Fit ‘n’ Furry’s Pet Grooming Tips

If you’re a new pet owner, you may be surprised by all the necessary tasks and things it takes to raise a pet. For example: the cost of food, the veterinary visits, daily activities such as walks, trips to the dog park, and did you ever imagine the grooming upkeep of a pet? Maintenance grooming of your pet varies by type of pet and breed. Some breeds need more routine upkeep of their coats. They may require more frequent hair cuts or trims and daily brushings to keep their coats from getting matted. Nail trims are also recommended for all dogs about once a month. Ear cleaning should also be incorporated into your pet’s grooming routine. Pets can also develop cavities, just like humans. Most grooming facilities offer teeth brushing, and for a more thorough cleaning, ask your veterinarian.

Many think grooming is just for the dogs, but cats sometimes require upkeep too. Cat’s fur tends to require brushing and occasional hair cuts to keep from matting. It’s not necessary to cut the nails of a cat, but if you want to keep them from scratching you when you pick them up or tearing apart your furniture, you may want to consider routine nail trims. Don’t forget about your cat’s ears and teeth, they too may need some cleaning.

Some pets are self-groomers, but still require some help to ensure that they are properly groomed. Grooming isn’t just about keeping your pet’s coat clean, maintenance of all parts help in keeping your pet more hygienic and contributes to their physical appearance. Check with groomers in your area, some specialize in hair cuts/bathing of certain breeds; many also do a variety of breeds. Most groomers will need to assess new pets and speak to the owners about their temperament; you can schedule appointments to guarantee a convenient time for you and your pet. Here’s to a clean, healthy, beautiful pet!

Fit’n’Furry’s Canine Summer Safety Tips

Keeping your canine companion cool during these hot summer months is crucial to your pet’s health.  Dogs are very susceptible to dehydration and heat exhaustion, especially those “short-faced” breeds, such as pugs and bulldogs because of their vulnerable breathing ability. A canine’s only way of releasing heat is through the bottoms of their paws, where the sweat glands are located, and by panting. Even with these unique cooling systems, when temperatures climb, your pet may become overwhelmed, especially in humid conditions.

So what happens when dogs get too hot? The most common result is heatstroke. Symptoms of canine heatstroke can include an increase in heart rate, labored breathing, purplish gum color, weakness resulting in collapsing, and even seizures, coma, or sudden death can be an onset of heatstroke. Most cases involving canine heatstroke are a result of confinement to a non-ventilated area, such as a car. Temperatures inside a vehicle even with the windows rolled down can rise to above 120 degrees.

Heatstroke can also occur due to over-activity on hot days. The excitement of chasing a ball or a Frisbee outweighs everything else in a dog mind. Your dog may not know when it’s time to stop playing and take a break, so be aware of your dog’s activity and breathing.

Also keep in mind that you are wearing shoes to protect your feet from the hot surfaces on the ground but your pooch isn’t and the severe heat of pavement or sand on a hot summer day can be very damaging to their little pads. Most pet stores or boutiques will carry adjustable dog booties that come in different sizes to protect your dog’s paws. Dr. Nancy Kay, author of Speaking for Spot, suggests going for walks in the early morning or evening hours when temperatures are generally cooler.

Another suggestion Martha Stewart makes is putting Vaseline on the pads of your pooch to reduce its heat level.

Summertime and playtime go hand-in-hand for both humans and their beloved furry pals. We especially want to take them everywhere with us on our exciting adventures, but be advised that the best place for your pet is indoors. You may want to consider taking your canine companion to an indoor doggie play area where temperatures are controlled and your dog can be monitored. This would provide your pet with some fun exercise without getting overheated or burning their paws.

Be sure your dog has access to plenty of fresh, cool water throughout the day and is kept in a cool area, preferably in an air-conditioned home or facility. Sunscreen is also important for our furry friends, especially dogs with white noses and/or markings. When slathering on the sunscreen, be sure to put some on those white spots of your pooch.

Here’s to a cool, comfortable, fun-for-all canine summer!

Fit ‘N’ Furry says, “Make Sure Your Pet Is Safe And Has Fun On The 4th of July!”

Are you and your pets ready for the 4th of July festivities?  More pets are lost on this holiday than at any other time during the year.  To keep your pets safe the first step is securing a safe location for your pets.  Look for an indoor facility to occupy and shield your pets from the loud blasts of the fireworks. These are exciting times for both you and your pet, but your pet may start to demonstrate some nervous behaviors he or she normally wouldn’t, such as: chewing through leashes, jumping over walls, bolting away from you, running into traffic, etc. I suggest taking them to a facility where they’ll be kept busy playing with the other pets and monitored closely.

