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Mats and Tips for Removing Mats

Severly matted dog
Severely matted dog

Mats are tighty tangled fur or hair. Mats can form on dogs and cats during their normal daily activities. Mats will commonly form behind the ears, under collar, armpits, between back legs, belly/groin area, back of the haunches and tails.

The fur of your dog or cat, especially if it is longer, will naturally get tangles. If you do not spend the time and energy to brush out their coats at least every other day, then these tangles will eventually build up with the daily activities with dirt, debris and shedding forming mats.

Severely neglected dogs and cats can turn into one huge mat and there is no saving their coat. With servere mats, the family pet may be in constant pain. Mats irritate the skin and can cause ulcerations from the constant pulling and suffocation to the skin. A complete shave down will be necessary to correct a serverly matted dog or cat.

Mats are very painful to your pet, especially mats in the armpits and groin areas. When the mats get wet, it adds weight, and this will increase pain felt by the pet. The weight of the mats constantly pulling on its tender skin and will actually pull the hair right out from the skin and new hair will start growing underneath it. Your pet may even be reluctant to move because it hurts to walk.

Mats are also a natural breeding place for fleas and ticks. There are many diseases these bugs can carry which can make your pet very sick.

Tips for Removing Mats

  • Brush your pet out at least every 2 – 3 days to keep under control.
  • Work your way around the mats, getting loose and dead hair out of the way
  • Using a mat breaker tool, slowly and carefully work your way through the mat while holding the fur to avoid pulling. Start at the end towards the skin.
  • Be patient with your pet and be sure you're not inflicting too much pain.
  • Smaller mats that are away from the skin can be carefully cut out with blunt scissors. Place a comb between the skin and mat, then carefully cut it out.
  • When mats are large and close to the skin, NEVER pull on the mat and attempt to cut them out! It is far too easy to cut the skin. This could make for an expensive vet bill. Call Carol’s Pet Grooming for help.
  • After mats and tangles are all removed, you can now bath your pet. Never bath your pet before mats are removed since this will make any exising mats even tighter.

Dog & Cat Fleas, Tapeworms

Dog flea

Fleas are wingless insects whose mouthparts are adapted for piercing skin and sucking blood. Fleas are external parasites, living by hematophagy off the blood of mammals and birds.

The flea has well developed legs and can jump up to 6 inches straight up. They are black-to-brown in colour and 1/8 of an inch long, wingless, laterally flattened, and have a piercing-sucking mouthparts.

They typically seek a blood meal within two days of becoming an adult. Cat and dog fleas prefer to feed on these two animals but will have no problem feeding off of rats, opossums, raccoons and even humans.

After each blood meal, female fleas will lay up to 400 to 800 eggs within her lifetime, on there host and in its bedding. These eggs take about 10 days to hatch and develop in larvae which feed on the adult flea’s feces which contains dried blood. Depending on the temperature, they molt three times in from seven days to several months. When mature, they spin silken cocoons in which they pupate. The pupate stage last up to 20 weeks. The adult flea stays within the cocoon until vibrations stimulate it to emerge. Development (egg to adult) requires from 16 days to a year or more.

Flea Control

Effective flea control will take the customer three major steps: sanitation, insecticide application (professional Pest Control recommended) and on-animal flea control.

FrontlineYour home should be vacuumed to remove larvae, pupae and food materials. Do this as often as possible before your flea control service. If you have a vacuum cleaner with a bag, remove the bag each time and place into a plastic bag and tie the top tight. The eggs can hatch within the bag. If you have a canister vacuum, then be sure to empty the canister each time into a plastic bag and tie the top tight. Wash all pets bedding the day of your Pest Control service and leave in dryer until solution is dried. Have your dog treated at a professional groomer while your home is being serviced. Be sure to also follow up with Frontline or Adams flea & tick topical treatment to keep them under control.

TAPEWORMS

Dogs get tapeworm from fleas. Fleas sometimes harbor tapeworm larvae. A dog will eat a flea causing the larvae to pass into the dog's body and live in the small intestines. They range in length from 4 to 28 inches.

Tapeworms are segmented, flat worms that can be passed in a long chain of segments. The segments that break off look like a small grains of rice and usually appear near the dog's anus. You can also check your dog's fresh bowel movement and the worms will appear alive and in full motion.

Symptoms

A dog with tapeworms will not always appear ill. Occasionally dogs scoot across the floor or vomit segments of live worm. Weight loss may also occur. You can check your dogs freshly laid bowl movement for the worms.

