Category: Dog

How to Deal with Shedding

How to Deal with Shedding

By Elizabeth Anderson Lopez

Having cats and dogs is a joy, but dealing with shedding? Not so much. All pets shed to some extent. Luckily for your pet—and you—there are things you can do to reduce how much the fur flies around your house. Most strategies fall into two categories: minimizing shedding and cleaning it up.

Minimizing Shedding
Good nutrition for a healthy coat: The old “you are what you eat” adage also applies to your pets because food quality can impact coat quality. Poor nutrition can cause excessive shedding. Ask your veterinarian for food and supplement recommendations designed to help achieve optimal nutrition, leading to healthier fur. “If an animal is excessively shedding, has a dry coat or skin, then definitely I would recommend looking at the diet,” says Zack Grey, owner of The Urban Pet and Moon Shine Grooming in Los Angeles. “Fish oil is a good supplement but, really, having a high quality food can make a tremendous difference.”

Frequent brushing: One of the most important steps you can take to prevent shedding is a consistent brushing regimen using the right tools. Some experts recommend weekly brushings for short-haired pets and more frequent brushing for dogs and cats with long coats that can get matted. Matts are a good reminder that grooming is not just a cosmetic concern. Matted hair in both dogs and cats can be painful for your pet, and removing them won’t be a picnic for you either.

Excessive hair can cause hairballs in cats. If you have a cat that’s prone to hairballs, Linda Easton, president of International Professional Groomers, Inc., suggests misting cats with a special dry shampoo before combing to help get rid of fur. No matter what the frequency, brushing time should be painless and not something your pet dreads. Using the right tool is a big part of how your pet reacts to being brushed. Easton recommends using a comb on cats instead of a brush, and avoiding deshedding tools with a sharp edge. “Never use these on cats. Their skin rips.”

A slicker brush or pin brush for dogs is often the tool of choice. You may find a bristle brush is most effective with short-haired dogs. Many pet stores carry tools for excessive shedders, such as the ConairPro Shed-ItTM deshedder for dogs, which features additional attachments for a multi-dog household.

No matter what grooming tool you use, be sure to end a brushing session with treats so your pet knows the experience includes something tasty.

Periodic bathing: Regular bathing helps loosen and remove the hair that’s ready to come out. For heavy shedders, you can even use a rubber mitt with nubs that further work out the hair during a bath. After bathing, there’s a good chance your dog will benefit from a quick brush once it’s dry. Conclude with a favorite treat.

Cleaning It Up
So, although there’s no way to entirely eliminate shedding, if you have fur everywhere, there are things you can use to make clean-up easier:
• Use a lint roller or lint sheets to strip fur from you and your furniture.
• Rub a dryer sheet on your clothes to remove fur; do not use these directly on your pet.
• Run a full-size vacuum cleaner that’s specific for pet households.
• Use a handheld vacuum, also available in pet-specific models, for quick pick-ups on furniture.

No one likes dealing with cat or dog hair, but there are ways to make it more bearable. Shedding is a part of pet ownership, and these tools and tips will hopefully help your pet shed less and make it easier to remove those furry traces of your pet throughout your house. Your pet—and your clothes—will thank you!

 

Seasonal Pet Care and Health Tips for Cold Weather

Seasonal Pet Care and Health Tips for Cold Weather

By Susan Paretts

When the chill of winter comes around, you’ll want your pet to stay warm and cozy, even when you’re stepping out. Fortunately, with some weather-appropriate clothing, safety precautions, and other strategies, your four-legged friend will be ready to face the frosty temperatures.

Dress for Success
Before heading outside, dress your pet for the cold, especially if you plan on staying out for more than a few minutes, recommends Darlene Richard, a licensed veterinary technician in Las Vegas, Nevada. “While a quick trip outside probably won’t require any special preparations, if you plan on spending extended periods of time outdoors in the sleet and snow, put on some insulated dog booties,” she recommends. The canine footwear will keep your pooch from getting frostbite on his sensitive paw pads.

A warm sweater will help keep your pet warm during longer jaunts outside, especially for older pets, puppies and those with thin coats. You can even purchase waterproof clothing like pet raincoats to keep your four-legged friend warm and dry in the wet, slushy snow.

