Discover how a fresh food dog diet transformation boosted Briggs’ vitality and health in this inspiring story.
Not all pet emergencies are life-threatening. Some are simply inconveniences that always seem to happen at 5 p.m. on a Friday when your vet is going home for the weekend.
First, what exactly do skunks spray? A skunk sprays a sulfur-based compound called thiol from two glands that anatomically lay around its anus. Since thiol is a sulfur-based compound it needs to be neutrally broken down to dissipate. In other words, it can’t simply be rinsed off with soap and water. In fact, thiol acts like oil and will spread when it comes in contact with water, setting in the odor even more into the coat.
Grooming is an essential part of your pet’s life. There are a couple of factors that play a role in how often to groom your pet. Skin health, coat type, (long, short, medium, curly, wavy, thick, etc.), activity level, health, and breed should all be considered. What happens if we groom our pets too frequently? Grooming too frequently can result in damage to the hair follicles, dry irritated skin, and can also lead to bacterial and/or fungal infections as well.
Which One is Best for Your Pet?
Your dog’s skin and coat condition are excellent indicators of overall health. A healthy coat is a shiny, smooth coat without coarse or brittle hair. And healthy skin should be supple, not flaky or greasy.
While nutrition influences the health of your pet’s skin and coat from the inside, regular grooming and bathing do wonders to keep your dog’s skin and coat vibrant and healthy.
We believe that bathing your dog should be included in your overall grooming process. Bathing promotes skin exfoliation, removes loose hair, prevents matting, and lets you check for external parasites like fleas and ticks.
Perhaps most importantly, bath time is another opportunity to bond with your dog. Warm water, soothing shampoo, and soft and repeated touching allow you and your dog to strengthen your connection to each other.
Before we take a look at shampoos, let’s talk about your dog’s skin.
Canine skin is not like human skin
A dog’s skin is thinner and more sensitive than human skin. The epidermis (the outer layer of skin) is our body’s shield against the environment. We are protected from disease, ultraviolet light, and injury by it. This “shield” is 10-15 cells thick in humans. In dogs, it’s only 3-5 cells thick.
Hair that grows out of the skin is also different between the two species. Human hair grows as a single hair and continues to grow. A dog’s hair grows in bundles and stops growing at a certain length, as determined by the dog’s genetics. Once the hair stops growing, it dies and is shed.
These differences are why you can’t use human shampoos on your dog. In most cases, the pH is too acidic for your dog’s skin and will cause irritation and rashes.
How do you pick the right shampoo?
Like shampoos for human hair, there are many choices when picking the right shampoo for your pup.
We separate dog shampoos into nine main categories:
- General Purpose Shampoo
- Coat Conditioner
- Conditioning Shampoo
- Puppy Shampoo
- Hypo-Allergenic Shampoo
- Oatmeal Shampoo
- Medicated Shampoo
- Probiotic Shampoo
- Deodorizing Shampoo
Let’s take a closer look at each type of shampoo.
General Purpose Shampoo
These are less expensive “maintenance” shampoos that gently clean your dog if she has no allergies or skin conditions. Our favorite general-purpose shampoos include Kenic Kalaya Emu Oil Shampoo.
Conditioners are used after shampooing to detangle and condition your dog’s coat. Most coat conditioners contain silicones that bond to the hair’s surface, creating a protective envelope. This temporarily creates a smooth surface, even after the conditioner is rinsed out. We recommend EarthBath Oatmeal and Aloe Conditioner.
A conditioning shampoo is the ultimate two-in-one product if you want to gently clean and condition simultaneously. We haven’t found these two-in-ones to be as effective as a dedicated conditioner, but they are perfect for maintenance bathing. We like Skout’s Honor 2-in-1 Shampoo + Conditioner.
While your adult dog’s skin is sensitive, a young puppy’s skin is even more so. We recommend using only a washcloth and warm water to clean your puppy until she is three months old. She can be introduced to bathtime at that age, using a shampoo specially formulated for a pup’s soft fur and delicate skin. Quality puppy shampoos use all-natural ingredients and should be tear-free to reduce irritation. Our recommended puppy shampoos are EarthBath Puppy and Skout’s Honor Happy Puppy Shampoo.