Diagnosis

Most tapeworm infections are diagnosed by a veterinarian through a history or by the owner of the dog who describes what she saw. Your veterinarian may also diagnosed by fecal tests.

Treatment for Tapeworms

Contact your veterinarian and they will prescribe a medication which will dissolve the worms.

Foxtails – A Deadly Danger to your Dog or Cat


Green foxtails in field. Has a similar appearance to wheat or barley.

Dry foxtail showing barbs that get caught in dog's fur or embed in dog's skin.

California Foxtails are a serious hazard for field dogs or any dogs that walk in weedy areas along paths, roads or yards that are not maintained. These weeds are annuals, and are soft and green from January through March or April. As the season gets warmer (late Spring) the seed heads dry up and the danger begins, lasting throughout the Summer and early Fall.

In Southern California we have a variety of wild grasses with similar characteristics to the foxtails that also have a nasty effect if not treated. Foxtails resemble the tails of foxes that have hard seed bearing structures with sharp pointed ends and microscopic barbs.

This weed only moves in one direction... IN. If they become imbedded in the animals hair, especially the paws, ears, nostrils even eyes, they can work their way in causing infection, and if not treated can sometimes be fatal.

OR... The foxtail, when embedded into the hair of a dog or cat, can cause a very painful, inflamed, infected lump anywhere on the animal's body.

Symptoms

Depending on the area the dog has a lodged foxtail the symptoms will differ. Once embedded even a little bit, the foxtail will make its way into the body.

Foxtail in Ears

A foxtail in a dog's ear might make it rub its head on the ground or shake its head violently from side to side. This is very painful. Check your dog's ears immediately and carefully remove debris. If the dog continues to paw at its head or rub it on the ground, get to your vets and let the expert take care of the situation.

Foxtail in Eye

A foxtail in the dog's eye might make it squint. The eye will water and the dog may paw at it. If you see it clearly in the eyelid, do not attempt to remove it. Leave it to your veterinarian and have it taken care of immediately!

Foxtails in Skin, & Toes

Depending on the location of the seed or seeds, other symptoms are biting at the paw or compulsive licking or whining and crying with no obvious or acute injury. They can migrate and lodge in the lungs, spine, urethra, nose, ears, paws, eyes and even just through the skin and travel through the body. This is very painful for the dog. It's also a very expensive procedure to try to locate and remove them.

Foxtail in Nose

If your dog inhales a foxtail seed and it gets lodged in the nasal cavity it may cause violent sneezing and sometimes this will cause bloody discharge from the nostrils. The dog may also paw at its nose. These symptoms may disappear, but may return and affect the dog intermittently. Get to your veteranarian immediately.

Foxtail in Throat

Foxtails that are swallowed by a dog may lodge in the throat and cause symptoms of an inflamed sore throat. The signs of this happening are repeatedly swallowing, gulping and trying to cough or gag up and clear its throat. Even if your veteranarian can locate the foxtail, your dog will need to be sedated in order for it to relax the muscles and have the foxtail removed.

How to prevent foxtail tragedies

  • In the early spring make sure you have your weeds cut down and removed from your yard.
  • Keep your dog away from weeded areas where you walk, hike or go hunting.
  • Examine your pet daily and carefully feel for any raised areas on its skin and prickly weeds stuck in its hair. Longer haired coats and thicker coats attract the weeds like Velcro. Be sure to brush your pet’s coats and carefully check under its armpits, ears, between its toes, belly and groin area. Do not wait to get to your veteranarian. Act immediately before the foxtail migrates and becomes more dangerous and treatment more difficult and costly! This is extremely painful to your dog!

Spaying and Neutering Your Pet Dog or Cat

Mammary gland cancer.
Mammary gland cancer.
Male with dried penis  due to over-breeding.
Male with dried penis due to over-breeding.

The importance of getting your pet sterilized or "fixed" cannot be stressed enough. Spaying is the surgical removal of the ovaries and uterus of a female dog or cat. Neutering, or more accurately, castration, is the removal of the testicles of a male.

There are tens of thousands of dogs and cats that are euthanized (put down) every year in Southern California. And just as many unwanted pets are left to struggle on their own without a home, leading difficult and painful lives dealing with hunger, disease and the elements. Domesticated dogs and cats are completely dependant on humans for their well-being. When a dog or cat is not spayed or neutered, its sexual appetite is out of control. This results in pets running loose, getting into fights, being hit by cars, getting lost, the list goes on.

