SKIN CARE FOR FURRY BABIES
Skin care is important for our furry friends too!
It's no secret that I am an obsessive groomer, in fact I'd say that's how my profession chose me. It makes sense that my dogs are extremely well groomed. After people pet my dog's soft coat, I automatically get questions about their skin and health care.
Once you take your pup home, you take on the sacred duty of taking care of all of it's needs. At first, it seems endless, your puppy is active and requires lots of hygiene, training and extra special care so that they don't hurt themselves. After they grow up a bit, then you realize that grooming, feeding and pet care are your life's predicament. You will be their personal valet for as long as you or they live, so it's best to start training your pup to comply to proper grooming immediately. Most puppies need a gentle bath once a week, or more, depending how dirty they get.
Most puppies need a gentle bath once a week.
Dogs are our best friends, and for many people a lifeline. They stand with us through thick and thin, guarding our sound sleep at night. They take us on walks and give us so much love that daily grooming and feeding tasks are completely justifiable. It is an honor to reciprocate loyalty and dedication to our best friends, they deserve our best attention and care.
Just like a human baby needs a good pediatrician, a puppy needs to have the best Veterinarian you can find. It is unfair to our dogs to rely on the internet or Petco for advice on how to manage their health. A good Veterinarian sees hundreds of dogs monthly and can tell you the statistics of most common injuries, illnesses or pest infestations that are completely avoidable.
After vaccination, one has to decide on food and a feeding schedule. Food will directly affect the health of their body and coat. From the dryness of the coat, one can tell any malnourishment or vitamin and mineral deficiencies. The art of proper dog feeding depends on the breed, and some breeds are known to be sensitive and picky (as are both of my dogs).
Invest in the best veterinarian, vaccinations, and dog diet you can.
A shiny, healthy coat, glistening white, strong teeth, clear eyes, agility and good disposition is a sign of a healthy dog. Good food and clean water are a paramount for any living being's life. Dogs require dry and wet food. Dry food (kibble) is important because of the crunch that helps remove dental plaque, and wet food should provide pups with additional nutrients and fresh ingredients. Lots of people opt to cook for their dogs. I personally do so and it's really not that hard. I prepare a large quantity of wet food, portion and freeze it. That way, my dogs always have home cooked, healthy meals. As for humans, avoid low quality and processed snacks and foods. They can cause all sorts of digestive system and kidney problems.
In terms of dog diet and food prep, I will share my greatest find: http://thepetstaurant.com:
Marc Ching of thepetstaurant.com
From Marc Ching's blog, The Petstaurant, I have learned how to cook for my dogs and since then, I've never looked back to commercially prepared food, except for high quality kibble. Marc is an acupunturist and he is also a Pet Nutritionist who has helped many ailing dogs recover their health.
Dogs need Omega 3 fatty acids for the health of their coat, and probiotics daily to fortify their immune systems. We know that they sniff, lick and want to take various no-no things in their mouths. Probiotics fight off nasty bacteria. There are formulas for dogs, but you can give them human formula of Acidophilus, measured to their weight and age.
Dogs have very sensitive livers and are not meant to process excess fat or any quantity of sugar! And dairy - please. Just treat your dog as you would treat a human baby. Don't give them anything that would make them obese or ill: spicy food, salty food, or anything that is not safe for them.
Dogs are happier and sleep better when they are clean. It is NOT TRUE that they don't like baths, it just means that you possibly haven't got the right technique yet. Dogs react to our emotional state, and bathing requires a calm approach, and a tub or shower that is not too cold or too hot. The right shampoo is crucial for their skin and coat condition. Some shampoos are too stripping and others leave greasy residue, which can cause itching and discomfort to your dog.
The right tub, shampoo, and attitude make all the difference!
For my own Shih-Tzu/Maltese pup 'Pluto', I use Head and Shoulders Shampoo. She itches after every shampoo I used on her. Even the gentle Oatmeal shampoo was causing her rashes. For my Matese/Poodle 'Kiki', I use Mink Sheen shampoo. It has a delicious eucalyptus scent and it is sold by the gallon, which I find super economical.
When bathing dogs, get a squeeze bottle and dilute the shampoo with water so that it lathers up immediately. Confident gestures and fast movements are of utmost importance - dogs will otherwise start to squirm and resist and want to get away! Prepare several clean towels ahead of time. Wet the dog thoroughly all over, covering their eyes with the palm of your hand. Tell them nice things: that they are being good, that they will be clean and this will end fast. They DO listen to that!
