Tag: Dogs

When to Splurge on Grooming Services and When to Groom at Home

When to Splurge on Grooming Services and When to Groom at Home

By Elizabeth Anderson Lopez

To groom or not to groom isn’t the question. The question is whether your pet should be groomed by you at home or a by professional in a salon. You may determine a hybrid approach is best: you do the regular brushing but have a professional do bathing and nails. Time, talent, tools, and type of coat are all factors to consider when debating where your dog or cat should be groomed.

Part of your decision will likely include cost, and washing your pet at home is definitely easier on your wallet. But the Four T’s—time, talent, tools, and type of coat—are designed to help you determine if the pet grooming version of “time is money” is a worthy trade off.

“Grooming done well can take some time,” says Linda Easton, president of International Professional Groomers, Inc. “This usually is a minimum of 90 minutes or more for a small dog.”

Along with the time it takes to groom your pet once, consider that this will be an ongoing commitment that you’ll either enjoy as way to bond with your pet, or you’ll put off because it’s an unpleasant chore. Remember that it’s your pet’s health and happiness on the line. Grooming isn’t simply cosmetic as matted hair and overgrown nails can cause discomfort.

Another factor to consider is your pet’s disposition. If you have a particularly anxious pet, grooming at home gives you an unlimited amount of time to help your pet become accustomed to the tools and sounds that go along with grooming.

Washing and brushing may not sound complicated, but it takes Easton about six months to train a bather/brusher. Bathing and brushing a pet includes thoroughly inspecting the skin under the coat to look for any issues.

Cutting an animal’s hair, on the paw, can be very complicated. Zack Grey, owner of The Urban Pet and Moon Shine Grooming in Los Angeles, explains, “Unless someone is experienced, grooming involving hair cuts should be done by a professional. There are too many variables involved, and an untrained hand using scissors or a shaver can pose a danger to the animal.”

There are many different types of brushes and combs that exist for various animals and hair types. If your cat or dog has short hair, one tool may be just fine. For more complicated coats, a salon will have ready access to a selection, including clippers, and a variety of shampoos and conditioners formulated for different skin and coat needs.

A salon also offers an all-over dryer system instead of the hand-held model you use for your own hair. Another hybrid solution if you prefer bathing your pet at home is the ConairPRO Dog Pet Dryer, which is designed specifically for pets and includes a four-position stand for hands-free drying.

Type of Coat
Not surprisingly, long-haired dogs are good salon candidates. “Dogs with longer coats that need trimming—Shih Tzus, poodles, Labradoodles—definitely need to be seen by a professional to avoid matting and unhealthy skin conditions,” says Easton.
If your pet is matted, that’s another perfect time to visit an expert. “The majority of cats that visit our salon are long-haired and have mats or are looking for a specialty cut such as a lion´s cut,” Grey adds.

Some cats won’t accept being groomed. Don’t force the issue. If there is any risk of injury to the cat or you, definitely see a professional. If you’ve decided to take your pet to a groomer, Pam Lauritzen, president of the International Society of Canine Cosmetologists, has some advice. “Pet owners should inform their pet care professional of their pet’s age, health and any special conditions their pet may be experiencing—skin problems, behavioral problems, anxieties, etc.,” Lauritzen advises. “They should also make certain that the pet care professional knows how to reach them in case of an emergency.”

There’s no right or wrong way to do it—you can groom your pet at home, take it to a salon or a combo of both. Whichever type of grooming you choose, you’ll end up with a happy pet who has a healthy coat and nails.

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!


Warm-Weather Dog Care and Health Tips

Warm-Weather Dog Care and Health Tips

By Susan Paretts

During the warm summer weather, you may want to hang outside with your pet to soak up the sun or take a dip in the pool. However, you’ll need to take a few precautions so your pet won’t get sick, overheated, or even develop a sunburn. Follow these tips to keep your pet safe while you both enjoy the sunshine.

Chill Out and Stay Hydrated
Summer temperatures can soar into the triple digits, so keep your pet in a cool, air-conditioned environment for a majority of the day to prevent heatstroke, especially for short-nosed breeds. Jo Jo Harder, producer of America’s Top Dog Model, in Boca Raton, Florida, recommends keeping your pet hydrated during the summer months. “Make sure your pet has plenty of water—at home and on outings,” Harder says. Pets can become dehydrated quickly in the heat. “Never leave your pet behind in a locked car,” she adds. Temperatures inside the car can quickly rise to dangerous levels.

She also recommends taking your pet outside either early or late in the day. “Avoid excessive exposure during the strongest hours of sunlight, usually between 10 am and 2 pm.”

Protect Those Precious Paws
Summer outings with your dog can be fun, but only if you protect your little one’s feet from the blazing temperatures of concrete, wood, sand and asphalt. These surfaces can reach temperatures of 145 degrees Fahrenheit, causing serious burns and blisters. Test the surface with your own foot or hand before allowing your dog to walk on it—if it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for Fido. If possible, try to stick to grass when on summer walks.