Keeping the pets at home this year? Here are a few tips to keep them safe:

  1. Do not bring your pets to a fireworks display. (This should go without saying)
  2. Keep a collar and ID tag on them at all times, even if they are micro-chipped.
  3. Keep pets indoors in a cool, quiet, familiar room with music or the TV on to mask the sound of the fireworks.
  4. Do not leave your pet outside in the yard on a leash or chain.
  5. Do not leave them in the car.
  6. If you know that your pet is seriously distressed by loud noises like fireworks and thunder, consult your veterinarian before the 4th of July for ways to alleviate the fear and anxiety your pet may experience.
  7. If you find a lost a pet, please take it to your local animal shelter immediately so that it may be reunited with its family.

Whether you’re celebrating at home or joining the community to watch your local fireworks displays make sure your pets are in a safe and secure place.  Happy 4th everyone!

FitnFurry Asks, “When Is The Time To Say Goodbye To A Faithful Friend?”

To put your pet down, or to not put your pet down, that is the extremely difficult question many of us pet owners are faced with at some time or another.  Some questions to ask yourself are: Is my pet suffering or in pain in any way?  How has his/her quality of life changed? Is my pet exhibiting severe or dangerous behavior? Ask yourself these questions and I feel you might have an answer to our first question.

Everyone has their own role in a household, including your pet. Both you and your pet know what role they are there to fulfill.  Dr. Nancy Kay, author of “Speaking for Spot” suggests these questions: “Does my pet still respond enthusiastically to the things that would normally excite him/her?  Do the good days still seem to outnumber the bad?  When you get down on the ground and go eyeball-to-eyeball with your dear companion, do you still see that familiar spark in his/her eyes that let you know that he/she wants to keep on going?  Do you sense your pet is ‘hanging in there’ and putting on his/her game face in order to take care of you? Your always-loyal best friend may feel that he/she doesn’t have ‘permission to pass away’ because you, his/her most beloved human, aren’t quite ready to let go.”

A lot of times your pet will know when it’s time to go. They might even start distancing themselves from the family. Such as if your pet sleeps with you at night, he/she might start sleeping in another part of the room or house. Pack animals are known to separate themselves from the pack if they’ve become injured or weak to help prevent the stronger pack leaders from being hurt by protecting them.

The decision to put a pet to sleep is always difficult and intensely personal.  In most cases you will probably have some time to weigh your options and to speak with family and friends, unless there is some urgency, such as an untreatable injury or illness.  It’s a heart breaking experience for all pet owners, but surrounding yourself with people who knew and also loved your pet can bring a sense of closure.  Remembering your pet in a positive way and all the loving moments you shared together can be a comforting exercise to do with your family, especially with younger children.  Let them know that Buddy isn’t suffering anymore, that he’s no longer in distress, and encourage them to think of all the fun/happy times.  Celebrate the times your family shared with Buddy and always remember the unconditional love you and your family experienced during Buddy’s life. If you have loved and lost a pet, I wish you serenity and acceptance over the sadness of your pet’s passing.

Going To The Vet With FitnFurry

Going to the vet can be a very frightening or stressful experience for your dog. Your furry friend may exhibit behaviors that they normally would not in the home setting. These behaviors can range anywhere from a usually timid dog becoming aggressive to a confident dog becoming frightened and scared. These are all behaviors that can be avoided with the proper training and simple exercises. For more on these training techniques and exercises please visit Dr. Kay’s web blog: http://speakingforspot.com/blog, where she gets tips from Jennifer Hack, a Chicago based professional dog trainer and behavior specialist.

FitnFurry’s Guide to Common Pet Allergies

Just like humans, dogs and cats have immune systems to protect them from foreign substances. But also like in humans, animals can have allergic reactions to these foreign substances. For example: your pet may react to certain pollens, dust, an ingredient in its food, household chemicals, grooming products, and insect bites. These reactions can have a range of different effects, including itchy, swollen skin, difficulty breathing, or a disruption of the digestive tract, such as: vomiting or diarrhea.

Pets that experience these types of allergic symptoms are often pretty miserable. Allergies are chronic and can cause life-long problems for pets and pet owners. The good news is that they can be managed with the proper diagnosis and monitoring.

The first step is to determine what it is that your pet is allergic to, so as to avoid your pets contact with that allergen. Pet allergies generally fall under one of four main categories:

Contact allergies occur when your pet’s skin comes in contact with a certain material or substance it’s allergic to. Animals with skin allergies most commonly will have reactions to many types of shampoos and flea collars. The skin at the point of contact will be irritated, it may itch, become swollen or discolored, give off a strong odor, and/or loss of hair due to constant biting/scratching. Contact allergies are generally not a hard problem to solve since they’re usually confined to a specific area of your pet’s body. You can experiment by removing different materials that your pet touches or discontinue the use of grooming products until you find the one that irritates its skin. Also, many groomers often offer hypoallergenic shampoos and gentle treatments for sensitive pets.

