Blog Archives

Summer is here- Quick shave off the dogs!

Dogs come in a multitude of shapes, sizes and colours; they also have different grooming needs. Read more here. What they don’t vary in is that they are susceptible to heat stroke and get matted if not brushed effectively. So it follows that you shave off all dogs in summer to keep them cool don’t you? Is that idea based in science or is it based on humans who think that dogs cool the same way we do?

Do we shave Poodles, Shih Tzu’s and Maltese to make them cooler or just to make them easier to maintain?

Should we shave Border Collies, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers and Siberian Huskies?

Humans cool by producing sweat from our biggest organ, the skin, and cool by the effect of evaporation of this perspiration as air moves across our skin. This system is controlled by a sweating centre in the brain.  Dogs however have a panting centre which stimulates panting which is rapid shallow breathing that causes air to be passed through the nose and over the tongue allowing efficient evaporation to occur. The tongue has a rich blood supply and heat produced in the muscles and tissues enters the blood and is transported to the tongue. A dog’s nose maximizes this process due to its many tissue folds that increase the surface area the air can come in contact with and body heat is reduced.

Dogs also have sweat glands in their feet and ears; however they are inefficient and play a very small role in thermoregulation. A dog’s fur acts as insulation both against heat and cold, functioning much like the insulation in the roof or walls of your house. It keeps in warm air and cool air as required. Their skin has a number of hairs growing through each follicle with a guard hair that is normally longer than the others. Dog’s piloerect (raise these guard hairs) by contracting or lengthening muscle fibres therefore insulating against cold and heat with degree of insulation increasing with fur thickness. The natural seasonal shedding in summer and winter is the dog’s way of dealing with the amount of hair required to cope with varying temperature demands but only if the dog is kept well groomed.   Dog’s also utilise behavioural adaptations to handle heat, resting in the heat of the day and being more active at dusk and dawn.

So let’s say we decide to clip off a Border collie or Golden Retriever, what happens to its ability to deal with heat?   Biophysics, in the form of Newton’s law of cooling, provides a formula for measuring temperature at the tip of a hair and temperature at the surface of the skin and this estimates the ability of hair to conduct heat. Studies show that dogs with longer hair have less heat at the skin than those with shorter hair.  If you surgically clip with a very short blade such as a 10 or 30 the number becomes dangerously high. Hence educated groomers will attempt to find a happy medium between clipping short and clipping off half the length of the coat using snap on combs. If the dog’s coat is heavily matted and removed and the night time temperature decreases then the dog will be losing skin heat i.e. becoming hypothermic. A matted coat impedes the dog’s ability to vary the length of the hair (piloerection) and the mats also alter the dog’s ability to dump heat from their skin surface to the outside air, thereby causing heat stress. Therefore dogs that heat stress do so not because of the length of the coat but due to the coat holding unwanted loose hair. 

Barbara Bird, Certified Master Groomer, recognised worldwide as a leading groomer educator, has this to say about clipping dog breeds.

“In the US, a growing number of groomers are declining to do shave downs on double coated breeds, or will do them only when the owner signs a release form that states that they are aware of the possible outcomes and agree to hold the groomer harmless in the event of poor regrowth, sun damage, or heat related episodes”

Continuing to clip off dogs whose coats are not meant to be clipped can lead rise to clipping alopecia and also often produces a coat that is short but is in fact more prone to harbouring fleas and ticks as the coat is shorter but more dense.

(insert picture of clipper alopecia)

Do I clip off my black Belgian Shepherds when we get consistent temperature over 30oC in summer?

No I don’t but I do try to ensure they have well groomed, dematted coats, plenty of drinking water and a cool place to lie. I do some clipping for my very old dogs to remove some coat around the britches and groin area. Your groomer can advise on humane methods of dematting that maintain the guard hairs but remove the shedding undercoat and this should be undertaken 3 or 4 times per year as the natural coat growth/shedding cycle occurs.

For the full scientific principle and references used to produce this article – click here.