Hypo-allergenic shampoos are for dogs with extra sensitive skin or those prone to scratching. These shampoos are typically free of the fragrances, dyes, and coloring that can cause allergic reactions. Our top hypo-allergenic shampoos are Kenic Emu Oil Shampoo and EarthBath Hypoallergenic.
Oatmeal shampoos are designed for dogs who suffer from occasional hot spots or seasonally dry, flaky, and itchy skin. These shampoos are made with a finely ground mixture of oatmeal that acts as a mild exfoliant when lathered into the coat, loosening dead skin cells and temporarily relieving itching. Our top-selling oatmeal shampoo is EarthBath Oatmeal and Aloe.
Medicated shampoos target specific skin and coat conditions such as hot spots, fungal and bacterial infections, and parasites like fleas and ticks. Often, these conditions require medical treatment in addition to specialized shampoo. Our best-sellers are Kenic Tea Tree Shampoo and EarthBath Hot Spot Relief Shampoo.
Often referred to as “good bacteria,” probiotics are live bacteria that help resolve many skin-related issues in your dog. We frequently recommend probiotic shampoos to relieve itchy skin, dry hair, hot spots, and seasonal allergies. Our favorite probiotic shampoo is Skout’s Honor Probiotic Honeysuckle Pet Shampoo + Conditioner.
This type of specialty shampoo works on the molecular level to break down odors at the source instead of masking them with fragrance. We’ve found it’s a wise investment to always keep a bottle on hand. You never know when Fido will get in an argument with a skunk or decide to roll around on a fresh pile of feces or dead animals. Our most effective deodorizing shampoos are EarthBath Deodorizing shampoo.
Picking the Right Shampoo for Your Dog
Your dog’s skin and coat are windows into her health. Using a high-quality dog shampoo keeps her coat clean, moisturized, and healthy.
Regular bathing — once a month is fine for most dogs — prevents matting and removes dead hair and skin. Bathtime is also the perfect opportunity to look for scabs, hot spots, bald spots, or parasites.
Please feel free to call us at (203) 271-0111 or stop in the store and let us help you pick the shampoo or conditioner that’s best for your dog.
Have you ever wanted to trim your pet’s nails at home but were scared that you would damage the blood vessels inside the nail?
While trimming your dog’s or cat’s nails is pretty straightforward, there are some important details to remember so you can safely, and confidently, trim your pet’s nails on your own.
Your Pet’s Nail Anatomy
The first step of trimming your pet’s nails is understanding the anatomy of the nail. Start by looking at the top of your pet’s paw where the nail grows out and forward from the toe. This part of the nail is made of a tough, protective protein called keratin, the same protein found in animal hooves and human fingers and toenails.
Inside the keratin, from the tip of the toe to the middle of the nail, is a pulp filled with highly sensitive nerves and blood vessels called the quick. And right after the quick ends (towards the tip of the nail), you will see a bit more keratin. That extra keratin is what we want to focus on for trimming.
Choosing the Right Nail Trimmer
After you are comfortable with assessing your pet’s foot altogether, you will then move on to which trimmers would be the best fit for you and your pet. To purchase the right tool, it is best to understand each tool that is available.
- Scissor Clippers
This product is designed to function similarly to a normal pair of scissors. When you squeeze these to trim the nail the blades will come together and slice that part of the toenail off. This product is best used for medium to large breed pets. Scissor clippers are great for quick nail trimming and for first-time users. Some have a safety feature that helps you know when to stop before the quick.
- Guillotine Clippers
This product has a ring where you would insert your pet’s nail. Once you put your pet’s nail into this ring (taking caution not to include the quick) you will then squeeze the handles together and a blade will slide up and slice the tip of the nail off. Guillotine clippers are best used in small breed pets but aren’t recommended if you’re new to nail trimming or if your pet is uncomfortable with trims. Guillotine clippers may cause damage to the quick if the pet pulls away.
