Tips on how to choose the right groomer for your pet

For dog or cat owners, one of the hardest things to do is wrestle your pet into the tub for bath/grooming time. Hiring a pet groomer will ease this headache and ensure other benefits. Experienced dog groomers also check for signs of diseases and illnesses that can actually give you insight into your pet’s health.

Here are some tips and things to look out for when choosing which groomer is right for you.

  • Call ahead
  • Notice whether the facility asks if your pet has special needs and what you do for his coat
  • Take some time to examine the facility
  • Is the facility well lit?
  • Does the pet groomer’s shop smell clean?
  • Take note whether each representative and groomer appears knowledgable about your pet’s breed
  • Does this particular groomer cater to your pet’s size and breed?
  • Does each groomer appear to handle your pet carefully and gently?
  • Inspect the cages and make sure they are a good size for your dog or cat
  • Does this groomer keep complete records?
  • Ask what their accident procedures are
  • Make sure your pet is comfortable and he/she likes it there

Finally, when dropping off a pet, make it quick and simple. Tearful or drawn out goodbyes can make the pet nervous and on edge.

Follow these tips and you will have a happy, stylish pet!

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Do Dogs Fart or Do They Just Take the Blame?

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Everyone’s been in a situation where a foul smell gets blamed on the dog. But did the dog really do it? And do scientists really study dog farts?
By Caroline Coile

The dog did it.

And it’s time to break out the gas masks. Walter the Farting Dog may be the most famous dog with flatus (that’s the fancy word for fart) but he’s far from the only one. But why do some dogs seem to emit more poisonous gas than others?

To answer this you have to understand the science of farting (fartology?). Amazingly, researchers at Waltham designed a dog fart collection suit (they called it something else, maybe Flatulence Aroma Retention Togs, which I will abbreviate as F.A.R.T.), complete with a sulfur-detecting pump attached to the area near the dog’s anus. That’s your first clue about the ingredients of gas. Sulfur gases, especially hydrogen sulfide, make us want to pinch our noses and start looking for a dog to blame. Even if there’s no dog about. And sulfur-rich foods (like broccoli and cauliflower) just egg it along.

In addition to the cutting edge F.A.R.T. ensemble to measure parts per million hydrogen sulfide, an Odor Judge rated the essence of each flatulence episode. I am sure the parents of this judge left out exactly what kind of judge their son was when tooting about him at dinner parties. The judge rated each on a scale from 1 to 5, from noise only (1) to unbearable (5).

The quantitative data from the fart suit was then compared to the qualitative data from the fart judge. Big surprise, just as with humans, the deadliest ones contained the most hydrogen sulfide.

Let’s get back to basics for a second. A fart is made up partly of gases from swallowed air, partly of components of ingested food, and partly of by-products of bacterial fermentation. Dogs eat diets rich in protein, and proteins contain lots of sulfur, which is a major component of the stink in farts. In addition, some of the stink is made by bacterial fermentation in the gut. Certain carbohydrates that dogs cannot naturally digest increase the amount of gut fermentation, and thus, gas.

The fart scientists at Waltham next gave the dogs a treat containing charcoal, Yucca schidigera and zinc acetate, all of which reduce gas stench in humans. The dogs still farted as much—but the esteemed Odor Judge rated them as far more pleasant. Or at least, less eye-watering.

Certain breeds, most notably the flat-faced ones, have earned a reputation for gassiness, in part because they tend to swallow air when gulping down their food. If your dog farts a lot, you can try different diets, feed less fiber or sulfer-rich foods, give anti-stench supplements, or feed him from a bowl that discourages gulping. Or just buy a gas mask.