Moisturize Inside and Out
Winter is one of the least humid seasons of the year and the weather can dry out your pet’s skin and coat. Judy Morgan, DVM, of the Clayton Veterinary Associates in Clayton, New Jersey and the Naturally Healthy Pets website notes the forced-air heat indoors can also cause dryness. She recommends using a humidifier indoors to keep your pet’s skin moisturized and supplementing its diet with organic coconut oil or fish oil. “Coconut oil can also be rubbed into any irritated areas on the skin. It has antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties,” Morgan says. “Omega 3 fatty acids from fish oil are also helpful, as they decrease inflammation and increase moisture.”

Feed and Hydrate for Chilly Days
If you are spending any time outdoors with your pet, you’ll need to provide it with a heated water dish so that its drink doesn’t freeze.

Ken Tudor, DVM of the Well Dog Place in Claremont, California and the Hearthstone Homemade website warns that pets can become dehydrated in the cold. “Dogs don’t eat ice and snow to hydrate themselves when outdoors and can quickly become dehydrated from shivering in the cold,” he said.

Depending on how active your outdoor pet is, you may need to increase your furry buddy’s food portions. Dr. Tudor recommends feeding your dog more during the winter months if your pet is very active because the cold weather can increase its calorie needs. On the other hand, indoor pets who are less active in winter may need less food.

Groom Your Pet for the Weather
When you’re out for walks, snow and iceballs can get stuck in the hair between your pet’s toes, causing irritation. Trim the extra fur between the toes away with the ConairPRO Dog™ Palm Pro™ Micro-Trimmer to prevent this from happening.

After a trip outdoors, always wipe your furry friend’s feet and tummy with a damp towel to remove any potentially harmful chemicals like salt, de-icers or antifreeze. Try to avoid bathing your dog or cat as frequently as you would in warmer weather, because bathing too often can dry out its skin. Instead, use a dry shampoo like ConairPRO Dog™ Argan Oil Waterless Shampoo, which contains moisturizing Moroccan argan oil.

Stay Safe While Outdoors
When walking your dog outside, always keep them on a leash to prevent them from stepping on any frozen bodies of water. The ice could be very thin and your pet could fall through it, warns Dr. Tudor.

When out running errands in wintertime, never leave your dog alone in a car as the temperatures inside the vehicle can quickly dip to unsafe levels. Also, when it’s below freezing outside, it’s best to keep pets indoors because they’re susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia in extreme temperatures.

Being out-and-about with your pet gets a little trickier in the winter. But with a few changes to your normal routine, both of you can enjoy the outdoors during the chilly months of the year. So go out and face the snow together and have some winter-safe fun.

How to Properly Groom Your Pet’s Sensitive Areas

How to Properly Groom Your Pet’s Sensitive Areas

By Elizabeth Anderson Lopez

Certain elements of grooming your cat or dog are fairly straightforward. But there are a few spots on Spot that need some extra care and attention. Those sensitive areas include the eyes, ears, nails, genitals, and anus. If you don’t feel comfortable grooming any of these areas yourself, ask the groomer to show you some pointers during your pet’s next visit.

The Eyes Have It
The good news is that it’s fairly easy to clean your pet’s eyes; just be sure to exercise extra care and patience. If your pet has dried “eye boogers,” you can wipe them away with a cotton ball moistened by lukewarm water, a paper towel or a washcloth. Use whatever’s clean, handy, and non-abrasive.

If your dog has long hair on its face, you may want to trim that extra fur to cut down on trapped debris or tear stains. Mitch Horowitz, co-owner of Fur Balls Pet Grooming Salon in Bayville, N.J., recommends ball-tip curved scissors that curve away from the eye. It may also help to have a friend gently pet your dog while you carefully trim the eye area.

Here’s to Clean Ears
Dogs can get all sorts of stuff in their ears and, as a result, you may need to occasionally clean them. There are products you can use to wipe down the insides of the ears, but soap and water isn’t one of them. This is partially because water takes longer to evaporate, keeping the ears damp for longer. Suggested ear-cleaning substances include over-the-counter solutions made especially for pet ears, mineral oil, witch hazel or even baby wipes. Check with a vet to make a recommendation specifically for your dog.