Regards

Louise Kerr
The Pet Care Magician

Louise Kerr (aka The Pet Care Magician) runs the Pet Care Magic club where devil dogs, horrible horses and crazy cats are turned into perfect pets using Relationship Animal Training. The program provides owners and pet professionals assistance with with common pet behavior  training, feeding and grooming issues such as barking, escaping, scratching, aggression and fleas  She consults and writes widely on a range of pet care issues for owners and also assists pet care professionals in setting up and growing their businesses by the provision of customer handling advice, sales and marketing strategies and up to date product information that allows for the differentiation of their pet care business from their competitors. The Pet Care Magic Club is part of Elite Pet Care & Education based in the Nambucca Valley NSW Australia but can be found on internet enabled devices worldwide.

www.elitepetcare.com.au   |    Like us on Facebook

Facebook groups: Talk to me about Positive Reward Based Dog Training  | Dogs, Horses, Cats, Pocket Pets +Animal Businesses (Mid Nth Coast NSW) 

Relationship Animal Training TM: Facebook page | Facebook discussion group

About Me 

Advertisements

Winter comes again!

It feels like is was only yesterday and we were in the middle of winter 2012, yet here we are back again facing winter 2013.

Not much has changed except that we are all one year older and one year more creaky and less able to cope with the cold. Our dogs and cats that is of course !

What are the major issues that older animals have to cope with:

1) Arthritis

As nutrition and veterinary care becomes better our animals are living longer and longer. It is not uncommon to hear of dogs living until nearly 20 and cats for even longer. However their bodies were not designed to live that long. Their major joints such as back, hips and knees are prone to arthritis which is very susceptible to cold weather.  As your dog or cat ages they will not handle winter nearly as well. The first line of defence is to provide better bedding to take away the cold hard feeling of the floor and to elevate them off the floor. Then comes the addition of food additives such as Joint Guard and Sasha’s blend. As they age and these measures no longer give relief then it is time to progress to anti-inflammatory tablets and then finally to injections. Older animals need to go to the vets each winter for a checkup and discussion about their needs.

 

2) Grooming

Dogs that are clipped off during summer (to cope with the heat supposedly  still need regular grooming over winter. In fact they  need more grooming as longer coat means more matting. Please do not leave long coated dogs to become horrible matted messes that you think can only be removed when the weather gets warmer. Well trained and knowledgeable groomers can take of as much or as little coat as you like as they work with blades of varying lengths. The most common request over winter is FFB (meaning face, feet and bottom). I have a number of customers who I see all year around and in winter the coat is left much longer than in summer but still fully groomed out. Matted coat is not healthy and leads to skin issues and pain for the dog or cat.

 

3) Feeding quantities may vary over winter with some dogs being more sedentary and needing less calories to meet nutritional needs. Dogs or cats who are in pain and stressed as a result may however need more. If they are on anti-inflammatory medication make sure that they are taking this with food so as to avoid gastrointestinal side effects. You may have to consider smaller meals more often to compensate.

Here are the links to a few articles I have written in previous winters:

A solution to the smelly damp winter dog : click here 

I only want a bit off this time- a groomer’s winter lament: click here

And for all those groomers who find it hard to get up and think about dealing with water all day and are suffering aching backs, knees and shoulders from a lifetime of grooming!

It’s winter and I really have a problem getting out of bed: Click here

There is one good thought to hold onto and that is Winter will be shortly over and we will be back to the craziness of summer and all the winter clip offs of horribly matted dogs who went through winter.

Regards

Louise Kerr
The Pet Care Magician

www.elitepetcare.com.au   |    www.petcaremagician.com |  Like us on Facebook

Facebook groups: Promoting Positive Reward Based Dog Training

Australian Pet Professionals

Louise Kerr (aka The Pet Care Magician) is the owner of Elite Pet Care & Education based in the Nambucca Valley NSW Australia. She consults and writes widely on a range of pet care issues including feeding, training and grooming dogs and cats. Her online pet care magic subscription program deals with common pet behavior  training, feeding and grooming issues such as barking, escaping, scratching, aggression and fleas. Pet care professionals are trained to handle customer issues by the provision of up to date programs to differentiate their pet care business from other competitors. About Me 

Counter-conditioning a dog to a crate

Recently I commented on the use of Flooding as a technique used by dog groomers. (Read article)  It is apparent from the uproar that the post caused on a closed Facebook groomers group that the post hit a few nerves and it is also apparent that some groomers do not understand what flooding looks like. We are used to seeing a certain television personality fighting with red zone aggressive dogs until they “submit”. Experienced trainers and behaviorists agree that this is not a suitable technique to use in dogs unless it is totally a last resort and conducted by trainers highly experienced in its use..