“In our house, there is never a question over whether the dog did it. He did,” says DogChannel editor Samantha Meyers. “When our French Bulldog is asleep you can hear him taking in the air on one end as it slowly and often loudly, comes out the other end. He remains asleep and unaware while we are left to suffer with the smell. He’s a hit a dinner parties. ”

By the way, why do dog farts tend to be silent (if deadly)? Some other researchers (are there really dog flatulence researchers at more than one institute?) believe it has to do with the fact that a dog’s anus is not at the bottom of his body, but at the rear. This means his anal sphincter doesn’t have to be as tight as a human one, because it doesn’t have to contend with the pressure caused by gravity that the sphincter at the bottom of our bodies has. A less tight sphincter means the anal opening doesn’t vibrate as much when the gas escapes. It could also be that the dog’s fart, while excelling in quality, isn’t nearly the equal of the human fart in quantity. All of these are still theories, though, and the Nobel Prize surely awaits the intrepid scientist who can get to the “bottom” of this.

Dog Vitamins and Supplements: should you be tossing your dog a canine supplement?

If you pop a multivitamin every morning, should you be tossing your dog a canine supplement as well?

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Vitamins and minerals are essential components of a dogs diet. They govern many processes in the body, including regulation of heartbeat, ability of the circulatory system to deliver nutrients to the body, and neural activity. High-quality dog foods are specifically formulated to deliver all the nutrients dogs need to stay healthy. Why then do manufacturers produce so many different dog dietary supplements of vitamins, minerals, herbs, and other substances?

Some dogs have special needs such as a weakened immune system that make supplementation a smart choice. Many people claim that supplements have helped their dogs overcome chronic diseases or have alleviated their symptoms. Some dog owners may choose to use supplementation as a preventive measure against future health problems. But some vets advise against supplementation because dog foods are nutritionally complete and certain vitamins, minerals, and herbs given in large doses may be harmful to some dogs. Other vets worry that processed commercial dog food has lost much of the nutrition present in the original ingredients and that supplementation is an important safeguard against deficiencies, some of which may be too minor to detect but which could eventually lead to chronic health problems. Supplementation, these vets argue, is a safety net and will not hurt dogs as long as their owners administer supplements according to package directions.

Supplement manufacturers and many holistic veterinarians argue that supplements aren’t effective unless given in doses more exacting than those in dog foods; it can be difficult to determine how much of a supplement a dog actually receives from a bowl of kibble. In supplement form, vitamins, minerals, herbs, and other substances can be administered in the exact dosages appropriate for different ages, weights, and breeds of dogs.

According to regulatory agencies like the FDA, dog supplements fall into a gray area between food and medicine, and many of the ingredients in these supplements are unregulated. Proceed with caution and give them to your dog only under the guidance of a veterinarian who is knowledgeable on the subject. Even if herbs are legal and saleable, they aren’t always safe for every dog in every situation.

Supplements that contain the same vitamins and minerals found in food may seem safe, but this isn’t always so, either. For instance, dogs store fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin D in their bodies. If they ingest too much of it, the vitamin can accumulate to the point of becoming toxic. Supplements of water-soluble vitamins like C and E probably are less likely to cause a toxic reaction in dogs because they are typically eliminated from the body daily, but any vitamin or mineral taken in megadoses could be potentially dangerous.

Although vets disagree on the importance of supplementing a dogs diet, most dogs remain in good health on a nutritionally complete and balanced dog food and many may benefit from, or at least are not harmed by, certain supplements. For example, consider vitamin C. Unlike people, dogs can synthesize vitamin C in their bodies and may not benefit from a vitamin C supplement the way a person could. Some studies suggest, however, that vitamin C supplements may be useful to highly athletic and working dogs. Dogs who lack the ability to synthesize vitamin C could benefit from supplementation of this antioxidant vitamin. Some breeders believe that vitamin C supplementation helps maintain orthopedic health in giant breeds. When it comes to canine dietary supplements, dog owners and their veterinarians must consider many variables.

The best course of action is to talk to your vet about supplements and determine together if your dog is likely to have a particular deficiency, then supplement that deficiency specifically. Or, if you are interested in supplements to treat a chronic disorder like arthritis or allergies, be sure to tell your vet that you are considering this kind of addition to your dogs health regimen. Your vet may have new information about the safety and efficacy of supplements. For example, the FDA announced that certain substances previously available for dogs such as comfrey and kava kava may not be safe. Because your vet may have access to dog health news you don’t hear about, it pays to ask before giving your dog a new supplement.

Until supplements are more closely regulated, follow these safety precautions:

Look for quality: Buy supplements from reputable manufacturers.
Follow directions: Always follow package directions for dosage. Don’t base an estimate of your dogs doseage on how much of the supplement you take.
Adhere to animal specifications: Never give your dog a supplement packaged for a human or for a different type of animal. For instance, don’t give a cat supplement to a dog, and vice versa. Accurate dosage matters when it comes to small animals.
Inform your vet: Always tell your vet if you are supplementing your dogs diet.
Herbs and supplements should be treated like any other medication or dietary change: if your dog experiences any sudden change in health or behavior, see your vet.

Excerpt from the book, The Original Dog Bible, edited by Kristin Mehus-Roe, with permission from its publisher, BowTie Press.

The Cost of Dog Obesity

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While there’s no way to put a price tag on the emotional costs of dog obesity, understanding the financial impact on our bank accounts is easier.
By Thomas Hill

According to a study by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, the majority of dogs are due to lose a little or a lot of weight. 52.5 percent or 80 million dogs qualify as overweight or obese. But beyond the obvious health concerns and discomfort pet obesity can cause, being overweight, can also put dogs at a higher risks for diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer.

While the reasons for keep your dog fit and trim, clearly outweigh the effects it has on your pocket book, it’s amazing to see just how the numbers add up.

So How much does this problem really cost dog owners?

Steve Pelletier, founder and CEO of SlimDoggy, Inc., highlights the life-span and financial costs of overweight and obese dogs:

Living dogs throughout America would live 87 million more years if dog weight problems were solved.
Yearly medical expenses approach $5 billion, with $30 billion for the average life-span of all obese pets.

Medical expenses come in the form of more medication required based on body weight and medical treatment required due to extra stress from excess weight on a dog’s body.

“There are short-term and ongoing increased expenses that account for higher dosages of medications that are prescribed based on body weight. This could include monthly heartworm and flea/tick medications, as well as most other drugs, including antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, pain medications and more,” explains David W. Linzey, DVM owner of Animal Emergency & Pet Care Clinic of the High Country in Boone, N.C. “The longer-term costs are mostly due to the treatment of orthopedic medical conditions that result from carrying extra body weight (hip dysplasia, ligament and tendon injuries, spinal disk herniation’s, etc.) and having an increased proportion of body fat (heart disease, hypertension, pancreatitis, hypothyroidism, diabetes, cancer, etc.).”

Since over-weight and obese dogs are more likely to suffer more serious medical conditions, increased medical costs are expected. Seeing just how expensive medical treatment is, along with increased pet claim statistics, as Petplan reports via the New York Times, treating obese dogs is financially draining for all dog owners.

Treating a diabetic dog, as of 2011, cost well above $900, while treating dogs with arthritis and stressed ligaments, due to excess weight, can set back owners $2,000. Pets owners can incur bills between $2,000 – $3,000 for hip issues, explains Dr. Jerry Shank, DVM, founder at Shank Animal Hospital, partly “because of poor health that accompanies the weight.”

For insurance claims, which ultimately affect all insurance policy holders, the effects are equally as costly. Diabetic companion animals insurance claims saw a 253 increase in 2011. Heart disease and arthritis claims increasing by 32 percent and 348 percent respectively.

The good news is these costs and more importantly, the health risks can be easily reduced through simple steps.

The first step is to recognize your dog may be overweight or obese. Once you have taken him to a vet to be evaluated you can set up a plan for food and exercise that can reduce the chances of future health problems.

Why do Dogs “Scoot” or Drag their Butts on the Floor?