To care for pet ears in general, apply the cleaner to a cotton ball and then gently wipe the inside surfaces of the ear, without going into the ear canal. Some dog breeds, such as poodles, have additional ear issues. “Hair grows in the ear canal and it needs to be plucked,” Horowitz says. “Ear powder can help. It makes the hair tacky and easier to grab.”

Nailed It!
Nails are another area that don’t sound particularly sensitive, but since they contain the quick—a thin vein of blood—cutting nails even a little bit too close can result in bleeding and pain. There are a couple of grooming methods to keep your pet pain-free when used correctly. You can use guillotine-style clippers or a battery-operated filing tool. Determine which will make your pet most comfortable. To further boost the comfort factor, do this task when your pet is lying next to you on the couch, drowsy and relaxed.

Preening the Privates
Removing hair around the genitals and anus is known as a “sanitary trim” and is done for hygienic reasons. Keeping the hair short in these areas will help prevent feces or urine from getting trapped in the fur. Remember, any pee on your dog’s fur can be smelly on every surface he lays on—including you.

While cats and dogs have no hang-ups about these “getting to know you” body parts, they do require extra care. If your pet hasn’t had a sanitary trim before, it may take awhile for Fido to get used to the area being touched and to the sound of clippers. Horowitz recommends leaving these areas to the professionals, but if you are comfortable, he advises to use a low blade. “A lower blade is less likely to cut the dog if it flinches or moves,” he says. Only use clippers specially made for those areas. “There are some places you never want to use scissors on an animal, and that’s one of them.”

Before this type of grooming is done, make sure your pet is accustomed to you handling these areas on a regular basis. Getting your pet used to seeing and hearing a compact, quiet trimmer, such as the ConairPRO Dog™ Palm Pro™ Micro-Trimmer, can also help.

Wherever your pet falls on the sensitivity spectrum, there are some body parts that should be treated with extra care when grooming. Luckily, there are plenty of tools and tips to make grooming all of your dog easier.

Boarding: How to Choose the Right Facility

Boarding: How to Choose the Right Facility

By Susan Paretts

When going out of town, every pet owner is faced with the decision to board their furry friend at a kennel. Choosing a trustworthy caregiver gives you peace of mind that your dog or cat is in good hands while you’re away. Once you know what to look for, a little investigating will help you find a boarding facility that meets your pet’s needs.

Check Out the Facilities
The best boarding facility for your pet will offer you free access to the entire building and staff. According to Josh Brown of Animalhub.com, pass on any facility that refuses to show you where your pet will be staying. “You should absolutely, positively be able to see where the dogs are kept. If you can’t, leave,” says Brown, who also owns Far North Kennels in Anchorage, Alaska.

Make sure that the facilities are secure and that enclosures are made of non-chewable materials, recommends Brown. Check that the indoor temperature is pleasant and that there’s plenty of light and ventilation for your pet. Cats should have litter boxes available and all pets should have access to fresh food and water daily. Most importantly, kennel spaces should allow for pets to move around comfortably.

Keith Miller, owner of the Pampered Pooch Playground, a doggie daycare and pet hotel in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, recommends that you place your pet in a facility that allows you to drop by to check on it without an appointment. This allows you to really see how the facility is kept at all times, not just when they’re prepared for you to come over.

Ensure Facilities are Clean
When touring the facility, see if the staff is regularly cleaning up after their four-legged guests. The staff should respond relatively quickly to accidents and regularly change food and water bowls. If you smell unpleasant odors or notice that most kennels for the pets are dirty, avoid that facility, recommends Miller. “While you might notice some doggie [or kitty] odor around, the building should generally smell and look clean without lots of air freshener used to cover up smells,” he said.

Interact with the Staff
Only choose a pet boarding facility that is licensed by the state and where you’re comfortable with the staff. See how the staff interacts with your pet and the pets that are staying at the facility. Pets should be groomed and played with regularly. The staff should also allow you to bring along a favorite toy, bed, food, or brush, like the ConairPRO Dog™ pin brush. This way, your pet will feel more at home while it’s away.

“You want it to be obvious that your dog is going to get positive human interaction while [it’s] there,” recommends Brown. Pets should be required to be properly vaccinated before being boarded. You also want to make sure that there are enough people around to handle the pets. “Most states require licensed facilities to have a pet to staff ratio of 20 or 15 to 1,” Miller said. “Staff should be prepared to bring your pet to the vet in case of a health issue and be trained in pet CPR and first aid.”

