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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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 says Enjoy The Holiday Season With Your Pets!

We think of  our pets as a part of the family so when the Holidays come around it’s great to be able to include them in the fun.  Keep in mind that during this busy time there are things we should share with our furry friends and things that are better off left to their humans.  Here are a few ideas to keep them safe and enjoy their company in the hustle and bustle of the season.

It’s the time of year for parties which means lots of food and drinks and people.  There are foods that are perfectly fine for humans but can be very dangerous for your pets.  To avoid any unwanted trips to the vet  stay away from rich foods which can cause pancreatitis or other illnesses.  If you are going to give them some turkey,  make sure you take off the skin and don’t give them any gravy or mashed potatoes.  Also, never give them sweets, chocolate or caffeine.  If you keep extra dog treats around for the Holidays they will be just as happy with those and you won’t have to worry about them getting sick.

There are also decorations and plants that can be harmful to your pets this time of year.  You may already know that poinsettias are poisoness to pets but so are azaleas, philodendrun and cranberries.  They can also get sick from drinking Christmas tree water, especially  if you treat the water to preserve the tree.  You can try spraying the area with a citrus scent to keep them out of harms way.  Ornaments and lights  can also be tempting toys for your pet so it’s best to try to keep them out of reach if possible.  Also, If you wrap candy or chocolate as gifts do not put them under the tree or leave any baked goods on counter tops where they may be too tempting.

There are some great ways  to include your pets in the Holiday fun that are easy and inexpensive.  You can take them on nice walks to enjoy the festive lights and decorations in your neighborhood.  You can have fun dressing them in holiday sweaters and collars or get their picture with Santa!  You may even want to give them their own stocking  with some special dog treats or toys so they have something to keep them busy while you are eating and opening presents. 

This is the perfect time to get them spruced up at the groomers so you can show them off to friends and family when they come to visit.  You can even have the groomers dye their fur to look more festive for the season!

How ever you choose to celebrate the season don’t forget to include your pets and do what you can to keep them safe and healthy.  After all, they are a part of the family and absolutely love  any and all attention no matter what time of year.  Enjoy the holidays and stay safe!

FitnFurry Answers the Question “How Important is Training For My Dog?”

Training is the best way to keep your pet safe and establish a healthy relationship between you and your dog. There are so many factors involved with caring for a pet and if you start training at a young age you can save yourself a lot of worries in the future.  Training can make walking your dog more enjoyable, taking them to the dog park safer and  having people over to your house a lot less hectic.

Whenever you start basic obedience training the most important thing you can do is BE CONSISTENT  . Dogs are creatures of habit and any training you do must be re-enforced  regularly in order to stick. So this means you are being trained as much as your dog is.  It’s very hard to resist your cute, adorable, furry baby when he tries  to get up on the couch or bed with you or when he gnaws on your hands but habits like this could mean disaster as he/she gets older. Your dog is happiest when he knows what you want from him so when you train him it helps to strengthen your bond and gives him a way to make you proud.

When you walk a well-trained dog on a leash, YOU are in control at all times and not being dragged down the street. If  you come across another dog you do not have to worry about your dogs reaction. You can enjoy the fresh air together and get some healthy exercise without dreading a misbehaving dog.

When you take your dog anywhere off leash whether it be the beach, a dog park or even  your front yard, basic commands like come, stay or heel can save their life.  You don’t want your dog to chase things unexpectedly or take off in front of a car.

It can be a pleasure having people over to your house when your dogs are well behaved. They won’t jump all over company or try to get out of the house and take off when people are coming and going. Without the proper training some dogs become so territorial that they won’t even let anyone in your home without going crazy.The peace of mind of having a well- mannered pup makes entertaining much more enjoyable.

Having a dog is a long term commitment and a lot of responsibility. As cute and loving as they are, they can also be challenging and maddening, especially if they are not trained. When you take the time to create structure, teach commands  and give your dog boundaries it feeds their desire to please you. It makes them more relaxed when they know what you want from them.. so teach them. Give them positive re-enforcement when they do good and don’t tolerate bad behavior. This means you can’t be lazy and confuse them because sometimes they get away with it and sometimes they don’t. There are reputable trainers and pet facilities that can help you. Train your dog, they will love you for it and your life will be a lot easier in the long run.

You’re Going On Vacation but What About Me? Can I Go to FitnFurry?

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It’s the time of year when we are making plans to get out of town to celebrate with friends and family but what about our furry family members that can’t always come along for the ride?  The main thing to remember is that you have options.

If taking  your pets with you is not an option you can find a reputable in-home caregiver to come and feed and walk your  pets while you are away. Make sure they are bonded and insured and most of all make sure you feel comfortable with having someone come into your home and that your pets will get the care they need.

Another option is leaving your pet with a professional caregiver.  Boarding facilities can be a reliable choice when you are away.  Most places are reasonably priced and well equipped to give the necessary care your pet needs.  It is always a good idea  to check out a few different options  and find one that is the best fit for you and your pet.  Places are popping up all over the country that are not your standard “kennels”.  There are all inclusive pet resorts that can offer training and grooming while they are boarding so you can go on your vacation and when you pick up your furry friend they will be well mannered and looking great!

If you are home for the holidays you may still want to board your pets for a day or two or drop them off for some doggie daycare.  With the hustle and bustle of the season doggie playtimepeople may be coming and going more than usual which increases the chances of having a lost pet.  Also, there are many poisonous things for your pet to get into such as poinsettia plants, christmas tree water or turkey bones.  When our schedules get hectic our animals sometimes suffer so why not drop them off for some doggie playtime while you’re doing your shopping or entertaining.  Make the holidays fun for everyone including your furry family members!

FitnFurry’s Tips On How to Choose the Right Dog for Your Lifestyle

daycare15_stillSo, you are thinking about adding a furry friend to your family.  There are many things to consider before making your decision.  It is important to figure out what pet would be the best fit for your home and your lifestyle.

First, do you have the time and energy to give your pet the care it needs? Dogs need quite a bit of interaction in order to be happy.  How much space do you have for them to roam?  Do you have time to take them out for exercise?  checkin09If you already have a busy life  you can supplement exercise with a good doggy daycare facility.  These places are great even if it’s just to keep your dog socialized in a safe environment.  They come home good and tuckered out from playing with all their furry friends during the day.

Second, are you prepared to deal with pet hair?  Bathing and brushing regularly will help with pet dander and shedding for all dogs but certainrubadubdogs_01 breeds need to be groomed at least once every 2 months which can be an expense you didn’t expect.  In any case, regular nail trims and keeping a nice healthy coat is good for your dog and your home.

Third, when you travel you will need someone  to care for your pet.  It is always a good idea to have a boarding facility that can keep your pet safe and healthy while you are away.

Next, what is your activity level?  There are certain breeds and mixes that are very active and others that are better for a more sedentary lifestyle.  Working with a good trainer will help to have a well behaved pet regardless of the breed or activity level.  It’s great when your dog inatr09walks nicely on a leash, comes when you call and doesn’t snatch treats out of your hand.

Remember that having a dog is a long-term commitment that can enrich our lives greatly if we are thoughtful about choosing the right pet for our home. There are many tools out there today that can help give your dog a full and happy life. Find animal facilities that are safe and your dog enjoys and you will be amazed at how they can help you care for your pet.