Hi, I’m Nicole!

I have been around dogs my entire life, and at the moment I have Luna – a beautiful American Eskimo. My dogs have given me so much over the years that I wanted to pay it forward by sharing what I've learned. Some of this might be obvious, but my hope is that it’s helpful to first-time and veteran dog parents!

I've spent the last 2 years educating myself about how to provide the best quality of life for my beautiful dog Cooper. Learn why Pettable is my #1 choice for making sure that Cooper is happy and healthy!

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Five Surprising Things to Improve Your Dog's Life

Nicole
December 2020

Here’s a sneak peek of my top recommendation:

Pettable: For the same price as two lattes, I get peace of mind and tactical advice for my dog Cooper.

Pettable is a full-service pet concierge and telehealth service that gives me access to a team of veterinary professionals and behavioral experts 24/7. I can ask any question – big or small. Pettable has helped my family with:

✅ Pet health and wellbeing for any concern
🐕 Training and behavior programs

🍗 Nutrition and exercise advice
🍵 Preventive care

1. Pettable

If you’re a first-time dog parent, the first thing you want to find is a source of support. You’re going to have lots of questions: health concerns, behavior, which food is right, etc. 

Sure, your vet is there, but they’re expensive and so so busy (especially nowadays with Covid raging). And let’s be serious, they’re not really there to entertain the 100 questions you have about your new puppy that all start with, “Is it normal that…?” 

Googling is useful if you know how to get the good stuff and determine who is reputable and not trying to sell you something. All of this also takes tons of time. Time that I don’t have as a busy mom of two + Luna.

Four months ago, a friend of mine reached out to me and invited me to try a new service called Pettable. They were doing a private beta back then, and I now consider myself so lucky to have joined when I did. 

There’s lots of “virtual pet telehealth” services out there, and I tried out a bunch, especially when Covid started. Some of them you have to wait forever to be connected to a live person (and they try to fool you about that!). Some are prohibitively expensive, and I’d rather go to my vet who really knows Luna and her history at those prices. And almost all feel very transactional. 

Pettable is different. First of all, they are full-service. They have not only vets on staff for all your health-related questions but also dog trainers, plus behavioral and nutrition experts. They are there 24/7, even on weekends and in the middle of the night. You also get connected to them very quickly – under a minute most times I’ve chatted with them! 

The best part is that it’s a subscription service, so I don’t ever feel bad about reaching out even with the smallest questions because I’m paying to be a member! Also, they keep detailed notes about Luna and know her history. So it feels really personalized and custom, even though it’s virtual. And the price is minimal when you think about how much you’ll actually use them and how much worry, time, and vet visits they will save you. When I started, I paid $30 a month (and it was so worth it), but now they have been letting in new members at under $10 a month – which is such a good deal. 

I’ve pestered them plenty with all of Luna’s antics – and I didn’t even realize how many questions I had until I joined and really had the opportunity to ask them all for the first time! Definitely getting my money’s worth from these guys. :)

The only downside is that they are still small. I hope they continue growing, but man, they must have really hit a nerve with dog parents. Whenever I refer someone to Pettable, they come back to me and tell me that membership is closed. I appreciate why they do this – it’s so that existing members can enjoy such a high level of personalized service and support that you basically can’t really get anywhere else. But it’s a bummer when I know a new pet parent really needs this service and can’t get in.

The other thing about Pettable is that they still have some obvious growing pains from being a relatively new kid on the block. In my opinion, they have by far the best staff – it’s what they have focused on, clearly. Honestly, if they were to get only 1 thing right, it would be that, and I think it’s still a fantastic service. But they are still young, and some of the tech side is a little clunky. Not buggy or anything, and they are improving things every week – but still. I wish there was an app instead of the webchat I have to use now. 

All in all, I feel like I’m in great hands with Pettable on the support side. For someone prone to anxiety, especially so. Not sure if they are accepting new members any time soon, but I highly recommend trying them out. You can always cancel (but I bet you won’t). 