Check In Regularly
Most good boarding facilities now offer you webcam access so that you can see your four-legged friend at any time during its stay, advise both Miller and Brown. In addition, a desirable pet boarding facility will welcome you to call and check on your pet. If any of the staff or the owner seems annoyed that you want to check on your boarded pet, choose another facility.

While it’s never easy to be separated from your fur baby, you’ll feel better if you can check on your pet from afar. Taking the time to inspect the boarding facility and speak with the staff will give you peace of mind when you leave your pet in their care.

How to Establish Your Pet’s Bathing Routine

How to Establish Your Pet’s Bathing Routine

By Elizabeth Anderson Lopez

When you get ready to take a bath, you look forward to a nice soak in a warm tub. Washing your pet isn’t quite as relaxing, but establishing a routine for bath time can help make it less of a chore. You just need to keep these few simple tips in mind.

Getting in a Bath Time Mindset
Recommendations on how often to bathe your dog range from weekly to monthly; less often for cats. Because of breed and coat variations, you may want to ask your vet for a suggested frequency.

Let’s say you designate the first Sunday afternoon of every month as doggie bath time. One of the most important things you can do is have a positive mental outlook before you get started. If you’re rushed and don’t want to do it, imagine how your pet will feel.

To help both of you relax, consider Zack Grey’s advised approach to grooming. The owner of The Urban Pet and Moon Shine Grooming in Los Angeles says, “Make grooming day like a trip to the park.” One way to do that is by taking an actual walk before the bath to help your dog work out some extra energy.

Any part of the bathing experience that you aren’t sure of should be tested before bath time to gauge your dog’s reaction. For example, see how your pet reacts to a blow dryer on a non-bathing day. Get your restraint techniques down, especially with cats, because they may jump out of the water if you hesitate during the process.

Pre-Bath Preparation
Another pre-bathing ritual is brushing, which is a win-win: It relaxes your dog or cat, and helps remove loose, shedding hair.

Long before it’s time to bathe your pet, determine the best place to do so. Depending on your pet’s size, the most common locations are the tub or a sink. But don’t rule out getting into the shower. This may be the easiest option for a larger dog—and your back. Whichever location you choose, be sure to put down a rubber mat; the lack of traction is stressful to pets.

Bath Time Supplies
Gather all of the items you need and have them next to the sink or shower. These include shampoo—a pet-specific formula—cotton balls and towels. A rubber nubby brush can help remove extra hair. You’ll also want either a large plastic cup or pitcher, or even better, a hose attachment, such as the ConairPRO Dog™ Deluxe Pet Washer, which includes soft, rubber fingers for deep cleansing.

Less obvious supplies include treats and toys. A dog’s toy in the tub can keep it preoccupied during the bath, and also serve as a source of familiarity. And if you give a treat inside the tub or sink, it helps reinforce that it’s a fun place to be. “As a behavioral specialist, I suggest one incredible treat that is given only before and after grooming,” Grey said. “We want our animals to associate grooming as a good thing.”

Bathing Tips
Before you turn the water on, place a cotton ball in each ear—securely, but not deeply—to help prevent water from entering. A shower cap can work well, too, if your pet will tolerate it.

Talk to your pet throughout the bath for reassurance. If “it’s okay, it’s okay” gets old, tell your pet about a recent project or sing it a song. The easygoing tone of your voice is what will make the big difference.

Create a routine of the bathing process, too. Start at the base of the neck, working your way down the body, all the way to the tail, then the legs and underside for each step: wetting your pet, working the shampoo in, and rinsing thoroughly. This system helps you wash your pet’s entire body without wondering if you already did the chest or feet, potentially leading to missed or duplicated areas.

After your pet is thoroughly rinsed, gently towel dry it and keep your pet away from any drafts until it is completely dry. Again, if your pet is ok with a blow dryer, use it on the low/cool setting to speed up the process.

Before your pet’s next bath, develop a routine that includes the right attitude, treats and maybe even a rubber ducky. It will make bath time a lot more enjoyable—for both of you.

