At-Home Dental Care for Your Pet

15 Jun 2017 | Filed in Dog Gooming

Many pet owners dismiss their pets’ bad breath as simply “normal” or something to be ignored. However, bad breath is a hallmark of periodontal disease, a bacterial infection of the gums and supporting structures of the teeth. If you notice that your pet’s mouth has an odor and/or you observe discolored teeth, he or she may have developed some degree of periodontal disease. What starts as gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) can quickly lead to permanent loss of gum tissue, damage to ligaments and loose or missing teeth. Periodontal disease can cause bacteria from the mouth to enter the pet’s bloodstream and circulate through the heart, liver and kidneys.

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ThinkstockBanfield’s internal research team found this year that 68 percent of cats and 78 percent of dogs three and older show signs of periodontal disease. Sadly, according to the team’s data, less than half of pets diagnosed with periodontal disease receive dental cleanings. In all breeds — particularly small breeds — both professional dental cleanings and at-home care are equally essential to oral health.

At-home care can include the use of water additives, tooth brushing with specially-formulated toothpaste for pets, dental chew toys, kibble designed to clear and prevent the build-up of plaque and paying special attention to any changes your pet exhibits. As a pet owner, you should examine your pet’s mouth at least once a week to look for signs of swollen or bleeding gums (gingivitis), brown buildup on teeth (plaque/tartar) and abnormal lumps, bumps or swellings. Be sure to examine the back teeth (molars) by lifting the lip to expose the outside surfaces of the teeth. Also, observe the color of your pet’s gums. The gums should be shiny and pink — not white or dark red.

If you notice any usual signs or symptoms or changes in your pet’s mouth, consult your veterinarian to schedule an exam. He or she will examine your pet, inform you of any problem areas and make treatment recommendations. You might need to schedule a professional dental cleaning, according to your veterinarian’s recommendations for your pet’s particular breed and condition.

How to Give Your Dog a Bath

14 Oct 2016 | Filed in Dog Gooming

As much as we all love for our furry friends to smell fresh and clean, getting to that point isn’t always easy. Dogs are rarely excited to jump into the bathtub for a good scrub. Bathing fearful dogs might be better handled by a professional groomer or your veterinary office. But if you decide to wade in, here are some helpful hints.

GETTING (YOU) READY

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ThinkstockBe sure you’re donning clothes that you’re okay with getting wet and dirty (and furry). Move all your grooming materials into the bathroom shampoo (ask your vet for suggestions specific to your dog), conditioner (a must for longer coats that need to be brushed out), brush, mineral oil (for eyes), cotton balls (for ears), at least two big, absorbent towels and, most importantly, TREATS. Lay a non-skid mat down in the tub to help the dog keep his footing. If you don’t have a detachable showerhead, a bowl or even a large cup is helpful in rinsing.

GETTING (FIDO) READY

Trimming your pet’s nails prior to bath time will not only give your dog better footing, it will also help protect your skin in case he tries to make a break for it. Now, bring the dog into the bathroom and close the door behind you catching a wet, soapy dog running down your hallway is no easy task! Give praise and treats to make him comfortable in the bathroom before you try to get him into the tub. If you’re able to, gently putting a cotton ball in each ear can help keep water out — just be sure to remove them when you’re finished! Also, to help keep shampoo from irritating his eyes, you can put a drop of mineral oil in each one.

BRING ON THE SUDS

Dogs are unlikely to get into the tub willingly. For bigger dogs, a second person to help you get Fido into the bath can help avoid straining your back. Make sure water isn’t too hot or too cold. Let your dog hear and then gently feel the water before going full-speed ahead with the bath. Start shampooing your dog’s shoulders and then move out from there. Be gentle around the face and any sensitive areas but be sure you get down to the undercoat. Read the directions on the shampoo bottle carefully to ensure proper usage. Rinse out all the shampoo, using your fingers to make sure you get through the undercoat to avoid subsequent irritation. This is where a detachable showerhead or bowl comes in handy to be sure bigger dogs get rinsed thoroughly.

