Category Archives: pet supplies

Limit frequency of dog, cat bathing / NEVER use human shampoo

The first step in bathing your dog or cat is to choose a shampoo MADE FOR PETS.  There are many good ones on the market.  AVOID using HUMAN shampoos that will dry your pet’s delicate skin.  NEVER use hand soaps or laundry soaps which are way too harsh for your pet.
Bathroom to a dogWhile bathing your dog – or cat – keeps them clean and helps keeps their fur soft and shiny, too much bathing removes essential oils and  can lead to dry skin, itching and flaking.  Some pet owners make the mistake of thinking that bathing will remove dry itchy flakes.  In fact, it does just the opposite and will make the problem worse.

If your dog has itchy flaky skin, limit bathing and choose a shampoo that contains oatmeal which will be much milder on the skin.  If your cat or dog has some form of SKIN IRRITATION, CONSULT YOUR VETERINARIAN.  DO NOT THINK THAT BATHING WILL SOLVE THE PROBLEM.  While there are special shampoos for irritated skin, they are NOT the best solution.  Instead:

  • Feed your pet a high-quality food that provides proper nutrition.   Nine times out of 10, itchy, flaky skin is a result of poor nutrition.
  • Consult with your veterinarian who can do a blood test to see if your pet is suffering from any blood deficiencies.
  • Once your veterinarian has ruled out any underlying health issues, consider treating irritated areas of your pet’s skin with an anti-itch spray to temporarily relieve minor pain and itching. One such product is Allercaine for DOGS. You can also buy Allercaine with Bittran, a safe, bitter substance that discourages animals from licking.   NOTE these products are for DOGS ONLY.  As always, check first with your veterinarian.

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Grooming tools that remove dog and cat undercoat

Dog and cat grooming tools come in a wide variety of styles and at a variety of price points.furminator

One highly-rated and popular implement that has become the “gold standard” of pet grooming is the Furminator Deshedding Tool The Furminator Deshedding Tool is a metal comb with lots of tiny teeth.   The design makes it perfect for removing a dog’s or cat’s undercoat.  The Furminator Deshedding Tool comes in a variety of sizes priced from about $20 to $70.  Furminator also produces a variety of other grooming brushes, combs and tools.

groomAnother grooming implement that is also good for removing pet’s undercoat is the Shedding BladeThis tool is a more economical alternative at about $10.  It is a simple design using a looped piece of metal with teeth on each side.  The teeth help to remove excess fur from your dog’s or cat’s coat.

undercoatYet another grooming tool for removing undercoat is the Undercoat Rake.  This tool, at about $20, works well for dogs with long, thick fur.

Following removal of your pet’s undercoat, groomers will often use a brush for finishing.  For this, you can use a ladies “pin brush” which may be similar to what many of us use at home.   These brushes have little “pins” with nubs on the ends and can be found at any drug store usually for just a few dollars.

For breaking up fur mats, consider the Mat Breaker.  This tool has razor edges that get under matted fur.  The backside of the tool is blunt, making it safe for your pet.  Cost is from about $8 to $14 depending on size.

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Choosing a collar for leash-trained dogs

depositphotos_dogcollarOnce your dog has been leash trained and is comfortable on a leash, you can explore the wide variety of neck collars available.  We emphasize that neck collars are NOT intended for training.  They are for dogs that are already leash trained and have learned not to pull while leashed.  (See our previous post on leash training.)

The most important consideration is that a collar should properly FIT your dog.  It should also be comfortable.  The best thing to do is to bring him or her into the store for a proper fitting.  Different breeds have different size and shape necks, so there is no one standard.  However, in choosing a collar, there are three main criteria you should take into account: 1) Width 2) Length and 3) Material.

  1. Width – You want to make sure that your dog is comfortable, so you do not want to choose a collar that is too thick and that could irritate your dog’s neck. At the same time, if the collar is too narrow, it could not be strong enough and is at risk of breaking, especially on a large dog.  So important considerations are comfort plus durability.
  1. Length – You want the collar to fit well and not leave any large gaps that your dog’s head could slip through. At the same time, you want a collar that is not too small that it cuts into your dog’s neck or could potentially choke your dog.
  1. Material – There are three main types of materials used in dog collars: leather, nylon and soy fibers.  The first two can be irritating if left on too long, or if they get damp or wet.  Soy fibers – made of recycled soy – are softer and less irritating.

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Dog-walking safety: stay in control, protect against other dogs, predators

e9d139fa-031a-41e4-ae30-4c5ff95227c0All dog owners love the chance to let their dog have a good run and get some exercise.  But save any off-leash running for the dog park as letting your dog out of your control just anywhere could result in serious injury or worse.

When walking your dog in public, make sure you have complete control.  This means the leash – no more than SIX FEET in length – should be firmly in your hand.  Avoid using a retractable leash unless you are in a fenced-in yard or dog park.  Even though you may be comfortable with, and trust YOUR dog’s behavior, you cannot control OTHER dogs who can quickly approach and distract your dog.

If you have a SMALL dog (or any pet), say 15 pounds or less – be on the lookout for birds of prey, like hawks, that can quickly snatch small pets.  When hungry, hawks and other predator birds are not intimidated by humans and can act in the blink of an eye with heartbreaking consequences.  Also be on the lookout for coyotes and foxes that are becoming more prevalent in urban and suburban areas, especially during dusk and dawn hours.

Finally, avoid using your cell phone while walking your dog.   This includes talking, texting, tweeting and all cell phone activity.  It can and will distract you from all of the above.  It can also take your attention away from oncoming traffic.  Instead, enjoy this time with your pet.

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Nail trimming can be done at home with right tools & supplies

Nail trimming – for dogs and cats – is a regular part of your pet’s grooming that should be pretty easy to do at home.  Doing it at home can save you a little money at the groomer’s.  Some veterinarians trim nails for free during a regular appointment, but this means waiting six months or more for the next trim.

So to try nail trimming at home — just like anything – you will need the right TOOLS and SUPPLIES.

Clippers

scissorstyle
A scissor-style pet nail clipper. Photo courtesy of Pet Supplies Plus.

There are two main types of nail clippers:  Scissor-style and guillotine style.  We prefer the SCISSOR-STYLE clipper to the GUILLOTINE-STYLE clipper.      

The SCISSOR-STYLE of pet nail clipper – pictured right — applies pressure from two sides.  We find it easier to control the nail cut with this type of tool as it is similar to using a pair of scissors in which you are bringing both sides together to make a cut.

clippers
A guillotine-style pet nail clipper. Photo courtesy of Pet Supplies Plus.

On the other hand, the GUILLOTINE-STYLE of clipper — pictured left — requires that you slide the blade over the nail.  The clipper then applies pressure from one side to the other.  We find this style more difficult to use.

IN CLIPPING YOUR DOG’S OR CAT’S NAILS, CAREFULLY TRIM RIGHT ABOVE THE “QUICK” OR THE PINK AREA WITHIN THE NAIL WHERE THE NERVES AND BLOOD VESSELS ARE.  IF YOU ARE NOT SURE, ASK YOUR VETERINARIAN.  CUTTING TOO MUCH INTO THE NAIL CAN BE PAINFUL TO YOUR PET AND CAN CAUSE EXCESSIVE BLEEDING.

Nail grinder

Nail grinders for pets are becoming very popular.  They remove the rough edges AFTER you trim the nails.  Removing the rough edges is important to prevent nails from chipping and splitting.  A split nail can be very painful and can necessitate a trip to the vet for your pet. For a good quality nail grinder, expect to pay $30 or slightly more.  A lower-priced version can have a weak motor and may not do the job.

Styptic powder

Should you cut into the “quick” of your pet’s nail, bleeding can be profuse.  Styptic powder is used to stop bleeding.  It’s used externally and packed onto the wound.  See package directions.

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Dog leash training: Head collars reduce leash pull; better than choke chains & standard collars

gentle leaderIf you are training your dog to walk on a leash, head collars – like the one pictured —  are extremely good at getting your dog not to pull.

A head collar fits over your dog’s nose and places a gentle pressure on the nose and back of the neck.  This pressure is released immediately when the dog stops pulling so you never have to jerk on the leash.

The fit of the head collar is vastly different from how choke chains and standard neck collars fit.  Both of these put pressure on your dog’s delicate throat which can cause your dog to choke and cough, not to mention the discomfort.

In working with our own dogs, we have found that a head collar not only teaches your dog not to pull, but such a collar also changes your dog’s demeanor.  The head collar uses gentle e pressure to let your dog know that you are in charge, giving greater control to you, the handler. You will be amazed.

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Break–away cat collars a must for safety

076484067259Putting a collar – with ID tag — on your cat is the only way – other than micro chipping—to have some source of identification should your cat ever get lost.  We have heard of far too many “indoor only” cats that have gotten loose or become separated from family during trips to the vet or when guests or workers unintentionally leave pets out.  Certainly for cats that go outdoors, a collar and ID are essential.

Because cats love to jump onto high places, and can get easily caught – indoors on furniture – outdoors on bushes and trees – there is only one good choice: a breakaway collar.  A breakaway collar has a plastic clasp that securely fits together, but separates when tension is placed on the collar.  So it is strong enough to stay in place for regular use, but has a safety feature that can save your cat’s life if he or she ever becomes entangled.

Breakaway collars come in a variety of sizes and colors.  If possible, it’s best to bring your cat into the store for a proper fitting.  This is the best way to make sure that your kitty’s new collar provides a comfortable fit while not being too loose that it slips off.

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