Typical Pet Grooming Services 101

Typical Pet Grooming Services 101

By Elizabeth Anderson Lopez

Typical pet grooming services may seem like common knowledge, but do you know the ins-and-outs of them? “Regular pet grooming plays an important role in keeping pets clean and healthy,” says Shelly Williams, professional pet groomer and veterinary technician. “The best part is it’s fairly easy to do as long as you keep the basics in mind.”

For dogs, the basics include brushing, bathing, nail trimming, and ear cleaning, while cats are a bit simpler. “Unlike their canine counterparts, cats groom themselves and sharpen their claws on objects,” Williams says. However, even kitties may need a little help from you.

Here are a few more tips you need to ensure your pet is perfectly coiffed and cared for at all times.

Brushing Your Pet
For cats, grooming help comes in the form of brushing, which is important to prevent hairballs, especially in longhaired breeds. Brushing is also critical to prevent matting, which can be painful for your pet.

Williams, who is also a staff member at the Animal Behavior College in Valencia, CA, touts brushing as a way to inspect your pet’s hair and skin. She recommends line brushing, a brushing and combing technique that removes tangles, debris, and loose hair.

“This is a tried-and-tested method of thoroughly detangling a dog’s entire coat and removing bulky undercoat,” Williams explains. “The process typically begins with a slicker brush and ends with a metal comb. You should always run a comb through afterwards to make sure the coat is completely tangle-free.” The ConairPRO Pet line includes slicker brushes in three sizes to provide the best coverage no matter your pet’s size.

Bathing Your Furry Friend
Bathing helps further remove that dreaded shedding hair, and it also keeps skin clear while preventing skin infections, Williams says. Use an animal-specific formula and rinse thoroughly to avoid leaving product on the skin, which could cause irritation. Wash your pet’s body parts in the same order each time so you have a routine; this avoids missing areas or multiple washings.

Many pets lose their footing in the slippery tub. Using a bath mat can help them feel more stable and secure, so they can enjoy the massage-like pampering as you work in the shampoo.

Nipping Those Nails
While the clickety-clack of your pet’s long nails on tile may be annoying, overgrown nails can cause far bigger problems. “Nail trimming should be of the utmost importance and priority for both dog and cat owners,” Williams says. “A dog’s overgrown nails may cause a variety of physical health problems. Dogs’ nails are very tough, and most curve downward as they grow. Overgrown nails cause the toes to splay outwards in unnatural directions, causing discomfort and weakening the structure of the bones and tendons of the dog’s foot.” In extreme cases, cats and dogs can develop nails so overgrown that they circle around and back, even penetrating the animal’s footpads.

Thankfully, trimming those nails isn’t difficult, but it requires some patience. Williams recommended owners spend a few days periodically holding the pet’s paw, touching a toe and then rewarding the pet with a treat to get it acclimated.
Then, there are two ways to trim your pet’s nails. You can cut the nail tip with guillotine-type clippers, taking care to avoid the quick, which is the nail’s visible blood supply. Or you can use a nail grinder, like the ConairPRO Dog™ Professional Nail Grinder.

Cleansing Ears and Skin Creases
Ear and skin-fold cleaning prevents infections by cleansing the skin creases on breeds such as the pug or bulldog, and the ears of dropped-ear breeds such as the basset hound, according to Williams. Those infections can cause a foul odor, so cleaning is crucial for both cosmetic and health reasons.

Grooming your pet helps your cat or dog look and feel great, plus it’s a hands-on way to bond with your pet. When you perform these basic grooming steps using the proper tools and products, your pet will feel clean, healthy, and well-loved.

At-Home Grooming Tips

At-Home Grooming Tips

By Elizabeth Anderson Lopez

Grooming your cat or dog sounds relatively simple—brush it, wash it and trim its nails—but that doesn’t mean grooming is without challenges. Here are some are tips to ensure your pet is well-coiffed and stress-free after your at-home grooming session.

Before You Get Started
To begin grooming, there are some tools you should have handy—some of which may require a friend’s help—but the proper mindset is the most important tool in your box. Take on grooming only when you have plenty of time and aren’t stressed, and accept that you may not achieve all the grooming you intended for a given day. Keep the attitude that this will be fun for your pet, and treats also help keep the experience positive too.