Food allergies and food intolerance are very separate issues and knowing which you are dealing with is the first step. A pet with an intolerance to a particular food type/brand will typically experience vomiting and/or diarrhea. Pets with a food allergy generally experience skin irritations, digestive disorders, respiratory issues, and/or infections of the ear canal. Most animals are not born with allergies to food; their immune systems develop an allergic response over time to some part of their diet. This problem can arise anytime in a pet’s life, but usually occurs between 2 and 6 years of age. Even pets that have been on the same diet for a long period of time can develop an allergy to that same food. Most often the pet is allergic to a specific ingredient in the food, which can be a challenge to solve. The most common food ingredients which pets are allergic to are: beef, chicken, fish, eggs, soy, wheat, corn, and/or milk.

Once you’ve determined your pet has an allergy, you can begin the process of elimination to isolate the specific ingredient causing the reaction. This can be a long process and requires strict monitoring of your pets diet, which means no treats, vitamins, leftovers/scraps, or even plants around the house. Allergic effects of food can stay in the pets system for 8 weeks or more, so you may have to keep your pet on a special diet for up to 12 weeks to see how he/she reacts, and you may have to do this several times with several different diets before you find the one that doesn’t cause an allergic reaction.

Inhalant allergies in pets are very similar to those we humans experience. Like us, animals can be allergic to the pollen and mold in the outside air (hay fever), and dust mites, mildew, and mold that can be found indoors. These types of allergens can cause severe itching of the ears, feet, groin, and armpits of the animal, but can also be spread across the entire body. Hairless, irritated “hot spots,” caused by excessive chewing and scratching of the affected skin can also occur. Most pets with allergies to airborne particles are usually allergic to more than one. You may also find that your pet’s allergies are seasonal, for example: he/she experiences itchiness only during high-pollen seasons, like humans with hay fever. In this case you can limit your pet’s outdoor activity time during theses seasons. There are many facilities that offer indoor play areas where your pet can stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter and at the same time avoid certain allergens. Now, if your pet is suffering from an indoor allergen, or an allergen that doesn’t vary by season, there’s very little you can do to isolate him/her from that specific allergen, though you may consider an air purifier to provide some relief in the home.

Flea allergies are probably the most common problem for pets, and they aren’t actually allergic to fleas themselves, but to the proteins found in their saliva when they bite. Affected pets can itch severely from a single bite for over 5 days. If you suspect your pet has fleas try frequent baths and/or administering prescription flea applications/pills. Many professional groomers will offer flea and/or tick treatments to assist you in the removal process. We recommend consulting your veterinarian once you’ve chosen a flea repellent, so as not to cause anymore harmful reactions. You will also want to treat your pet’s environment, including bedding, upholstered furniture, and carpet. Eliminating fleas can be a tedious process and may require several treatments for your pet and home. When treating the home, we recommend having alternate accommodations for your pets so that they are not exposed to the harsh chemicals found in home treatments.

In some cases, pet owners may become frustrated by not being able to determine exactly what is causing their pet’s allergic reaction. This is when you and your veterinarian should work together. Your veterinarian may be able to conduct blood work and/or intradermal (scratch) tests to better determine what it is that your pet is allergic to and then recommend possible treatments, or combination of treatments to alleviate your pet’s symptoms.

Treatment of your pet’s allergies will require a lot of patience and determination, but rest assured, with the time and effort, you can help your uncomfortable pet start to feel comfortable again!

FitnFurry is Wild about Doggie Daycare!

There is nothing that can take the place of quality time you spend with your furry companion, going for long walks, throwing the ball or running on the beach but we don’t always have the time they need .  Some might argue that if you don’t have the time you shouldn’t have a dog but I disagree.  It is possible to be a good, responsible pet owner even if you have to work and take care of a family. Luckily, there are  pet care facilities that offer services to help you keep your dog socialized and exercised and won’t break the bank!

Doggie daycare facilities are popping up all over the country. A good doggie daycare facility will  require an  interview where they will get proof of current vaccinations and make sure the dog is not aggressive towards other dogs. This is for the health and safety of all the dogs who participate.  It is normal for a dog to be a little shy at first, especially if it’s a new experience but once they get  used to it you can bet they will be excited to come and play with all their friends. You will be able to drop them off at your convenience and when you pick them up they will be happy and tired! There are indoor facilities that are great when it’s raining, snowing or just plain too hot outside for the dogs to be comfortable. They also lessen the chance for fox-tails, flees and ticks or other hazardous things they might get into.  It’s an extremely beneficial service to help you raise a social, well adjusted animal.

If you are interested in having your dog participate in doggie daycare take the time to research  a few different facilities in your area. Ask to have a tour and try to get to know the dog handlers a little bit to make sure it is a good fit. Once you find a place that works for you, bring them to play regularly and ask them to give you updates on how your dog is doing. Some doggie daycares even have live web-cams where you can watch your dog play from work or home. Take advantage of these places who are here to serve you and your pets and make life a little easier.