- Nail Grinder/Dremel
This product is best used in pets who struggle to cooperate with nail trimming sessions. A nail grinder is a powered nail file that spins at a high speed and will slowly file your pet’s nail down. This product is great as it can reduce the chances of hitting your pet’s quick in the nail. Pets tend to alert you when you may be too close to the quick when using a grinder. Another great reason to use a grinder is the fact that it does not leave the nail sharp. This product rounds out the nail to leave a smooth edge.
Expert Tip: We recommend keeping styptic powder nearby when trimming your pet’s nails. This powder will clot any bleeding that may happen if the quick is accidentally cut.
Once you can determine which product is best for both you and your pet, you then can start the trimming process.
Acclimating your Pet to Nail Trimming
If your pet has never had their nails trimmed before, it can seem like a scary event for them, and it’s important not to add additional stress. It may be helpful to work on desensitizing them to the process through several training sessions.
Ideally, we recommend introducing the nail trimming process at a very young age with your pet to get them comfortable with it being an easy, rewardable task. Stay calm and relaxed and start with touching and rubbing your pet’s toes, nails, and paw to get them comfortable with the process. Reward your pet – with training treats or verbal commands – after they stay calm and happy. Then try with one nail at a time and gradually work your way to doing more at a time. Eventually, you will be able to do all nails in one session and have an even stronger bond with them!
How often should I trim my pet’s nails?
This may vary depending on your pet. The average recommendation is anywhere between every 2-4 weeks. Dog’s nails are known to file down when walking on asphalt or hard surfaces and cats are known for sharpening their front nails on scratching posts and/or trees. But these processes do not always keep your pet’s nails at a safe length which is why nail trimming is always recommended.
Why are routine nail trims important?
When a pet’s nails are left to grow too long, there are multiple health issues that can arise. Long nails may overgrow back into paw pads which is very painful and can lead to infections in your pet’s paw pads. Overgrown nails can also lead to issues with their gait (the way they walk) as it can cause the feet to lay flatter than usual (imagine trying to keep weight off your toes when walking) and causes pressure on the bones in the ankle and leg, making it very uncomfortable for them to walk.
Randall, Samantha. “How to Choose the Right Dog Nail Clippers.” Top Dog Tips, 16 Nov. 2021, https://topdogtips.com/how-to-choose-the-right-dog-nail-clippers/.
Staff, AKC. “Nail Neglect Can Lead to Health Problems for Your Dog.” American Kennel Club, American Kennel Club, 23 Jan. 2018, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/nail-neglect-can-lead-to-health-problems-for-your-dog/.
Palika, Liz. “Nail Anatomy 101: Keep Trims Safe, Not Scary.” Fear Free Happy Homes, 31 Mar. 2021, https://www.fearfreehappyhomes.com/nail-anatomy-101-keep-trims-safe-not-scary/.
Gauntt. “The Importance of a Pedicure.” VMBS News, 11 Mar. 2022, https://vetmed.tamu.edu/news/pet-talk/the-importance-of-a-peticure/.
Grooming is an essential part of owning a pet. But have you ever asked yourself why?
Regular brushing, bathing and nail trimming can assist with not only the overall appearance of your pet but also have some physiological benefits. Brushing your dog’s coat regularly removes the dead hair, prevents mats, and even allows their coat to breathe and grow new hair. Brushing your pet is also essentially a massage—and who doesn’t enjoy a massage? It provides great bonding time between you both.
One of the more common issues that bring dog owners to NorthPoint Pets is a dog’s skin. Allergies, itchy skin, flaky skin, hot spots and more—are all common complaints from pet owners. But rather than looking at the obvious symptom—the pet’s itchy skin—we want to figure out WHY your pet is itchy and that starts in the gut.
Our pets have good (and sometimes bad) bacteria in their gut. This colony is called their microbiome which is in their intestines and gut. The microbiome is essential for immune health, which includes our pet’s skin and coat. When the microbiome is compromised, their skin is also compromised. This results in a dull coat, a stinky dog, and more.