Be focused on your pet’s body language for extreme stiffness or struggling, as well as unhappy vocalizations, and be prepared to end a session immediately. This can be even more critical with cats, according to Linda Easton, president of International Professional Groomers, Inc. “Cats will definitely let you know. When they are done, they are done.”

Brushing Tips
Brushing tends to be the most frequent grooming task. Long-haired dogs and cats may need daily brushings, while weekly may be adequate for short-haired pets. If your pet is small enough to sit in your lap, taking advantage of that time together may make brushing more comfortable for both parties. You may find it’s easiest to brush a large dog when it’s standing on an elevated table. And if the fur really flies, brushing outside or in the garage might be the best tactic.

Brushing may also be the most time-consuming task—but in a good way, as you can talk to your pet and love on him as you work. “Pet them as you groom,” Easton recommends. “Never scrape the skin with a brush. Pull the brush up and away from the skin to separate the hair.”

Bathing Tips
One of the reasons a dog may be anxious during a bath is her lack of footing. A rubber bath mat in the tub can help your dog feel more secure. Make sure your dog’s hair is thoroughly wet with warm water before you apply a dog-formula shampoo. Work the shampoo through the fur and skin—except for the face—and rinsing thoroughly. Long-haired dogs may also benefit from doggie conditioner.

For the face, a damp washcloth will typically be sufficient. If your dog has facial wrinkles, it’s especially important to clean and dry between the folds. Once you’re done, let your dog help dry itselfoff. Your dog will likely shake a few times, then let your dogdrip dry for a few minutes before applying a towel. Drying your dog is also an opportunity to include massage as part of the process. If you’re in a cold climate and have a long-haired dog, you may opt to use your hairdryer on the cool setting. Even better, consider the ConairPRO Dog Pet Dryer, which is designed specifically for pets and includes a four-position stand for hands-free drying.

When it comes to washing your cat, keep in mind that not all animal shampoos are alike. “Cats have thinner skin than dogs and are more susceptible to injury and the effects of chemicals,” says Pam Lauritzen, president of the International Society of Canine Cosmetologists. “Pet owners should make sure that all products used on their cats are cat-friendly.”

Advanced Grooming Tips
Grooming ears and nails falls under advanced care, not because they don’t need to be done regularly, but because they need a little extra TLC. Ears can form wax and debris buildup and should be cleaned with a damp washcloth, but without entering the ear canal.

Guillotine-type clippers are perfect for pet-icures. Cut off just the nail’s tip and avoid the quick, which is the nail’s visible blood supply. You could also use an emery board for touch-ups, or the ConairPRO Dog Professional Nail Grinder. It has a protective shield with an opening just small enough for the nail as a safety feature.

Grooming your pet can be a fun way to bond with your dog or cat, as long as you approach the tasks at hand with the right tools and state of mind.

How and When to Groom Your Pet

How and When to Groom Your Pet

By Susan Paretts

Grooming your kitty or pooch is an important part of daily care to keep your pet looking and smelling its best. Regular bathing, brushing and clipping ensures that your furry friend is mat-free and tidy. Plus, your pet will love the special pampering it gets from you during grooming sessions.

Scrub a Dub Dub
Dogs usually need a bath only if they develop an unpleasant smell or have rolled in something yucky. Cats may not require a bath at all if they stay indoors, because our feline friends regularly clean themselves.

Jme Thomas, executive director of Motley Zoo Animal Rescue, a non-profit rescue group based in Seattle, Washington, says that most dogs don’t need a bath more often than every three weeks, because frequent bathing can dry out the skin and coat. “Some dogs have very oily skin and may need baths more often. An anti-seborrheic shampoo can help with that, too,” she said.

Remember to bathe your pup or kitty in just a few inches of warm water using a cat- or dog-specific shampoo, which won’t dry out its sensitive skin. When bathing, be sure to rinse the coat thoroughly because Thomas says that any remaining soap can look like flaky dandruff after the coat dries.

Brush Away Problems
Daily brushing is essential to keep your pet’s coat shiny and silky, especially for medium- to long-haired breeds. Choose a long-bristle brush for longer coats and a slicker brush or grooming glove for shorter ones. ConairPRODogoffers a full line of Pet-It brushes that fit comfortably in the palm of your hand to comb through your pet’s coat easily. Brushing removes dirt and debris from the fur, while preventing painful mats from forming.