Lather up the shampoo, scrub their entire body well and rinse the product off. You might want to give an extra scrub to the paws or under the chin if your dog has lots of hair. Never get water in their ears, and if you accidentally do, blot it immediately. Pat the dog dry with a towel and bring it to the grooming spot. I prefer the bathroom counter, covered with a towel for this as my dogs are small and easy to pick up. Use a strong blowdryer on medium heat and dry the pup completely.
My pups Kiki and Pluto freshly groomed.
Additional Grooming Tips:
Indoor dogs that sleep or have an access to a human bed should be washed once a week for the health of the entire household. Long haired dogs should be professionally groomed once a month.
Gland expulsion should be left to a groomer, and it should be done at regular times because the dog can develop a cyst if not taken care of. The same goes for dogs with short hair that don't require grooming, they should also be taken to the Vet's office for nail trimming and gland expulsion.
Just because dogs are animals, doesn't mean that they do not require skin care routine equal to human's. That implies taking care of their whole body and fur daily, with consideration of their specific breed's idiosyncrasies - they might never get haircuts or on the other hand, their hair is high maintenance. You can't leave the dog's care to a groomer, because they are merely a hairdresser to your dog.
Dogs need to be brushed daily to prevent matting or remove shedding, their eyes need to be cleaned and their teeth brushed. I found those tiny baby tooth brushes for my dog on Amazon (Japanese import), and I use enzymatic toothpaste that dissolves dental plaque. Still, once a year, I have to take them for anesthetic teeth cleaning, because without putting the dog down, no one will be able to efficiently scrape the plaque off their teeth. No dog will allow you to take ultrasonic devices into their mouth when conscious, and that is what a proper teeth cleaning requires.
Very important - dog's ears need to be inspected daily: look for any change of color, discharge, smell, or your dog shaking or scratching their head. If an infection or irritation exists and persists, you'll need to take extra care of your your dog, because persistent ear infections are a sign of a possible underlying allergy to either food or environment.
Check your dog's ears daily.
Dogs these days require health insurance coverage, because the cost of veterinary services can be exuberant. If the dog is scheduled to have a 10K surgery, parent can be left with a credit card bill that hurts. Health insurance cover catastrophic events, and it is relatively cheap. Most of the pet insurances are around $30 per month and I recommend to get one, while the dog is young. Around 6-7th year, lots of the dogs develop some kind of problem that requires medical attention.
Flea and Tick Prevention:
Many dogs are allergic to flea bites, and we definitely don't want them bit by ticks or transmitting ticks to us! Lyme disease awareness showed us how many people are severely affected by tick bites. The number one protection for dog owners is flea/tick medication that will kill the pest when they try to bite. Humans should wear long pants tucked in at the bottoms and long sleeves while hiking, because ticks can jump onto exposed skin. In any case, regularly inspect dog's body for any unusual lumps that might be caused by insect bites.
Medication is the best tick prevention tip!
Most Common and Treatable Dog Issues:
Ear Infections - Ear infections are a sign of allergies and yeast infections. Beware of ear wipes that can contain harsh chemicals. It is best to consult a Vet about the best solutions for any manipulations inside the ears. Dogs with floppy ears are very susceptible to ear infections and that is often because of improperly dried hair, ingrown hair and lack of ventilation in that area. Make sure that you inspect your dog's ears daily, and look for signs of infection: smell, discharge, discoloration, shaking or scratching of the head. If there is ingrown hair in the ear that causes them to scratch, trim that pesky hair weekly!
Eye Tearing - Tearing is noticeable on dogs with light colored coats, but all dogs might suffer from tearing. The number one cause of tear stains are allergies. For example, allergies from tap water, chicken, grains, sweet potato etc. could cause tearing, but it could also just be as simple as an ingrown hair. My dog underwent electrolysis treatment on one eye corner, and that stopped the constant mucus discharge that we had to deal with.
Smelly Paws and Paw Chewing - This is many times caused by an allergy to cut grass. Wash paws with soap and water.
Dry/Itchy Coat - To prevent dry, itchy coat, give your dog a daily dose of Omega 3 fatty acids and better food. Some dogs only get dry food which causes dehydration in general, so switch in some wet food as well. For itchy coat, Head and Shoulders shampoo does the job!
My two healthy, furry babies, Kiki and Pluto!
As always, I appreciate any feedback, comments, and questions! May your furry babies continue to bring you joy!