The best thing you can do for your pet is to feed a good diet with an addition of fresh foods. We can also recommend supplements to help your dog look and feel their best!
Brushing your dog’s coat is essential to your pet’s health. Regular brushing removes loose hair before it sheds on your carpet and clothes. It also clears out dead hair and straightens tangles. Tangles can cause painful skin irritations and infection if left unattended.
Brushing is also good for your dog’s skin. By running the brush through the fur, the movement stimulates the production of natural oils in the skin.
Finding the right brush to use on your dogs can be confusing. Many of our customers feel overwhelmed by the options and which brushes work best on the many coat types.
Fortunately, we have decades of dog brush expertise to help you pick the perfect brush for your pet based on coat type. Make sure to check out our recommendations based on coat type at the end of this article.
Dog grooming brushes fall into four main types:
Brushes are used daily grooming to untangle minor mats, remove dead hair, and stimulate your dog’s skin.
- The bristle brush has densely packed bristles and is best used for removing loose hairs and massaging the skin. The longer your dog’s coat is, the longer and more widely spaced the bristles should be.
- The pin brush is usually oval-shaped with a set of flexible wires capped with rubber or plastic tips. This brush is often used on dogs with thick or curly coats and tackles minor tangles since it won’t pull the hair as it moves through the fur. This brush is gentle on your dog’s skin and safe for most breeds.
- Like a pin brush, a slicker brush has shorter wires but is mounted much closer on a rectangular head. This design removes mats and dead hair from the undercoat. Apply gentle pressure so you don’t scratch your dog’s skin.
At first, many dogs don’t care about being brushed. If your dog refuses to be brushed, try a grooming glove. These gloves have textured rubber surfaces that pick up loose hair and provide a massage, just like when you’re petting your dog.
There are many types of combs to help you keep your pet’s coat healthy.
A general grooming comb is best for long-haired dogs to help remove tangles and knots. Make sure to use wider-spaced teeth to start tackling knots, then progress to a comb with more tightly spaced teeth.
A dematting comb has ridged stainless steel blades to cut through mats instead of pulling on them or ripping the fur from the skin.
A flea comb has tightly spaced teeth that catch fleas and dirt as they move through the coat.
PRO TIP: Always brush in the natural direction of your dog’s fur. This minimizes the chance of you ripping or tearing the skin.
A rake is designed to get deep into thick coats to gently remove tangles and dead portions of the undercoat.
A standard rake resembles a comb but with longer, wide-spaced teeth. Looking like a miniature garden rake, the teeth have rounded tips and excel at gently removing dead fur and tangles in longer-haired dogs.
An undercoat rake has curved small blades with sharp edges to remove mats and loose fur from dogs with heavy undercoats. While this type of rake will remove mats, we’ve found it not as effective as a mat comb.
Built for dogs that shed, the deshedding tool acts like a stripping knife to pick up and pull out dead hairs, leaving a low-shedding topcoat behind. This tool mimics a groomer’s clippers when they were not turned on but used to gently rake through a dog’s coat.
There are many sizes to choose from when picking a deshedding tool. Please feel free to contact us with questions so we can ensure you have the right size to make the grooming experience more productive and more pleasant for your dog.
Dog Coat Types
Here’s what we typically recommend to help you find the right brush for these common canine hair types.
Short Hair, Smooth Coat
This group’s breed includes Boston Terriers, Boxers, Bulldogs, Corgis, Dobermans, and Great Danes. Use a bristle brush to distribute the dog’s natural oils for a shinier and healthier coat. A slicker brush can also be used to remove any dead hair.
Breeds in this group include Airedales, various Terriers, and Schnauzers. We recommend weekly brushing with a slicker brush or pin brush.
Breeds in this group include Bichon Frise, Poodles, and most of the Doodle varieties. Weekly grooming with a slicker or pin brush will help keep your dog’s permanent perm fashionable.
Long Silky Coat
This group’s breed includes Afghan Hounds, Cocker Spaniels, Golden Retrievers, Irish Setters, Maltese, and Yorkshire Terriers. We encourage DAILY grooming for these breeds using a pin brush to keep those silky locks under control.