NO MORE TANGLES

After the shampoo has been completely rinsed out, you can apply conditioner, if desired. Follow the directions on the bottle because some products need to sit on the coat for several minutes. If you have a particularly squirmy dog, you’ll want to find a fast-acting formula. Once you have finished the bath, it is time to dry your pooch. Towel dry as much as possible in the bathroom. For dogs with longer coats, you may want to use a blow dryer set on low. Before the dog leaves the bathroom, brush his coat out thoroughly because the bath will loosen up a lot of fur, which is better contained in the bathroom than all over the house. Many dogs get “after-bath-crazies,” so hold onto your hat and let ‘em run!

How to Brush Your Pet’s Teeth

14 Aug 2016 | Filed in Dog Gooming

When should you brush?

The best time to brush your pet’s teeth is when you are both relaxed. If your pet growls, bites, scratches or shows any other signs of aggression during the procedure, stop immediately and consult your Banfield doctor for advice.

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ThinkstockThis process should be introduced slowly, and may even take several days to weeks for your pet to adjust to the treatment. Start with step 1 and move on to the next step as your pet accepts each step.

Step 1

Gently position your dog in a corner (of a sofa, chair or room) so that he will be secure and more easily handled. Carefully lift the lips to expose his teeth.

Step 2

Rub your finger over the dog’s teeth and gums for about 15 seconds to get the dog used to having something in his mouth. It might be necessary to do this a couple of times before the next step.

Step 3

Put a small amount of toothpaste specially formulated for pets on your finger, and allow the pet to taste it.

Step 4

Slide a finger brush onto your index finger and put a small amount of toothpaste on the brush. Gently rub the brush over your dog’s teeth and gums. Repeat this process for the next few brushing session. Because finger brushes are not as effective as regular toothbrushes, the pet should be transitioned to a regular bristled toothbrush as soon as the pet is comfortable with it.

Step 5

Apply a small amount of toothpaste to a bristle brush specially designed for pets. Place the brush bristles at a 45-degree angle to the gum line. Move the brush gently in circular patterns over the dog’s teeth. Start by brushing a few teeth. As brushing sessions continue, slowly include more teeth. Build up to about 30 seconds on each side of the dog’s mouth. Remember to brush both upper and lower teeth.

Caring for Your Pup’s Paws in the Winter

16 Apr 2016 | Filed in Dog Gooming

Winter can be a tough time for a dog’s paws. Prevent weather-related paw pad injuries by following some basic tips and the use of products designed for paw protection.

Preventing Paw Pad Injuries

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ThinkstockOne of the biggest threats to healthy paw pads is the salt used to melt ice on driveways, roads and sidewalks. Prolonged contact can lead to chemical burns on dog paws. If your dog is limping by end of a walk, deicing products may be hurting his feet. Try to keep your dog off the salty sidewalk (think grass or snow) whenever possible.

Another threat from deicers is ingestion. Dogs may lick their paws or your boots and ingest deicing salts. To prevent your dog from ingesting deicing salts, keep a shallow bowl of warm water and a cloth near the entryway to your home so that you can wipe your boots and your dog’s paws when coming back inside.

Another common cause of sore paws during the cold winter months are the ice balls which form between the pads and toes of hairy-footed dog. To reduce the risk of ice balls, keep inter-pad hair trimmed neatly and short during the winter months. Not only can hairy feet contribute to the development of ice balls on the feet, paw hair can retain a lot of those nasty deicing salts. If your dog has hairy feet, trim them throughout the winter.

Dogs left in the cold for long periods of times are also at risk for frostbite on paws and hypothermia. It is not advised that dogs spend hours in the cold. In winter, frequent short walks are better for your dog than a single long walk

Bag Balm, a product available at nearly every pharmacy, applied in a thin layer daily or every other day should help keep your dog’s paws from cracking and bleeding. Keeping a humidifier in the house should also prevent dry, itchy skin for both you and your pet.

