Last month Gary’s mom came to visit us from Florida. She is a lovely person who Coconut decided was family and he loved being with her even though she said she is not an animal person. Give her time. I was like that.

When people come to visit schedules go out the window. For Coconut that meant more daycare and crate time and a whole lot less of Mom time. As the three of us were running around and seeing the sites Coconut was having more than a few bad days.

It started with licking. Not the clean-myself-up-cause-I-jumped-in-a-dog-park-mud-puddle kind of licking. No, this was an excessive war with one area of his tail. Did you know that calling, “Coconut, stop that!” is not an effective way to solve a problem of this nature? I sure do now.

I meant to call the vet but we left early one day, came home later the next. Coconut’s poop was good and he ate like normal. Makes it hard to call the vet when he seems healthy.

Grandma was here for two weeks and as we enjoyed Wisconsin’s lovely weather and went to museums and quaint little towns the tail battle raged. About two days before she left I got a good look at the tail and was horrified and back to feeling like the worse dog mommy in the world. There was a patch of hair about the size of a quarter gone. Like did the aliens swoop down and take his hair? All that was licking? And the flesh underneath was raw, not bleeding, but for sure raw.

I talked to the staff at work and learned the term hot spot. Maybe. I think he’s just a little neurotic and was acting out with having our routine turned upside down. We inspected his body and there was no obvious reason to lick. No fleas or bugs, we gave him a bath in a new shampoo for itchy skin and the licking continued.

Grandma went home and, like magic, the licking stopped. This leads me to think he wanted our routine. I ran to Fleet Farm and picked up spray and a gel and borrowed a cone just in case. We never needed the cone and a scab formed and hair is growing back. Will he ever have a tail without a little notch? I don’t know. But that notch reminds me that vet care is not only for shots.

Today is Responsible Dog Ownership Day. We’ve discussed the need for spay/neuter, vaccinations, and annual appointments. There’s so much that goes into being a responsible pet owner and that means calling the vet when there’s a concern. Google is not a vet. Your friend is not a vet. Well, maybe he is, but you need to go to your vet.

Making appointments to take your pet to the vet can sometimes be a hassle and can be costly depending on what service your pet has to have. That being said, neither of these reasons should restrict your pet from getting the best medical service available. One thing I’ve learned since being a dog owner is that dogs can pretty much get everything humans can get and more when it comes to being sick.

We got lucky this time and Dr. Mom seems to have diagnosed and treated the problem correctly. But I should have called. As we celebrate being a responsible dog owner let’s look at reasons to contact the vet beyond the normal annual visit.

We all want long and healthy lives for our dogs and being a responsible dog owner is a daily thing. Here’s a helpful list from the American Kennel Club article that you might find helpful.