These breeds include Border Collies, Golden Retrievers, Huskies, Labrador Retrievers, Newfoundlands, and St. Bernards. A double coat has two layers that grow independently and are often of different lengths. The outer coat is coarse, and the undercoat is soft and dense. We find that a rake brush, matched to your dog’s coat length, helps pull out loose undercoat fur.
Ensuring Grooming Success
Taking care of your dog’s coat is a vital part of grooming. As you’ve just seen, many types of dog brushes are available to handle everything from basic coat care to removing the thickest hair mats.
Having the right kind of grooming brushes on hand will make the experience easier and create a stronger bond between you and your dog.
What’s the best way to maintain your pet’s coat? While grooming needs will vary from pet to pet, here are a few basics to consider.
First, it’s important to note that your grooming regimen should be customized for your pet. Some pets simply require weekly brushing, while others may need daily brushing with the help of topical treatments to prevent knots and matting. The term “grooming” refers simply to topical maintenance of the coat and not necessarily a visit to the groomer.
Routine grooming is essential to maintaining your pet’s healthy coat. A regular routine has plenty of benefits not only for your pet but also for you:
- Helps keep coat fresh and clean
- Reduces friction between hair follicles
- Helps ventilate pores to reduce levels of oil buildup
- Prevents knots and mats from forming
- Familiarizes yourself with your pet’s body to determine any abnormalities
- Builds a bond between you and your pet
- Stimulates your pet’s brain from the interaction
- Helps regulate body temperature with a well-brushed coat
- Help find ectoparasites (fleas, ticks, etc.)
Knowing when to and how to properly brush your pet will help enhance these benefits. The frequency of brushing will depend on multiple factors, including your pet’s breed. Normally, we recommend short-haired pets to be brushed once weekly, and pets with longer-haired coats should be brushed roughly 3 to 4 times weekly. Long-haired coats need more maintenance as they are more prone to creating mats and/or knots if unkempt.
Two products that may assist with your weekly routine are detangling sprays or grooming wipes. Detangling sprays are great because they leave your pet smelling wonderful and help reduce friction between the hair follicles, therefore causing less damage to the coat when brushing. Grooming wipes come in handy to spot clean dirty areas, wipe paws and faces, or just freshen up between baths. Grooming wipes are also excellent for pet owners who have allergies to things like pollen or weeds because you can wipe your pet down when they come in from outside to reduce allergens being carried in on their fur.
Without Proper Grooming
When your pet’s coat isn’t groomed frequently enough, it can cause the buildup of dead hair and skin cells that will ultimately lead to painful mats. These problems can lead to mild or moderate itchiness, sores, or even severe wounds. They can even cut off blood circulation in severe cases.
Coat Health through Diet and Supplements
If you notice itchy skin, dry patches, sores, hotspots, redness, or swelling on the skin, you may need to consider making changes to your pet’s diet regimen. Several factors come into play here because the food your pet consumes directly impacts the health of their gut microbiome, which reflects the skin and coat health.
For example, cereal and starchy foods can often lead to inflammation which can cause itchiness. Sensitivities to other ingredients should be discussed to determine if a food change and/or elimination may be helpful.
Another factor in maintaining coat health is omega 3’s. Omega 3’s are essential fatty acids that have great benefits for the skin and coat. Dogs and cats cannot produce their own, so supplementation through diet is key. Omega 3’s contain EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) which are essential for anti-inflammatory purposes, growth development, heart function, brain function, and vision.
Despite how crucial omega 3’s are, they are not required in commercial pet food. Therefore, it is recommended to still supplement your pet’s food with omega 3 capsules or liquid (we recommend Nordic Naturals). Visit us in-store to discuss appropriate dosing for your pet.
Solomon, Dr. Donna. “Fish Oil for Dogs and Cats: Six Benefits.” Animal Medical Center of Chicago, 15 Aug. 2018, https://www.animalmedicalcenterofchicago.com/fish-oil-for-dogs-and-cats-six-benefits/.
