Mats, Tangles, and Snarls

A matted dog is more than an aesthetic issue. Tight mats pull at the skin, effect mobility, and can even cause injury if left unaddressed. Let’s look at the areas where fur commonly tangles up and talk about how to prevent it!

Felted fur on back leg
  • Neck: Collars mash long fur down, and friction causes it to mat. Silky coated dogs can get “ball mats” behind their ears from their collars riding up. Take your dog’s collar off daily for brushing.
  • Armpits and groin: these areas are often neglected during brushing because they’re hard to get to even on a cooperative dog! Keep these areas clipped clean, you only see them for belly rubs anyhow!
  • Sanitary areas: under the tail, around genitals, and the “pants” of long-haired pups can get pretty yucky. These are also areas to keep clean, short, and neat. If you like fluffy fur on your dog’s backside be sure to brush it!
  • Beards and moustaches: food gets stuck, then the dog scratches at it which smashes more fur into it. Add a trip to the water bowl and you have a big, stinky mess of a beard! Remember how powerful your dog’s nose is; if his face smells bad to you imagine how much stronger that scent is to him! Comb your dog’s beard out daily to prevent debris from building up.
  • Between the toes: another place we don’t normally think to brush! Big clumps of fur between the toes makes walking painful, and dogs will chew their feet trying to get the mat out. This just makes things worse! During brushing, gently run your brush over the top of your dog’s foot, from his toenails towards his leg. This will pull the fur up and out so you can keep it tangle-free. You can also run a comb between each toe, drawing the fur to the top of the foot. This is not an area to stick scissors into! The webbing there is very delicate and easy to knick. If you see a mat in the fur you’ve pulled to the top of the foot, cut it from there or let the groomer take care of it.
Mats cut from between toes

If your dog is currently matted, know that a “fresh start” is often the kindest option. Picking deep mats out is painful, as it tugs at the dog’s skin and can even cause tearing in areas with thin skin or on elderly dogs. Heavily matted fur restricts blood flow and can hide underlying issues like sores or growths that you may not see. Knots in the armpit and “leg pits” can bind, preventing the dog from walking normally or causing discomfort with every step. Be cautious in cutting mats out at home. Besides leaving holes in the coat, it can be tricky to know where the mat stops and the skin begins because the mat pulls skin into it.

mats shaved from ear01

Different fur textures mat in different ways, but any coat with length can snarl up. If a long coat is too much to keep up with at home, regular trips to the groomer (4 to 6 weeks is the recommended schedule) will keep your dog in good condition. You don’t have to book a haircut every time, a “face feet and fanny” or even just a thorough brush-out will do! While you’re in, I can show you how what tools to use and how to brush to prevent mats and keep your pup looking and feeling good!

Picking a Park

Molly at the park

There are so many dog parks popping up, how do you pick the right one?

    • Pass or open to all? It’s not a fool-proof system, but parks that need a pass require proof of vaccinations, meaning your dog is less likely to pick up something yucky from his friends.
    • Big dog/Small dog zones. Can your yorkie play with pups her own size or is everyone sharing the same space?
    • Cleanliness. Are there garbage cans and are they emptied frequently or are they brimming with poop bags? Does the park provide bags? People are less likely to pick up after their dogs if not.
    • Security. Is the fence in good shape? Is there a double gate so no one escapes when someone arrives or departs?
    • Other people. Swing by the park without your dog and scope out the people. Are they on their phones or chatting with each other? On the other end of the spectrum, is everyone crowding the dogs while they play? There is a middle ground between ignoring and hovering!

 

 

How did you choose a park to play at? What helped you make up your mind?

Hiring an In-home Pet Sitter

Hiring a pet sitter to watch your beloved pooch while you travel is daunting. You want someone with experience and a good knowledge of dogs in general, but also need someone who understands your dog specifically! Choosing the right person requires a little legwork but it is well worth the time to find a good fit!