I have shot some video to show what minor flooding looks like in a day to day grooming situation.

Meet River my noise phobic non-crate trained 3 yr old Belgian Shepherd farm dog. River was taken into the grooming salon on this day and forcibly pushed into the crate, which is a not an uncommon practice in pet establishments.  This is a fairly common technique in grooming salons as many dogs fight when it comes to going into crates. Note not all salons use crates and of course mobile groomers rarely do. The video shows the result.

Watch video on Youtube here

Here is the observation of the stress signs seen in this dog.

Rapid respiration in the absence of heat, tongue widened, lip lick, blinking, unable to settle, turning around, ears back, tense, sniffing, ears flicking around, sniffing, ears further back, lip licking, starts to look for way out, more ears back and moving, pacing, whale eye, lip licking, yawing, more lip licking, sniffing, still heavily panting, scanning area.

Groomer walks out of sight: starts worried barking, now groomer is back in area he won’t respond to hand, whale eye, ears back, asking for reassurance, whining, looking around, agitated. After 30 mins finally lying down ears still back, still panting but less tightness at mouth corner, ears held with less tension but still not really settled.

Here is the same dog but this time desensitization (DS)  and counter conditioning (CC) are being used to set up a positive association with the crate. The door is kept open and the dog is free to go in and out as far as he feels comfortable. The pace at which he gets used to the crate is totally up to him. The dog will tell me when it is no longer fearful of the crate. In some dogs this can be minutes in others it may be a few short sessions.

Watch counter conditioning video on YouTube here.

Step 1: feeding at crate with open door. Dog won’t eat at first then eats from hand in vicinity of crate. Ears still back and somewhat unsettled, but ear posture further forward than in previous video, less panting.

Step 2: treats now put on floor near crate, dog scratches (stress) still unsettled, dog puts head in crate but refuses next time, won’t put more than head in crate, ears better. Body less tense, treats now into crate, dog allowed to go towards and away from create as often as he wants in his own time. Some stop to the panting from time to time. Food bowl put just inside crate and dog allowed to eat and leave.

Step 3: dog now enticed further into crate by treats and he goes right in and comes out no longer panting, ears forward engaged in game, does this a number of times. Groomer attempts to shut door slightly but makes a mistake and slams it – back track required as dog got frightened. Dog into and out of crate happily with door half shut. Dog happily eating and going in and out of crate with minimal stress. All food now coming in crate not from groomers hand. Speed he is being asked to go in and out increased. He starts to balk indicating he has taken enough for one session.

Further steps would be to increase the period of time the dog stayed in the crate and to gradually shut the door. At first the door would be shut only briefly and then immediately reopened working up to door being shut for longer and longer periods. This dog could initially only be left in the crate for short periods of time with a filled Kong to ensure it continues to have a positive association with the crate. This process could also be done at home by the dog’s owner.

A couple of days after this video was shot I came back to the salon after mobile grooming to find that River had actually gone into the crate to sleep while I was out. Clearly he now had a more positive association with it and no longer has to be physically forced into it. When the door is opened and I ask him to get in by a show of my hand he willingly walks in and lies down much more relaxed.

Here is the final video of River now happily walking and and out of the same crate without the use of treats.

I will continue to give him treats for a while yet however just to ensure that positive association remains as it is fragile in the early days with a dog that is in an alien environment such as the grooming salon is for a farm dog such as River.

Regards

Louise Kerr
The Pet Care Magician

www.elitepetcare.com.au

Promoting Positive Reward Based Dog Training

Like us on Facebook

Louise Kerr (aka The Pet Care Magician) is the owner of Elite Pet Care & Education based in the Nambucca Valley NSW Australia. She consults and writes widely on a range of pet care issues including feeding, training and grooming dogs and cats. Her online pet care magic subscription program deals with common pet behavior  training, feeding and grooming issues such as barking, escaping, scratching, aggression and fleas. Pet care professionals are trained to handle customer issues by the provision of up to date programs to differentiate their pet care business from other competitors.

My dog will not get hot if I remove his coat – Fact or fiction?