If you can’t get in, check out the online communities out there – some are great, although they take a bit of time to dig through. The virtual telehealth options that are incident-based work in a pinch as well.

UPDATE (January 5th): I just got an email from Pettable that they are currently accepting new members! When I checked it this morning, they only had 39 spots left.

Here’s the link if you want to sign up

#1
Pettable
#2
Dog Training
#3
Preventive Care
#4
Doggie Daycare
#5
Pet Insurance

Luna and I taking a stroll on a windy day.

2. Dog Training

Here’s the thing – a well-trained dog is a dog that is trusted, free, and can enjoy their best life, wherever they want to be. Training is actually one of the most helpful things you can do for your dog. It provides them with a secure understanding of their relationship to you and their place in your family. When done right, they actually really enjoy it! It’s a great way to bond, spend quality time together, and exercise their mind and body.  

You can totally do the training yourself, but it takes time to research, set up a program that works, and discipline to keep up with it. If you are doing it yourself, work on max 2 (unrelated) things at a time. Go slow. I mean, REALLY slow. Even when you think your dog is ready to move on to the next thing, give it another week or two. Reward-based training has been proven to be most effective, but it doesn’t necessarily mean food or treats. In fact, some dogs respond to verbal praise more than food! Bonus points for their waistline. 

Working with a trainer (virtual or in-person) will get you the best and fastest results. I’m actually working with one from Pettable with Luna now, and it’s going great! The trainer tells us what we’re working on for the week (and nothing else), checks in on our progress, and reminds me when it’s time to make things more difficult. More than anything, working with a trainer lets you know that you’re making progress even when it doesn’t really feel like it. And that positive feedback goes a long way to making you stick with it for long term success and a fully trained, happy, and free-to-roam dog in just several months!

Pettable, live chat with veterinary experts and behavioral specialists

✅ Live and on-demand

✅ Tailored to your needs

✅ Cheaper than the vet

✅ Peace of mind

✅ 24/7 access

✅ Tactical and helpful advice

Live vets on demand, 24/7

Dr. Lauren Demos, Chief Veterinary Officer

Getting my Luna snuggle quota filled.

3. Preventative Care

Whatever you’re doing for your everyday health concerns, focusing on preventative care for your pup really pays off in the long run. They have a longer, healthier, more active life with you. They also cost less in vet bills! Make sure to keep up with annual vaccinations, and if they are active outside, protect your pup from fleas, ticks, mites, and worms. Get your pup tested for intestinal parasites. I like to do it once a year if everything is going smoothly, more often if they have a bout of unexplained diarrhea or other symptoms. 

There are breed-specific recommendations on grooming and maintenance of a healthy coat and healthy ears. My last dog was a lab, and if I didn’t clean his ears once a week, boom! Ear infection. Make sure to look up what kinds of troubles your pup’s breed is prone to – that will be the most common stuff to try to prevent. 

Dental care is something that is often overlooked in dogs, with potentially serious consequences. Sadly, due to a lack of proper dental care, many dogs have gum disease by the time they’re four years old. Luckily, though, helping your dog have a healthy mouth isn’t as challenging as it sounds. There are some great chew toys that keep Luna’s mouth and teeth clean and healthy and that she loves to gnaw on for hours.

Some vets do dog dental cleanings, but they have to put the dog under to do it, so it has risks for the pup on top of being an all-day affair and several hundreds of dollars in cost. You can prevent having to get this by brushing your dog’s teeth! Brushing with a particular enzyme (not human!) toothpaste prevents tartar and gingivitis. And it’s nowhere near as scary as it sounds. There are many canine toothbrushes and toothpastes available. Personally, I have trained Luna to tolerate my electric toothbrush with an old brush head! This took a bit of practice, but now Luna doesn’t mind when she sees me approaching, and it goes so much faster. Following up with a dental chew treat also helps convince her to tolerate getting her teeth brushed a few times a week.

Close up of Luna. Isn't she cute!?