“Grooming and brushing go beyond looks, it’s a way to check your pet out on a daily basis for lumps, bumps and any abnormalities,” notes Tonya Wilhelm of Global Dog Training in Toledo, Ohio. It also prevents your pet from shedding all over your home, especially in the fall and spring.

Tidy Up with a Trim
Giving your pet’s coat a little trim, especially in the hindquarters, can help prevent painful mats and odors. Thomas recommends regularly clipping the fur around the behind and legs, a procedure known as a sanitary groom. “Infections and bad, painful mats can develop there, which will not only smell but become a serious issue for your dog,” she said.

Nail Clipping
Regular nail trimming for both cats and dogs can help prevent nails from snagging on carpets and fabrics, and protect your furniture and floors from damage. ConairPRO Pet  offers both small and large size nail clippers, so you can choose the one that will work best for your furry friend. Thomas recommends trimming just the tips of your pet’s nails every three to four weeks.

“This is something that you can usually do on your own, or with two people,” she said. “If your dog really refuses, just try and get one or two nails done and then take a break, give some treats and work up to it again later,” she said. “Most dogs really will get used to it.”

Puppy and Kitten Tips
It’s never too early to start your pet on a grooming regimen so that it becomes accustomed to it by the time it’s an adult. “Grooming your puppy starts today,” recommends Wilhelm. “Teaching your new puppy [or kitten] to tolerate and even enjoy grooming is extremely important to their well-being.” It’s also a good idea to start brushing your furry friend’s teeth when they’re young so theybecomes accustomed to it, reducing their risk of periodontal disease later in life.

With regular grooming, your pup or kitty will always look its best. Using high-quality tools will make grooming a breeze for you and positively reinforcing the grooming sessions for your furry friend with treats and praise will make these sessions enjoyable for him too.

Checking Pets for Ticks

Checking Pets for Ticks

By Susan Paretts

Spending time with your furry buddy outdoors is fun, but unfortunately, parasites like ticks are lurking out there. Ticks are a type of arachnid that latch onto your pet’s skin to feed on you pet’s blood. These pests can carry diseases, including Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, so it’s best to do a “tick check” after jaunts outdoors, and get rid of the pests before they make you or your pet sick.

When to Check for Ticks
Ticks don’t like extreme cold or heat, according to Judy Morgan, DVM, of the Clayton Veterinary Associates in Clayton, New Jersey, and the Naturally Healthy Pets website. “Ticks are around all year, but definitely have an increase in activity in spring and fall,” she says. “They are fairly quiet when it is really hot and dry, preferring to live in cool, shady areas.”

Ticks typically hang out in wooded areas, under thick bushes, within leaf litter or woodpiles, and among tall grass, warns the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Give Pets the Once-Over
Check your pet’s body regularly for ticks, even after a simple backyard play session. Run your fingers over your dog’s body, raking them through the fur like a comb. Feel for any small lumps or bumps. “Good grooming is essential; daily checks for fleas and ticks are a must during the ‘in’ season,” recommends Dr. Morgan.

Note that ticks can vary in size, with some being as small as a pinhead. A grooming tool, like the ConairPRO Dog Flea Comb, can help locate the tiny pests, especially if your pet’s fur is dense. Be sure to check the armpits, groin, inside the ears and between your pet’s toes—all places ticks love to hide.

Remove Those Pesky Pests
If you find any ticks on your pet’s body, remove them as quickly as you can. You’ll need a pair of plastic gloves, tweezers and a cup filled with isopropyl alcohol. Wear gloves to protect yourself from any diseases the tick may be carrying. Then, gently grasp the tick with the tweezers—as close to the dog’s skin as possible—and pull it out, taking care not to leave any part of it behind. Drop the tick directly into the alcohol to kill it, and then save it. If your four-legged friend exhibits any signs of illness within seven to 21 days, your vet can examine the tick to see if it carried any diseases.

How to Prevent Problems
To avoid ticks, it’s best to keep to the middle of hiking trails, avoiding any vegetation that could harbor ticks. Also, pick up any leaves in your yard. “Keeping grass mown short definitely helps,” recommends Dr. Morgan. “Food-grade diatomaceous earth can [also] be used on bedding, carpets, yards and even on the pet to kill fleas and ticks. It dries the exoskeleton of the fleas and ticks and causes them to die.”