Spring has sprung here in Australia and the forecast is for a hot spring and summer with reduced rainfall. Groomer’s telephones have started ringing with clients needing appointments to “take off the matted long hair my dog has been carrying over winter, so that he will be cooler”

But is a dog actually cooler or not when they are shaved down? Should dogs be allowed to develop heavily matted pelts during winter that are never brushed and then put into a boom or bust scenario during the hotter months? Do we shave Shih Tzu’s and Maltese off to make them cooler or just to make them easier to maintain?

Dogs come in a multitude of shapes, sizes and colours; they also have different grooming needs. Here is a blog I wrote some years ago about this. What they don’t vary in is that they are susceptible to heat stroke and get matted if not brushed effectively.

Humans cool by producing sweat from our biggest organ, the skin. We perspire and cool by the evaporation of this perspiration as air moves across our skin. The human body controls temperature regulation using the sweating centre located in the part of the brain called the hypothalamus. This centre stimulates the sweat glands to release sweat and for each gram of sweat that evaporates half a calorie of heat is dissipated1.

Dogs however have a panting centre which stimulates panting. Panting is rapid sallow breathing that causes air to be passed through the nose and over the tongue allowing efficient evaporation to occur. The tongue has a rich blood supply and heat produced in the muscles and tissues enters the blood and is transported to the tongue. A dog’s nose maximizes this process due to its many tissue folds that increase the surface area the air can come in contact with. This tissue also perspires and has a large blood supply, so like a car radiator, body heat is reduced. Air is brought in via the dog’s nose and then exhaled through the mouth and it picks up moisture and heat from the nose, thereby cooling and drying it. Exhaling through the mouth where there is less blood supply and a lesser surface area, results in almost all of the moisture being absorbed and heat leaving the dog’s mouth via to the surrounding air. When he no longer wishes to lose body heat he exhales the air brought in via the nose back out the nose. This causes a greater proportion of moisture and heat to be returned to the large surface area in the nose thereby minimizing heat loss.1

Dog’s also have a spleen that is much larger relative to its body size than a human. The spleen stores blood and during exercise it contracts, releasing blood into the blood stream. This extra blood is then available to carry more heat to the tongue for removal. This is what gives dog’s much better endurance than people.


Dogs do have sweat glands in their feet and ears, however they are inefficient and play a very small role in thermoregulation. A dog’s fur also acts as insulation both against heat and cold, functioning much like the insulation in the roof or walls of your house. It keeps in warm air and cool air as required. Their skin has more than one hair growing through each follicle with a guard hair that is normally longer than the others. Dog’s can piloerect (raise these guard hairs) by contracting or lengthening muscle fibres. The dog’s hair insulates against cold and heat with degree of insulation increasing with fur thickness. The natural seasonal shedding in summer and winter is the dog’s natural way of dealing with the amount of hair required to cope with winter and summer temperature demands if the dog is kept well groomed.   Kittens and puppies are born as cold blooded animals and if shortly after birth they are removed from their surroundings will rapidly lose body heat, hence mother dogs and cats will snuggle with their babies for long periods up until they develop coat.   Dog’s also utilise behavioural adaptations to handle heat, resting in the heat of the day and being more active at dusk and dawn. So let’s say we decide to clip off a Border collie or Belgian shepherd what happens to its ability to deal with heat?   Biophysics in the form of Newton’s law of cooling provides a formula for measuring temperature at the tip of a hair and temperature at the surface of the skin. It can estimate the ability of a hair to conduct heat. 2   Most mammals attempt to keep their skin at about 85oC (29oC).The sun can heat the tip of a hair to more than 150oF (66oC). Using the formula for Newton’s law of cooling (see the full articlefor the details) it can be determined that if a dogs hair is six inches long the number decreases however if the dog’s hair is clipped to 1 inch then the number rises with a higher number meaning increased heat at the dogs skin. Therefore a dog with longer hair will have less heat at their skin than a dog with shorter hair i.e. the hair insulates. If you surgically clip with a very short blade such as a 10 or 30 the number becomes dangerously high. Hence many groomers will attempt to find a happy medium between clipping short and clipping off half the length of the coat with snap on combs. If the dog’s coat is heavily matted and the night time temperature decreases then the dog will be losing skin heat i.e. becoming hypothermic. A matted coat impedes the dog’s ability to vary the length of the hair (piloerection) and the mats also alter the dog’s ability to dump heat from their skin surface to the outside air, thereby causing hyperthermia. Exercise makes this situation even worse. When dog’s are suffering from heat stress they are soaked in tepid water which makes the hair more conductive to temperature, and also flattens the coat, allowing body heat to be dissipated more rapidly thereby reducing the core temperature of the dog.