To be safe during extended outings with your pup, Darlene Richards, a licensed veterinary technician in Las Vegas, Nevada, recommends doggie footwear. “[Get] dog-specific booties that will prevent your pup’s feet from becoming burnt in the summer and [protect] from jagged rocks that your dog may be exposed to during hikes.”

Don’t Feel the Burn
Just like people, pets can get sunburned. Fortunately you can protect your pet by dressing him in UV protection clothing or by applying a pet-safe sunscreen to sensitive areas like the nose, belly, tail, and ear tips. Veterinarian Ken Tudor of the Well Dog Place in Claremont, California and the Hearthstone Homemade website, recommends that you apply the sunscreen, then wait a little while before going out. “Monitor your dog to allow the sunscreen to soak into the skin after application.,” he says. “Dogs tend to lick the sunscreen off of their skin after you apply it.”

Dr. Tudor also recommends that dog breeds with a thick undercoat, like a German shepherd or Siberian husky, shouldn’t be completely shaved. This is because a dog’s undercoat actually helps to protect her sensitive skin from the sun and naturally regulates her temperature. Breeds like poodles, who don’t have an undercoat, may benefit from a shave during the warmer months to prevent matting of the fur. You can tidy up your pet’s coat yourself for the summer with the ConairPRO Dog 2-in-1 Pet Clipper/Trimmer Kit.

Play It Safe in the Water
With some safety precautions in place, a cool dip in the pool is a healthy way to give your pet some exercise during the heat of summer. Darlene Richards recommends a pet life jacket, especially for smaller dogs.

Dr. Tudor warns that you should give your four-legged friend several breaks during play, because she can accidentally gulp an excessive amount of water when playing water-based games of fetch and while swimming. Ingesting too much water can cause water toxicity, a dangerous condition.

Don’t be afraid to go outside and enjoy the summer sunshine with your pet—it’s a great time to partake of some outdoor fun together. With some careful supervision of your furry friend’s activities to keep them safe in the sun, the fresh air and exercise will be good for both of you.

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 Pets Provide Therapeutic Benefits to People of All Ages

How Pets Provide Therapeutic Benefits to People of All Ages

By Susan Paretts

Having a pet is not only a lot of fun, but your furry companion can provide a variety of therapeutic benefits, too. Research shows that pets can improve our health, make us more socially active and help us get the exercise we need to stay fit. Pets may even help prevent allergies in children and assist them with learning activities. There are myriad ways our four-legged friends help make our lives happier and healthier.

Furry Friends Make Us Feel Good
Being around your pet gives you a lift because it increases the amount of feel-good hormones in your body, such as oxytocin and serotonin. These are chemicals that make you feel happy and relaxed. Along the same lines, spending time with your animal companion can help decrease stress hormones, such as cortisol, that our bodies produce when we’re anxious.

Rachel Eddins, a licensed professional counselor of the Eddins Counseling Group in Houston, Texas, recommends owning a pet as a healthy way to improve your mood. “Many people do not get enough pleasure in their lives and turn to food, TV, alcohol, etc. as their primary source of pleasure or entertainment,” Eddins explains. “This can lead to unhealthy behaviors as well as low mood, because the pleasure is short-lived. Pets can be highly therapeutic in this regard because they can be both—a source of pleasure and entertainment.”

Dogs and Cats are Good for Kids
Pets help teach children responsibility and may make them healthier adults. According to veterinarian Ken Tudor of the Well Dog Place in Claremont, California and the Hearthstone Homemade website, several studies have shown that children who grow up in households with dogs or cats don’t develop allergies or asthma later in life.

Dr. Tudor says that many studies show that children with pets have improved self-esteem, greater cognitive development and better social skills. The Purdue University Center for the Human-Animal Bond also asserts that children who own pets may even become more nurturing parents later in life. Our four-legged friends encourage empathy in children, and their presence helps kids achieve academically as well.

Pets Are Just What the Doctor Ordered
Forget an apple a day. Owning a pet is just what the doctor ordered to help you stay healthy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, having a pet can help lower your blood pressure, as well as your cholesterol and triglyceride levels. In addition, an article published in medical journal the BMJ, or British Medical Journal, stated that pets may help people recover from major illnesses like a heart attack, stroke or cancer. Pets of all sizes also provide companionship to the elderly and ill, improving their overall health and well-being, according to Darlene Richards, a licensed veterinary technician in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Four-Legged Friends Help Break the Ice
Not only do pets provide you with much-needed companionship, they can help you make new friends. Having a pet along can be a starting point for a conversation with a potential friend or even a romantic partner. According to the BMJ, pets are great “social catalysts” for people of all ages, including the elderly and disabled.

Pets Keep Us Moving
“Pets can be a motivation to get out the door when you don’t feel like exercising or going to the gym,” Eddins says. As a result, having a pet can help you stay fit. Walking your dog or playing interactive games with your kitty indoors gives you both some exercise. And that physical activity causes your body to release of endorphins—chemicals that make you feel good and help reduce symptoms of depression.

Pets not only help relieve our stress, but they improve our physical and mental well-being. Return the favor to your furry friend by playing a game of catch or giving him a pet massage. He’ll enjoy being pampered, and the time together will make you both feel good.