4. Doggie Daycare

If you work full time and are worried about leaving your pup alone all day, doggie daycare is an excellent and safe option to keep your pup socialized and exercised while you’re done. Most dogs need social contact with other dogs just like people do. The easiest way to do this is to sign up your dog for doggie daycare. Just a few times a week is plenty to take care of their social needs, and they come home happy and exhausted. 

Not all doggie daycare options are the same, though – so you may not want to choose one randomly. Visit the facility ahead of time and ask questions. They should require dogs to be healthy and fully vaccinated. They should have a separate area for larger vs. smaller breeds. The area should be clean and big enough for the number of dogs that are there. There should be plenty of clean water available. They should have a good plan of action if something happens, like dogs that don’t get along and need to be separated. They should not punish animals in case of bad behavior, and any messes need to be promptly cleaned up. 

Most dogs crave interaction with other dogs, and playing and exercising with their fellow canines can help them lead healthier lives. However, just like humans, some dogs are introverts. You know your dog better than anyone, and you’ll likely know whether they crave the sociability of doggie daycare or whether they are happier enjoying the peace and quiet of home and getting a daily visit from a dog walker.

Playing with the family in our backgyard.

5. Pet Insurance

If your pet is young and healthy, consider getting pet insurance. It’s not that expensive (price ranges by state) and can save you so much money. Plus, a lot of the preventative stuff will be covered due to the preferred rates, so you’re in the money almost right away. And of course, the big thing is that you’re not due for a surprise giant bill in case something happens. And with dogs, things do happen – from ingesting toxic foods to getting into an accident. It’s so scary when it does. The last thing you need to be thinking about in those moments is how you’re going to pay for the vet. 

Certain dog breeds also have a propensity towards health issues, especially designer dogs. You might want to ask your vet what it would cost to treat your pup if they got some of the common problems that usually happen to your breed. That should give you a good baseline to see if pet insurance is really worth it for you. Keep in mind that vets are legally prevented from being able to sell or even recommend a specific plan. So don’t expect them to be forthcoming on their favorites. 

I consider pet insurance to be absolutely essential for my dog. By paying a monthly premium, I know that I’ll be able to give Luna the care she needs, no matter what. As with any type of insurance, it’s essential to read the fine print and learn exactly what kinds of conditions and treatments are covered by your plan and which are excluded. Typically, a pet’s pre-existing conditions are not covered, but there may be other exclusions, too. Some pet owners choose an accident-only plan, but for Luna, I chose a plan that offers complete coverage for accidents, major and minor illnesses, hereditary conditions, chronic conditions, behavior issues, exam fees, and prescription medications.

Luna taking in this amazing view.

Final Thoughts

1. Support: As a dog parent, you'll need lots of support. Even though I'm a "veteran," I still have questions that I don't have answers to. While you can Google for answers or go to the vet, I've found that Pettable (check it out here) is the best all-in-one resource for quickly answering any questions I have. The service has reduced a lot of anxiety that I used to have.

2. Dog Training: A well-trained dog is a dog that is trusted, free, and can enjoy their best life, wherever they want to be. Training is actually one of the most helpful things you can do for your dog. Working with a trainer (virtual or in-person) will get you the best and fastest results.

3. Preventative Care: Whatever you’re doing for your everyday health concerns, focusing on preventative care for your pup really pays off in the long run. They have a longer, healthier, more active life with you.

4. Doggie Daycare: If you work full time and are worried about leaving your pup alone all day, doggie daycare is an excellent and safe option to keep your pup socialized and exercised while you’re done. Most dogs need social contact with other dogs just like people do. The easiest way to do this is to sign up your dog for doggie daycare.

5. Pet Insurance: If your pet is young and healthy, consider getting pet insurance. It’s not that expensive (price ranges by state) and can save you so much money. Plus, a lot of the preventative stuff will be covered due to the preferred rates, so you’re in the money almost right away.

Pettable, my #1 pick. Check eligibility.

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