Many owners will state that they think their dog feels better after a clip as they see them running around. I posed this question to a number of American master groomers via the Groomers email list at Groom-TNT, the largest international professional pet grooming E-mail network in the world. 

Barbara Bird, Certified Master Groomer, recognised at a leading groomer educator worldwide summed this up nicely

“As to the matter of the dog running around and seeming to feel better after clipping, we have no comparison of how the dog might “feel” after a professional deshedding and removal of the excess shedded undercoat.

In the US, a growing number of groomers are declining to do shave downs on double coated breeds, or will do them only when the owner signs a release form that states that they are aware of the possible outcomes and agree to hold the groomer harmless in the event of poor regrowth, sun damage, or heat related episodes”

I also posed the question to a facebook site on which many experienced animal behaviour observers comment on behaviour and the speculation was that the zoomies seen after a grooming session are actually more a stress relief reaction to how different a dog feels once the coat is removed rather than what owners see as a reaction in which the dogs are “running around because they feel cooler”

Do I clip off my black Belgian Shepherds when we get consistent temperature over 30oC in summer?

No I don’t but I do try to ensure they have well groomed out, dematted coats and plenty of drinking water and a cool place to lie. I do some clipping for my very old dogs to remove some coat weight around the britches and sanitary area to allow the dog to lie on a cool damp place as  most older long haired dogs normally have a great deal of coat build up in this area. I also refuse to clip off dogs that I believe will be adversely affected by the process, no matter how much the owner attempts to persuade me otherwise. As a scientist I have now examined too much scientific information that I believe points to this practice being detrimental to our canine companions.

Regards

Louise Kerr
The Pet Care Magician

http://www.elitepetcare.com.au
petcaremagician.com

Louise Kerr (aka The Pet Care Magician) is the owner of Elite Pet Care & Education based in the Nambucca Valley NSW Australia. She consults and writes widely on a range of pet care issues including feeding, training and grooming dogs and cats. Her online pet care magic subscription program deals with common pet behavior, training, feeding and grooming issues such as barking, escaping, scratching, aggression and fleas. Pet care professionals are trained to handle customer issues by the provision of up to date programs to differentiate their pet care business from other competitors.

References:

1http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview/id/591736.html

2http://www.sonic.net/~cdlcruz/GPCC/library/hairlength.htm

http://itsthedogslife.com/2011/05/shaving-your-dog-for-summer/

http://blog.aspca.org/content/heat-wave-should-you-shave-your-pet

http://www.theunion.com/article/20110603/NEWS/110609950

http://ezinearticles.com/?Not-All-Dogs-Benefit-From-A-Summer-Haircut-or-Shave-Down&id=188653

http://www.atomic-canine.com/news/2011/03/clipper-alopecia/

http://www.expeditionsamoyeds.org/dogtemp.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temperature_regulation#Variations_in_the_temperature_of_man_and_some_other_animals

Dog Grooming 101- To clip or not to clip

Big dogs, small dogs, cute white fluffy dogs, long legs, short legs, tail or no tail, protective, guarding or friendly lapdogs (who help the thief carry out the silver and nose out the spare cash). Just as dogs come in a multitude of shapes, sizes and temperaments they also come in a multitude of coat types. Long and short, single, double or triple, hair shedding 24/7, seasonally or never are examples. The size and temperament of a dog is important but equally so is its coat type.

Wild dogs do not have long flowing impractical coats Dogs from colder Northern Hemisphere climates have double or triple coats that shed continuously, protecting them from extreme cold. Poodles, Shih Tzu, Cavaliers, Maltese and Pomeranians, are long coated breeds developed many centuries ago by Royalty or Emperors who had unlimited time, money and staff to care for their beautiful elegant coats.