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Does your dog use your carpet like it’s ultra soft toilet paper? Or maybe as a personal rear scratching post?
By Karen Asp, edited by Samantha Meyers

If you’ve owned a dog you’ve likely had this happen to you. You’re admiring your dog who is sitting so comfy on the rug, little legs sticking out, so cute — until it isn’t. In a swift move your dog goes from an adorable sit, to a cringe-worthy slide across your carpet butt first and suddenly your flailing your arms in a slow motion “no” as you imagine the trail being left behind.

“Why me?” is what you’ll likely want to ask as you get on your knees to scrub the floor while your dog with the nicely scratched bottom wags his tail at you, happy as a clam.

But the better question is why do dogs do it? and is this normal?

“Just about anything a dog does can be normal,” says Pam Reid, Ph.D., a certified applied animal behaviorist and vice president of the anti-cruelty behavior team for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in New York City. “There are, though, some behaviors that fall into the category of abnormal, and it just depends on the frequency and context.”

Why Dogs Drag Their Butts Across the Floor:

Butt scooting, where a dog drags his bottom across the floor, usually indicates a problem with your pup’s anal glands — in some dogs, they can become impacted and need to be expressed, or emptied of fluid — or a tapeworm, Young says. Another possibility? Your dog may have just defecated and is cleaning his back end, Reid notes.

How to Stop Your Dog from Butt Scooting:

If your dog scoots right after he defecates, allow him more time outside so he can clean this area better before coming indoors.

However, if this behavior happens frequently and outside the context of having just gone to the bathroom, take him to the vet to determine if you’re dealing with anal gland issues, tapeworm, or another medical cause. If the anal gland is impacted, you may have to take your dog to a vet or groomer regularly to get his anal glands expressed. Or if you’re adventurous, you can learn how to express the glands at home.

A New Era for Canine Rehab: innovative treatments and new options for dogs and their owners

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Recovering from injury is becoming easier with innovative treatments and new options for dogs and their owners.
By By Chris Cox-Evick

Getting Back Up

“It was a freak accident,” recalls Nicole Kelly, a certified veterinary technician and certified canine rehabilitation assistant, regarding an incident in 2012 when another dog ran into Phendi, her 6-year-old female Belgian Malinois. Though Phendi limped only briefly afterward and showed no pain under veterinary examination, Kelly says she hesitated about doing normal things, such as getting in the car.

“My heart sank when I realized her sports career could be over and, more importantly, that I could potentially not make her comfortable doing daily activities,” Kelly says.

Fortunately, Kelly, co-owner of Sublime Canine, a dog training and behavior modification business based in Tucson, Ariz., works as a vet tech and rehabilitation therapist at the Veterinary Specialty Center of Tucson.

“I consulted with my rehabilitation mentor, and we found a laxity in Phendi’s left hip,” she says. “Identifying the problem allowed us to put a rehabilitation plan into place.” Phendi’s treatments included laser therapy, stretching exercises, swimming, and more.

Treatment Options for Injured Dogs

Numerous rehab options exist that work as well for animals as they do for humans, Kelly says. Programs crafted for dogs can include water therapy, such as swimming exercise, pool workouts, and underwater treadmill work; laser therapy; ultrasound therapy; acupuncture; and strength training, such as with an exercise ball designed for dogs.

Each therapy offers special benefits to aid recovery. For example, water therapies provide buoyancy to ease stress on joints and muscles, according to Genia Smith, a licensed veterinary technician, a certified canine rehabilitation practitioner, and a certified rehabilitation therapist for the Advanced Rehabilitation Center at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich. Additionally, warm water helps with circulation, joint lubrication, and comfort. Underwater treadmills also have jets to improve circulation, she adds, giving treadmills a unique blend of soothing therapies that Smith says encourages patients to take their first steps after surgery.

Light- and sound-based therapies have also made their way into rehab. “Laser therapy utilizes light energy to initiate biological responses in cells that contribute to tissue recovery,” Kelly says. “It provides analgesic (pain-relieving) effects, accelerates tissue healing, increases circulation, and more.

