Something strange happens to people when they deal with professionals in the hair industry (whether human or canine).
As a groomer of New York’s most pampered cats and dogs, I get asked questions that range from sexual dysfunction and infidelity in marriage to prevention of serious mats and tangles!
Perhaps this phenomenon can be attributed to the confidence awarded hairdressers by loyal customers. As a result –over the course of the past ten years – I have become familiar with the varied subjects that I often dispense sound and accurate advice (much to the delight of my clientele). However, due to the specific nature and scope of this publication, I focus my attention on matters related to the canines and felines among us.
The summer season activates particular concerns. Here are some of my pet questions and answers to the list of nagging problems and potential dangers.
Q. My dog is crazy about car rides. It is OK to leave him alone with the window slightly open when I got shopping?
A. Only a brief period, but never leave your dog or cat in a closed car during the high hear of the day; a car will become a veritable oven for your pet. Heat stroke can occur even in a few minutes of elevated heat in a closed-up auto and can prove fatal to your pet.
Q. Are swimming pools safe for water-loving dogs?
A. Make sure your pet knows how to exit the pool before allowing him in for a swim. After the swim, thoroughly dry his ear canals in order to prevent painful ear infections and rinse the coat with fresh water to help prevent possible skin irritation. Also, beware of undiluted chlorine. If ingested by your pet, it can cause severe acid burning to the inner organs.
Q. What about swimming in the ocean?
A. Ocean water can make animals seriously ill if they drink too much salt water so limit their time in the surf. Make sure there is plenty fresh water on hand for them to drink and for rinsing their fur.
Stop the Itching and Scratching Already
Q. Every summer, my dog winds up chewing her front paws and rubbing herself on the carpet. What to do?
A. This is a common behavior associated with flea allergies, inhalant allergies (pollens and dust), food allergies and irritants that contact the skin. Pollen allergies may begin as a seasonal issue but can progress and actually persist all year long. A veterinarian who specializes in allergies should be consulted. Food allergies also can cause severe persistent itching and scratching. Among the most problematic are corn, wheat and beef. Having your pet tested and then simply removing the problem foods from its diet can easily abate food allergies. (When one of my own dogs was tested we even received a computerized listing of all known dog foods that did not contain any of her food allergies and were therefore safe foods for her daily diet).
Contact allergies result in red, inflamed rash usually on hairless areas of the body such as the lower abdomen. Sometimes secondary skin problems, such as hair loss, infections and dandruff can result. Your local veterinarian can prescribe something to calm down the inflammation and resolve the problem. Groomers can also help by administering soothing colloidal oatmeal baths and rinses plus medicated shampoos.
Q. What are they anyway?
A. Secondary bacterial infections that usually develop as a result of the damage your pet does to the skin through excessive licking and chewing. A small red spot can quickly grow to become a large oozing lesion within a day and should be treated immediately. The trick is to determine what the initial problem is that caused your pet to lick and chew that area in the first place. If it turns out to be one of the allergies previously discussed, then the advice of a competent veterinarian who specializes in allergies should be sought out. The hot spot is merely a symptom of a more serious underlying problem. Your groomers can administer Aloe Vera, chamomile and tea tree oil preparations during grooming sessions, which can prove very soothing to the irritation and can actually promote healing. The sooner you begin a problem of frequent bathing sessions the sooner the healing process will begin.
Q. Is my gentle shampoo safe for my pet?
A. No. Your pet’s skin is much thinner and more sensitive than human skin, and the products created for human use have completely different pH levels. Poor quality ingredients, perfumes and artificial coloring can be extremely irritating, drying and can cause severe allergic reactions to your pets. The top grooming salons use only the highest quality hypoallergenic shampoos and conditioners, which will achieve the best results for your pet’s skin and coat. The very best of the shampoos are hypoallergenic, contain no soap and are low-sudsing which allows for a quick and thorough rinse. The best of the conditioners will add softness and body to the hair shaft without making it feel greasy and without stripping it of its essential nutrients.
Food for Thought
Q. Are food supplements necessary?
A. Certain pet food supplements contain proper blending of marine lipids, primrose oil and omega fatty acids, which are usually destroyed by the heat necessary to manufacture most pet foods. Therefore, these supplements should be added to the diet to boost the immune system, fight allergies and help to control dandruff, dry coats and excessive hair shedding.
Lawrence Roth owns the Manhattan-based DOGGIE-DO and Pussycats, too! For more information check out our Petpourri section on www.animalfair.com.