Working breeds such as Jack Russell, Cattle Dogs, German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Dobermans, Golden Retriever or Labradors have short dense coats as they were developed to work in water or underground. They tend to shed hair constantly and often in greater amounts that long coated breeds.

Dogs are man’s best friend and responsible owners keep their dogs shiny, attractive and healthy. A dog coat that is matted, full of dead hair and smelly results in an unhappy, unhealthy and often flea loaded dog. Mats form when dirt collects in the coat making small knots, the dog scratches at this knot making it larger and larger as more dirt accumulates. Air is unable to circulate around the skin, fleas and ticks are in heaven and sores and rashes form.

Heavily matted dogs are unable to move their legs or feet correctly due to constriction and pain from matts under legs, elbows and in some cases the full back. Many dogs become aggressive as they can only exhibit pain by biting. To find out how your dog feels with a matted coat, grab two big handfuls of your own hair and pull tightly. How long can you tolerate this for? Removal of these matts is a painful and dangerous process, despite a groomer’s experience, pulling on the skin is required and the risk of accidentally cutting the dog is high, especially if they have become overly aggressive. In extreme cases full anesthesia is required in a veterinary surgery.

The rate at which coats matt will depends on the type of coat. Poodles, Shih Tzu and Maltese rapidly progress from a knot that is easily removed to a total nightmare that only a good set of clippers and a qualified dog groomer can fix. The designer dog breeds are a particularly difficult problem due to the inappropriate combination of different coat types resulting in faster and harder matting. Most Spoodles that are not professionally groomed every 6 weeks develop full body matting.

In the 21st century dogs are an integral part of modern life, and can be owned by rich and poor alike. But our modern lifestyle means we have far less time to care for the coat needs of these dogs and often not the money to pay others to perform the required grooming.

Dog grooming can be simplified into three main categories

(1) Clip: (e.g. Poodles, Shih Tzu, Maltese and Cocker Spaniels). Due to their single coats they clip without damage to the correct coat type. They are clipped to reduce coat maintenance and not to keep them cooler. Silky and Aussie Terriers can fall into this group; however, they only need light face and bottom trimming for hygiene reasons.

(2) Brush daily/strip fortnightly (e.g. Labradors, Australian Cattle Dogs, Kelpies, Corgis, Siberian Huskies, German Shepherds, Samoyeds, Malamutes, Pomeranians, Golden Retrievers, Jack Russell, and Fox Terriers). Stripping involves the use of a stripping brush, available at all good pet shops, for about 10 minutes per fortnight to remove loose wooly undercoat that sheds constantly. This will result in a coarser coat with shedding reduced by up to 75%

(3) Brush weekly and strip seasonally: (e.g. Border Collies, Belgian Shepherds, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel). Despite being long coated these breeds are seasonal shedders who benefit from weekly brushing with a slicker brush to keep the shine but coat removal only when “blowing” coat at the end of summer and winter.

Dogs in group 2 and 3 above should never be clipped. Heat management in dogs is performed by exchange of heat via the tongue and the pads of the feet. In hot weather dogs pant and open their mouths wide to cool off. They often stand in water. They do not sweat from pores on their skin like humans and totally removing the coat to the skin will make the dog hotter as the insulating properties of a normal coat are removed. They can badly sunburn when skin not suited to sun exposure is bared. Continued clipping over time replaces the normal coat with the thick wooly undercoat that sheds, causes heat stress, and provides the ideal environment for fleas and ticks.

How can you tell if your dog is fully brushed out? If you are unable to run a comb through the full thickness of the coat down to the skin then your dog is not fully brushed. The choice of the right brush for your dogs coat is essential. Different coats require different bushes and different techniques. Most good pet shops in your area are only too happy to provide information on the right brushes for your dog. Grooming salons are also a source of information on the care of your favorite friend.

Happy clipping

WordCamp Sydney 2016

Sept 24-25 UTS Sydney

Fearfuldogs' Blog

Positive help for fearful dogs

Smart Animal Training Systems...

Smart Technology for Positive Training

Clicker training horses - Peggy Hogan

the best "whisper" is a "click"

Dr Nicholas Jenner

Online Therapist, Author

Paws Abilities

Helping people enjoy their dogs.

RealScientists

Real science, from real scientists, science communicators, writers, artists, clinicians.

%d bloggers like this: