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’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’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.

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.

Is DUPSTER DIVING Your Dog’s New Hobby?

Who ME?

I don’t know about your dog but mine has taken a liking to going through the trash, just to make sure I haven’t thrown something tasty away. He never does it while I am home, but if I leave him for a few minuets and don’t make sure to put the trash out I am certain to walk in on a MESS. I do my best to remember to put the trash out so that it won’t be a temptation, however I don’t want to know he is waiting for his moment either. So, I learned a trick! I set up a little trap, first I got a bunch of empty soda cans and a cookie sheet, then I balanced the sheet on top of the trash can with the cans on the sheet. I made sure there were some very tempting and smelly items in the trash and then I stepped out for a little walk. I didn’t go far, I just waited until I heard the clatter, so I made sure to get back in case he had the chance to get something juicy out of the trash. When I returned the cans were all over the floor and my dog was as far away from the trash can as he could be. I think I made my point! He is very careful about approaching the trash can now and generally cuts it a wide berth. The best part is that he is convinced the trash can made the noise, not me so I know he will think twice about dumpster diving whether I am there or not.

Best Doggie Goodies in Town!

Include yourself in the drawing and you could win the GRAND PRIZE! At www.fitnfurrynews.com you can check out the prizes that will be given away, as well as the short Training Tips that we have for you to watch. It’s so easy to sign up for the drawing, you can do it in person at Fall Home Show and Family Expo at the Santa Rosa Fairgrounds, or on www.fitnfurrynews.com. We would love if you stopped by our booth at the Fall Home Show and Family Expo just to say Hello!

Toxic foods for your dog! He won’t have to look far to find them.

Tomatoes

This fruit contains tomatine which dogs cannot process; tomatine in tomatoes and solonine in potatoes are cholinesterase inhibitors – meaning they inhibit the breakdown of a neurotransmitter in nerves causing excessive stimulation.

Keep in mind that there is very little tomatine is in ripe fruit. The highest concentration is found in flowers and the lowest found in ripe fruits. Symptoms include lethargy, breathing difficulties, drooling, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation, paralysis, seizures and/or death.

Raisins/Grapes

Raisins and grapes are foods that dogs simply cannot process (exact cause unknown) and can result in kidney failure. One single serving can be fatal to a dog’s system. However, not every dog or cat is susceptible and some dogs can tolerate large quantities of grapes or raisins without any clinical signs. Additionally the amount of grapes or raisins that may cause renal failure is not exactly known, so any amount could potentially be dangerous. Given the unknowns of raisins and grapes it is best to err on the safe side and avoid giving these foods to your dog.

Garlic/Onions

While onions are stronger, both garlic and onions contain thiosulphate which can severely damage red blood cells and cause anemia, difficulty breathing and lethargy.

Avocados

Avocados contain persin which is destructive to the heart and lung as well as other tissues in animals – the exact way is unknown. Additionally the high fat in avocados can upset a dog’s stomach and cause vomiting and possibly pancreatitis . Symptoms are subtle but include breathing difficulties and a bloated abdomen.

Pits

Most fruit pits including apple seeds, cherry pits, peach pits, avocado pits, plum pits and all pits of that ilk contain cyanide which is poisonous. The accumulation of small amounts of cyanide or a large ingestion will lead to death.

Caffeine

Caffeine, which can be found in coffee grounds or tea bags, is a natural stimulant and thus stimulates the heart as well as the nervous system. Caffeine in dogs can result in vomiting, agitation, heart palpitations and possibly death. Further symptoms are similar to those associated with chocolate.