There's no reason for a female dog or cat to have even one litter. It won't make her a better companion, and it will increase the likelihood that she will develop mammary cancer. Spaying a dog or cat before she goes into heat even once greatly reduces the risk of her developing mammary cancer. And the longer a female pet goes without being spayed, the greater is the cancer risk.

An un-neutered male dog will go into over-drive to breed. Yes, even dry humping your child's toy bear or blanket, anything. When this happens over time, it will dry out the sheath (the skin protecting the penis) and the penis will end up dying. This is extremely painful to the dog. The only way to put it back into its natural position is for the owner to apply KY Oil to re-lubricate. To prevent this from happening in the first place, be a responsible pet owner and neuter your dog.

For more information about the importance of spaying or neutering your pet, please contact your veterinarian.

Mange – Early Treatment is Important

Dog with severe mange.
Dog with severe mange. Click image for larger view.
Dog with severe mange.
Dog with severe mange. Click image for larger view.

Mange is contagious skin disease that affects domestic and wild animals. Mange caused by various microscopic parasitic mites that burrow into skin, hair follicles, or sweat glands, leading to chronic skin inflammation and hair loss.

There are different types of mange which include Cheyletiella mange, Demodectic mange and Sarcoptic mange. Veterinarians and dog owners often refer to mange as "canine scabies".

These parasitic mites can invade the dog's body if the dog suffers from immunodeficiency, the dog is living in unsanitary conditions, the dog breed is prone to a particular type of mange, or the dog is susceptible due to hereditary issues.

Dogs and cats that are kept up with proper grooming and regular baths tend to develop a healthier immune system to handle parasite infestations.

The one sure way to keep your dog or cat mange free and free from other skin problems is to keep them healthy and hygienic. Regular grooming and baths, along with regular visits to your veterinarian will help prevent any unnecessary skin conditions.

Most mites are contagious, and just a walk in the park or meeting another dog could make your dog a target to the disease. These parasites can cause several types of health concerns for your pets, along with severe itching and eventual hair loss. Mites, no matter what type, will cause your pet to suffer with intense pain and discomfort. These mites can live up to 22 days. Within those 22 days they have already reproduced, that is why dogs and cats suffer so much before recovery takes place.

Treat mange as soon as you notice it.
Early treatment is important as the condition will only get worse.


Cheyletiella Mange

This mange is also referred to as the "walking dandruff". Cheyletiella mites are visible to the human eye and if you watch them closely, the flakes will move around. This mite is large and reddish and can be seen under a magnifying glass. These mites walk on the pet’s skin and through their hair and they can feel every movement.

Cheyletiella mange along with sarcoptic mange will cause crustiness, scaling and hair loss in the affected area. Cheyletiella mites usually affect the dogs back, neck and head.

This highly contagious disease can affect dogs, cats and other four-legged pets. Humans can also temporarily be affected by the mites if they find their way into your skin. They will not live long, and will not reproduce on human skin as much as it does on animal skin, but you will have the itchiness and redness on your skin.

Once again, if you keep your pets on proper nutrition, in a healthy environment with good hygiene. you should have no concerns about contacting this disease.

Demodectic Mange

Demodectic mange is also called Red Mange. This disease is caused by the demodex canis mites. Puppies 3-9 months old are more prone to this disease due to hereditary and a weak immune system. It has been said that the mites can produce an element which will lower the dog's resistance to them and allows the mites to multiply. Demodectic mange doesn’t itch and is not contagious.

Puppies and young dogs with demodectic mange usually have redness on their feet and faces. With some breeds of dogs an attack of demodectic mange will appear just from the transition from puppy to adult. Sometimes just a change to its environment and lack of good hygiene can trigger it. This mange is not as severe as sarcoptic mange but still needs to be addressed if you see the symptoms on your dog. The sooner this is addressed the less discomfort to your dog and your wallet.

Sarcoptic Mange

Out of the three types of mites your dog could contact, Sarcoptic mange is the most discomforting, intense itchy and highly contagious. Also know as scabies. Sarcoptic manage can and will affect other four legged animals as well. These mites can also live outside of the host (dog) for a period of time so it is possible to catch this disease even if there is no direct contact with the affected pet.

Sarcoptic mange along with Cheyletiella mange will cause crustiness, scaling and hair loss particularly on the ears, elbows, legs and face. Sarcoptic mange will also make sores on the skin that ooze, causing inflammation and secondary infection. A dog with sarcoptic mange will bite and scratch at themselves with great ferocity. Sarcoptic mites are one of the most destructive parasites because they can cause life-threatening skin diseases that spread throughout the entire body.

As the female mite burrows under the skin laying her eggs the intense itching takes over. She lays massive amounts of eggs and they will hatch within a couple of days, develop into adults and they then begin to lay their own eggs, all in less then 21 days.

Sarcoptic mange is contagious to canines and humans. Fortunately scabies in humans is self-limiting; the mite can burrow under the skin and cause itching, but cannot complete its life cycle in humans and dies within a couple of weeks.

Canine skin damaged by sarcoptic mange and secondary skin infections can take weeks or months to fully recover, depending on how intense the problem was before treatment began. Frequent medicated baths will help soothe the irritated skin.

Treatment for Mange

Treatment can vary depending on the type of mange. Please consult your veterinarian for information.

Dental

eterinarian checks dog's teeth.
Veterinarian checks
dog's teeth.

We all know the importance of brushing our teeth at least twice a day, But what about our dogs? They can suffer from the same dental diseases that their human caretakers can.

Plaque: Dogs rarely get cavities, but are much more prone to gum disease and excess tartar build-up on their teeth. Food particles and bacteria collect along the gum line forming plaque. Daily brushing will remove this plaque.

Tartar: If the plaque is not removed, the minerals and saliva combined with the plaque will form tartar. This will adhere to the teeth like cement. Tartar is very irritating to the gums and causes inflammation which is called gingivitis. This will cause the gums to redden adjacent to the teeth. It also causes bad breath. At this point it is necessary to have the tartar removed from the teeth with special instruments called scalers, and then polished.

Periodontal Disease: If the tartar is not removed then it will start to build up under the gum line. This will separate the gums from the teeth to form “pockets” which will encourage more bacterial growth. At this point the damage is irreversible; this is called “periodontal” disease. It can be painful and lead to loose teeth, abscesses, and bone loss or infection. As bacterial growth continues it may enter the bloodstream. This can cause infection of the heart valves, liver and kidneys. If treated by your vet with special instruments and procedures, periodontal disease can be slowed or stopped.

BRUSHING YOUR DOG'S TEETH

The absolute most effective way of preventing periodontal disease in your dog is regular tooth brushing. Pet toothpaste can be purchased at your local veterinary or pet store. Do not use human tooth paste!

To get your dog comfortable with getting their teethed brushed, it's best to start daily brusing while the dog is still a puppy. You can ask your vet or groomer to show you the easiest way to perform the brushing. Use lots of praise and take it slow since this is something new and awkward, your pet will gain trust in you and eventually actually enjoy this daily routine.

Dog with chew boneDaily dental care can also be provided by the treats and food you feed them. Hard kibble is better than soft food which will help scrape the plaque from their teeth. Here are a couple of the treats that will help with your dog’s dental care:

Canine Greenies – all sizes
Canine Greenies Lite – all sizes
Canine Greenies Senior – all sizes
Toy Dental Chews

Dogs and cats that consume soft food only and don't have their teeth cleaned regulary are more suseptible to teeth and gum problems.

CAN'T BRUSH YOUR DOG'S TEETH?

Many people do not brush their dog's teeth for whatever reason. Make sure your Veterinarian checks your pet's teeth (including cats) during their regular exams. Vets can remove plaque or tarter before your pet suffers from a more serious dental condition.

Ticks

>American dog tick
American dog tick.

Dogs are affected by ticks a lot more than cats because cats groom themselves a lot more. However the ticks can hitch onto the cat where it cannot reach, like the ears. Ticks will bury there heads beneath the skin of the pet and suck blood for days. As the tick fills up with blood, it will balloon up like a lima bean. It takes 12 – 24 hours of blood sucking for the tick to transmit Lyme disease.

It is the hard to reach places that the ticks like to target, like the ears, armpits, neck and between the toes, but ticks can be found anywhere on your pet. Wounds from tick bites almost never get infected or sore.

There are two types of ticks that are known to transmit infections to humans, the black-legged tick (formerly know as the deer tick) and the American dog tick. It is the American dog tick that is the most infectious as an adult. Ticks carry their own little parasites that are microscopic bugs and can make pets and people very sick if they get into your bloodstream. That is why it is very important to remove the ticks as soon as possible and it's important to wear disposable medical gloves (available at your drug store) during the tick removal process .

The easiest way to remove the ticks is with hemostats (you can pick a set up from a pet supply catalog) or blunt-tipped tweezers. Grab the tick with the hemostats as close to the skin as possible and pull straight out. Don't worry about it if you don't get the head out and it is still in the body; the dog will either reject it within a couple of days, or it will absorb into the body.