Simply sprinkle the diatomaceous earth on areas where your pet frequents and wash it off or vacuum it up after about three days. In terms of other natural solutions, use them with caution. “There are many essential oil sprays and products available for use on pets,” says Dr. Morgan. “Cats are more sensitive to oils, and only products clearly labeled for cats should be used on them,” she warns.

Darlene Richards, a licensed veterinary technician in Las Vegas, Nevada, recommends visiting your local veterinary office to get flea-and tick-preventative medication. There are both oral and topical meds available, and you and your vet can determine which is best for your pet.

Since ticks can transmit disease within one to two days, it’s important to remove any that you find right away. With regular checks of your pet’s coat and skin, you’ll help protect both of you from tick-borne illness.

When Does Your Pet Need the Vet

When Does Your Pet Need the Vet

By Susan Paretts

Just like people need regular medical care to maintain their health, pets need to see the vet for regular checkups—especially if they’re under the weather. This gives your vet the opportunity to examine your pet, answer your questions, and provide any medications your furry friend needs to stay healthy and happy. There are several reasons your pet might need to visit the vet.

To Get Spayed or Neutered
Spaying or neutering your pet prevents unwanted puppies or kittens and protects against some health issues, too. Spayed and neutered pets have a decreased chance of developing certain infections and some types of cancer, according to the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The pets also tend to behave better and are less likely to urine mark.

Your vet can perform this procedure to remove your pet’s reproductive organs, preferably when your pet is between two and nine months of age.

For a Checkup
Even if your pet seems perfectly healthy, she’ll need to see the vet at least once a year for a checkup. Ken Tudor, DVM, of the Well Dog Place in Claremont, California, recommends that most pets should see the vet twice a year, especially if they’re eight years old and up. Pets age more rapidly than humans and the difference of a few months can be the equivalent of several years between visits, he says.

“Your vet can give your pet a thorough physical from nose to toes so he can determine if she has any health problems,” Tudor says. This way, you can nip any health problems in the bud with proper treatment.

To Treat an Illness
When your pet gets sick, it’s time to see the vet. Any changes in your pet’s activity level or eating habits could be signs of illness. According to Dr. Tudor, increased water consumption and urine production may be a sign of a serious problem like kidney disease, diabetes, liver problems or a uterine infection in unspayed females. He said drinking and peeing more could signal thyroid issues, too—hyperthyroidism in cats or hypothyroidism in dogs.

“If you notice your pet licking or biting repeatedly at any areas of its body, it could mean that that spot itches or hurts,” Tudor says. This irritation could be caused by a physical injury, arthritis, an allergy or an infection. Also, he recommends that if the inside of your pet’s ears smell unpleasant, have your vet check them out.

Tummy troubles may require medical evaluation, too. While your pet may occasionally vomit or have diarrhea, if it happens several times in a row, see the vet.

To Get Medication or Special Food
Pests like fleas, ticks and mosquitoes carry diseases that can make your pet sick. These bugs are most active when the weather is warm, according to Darlene Richard, a licensed veterinary technician in Las Vegas, Nevada. If you find these pests on your pet’s coat when grooming her with a flea comb, like the one offered by ConairPRO Pet, head to the vet. Richards recommends getting some oral or topical preventative medications from your vet to keep fleas and ticks at bay.

If your pet has an ongoing medical issue, your vet can also provide you with the medication or therapeutic food needed to treat it. Prescription diets can help treat health conditions like crystals in the urine, stomach upset and kidney problems.

For a Dental Cleaning
To prevent periodontal disease, take your furry friend to the vet for regular dental cleanings. While your pet is under anesthesia, the vet uses special instruments to remove tartar and plaque buildup from the teeth, above and below the gum line. The cleaning will get rid of the bacteria that cause painful conditions like gingivitis, tooth loss and other health issues.

Unless you’ve noticed a problem between visits, normally your vet will examine your pet’s teeth and gums during regular checkups to determine whether it’s time for a dental cleaning.

The veterinarian plays an important role in keeping your pet healthy, so don’t hesitate to call the office with questions or make an appointment when needed. Your vet will provide care, advice and resources to help keep your furry buddy in tip-top shape for many years to come.