Matting prevention

 

How Mats Happen

photo (9)A mat is a tangled mass of fur, held together and interwoven with dirt, debris, fibers & more hair. A dog’s hair shafts actually resemble a briar bush – a single strand can have many small “barbs” – though some types of coats can be rougher or smoother, depending on the breed. Other factors in creation of a mat are dirt, static, moisture, & friction.

Particularly common areas for mats to occur are on areas where friction is present: behind the ears, inner thighs, the rear, under the legs, chest and around the collar/harness area.

Mats occur due to a lack of brushing. Depending on your dog’s breed and coat type, some need to be brushed on a daily basis. As the tangle starts to form, it is joined by dirt, dust, and other debris, which, if not taken care of immediately, will grow in size & density and cause discomfort to your dog.

Mats & Moisture

IMG_0009If your pet is already starting to tangle, the slightest amount of moisture can make it almost impossible to remove, especially with certain coat types.

If a coat that is tangled is then damped and allowed to dry without brushing or blow-drying (i.e., air dried), the mat will act like your favorite wool sweater in the dryer – the fibers & hair holding the tangle together will shrink & become extremely tight. At this point, combing out the mat will be extremely uncomfortable on your pet, and potentially cause them pain. Your only alternative, at this point, is to shave out the offenders and start over. If the matting becomes too tight, it can start to pull the fur out of the skin, creating a very painful bald spot.

Brushing & De-Matting

199Always use a comb when brushing out your dog, as a brush-style will only take care of the top part of your dog’s coat. Make sure that you comb all the way to the base of your dog’s coat as mats can be hidden from view by the top portion of fur.

To lessen any pulling of the skin, use a slicker brush & comb with a “picking” motion, starting at the top of the mat (not at the base near the skin). In tiny strokes, flick your comb upwards, breaking apart clumps of the tangle and gradually moving downwards as the mat loosens. Hold the mat at the base, near the skin, to reduce discomfort to your pet by all the pulling.

“Dreadlock” type mats should be clipped out, rather than being brushed & de-matted, in order to lessen discomfort & pain in your pet. Keep in mind that dogs, if equated to humans, have the mentality of a two-year-old, and will react as such when confronted with a painful experience. Daily brush outs will be extremely helpful in keeping tangles from becoming full-blown mats. Condition your dog to like brushing by using encouragement & treats!

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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.

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!

Last Chance to Donate to the “No Fleas” Flea Market at FitnFurry!

daycare30_stillGetting Excited!

There is only one week left to donate items! The excitement is catching on as many of you have brought in your donations. Great stuff is beginning to come in daily; don’t miss out on the fun and prizes! Make sure your friends and neighbors know about this event; they may have some things they’d like to donate too and you’ll benefit from bringing them in!

What We’ve Received so Far:

Toys, collars, harnesses, leashes, bowls, clothes, beds, doggie back-packs, designer doggie carriers, tire biter toys, a dog house and flea medication. These great donations will provide revenue for our furry friends at the Petaluma Animal Shelter and the Sonoma Humane Society!

What We Still Need:

We need many more donations to make this a success. We could use more crates, beds, slightly used leashes and collars, harnesses, doggie gates, dog or cat bowls, kitty equipment, blankets, toys for dogs or cats and flea medications.

When You Give, Fit’n’Furry Will Give Back to You!

Our wonderful donors have been drawing  from our “Dog House” of prizes. Among the prizes are:No Flea Drawing

~ 1 night of boarding for a dog, cat or bird

~Pampered Nail trim for dog or cat

~A luxurious dog bath

~Great apparel-Fit’n’Furry hats

~A fun-filled day of daycare for your pet

Remember when you bring in a new visitor who donates something you will receive $5 in “Bark Bucks”. If this new visitor becomes a client you will receive a $20 credit on your account once they use our services.

We want to be able to sponsor and give back to two of the organizations that do so much for ‘homeless’ pets. Please help us as we reach out to support them. You can make a difference so please tell everyone you know about this event and help make it a success!!

Thank you for your help. Please keep those donations coming in!

Donations accepted at Fit’n’Furry until October 17th.

The ‘No Fleas’ Flea Market will be held on Saturday October 24th from 9am to 3pm.

Our trainer, Ina, will be there from 2 pm to 3 pm to give some FREE training tips.  There will also be a representative from the Petaluma Animal Shelter & the Sonoma Humane Society.