Products For Protecting Dog Paws

There are many products designed to protect dog paw pads during the winter month, from pet safe deicing products to protective waxes and dog booties. Safe Paw is a common pet-friendly deicer, but sand, small stones, and kitty litter (non-clumping) are also options for deicing while protecting your dog’s pads from injury and chemical burns. Musher’s Secret is one of the most popular paw waxes. Paw wax is applied to the pads of the feet before a walk, forming a protective barrier between the paw and the salty sidewalk or pavement. Paw wax will wear away after extended exercise, and should be reapplied before each walk.

The best protection for your dog’s paws and pads are dog booties. Just as wearing boots in the winter protects your pads, dog booties will prevent injury to your dog’s feet. Dog boots can protect your dog’s paws from salt, ice balls, and cutting his pads on sharp items that may be hidden under the snow or sharp ice. Proper sizing of dog booties is especially important in ensuring that the booties are comfortable for your dog to wear and maximize paw protection.

Dog booties may look silly, but really are the ultimate protection for your dog. Human snowsuits look silly also, but are they not the best for keeping sledding kids warm? Just as your kid may not want to wear a snowsuit, your dog may not initially like wearing booties. With a little time and patience, you can train your dog to love wearing his dog boots!

Instructions on Grooming Dog Paws

14 Dec 2015 | Filed in Dog Gooming

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Keeping your dog’s paws, pads and nails in good condition contributes to its overall health and well-being. Routine grooming, which includes paw inspection, nail trimming and pad conditioning, takes little time and helps you bond with your dog. Follow a few simple steps to make paw grooming an enjoyable experience for you both.

1Inspect your dog’s paws weekly. Look for signs of dryness or cracking in the pads, torn or overgrown nails, and minor cuts anywhere in the paw. Check for small objects that might be lodged between pads. Use tweezers to remove anything you find. Praise your dog during an inspection to send the message that paw handling is a good thing.

2Trim the fur around the paws. When long paw fur becomes matted it can hide irritating objects such as small stones and soot. Matted fur itself becomes an irritant when it cakes and hardens. Remove this fur carefully with scissors, clipping in small snips rather than cutting large chunks of hair at a time.

3Examine nails and trim as needed. Clip after a bath, when nails will be softer, and use a trimmer designed for dog nails. Take care not to trim too short, as dog nails contain a small vein, called a quick, and clipping too close to the quick can cause bleeding and pain.

4Massage Vitamin E oil or paw wax into your dog’s pads to keep them soft and prevent drying and cracking, which can be very painful. If using Vitamin E, poke a hole in a few capsules and squeeze out as much oil as needed to massage into pads. Paw wax, which can be purchased online or at pet shops, protects pads from rock salt in winter and hot pavement in summer by forming a protective barrier.

5Watch for paw licking or chewing, which can be triggered by allergies or irritants. Keep your dog away from lawn chemicals and any known allergens, including ragweed or plants in your yard, to help maintain paw health. If a dog’s paw licking becomes obsessive, seek veterinary care to determine the cause and develop a treatment.

6Handle your dog’s paws while playing or petting so the animal becomes accustomed to you touching the paws when you’re not grooming. This should be easy to do with puppies, but older dogs that are not used to being paw handled may protest. Work gently to convince an uncomfortable dog that your handling of its paws can be a time of bonding.

When Do You Take a Puppy for the First Grooming?

16 Oct 2015 | Filed in Dog Gooming

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Welcoming a puppy into your home involves a lot of getting his ducks into a row, from housebreaking him to taking him in for his initial veterinarian visits. Professional grooming is an important aspect in the care of many dogs, especially those with long coats. The earlier your puppy gets used to grooming appointments the quicker he’ll adjust to them, and that’s not a bad thing.