“Therapeutic ultrasound uses sound-wave energy to improve circulation, decrease inflammation, prevent or break down scar tissue, and reduce pain.” she adds.

Well-known in human rehab, acupuncture for dogs involves inserting fine acupuncture needles into specific points of the body, Kelly says. “It is used to balance body energy, reduce pain, and improve healing,” she adds.

Exercise balls for dogs are made in various sizes from inflatable, tough, resilient materials that dogs push around or stand on to stretch muscles, improve balance, and rebuild strength lost to injury, surgery, or atrophy. Brittany Schaezler, D.V.M., is certified in veterinary medical acupuncture and works for Silverlake Animal Hospital in Pearland, Texas. “Peanut balls are a great way for owners to work on their dog’s strength at home,” she says. Rocker boards offer another gentle but effective workout (that improves strength and mobility) as the dog balances on a wide, low-to-the-ground seesaw.

Is Rehab for Dogs Necessary?

As is the case for people who have suffered traumatic injury, rehab is a must for dogs who need to regain functionality — something Schaezler knows firsthand. “Ticket is a 4-year-old Shetland Sheepdog who came up non-weight-bearing lame on her left rear leg one night after agility practice,” she says. Examination by a specialist confirmed Schaezler’s suspicion: Ticket had a cruciate ligament tear in her stifle, the canine knee, and needed corrective surgery coupled with postoperative rehab.

Cruciate ligament tears occur more than any other canine orthopedic injury, according to Elizabeth Perone, VMD, a certified canine rehabilitation therapist and the medical director at Rebound Animal Wellness Center in Malvern, Pa., a facility specializing in rehabilitation therapies. Whether done in conjunction with rest or surgery, rehab proves vital in getting the leg back to normal, she adds.

“Rehab helps to control pain and accelerate healing,” Perone says. “Rehab also aids in preventing injury in the other rear leg (in cases of cruciate ligament tears), a common occurrence resulting from the strain of the dog leaning on the good leg. The sooner rehab starts, the better the results.”

Schaezler agrees and adds, “Prompt rehab minimizes muscle loss and encourages early use of the injured leg in a safe and controlled way.”
Schaezler also points out that a dog needn’t be a canine athlete to benefit from rehab. “These treatments aren’t just for the performance dog,” she says. “I see a lot of injuries that occur in everyday life, including cruciate tears, neck and back injuries, and shoulder and elbow problems.” Arthritic and obese dogs also benefit from rehab therapies and a conditioning program, Schaezler adds.

Canine Rehab Results

“Research shows that [canine] surgical patients undergoing rehab recover in about half the time as patients not doing rehab,” Smith says. Some dogs are able to avert surgery altogether through appropriate rehab. “Owners often want to try conservative therapy and medical management to possibly avoid surgery,” she says. “I’ve managed some nonsurgical patients for years. But even if a dog needs surgery after rehab, they are in better shape and will likely recover more quickly.”

Rehab typically continues for several weeks, but can go on for years if the dog suffered a nagging injury. “The length of time in rehab depends on the dog’s age, fitness level prior to injury, the severity of the injury or surgery, and what recovery level the owner expects,” Kelly says, adding that a competition dog owner might want the dog in peak condition, while many owners simply want their dog to be OK doing normal activities.
One negative factor to consider is the cost of long-term rehab services, particularly following an already expensive surgery. However, much depends on which therapies prove necessary, based on veterinary recommendations. Generally, the cost of using an intricate machine like an underwater treadmill will cost more than exercise on a peanut ball. Therapies such as acupuncture, laser therapy, ultrasound therapy, and others often fall within a price range most people can afford on a regular basis. The costs vary depending on the treatment, the facility and the time for each session, but prices range from $25 to $150 per treatment, and dogs often require multiple treatments.