Kennel Cough – The Common Doggie Cold

dogcoughing1Everyone has heard of K-9 Cough or Kennel Cough, and some of us have first hand experience with it. It is equivalent to a human catching a cough or common cold that is going around. If your dog comes down with K-9 Cough he will start coughing, but his general health will remain the same he won’t loose his appetite, have a temperature, or feel lethargic. His incessant coughing will be annoying to both you and him, but life threatening cases of this infection are extremely rare, and dogs will often recover on their own in 7-21 days without any type of treatment. It is a good idea to take your dog to the vet for treatment just to be safe, and the veterinarian will prescribe cough suppressants or antibiotics. K-9 Cough is transmitted by a virus expelled from an infected dog. This virus can be airborne, or anywhere that an infected dog has been; say in a common water dish at the dog park. Just like humans have a higher chance of catching a cold in an enclosed and heavily populated environment like an airplane, elevator, or an office, dogs have a higher chance of catching a K-9 Cough in an enclosed area that is not well ventilated. Many dogs can be carriers without exhibiting symptoms themselves and a dog may carry the virus for several days after they have fully recovered. Just like in humans some dogs are especially susceptible to the virus whereas others seems to have a higher level of immunity to it. A dog may catch K-9 Cough from a Champion show dog at a show, from the dog down the street, or from the Vet’s office. Because it is often refereed to as Kennel Cough people associate K-9 Cough with a kennel. Though dogs can catch K-9 Cough in a kennel, it is often not the source of the infection. No matter how well ventilated, spacious, and hygienic the kennel is, there is still a possibility a dog may develop K-9 Cough. In many cases the cough will simply run its course and the dog will recover. In some cases it will persist and a veterinarian will prescribe an antibiotic to assist the dogs immune system. The best method of prevention is to vaccinate the dog twice a year with the Bordetella Vaccine. This will HELP prevent K-9 cough. The Bordetella vaccine acts much like the Flu vaccine in humans. It will minimize the risk of infection but will not completely prevent it. Also, you should be aware that once your dog has received this vaccine he may carry the symptoms and either pass the illness or contract it himself simply by being vaccinated. Really the bottom line is that your dog could pick up this common doggy cold anywhere, and although it’s no fun it’s not a big deal.

Mew Years!

You have your New Years resolutions and your pets have theirs.  As you start the year you should keep track of who is more S0071-14successful you or your pet at conquering those resolutions.

~I don’t need to suddenly stand up while lying under the coffee table.
~I don’t need to go through the trash while my parents are out.
~I will remember the Trash Collector is not stealing!
~I will remember the Mail Man is a nice man, oh and he doesn’t taste good.
~My head doesn’t belong in the refrigerator.
~I will no longer be beholden to the sound of the can opener.
~I will grow opposable thumbs!
~I will start feeding myself and decide for myself how much is TOO MUCH!
~January 1st: Kill the sock! Must kill the sock!
~January 2nd to December 31st: Re-live victory over the sock.
~I will remember the sofa is not a scratching post, no matter how tempting.

Clicker Training – From Dolphins to Dogs

Click to Communicate!
Unfortunately dogs don’t speak English, however the clicker provides you with a clear and simple form or communication with your pooch.

This method of training was first developed to train dolphins. The trainers needed to devise a way of rewarding them for doing the desired behavior. If the dolphin jumped through a hoop and then had to swim back to the trainer for his fish reward he wasn’t quite sure what he had done right. The trainers began using a high pitched whistle that the animal could hear even under the water, then they ‘loaded’ the whistle (feeding the dolphin whenever the whistle was blown) thus the dolphin associated the sound with the reward. When he jumped through the hoop he heard the whistle and knew that was the behavior that was wanted and that a fish was coming. This wonderful method has been used to train all types of animals but works particularly well with dogs, the only difference is instead of a whistle they use a clicker. This method is actually a conditioned response or ‘operant conditioning’ which is when an animal intentionally performs an action for the desired outcome, namely a treat. This actually employs the animal to act with purpose instead of just habit. Any behavior can be taught using these steps: get the behavior, mark the behavior, reward the behavior. This method can be used for basic obedience or for more advanced training.

Think about it: if you had to go to work every day and never got paid, most likely you wouldn’t last long, but you get up every morning and work hard because you know that you are getting some form of compensation. So, let’s not forget to pay our dogs for a job well done; come and learn the steps behind getting this method to work for you.

707.769.PETS or 707.769.7387

http://www.fitnfurry.com

Call Fit’N’Furry today to find out more about our Clicker Training Classes and when they start.