Early Start

If you get your puppy acquainted with the grooming salon at a tender age, it generally is easier on him in the long run. The strange sights and sounds of new places can be anxiety-inducing in doggies, and the younger they experience something, the better. Being professionally groomed entails a lot of contact with an unfamiliar person, and an early start can make it almost second nature in your pup. Just remember to reward your puppy with a yummy treat immediately after his appointment is through — you want to establish that pleasant association, after all.

Vaccinations

Before your little one ventures out into the world, make sure he’s gotten all of his necessary puppy vaccinations, no exceptions. Consult with your veterinarian to make sure that your pet is A-OK in this department. If your puppy visits a grooming salon without having all of his vaccinations, it puts him at risk for all of the potential infections that could be floating around — not good. Protect your precious pooch by not scheduling that appointment until he’s gotten all of the appropriate shots, as his health is priceless. Puppies generally are through with all of their puppy shots by 6 months in age if not sooner. As soon as your puppy has received his third set of shots, start looking into grooming salons in your area.

The Right Grooming Salon

Since a puppy’s first impression of grooming is so important, call the salons you’re interested in and inquire about possibly getting a quick tour of the place. Do not book an appointment at any salon that doesn’t leave you feeling completely confident and at ease. Glance around the salons, and take a whiff to judge whether they appear and smell fresh and hygienic. Look at the interactions between the groomers and their canine clientele, and note whether the dogs appear to be relaxed. Speak to the specific groomers who may service your dog. If he or she is knowledgeable and enthusiastic about giving you the information you want, you might just have a winner.

DIY

If your young pup isn’t through with his vaccinations, it’s still important for you to do some regular grooming of him by yourself at home — primarily, brushing. This is especially helpful if your pet’s coat looks a little unkempt: Say he got into something messy and now has a little pesky matting. Not only is brushing your puppy’s coat a good way for you to bond with him, it can help set the stage for his later grooming appointments. If you have any questions regarding coat trimming, talk to a professional before you proceed.

Grooming Techniques to Stop Dog Shedding

15 Oct 2015 | Filed in Dog Gooming

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All dogs, including short-haired pups, shed to some degree. Feeding your dog a healthy diet and keeping him well-hydrated can go a long way toward preventing excess shedding. Careful attention to grooming can also help eliminate excess hair, as well as serve as a good bonding opportunity for you and your dog.

Bathing

Regular bathing with a good quality conditioning shampoo formulated for your particular breed can help reduce shedding. Bathing helps flush out loose, dead hair, as does blow-drying your pup afterward. Some dogs, especially those with oily coats, can get dry skin from overbathing, so ask your vet about how often you should give your pup a trip to the tub. Make sure you use a hair trap when you bathe your dog, or you could end up with a sink or tub with a nasty hair clog.

Brushing

Brushing your pup daily can significantly cut down on shedding. The stimulation will help with circulation and keep fur healthy while eliminating loose hair. Select a brush appropriate for your breed. For example, a short-haired dog may do well with a soft bristle brush, whereas a long-haired dog or a pup with an undercoat may need a pin brush or curry brush.

Combing

A fine-tooth comb can be helpful for ferreting out minute hairs that result in shedding. A comb can also help you keep an eye out for ticks and fleas, as well as help you get a feel for the contours of your dog’s body. This can be beneficial in identifying lumps, scabs from mites, bites, infections or skin conditions before they get too advanced.

Supplements

Your vet may recommend essential oil supplements to help you keep your pup’s coat in good, low-shed condition. Some oils are applied topically, while others are given orally. Never give your dog any supplements intended for humans, and always consult your veterinary medical provider before using natural remedies or products not specifically prescribed for your pet.

Hair Cut

Taking your pup to the groomer for a trim can help keep shedding down, particularly if you have a dog breed with long hair that is challenging to maintain through home grooming alone. Groomers can supplement your at-home efforts with deep conditioning baths and specialized grooming tools. Regular professional care is much like a haircut at your favorite salon — you eliminate dead ends and reduce the chance for hair breakage.

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