Easter, Fanna. “Are Dog Wipes Worth It?” Dog Training Nation, 17 Jan. 2017, https://www.dogtrainingnation.com/equipment/are-dog-wipes-worth-it/.
“A Wonder-Fur World: Why Pets Need Regular Grooming.” Ethos Veterinary Health, 29 Oct. 2021, https://www.ethosvet.com/blog-post/a-wonder-fur-world-why-pets-need-regular-grooming/#:~:text=Dogs%20can%20get%20greasy%20hair,irritation%20and%20other%20skin%20problems.
Ontario SPCA and Humane Society. “The Benefits of Brushing Your Furry Friend.” Ontario SPCA and Humane Society, 6 Jan. 2022, https://ontariospca.ca/blog/the-benefits-of-brushing-your-furry-friend/.
Craig JM. Atopic dermatitis and the intestinal microbiota in humans and dogs.
Veterinary Medicine and Science, (2016), 2, pp. 95-105 John Wiley & Sons Ltd, accessed August 26, 2022. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5645856/pdf/VMS3-2-095.pdf
Unpleasant odors emanating from our canine companions can be a cause of concern for dog owners. While a certain degree of odor is natural, persistent and pungent smells may indicate underlying issues that need attention. In this article, we will delve into the top five reasons behind unpleasant dog odors and provide practical remedies to address them. Let’s explore these reasons and discover effective solutions to tackle them head-on.
Reason 1: A Yeast Infection
Yeast overgrowth is a common cause of unpleasant odors in dogs. The musty, pungent scent associated with yeast is often likened to moldy bread or cheese popcorn. Yeast infections typically affect the ear canals or paws of dogs, with the latter sometimes referred to as “Frito feet” due to the similarity to corn
chips. Common signs of yeast overgrowth include smelly paws, a musty odor, excessive scratching, itchy paws, and butt scooting.
To address a yeast infection in your dog, it’s crucial to assess their diet. Ultra-processed, starch-heavy foods like dry kibble can encourage the growth of bad bacteria, allowing yeast to thrive in your pet’s body. While topical remedies such as medicated shampoos and sprays can provide temporary relief, a lasting solution requires a dietary change to prevent the recurrence of yeast overgrowth.
Reason 2: Gas Attacks
While it’s natural for dogs to pass gas, excessive or foul-smelling gas may indicate an underlying issue. Simply keeping your dog away from the trash might not be enough to control their gas. An unhealthy diet can be a significant contributor to your dog’s stinky gas. We can assist you in finding the best diet tailored to your dog’s health needs, helping alleviate the problem.
Reason 3: Bad Breath
Puppy breath can be endearing, but when bad breath sets in, it can be quite overpowering. Typically, bad breath in dogs is the result of bacterial buildup in
their mouths. Additionally, poor dental health, tartar accumulation, infections, or periodontal disease can contribute to foul-smelling breath.
Dog owners often find it challenging to maintain their dog’s dental health, but it doesn’t have to be a hassle. Check out our blog post on various methods to keep your dog’s dental hygiene in check, ensuring fresh breath and overall oral health. Check out our blog post on different ways to keep your dog’s dental hygiene in check.
Reason 4: Anal Glands
Dealing with malodorous anal glands can be unpleasant. These glands are located on the sides of a dog’s rectum. Normally, healthy anal glands should not emit any odor. However, if you detect a fishy smell, it could indicate a problem with your dog’s anal glands. Symptoms such as leaking, a pungent odor, butt scooting, or signs of pain may indicate the need for expressing the anal glands, which requires a visit to your vet.
Reason 5: Lack of Grooming
Regular brushing of your dog between baths is vital for removing dirt, dead skin, and other debris trapped in their coat, effectively reducing unpleasant smells. Thorough brushing goes a long way in keeping your dog stink-free.
Grooming wipes and deodorizing sprays can also help your pet to smell fresh in between baths. Another simple trick to keeping your dog clean is to keep their bedding and toys clean. It keeps both your dog and house smelling fresh.
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