After you have removed the ticks from your pet be sure to place them into a container filled with either rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or moisten a cotton ball/paper towel and put inside a plastic baggie with a repellent such as Adams Flea and Tick spray. If you put a tick into a garage or sink, it could crawl out and re-infect your pet. Follow up with a tick bath done by a professional groomer.

Alert

If your dog becomes ill (examples are - drunken behavior, tooth grinding, fever, bulls eye rash on skin, acting depressed) within a day or so after de-ticking it, and you live in an area known to carry Lyme disease, be sure to take your little bag of ticks with you to the Vet as soon as possible. FrontlineIf you see your pet limping, take it to the Vet immediately! When a tick bites it could cause "tick paralysis". This is caused by a neurotoxin from the tick’s saliva.

Prevention

To help prevent your pet from getting re-infested by ticks, apply a topical tick & flea solution like Frontline. You can order online or go to your local pet store. Ticks should not affect your pets during the winter months. Once the spring sets in and it gets warmer out, the season will begin.

Fireworks (and Thunder)

JULY 4th FIREWORKS WARNING

KEEP YOUR DOGS SAFE, KEEP THEM INDOORS

It's true, fireworks pose a very real health risk for your dogs. Dogs are very sensitive to the noise of fireworks and they can become very scared and agitated during fireworks celebrations.

Every year the animal shelters have a large influx of dogs that have escaped from their owners. Dogs can become so frightened from the noise that they will jump over yard fences or even chew their way through or dig their way under, to run away. Escaped dogs that make it to the shelter are the lucky ones... many get hit by a motor vehicle or attacked by coyotes.

During fireworks events, be sure to think twice about your dog's surroundings and if possible, bring your dogs into a safe and cool place. Also make sure your dogs have proper, up-to-date ID tags on their collars so the shelters can contact you right way. That will take stress off you and your pets.

Thunder Storms: This also applies to thunder storms, of course.

Summer Heat

Many dogs and cats suffer needlessly from summer heat because their owners are neglectful of how heat can affect them. Remember that dogs and cats feel the effects of heat more than humans.

  • Hot temperatures can be fatal to your dog.HOT VEHICLES: I shouldn't have to mention the obvious, but every year hundreds of dogs suffer and even die needlessly because their owners leave them in the car while they "just run into the store for a few minutes" or do some such errand.

    Even with two windows open a crack, the temperature in the vehicle can easily reach 125° F in a few minutes. That can be lethal for your pet dog or cat in a short amount of time. And keeping the windows open a crack hardly slows the temperature rise at all.

    Imagine how horrible you would feel if you returned to your vehicle after doing little shopping to discover your beloved dog was dead or dying from heat stroke.
     
    • See a study of vehicle temperatures reprinted from the Journal of the Louisiana State Medical Society.
    • See a study of vehicle temperatures from Stanford University shows that even on comparatively cool days, such as 72 degrees, a car's internal temperature will climb to 116 degrees within 60 minutes.
       
  • Paw pads
    Paw pads.
    HOT PAVEMENT and METAL: Pavement and metal can get very hot under the summer sun and can actually burn the pads of your dog's paws.

    The other day I was in a shopping mall parking lot and noticed two ladies talking by their car. Their dog was on a leash standing next to them on the hot pavement, alternating raising his paws almost like he was doing a dance. The pavement was so hot the dog couldn't keep his the paws on the ashphalt for more than a few seconds at a time.

    The owners were oblivious as to what their dog was trying to tell them. I brought their dog's behavior to their attention and they thanked me, but the point is, try to be aware that sometimes your dog may be trying to communicate their stress to you.
     
  • CLOSE TO GROUND: Dogs feel the heat of the pavement a lot more than humans because they are so close to the ground. Try putting your face near some hot pavement in the afternoon sun and you'll notice it's a lot hotter for you when you are a couple of feet off the ground than when you are standing up away from the heat that's radiating from the ashphalt or cement.
     
  • FUR COATS: Don't forget that dogs have fur coats which traps the heat even more. And if your dog has dark fur, it's even worse since even more heat is trapped and absorbed by the body. Try to keep your dog cool in the summer.

Carol is a
Certified Professional Groomer certified by International Professional Groomers, Inc. (IPG).



Animal Friends of the Valleys - Animal Shelter

If you're looking for a new pet to bring into your family, please consider adopting from the
Animal Friends of the Valleys animal shelter.

Randy Holbert Dog Training