prevent it with lots of activity and a good diet (keeping fattening treats to a minimum).

2. Dental chews and dry food

Problems prevented or controlled:

Dental disease; halitosis.

Anyone whose slippers have been ruined will appreciate that dogs need to chew!

Avoid natural bones or sticks, which can splinter or become stuck in a dog’s throat, and choose safe, dental chew products.

Dry food also helps to reduce the level of plaque and tartar build-up in a dog’s mouth which can cause gum disease and halitosis (smelly breath).

Prevention is definitely better than cure, as dental disease can usually only be resolved with a general anaesthetic, and sometimes with extractions.

3. Clean ears

Problems prevented or controlled:

Ear canker; ear mites; infections.

As part of your grooming routine, clean and check your dog’s ears. Wipe the outer ear with cotton wool and an ear cleaner designed for dogs.

Don’t prod around in the ear canal, but do have a look for anything unusual, like a discharge. Visit the vet if you spot something suspicious.

Pet insurance

These measures could lessen the likelihood of veterinary intervention being needed. But Rebecca still recommends pet insurance to all of her clients.

Pick the right policy for your pet with our insurance advice guide.

4. Claw clipping

Problems prevented or controlled:

Difficulty in walking; muscle and bone injuries.

While this advice seems simple, it can help avoid a visit to the vet should your dog’s claws get too long.

Dog’s claws grow just like human toenails, so they need to be kept short. Walking is essential – ideally mixing softer grass surfaces like fields and parks with tarmac or pathways.

It's possible to clip your dog’s claws with special nail clippers, but this must not be attempted without instruction from your vet as it’s easy to accidentally cut the fleshy part of the nail (the ‘quick’).

5. Company and quality time

Problems prevented or controlled:

Stress; bad behaviour.

Dogs thrive on both the company of humans and other dogs and can become distressed and unhappy when they feel isolated. They may also become aggressive if not correctly socialised with other dogs.

It's important to make sure that your dog is not home alone for long periods of time.

In addition to regular exercise, you should provide them with a range of activities and toys.

About our expert trader

Vet  Rebecca Davies from Which? Local-recommended Victoria Veterinary Centre in Glossop

Rebecca Davies is a vet at Which? Local-recommended Victoria Veterinary Centre in Glossop.

Which? Local reviewers have praised Victoria Veterinary Centre for it's quality, caring service and described it as respresenting good value for money.