Here are some questions to ask your potential puppy sitter:

  1. “What is your experience with dogs?” Ideally your sitter will have handling experience, but don’t discount someone who simply has a passion for pooches!
  2. “Do you have references?” Someone just entering the pet sitting field may not have many, but they should all be glowing! Speaking with previous clients about their experience will give you a better picture of your sitter. If they have not done in-home stays before, ask if you can speak to their vet, or even friends whose pets they have helped care for.
  3. “Can you handle my dog’s specific issues?” Dogs with special needs like medical conditions or behavioral issues need thoughtful handling. Make sure your sitter can manage meds, special diets, phobias and triggers if necessary.

Be sure that you do a thorough walk through with your sitter. This will be a time to go over their contract, arrange payment, and discuss details of your departure and arrival as well as introducing them to your dog and house. Ask questions about what the stay will include outside of dog care (watering plants, bringing in the mail, etc) and how much time they will be spending with your dog.

Please share your pet sitting concerns and stories in the comments!

Chomp! How to deal with those sharp puppy teeth!

Around 12 weeks of age, your puppy will start losing his tiny, razor sharp baby teeth. For the next few months he will turn into a mouthing machine as he dislodges his milk teeth and soothes his sore gums. How can you help him through his teething phase without becoming his favorite chew toy?

A variety of things that are acceptable for your puppy to chew on is essential. Frozen treats to relieve aching gums, firm toys to provide satisfying pressure, and soft toys that Fido can sink his teeth into should all be in the rotation.

Check out Kong for durable toys that can be frozen for long lasting chew sessions. Made with a soft rubber that is gentler on loose teeth than the material used for their classic toys, Kong’s puppy line has several offerings. There is the familiar stuffable Kong, a teething stick with ridges to smear food into, even a pacifier shaped Kong that can be filled and chilled.

Nylabone makes several toys for puppies at this stage, some edible and some not. Of their non-edible toys, we particularly like their “teething ring”, which has bumps and nubs to provide gentle pressure on sensitive gums.

Soft toys can be anything from a knotted up dish towel to the most expensive squeaky toy the pet store has to offer. Rope toys can be soaked and frozen and are fun to dig newly emerging teeth into. For dogs of all ages, be sure to supervise play with soft toys to prevent destruction and ingestion! All toys must be chosen with your dog’s size and jaw strength in mind and taken away if they start to deteriorate.

Instilling proper chewing habits when your dog is still a baby will serve you well in the long run. Be sure to upgrade to bigger toys as your dog grows and always praise him for chewing the things you want him to work on!

Canines and Crowds

Our summer calendars fill up fast! Softball games, BBQs, picnics and parties; it’s a fun time of year! It’s tempting to bring our dogs along to socialize with us, but is it a smart idea for them to tag along?

Consider who will be at the event you’re attending. Your dog might be overwhelmed by a yard full of running kids, so she won’t have fun at your nephew’s birthday party. Dogs who can’t resist grabbing a snack aren’t going to be the favorite guest at the BBQ, and even the friendliest pup can be overwhelmed by the energy of an art fair. Other dogs, people who don’t ask before petting, loud music, fireworks: yikes! Your dog might be happier relaxing at home with a stuffed Kong.

If you do decide to bring Fido along with you, be prepared. Bring a water bowl and scope out a shady spot for your dog at outdoor events. Is there a quiet room where he can escape from the crowded graduation party? Is everyone at the gathering comfortable with (and not allergic to) dogs? If other dogs will be there, has your dog met them before and did they get along? Be sure your dog is wearing ID tags and that their collar is on securely.

Choosing to leave your dog at home while you go out and enjoy summer events is nothing to feel guilty over. Most dogs are going to be more comfortable in their own space without the hubbub and you be less stressed if you don’t have to manage them all day. Take them for a long walk before you head out to that BBQ, tuck them in with a Nylabone, and maybe sneak some leftover burgers back home for them.