If you can’t afford the ideal rehab program, don’t be discouraged, Kelly says. “Some of the most beneficial tools are the owners themselves as they follow a home program designed by their dog’s rehabilitation professional,” she says. “The more engaged and dedicated to the rehab program the owner is, the quicker and more successful the recovery.”

Is it all worth it? Eleven months after her collision with the other dog, Phendi competed with Kelly in an agility trial. “She ran beautifully,” Kelly says. “Tears were flowing down my face after our run, especially when a fellow competitor complimented me on her exceptional jumping style.”

Bee Careful: Everything You Need to Know About Dog Bee Stings

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It is bee season out in the warm summer months. Make sure your dog is safe from those nasty bee stings.

By Daniel Conmy, edited by Samantha Meyers

Many of us have been stung by bees. No one likes it. When a bee comes by, people often flail and scream and run like Godzilla is attacking the city. Luckily a bee sting is generally not too bad. It might be a little painful and then it turns itchy, but that’s about it, unless of course you are allergic (in which case, please do run and scream).

While dog’s don’t have the same fear reaction that humans have, they physical reaction to a bee sting is not that different. Often dogs will have a similar reaction: some mild irritation and itching. But just like with humans, dogs can suffer from allergic reactions to bee and wasp stings and if your dog has never been stung by a bee, you won’t know if he’s allergic until it happens.

Symptoms of an Allergic Reactions:

Swelling
Difficulty Breathing
General Weakness

To be safe, the ASPCA recommends taking a dog that has been stung be a bee to your vet for treatment right away, as significant allergic reactions can become life-threatening. This becomes even more important if your dog is stung by multiple bees or stung anywhere inside the mouth. Dogs, if stung multiple times at once, can suffer damage to their kidneys and even die from the complications.

Here are some tips on keeping your dog safe from bee stings:

1. Be smart when outdoors. Bees and wasps alike spend most of their time out and about during the hottest times of the day. Plan to take your dog on walks and have playtime at either dawn or dusk, as it reduces the risk of your pup being stung.

2. Stay away from flowers. Although, this might seem self explanatory for you, dogs might not understand. It is imperative to keep your dog away from flower gardens and the like because of the amount of bees that are usually found in those areas.

3. Light on the fragrances. Bees are attracted to sweet smells. So, if you are out and about with your dog, lay off the perfume and deodorant, as it might bring some unwelcome guests during playtime or your walk.

What if your dog is stung by a bee?

One important thing to always remember is to stay calm. Your best friend cannot be helped if you are not in the right state of mind.

Once you realize that your four-legged friend has been stung, take these steps to minimize the damage:

1. Look at the area where your dog was stung and try to remove the stinger if it is still present. Note: DO NOT try to pinch and pull it out like a splinter, as that can lead to more venom in the dog’s system. Instead, try to flick it out with your finger or a sharp edge, like a credit card.

2. After removing the stinger, apply a mixture or baking soda and water to the sting area. If it is a single bee sting, monitor your dog for breathing troubles, allergic reactions, or other complications. If your dog swells up a considerable amount or has any of the previous symptoms, do not hesitate and go to your nearest veterinarian.

3. If your dog is only having mild symptoms and seems in good health, Dr. Jon Geller, reccomends using over-the-counter diphenhydramine (Benadryl).

“You can give your dog up to 1 milligram per pound of body weight. If your dog is very small, look for pediatric diphenhydramine formulations,” says Geller, who also notes that it’s important to use plain oral tablets, capsules or liquid that contain no other ingredients. “It typically takes about 20 to 30 minutes for the antihistamine to take effect. In some dogs, only an injection of steroids and antihistamine by your veterinarian will be effective.”

If the swelling is anything more than mild, give diphenhydramine at home, then immediately take your dog to the vet for repeat injectable drugs.

3. If your dog has been stung multiple times, go to the nearest veterinarian as soon as possible.
And now that we covered all that serious information that has made you all the better parent to your pet, please enjoy these photos of the only kinds of bees we do like: dog bees.

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