Saturday, December 17, 2011

Craft Idea: Make Holiday Collar Covers for Dogs and Cats

This month we're making holiday collar covers for our customers. These festive tubes of cloth slide easily over your pet's collar to add a touch of color or sparkle for the holiday season but are easily slipped off and washed or recycled. Once you're set up, each collar cover takes about 15 minutes to make and now that the kids are home for vacation, you can make it a family project.

What you'll need:
  • Sewing machine (yes you could sew by hand if you wanted to)
  • Rotary cutter or sharp shears
  • Pinking shears
  • Lightweight fabric (smaller patterns work best)
  • Neutral or color coordinated thread

Step 1: Measure
Measure the length and width of your pet's collar

Step 2: Plan
Add 1" to the width and about 30% to the length. That's the finished size of the tube you'll be constructing. You'll need the extra width to accommodate the plastic fasteners on the collar plus a seam allowance and the extra length to scrunch up the fabric so it has a ruffled look when finished.

Step 3: Cut
Using a rotary cutter or a pair of very sharp shears, cut two strips of cloth to the planned dimensions.

Step 4: Sew
Align the strips right sides outward and sew down each long side about 1/4" inch from the edge. It's a good idea to reverse at each end for a few stitches to lock the seam in place.

Step 5: Trim
Using pinking shears, trip the seam allowances and tube ends  to create pretty, non-fraying borders.

Step 6: Scrunch
Slide the finished tube over your pet's collar, scrunching as you go.

We hope you enjoy this holiday craft idea!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Pet Therapy on Cape Cod: Spread the Joy!

This week our pooch and mascot, Grigri, started his career as an animal assisted therapy dog, with a visit to Eagle Pond Rehabilitation Center.

What is animal assisted (or pet) therapy?

Dogs, cats, horses, birds, rabbits, and other small animals are used to improve a patients social, emotional, or cognitive  abilities, and to bring affection and happiness to those who are in a hospital or institutional setting. The health benefits of owning or loving a pet are well-documented and the smiles a pet therapy visit brings to the faces of the elderly or infirm are not easily forgotten.

What's a pet therapy visit like?

We arrived at the lobby of Eagle Pond to meet other therapy teams and spread out through the facility. Grigri was very excited by the prospect of a new place and other dogs and wanted to bark and play - NOT the purpose of this visit! Some animated Christmas figures near the door sent him into a tizzy! He acts like he's seen a ghost whenever he encounters a statue of a dog or person, especially one that moves and sings! He soon settled into the "job" of visiting, though, and  we talked with half a dozen patients about their pets, their families and their holiday plans. In the dementia unit one woman just petted and smiled, petted and smiled, hanging onto his ear in the most charming illustration of the bond people have with animals and its power to create joy. It's a very rewarding experience for both dogs, owners and patients alike.

How can you get started in pet therapy?

On Cape Cod, dogs have to pass the Canine Good Citizen test to get started, then be evaluated by the Companion Animal Program of Cape Cod (CAP). CAP makes sure that dogs have basic obedience skills and are not frightened by wheel chairs, walkers, or people who look or act different. One the therapy team is approved, they can start visiting local nursing homes, assisted living facilities and libraries (for the Reading to Dogs program for children) with the guidance of CAP. In 2011 there are 201 members, 29 visitation sites (including 5 libraries) and 128 or more active therapy teams.

We'll keep you updated as Grigri makes his way to his AKC Therapy Dog title, which requires certification with an approved AKC Therapy Dog organization (CAP of Cape Cod is one), registration with AKC (Grigri is registered in the AKC's Canine Partners program for mixed breeds) and 50 or more therapy visits. That will take a few years!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

UNUSUAL Holiday Gift Ideas for Pet Lovers

If you need a cat toy or dog themed t-shirt for a holiday gift, just jump online or head to your local main street to acquire. You'll easily be satisfied. But if you seek something a little off the beaten track, read on for some shopping ideas for your pets or pet lovers.

We have seen pet entertainment videos and hear that kennels and day care facilities play pet themed movies for their charges but we've also read that dogs, at least, can't really see TV that well. Certainly we've observed that our pets don't care much about screen time. For real world pet entertainment, install a bird feeder outside a window your dog or cat can see out of. They'll get a kick out of watching both birds and the squirrels that gather underneath the feeder. Try the Bird Watcher's General Store in Orleans for ideas.

If you think of "sit!" and "Stay!" as the typical fare of dog classes, you may be surprised at the breadth of training available. For example, Joseph's Obedience Training School in Pocasset offers classes in nose work, tea cup agility (for small dogs) canine freestyle, and flyball. Your dog will appreciate quality time with more than anything else you could give, right?

For an extensive collection of tasteful, pet-themed items, try Agatha and Louise, a New England pet store that has numerous gifts and decorative  items from $10 up for the pet lover and the pet, organized by dog breed (cats too!) 

One very practical idea is to shop to help the animals. Here are some great online spots where your holiday dollars can delight your friends and family while providing a service for animals in need.

The ASPCAhas an online store with a big selection. Also the MSPCA.

For a really local charity, consider CapeCodPolice K9 Relief Fund, a concern that raises funds for law enforcement dogs injured in service. They have an online store with items featuring pet themes with a law enforcement twist.

If you love Pit Bulls, and who can resist them, shop the Stubby Dog catalog for clothes, holiday items, and home/office items all with cute Pitty faces and poetry. The new Sargeant Stubby designs are particularly attractive. 

Or, you might want to give a loved one the gift of a clean pet. There's really nothing like snuggling your nose into a soft, freshly scented dog or cat that's not shedding hair all over the house. Call Aussie Pet Mobile  at 508 534 9875 for a gift certificate. We can make up a pretty paper certificate for you to present to someone you care about, and that person could be you!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Book Review: Made for Each Other, by Meg Daley Olmert

Why do we love our pets so much? And why do they love us? These are the central questions posed by Meg Daley Olmert's  2009 book about the biology of the human-animal bond.

Her inquiry follows the research done on the role of the hormone oxytocin in animal behavior. If you're of a certain age, you probably think of oxytocin as the hormone that initiates labor, delivery and lactation in humans. But over recent years, research has focused on the much broader role that oxytocin plays across all mammal behavior, and especially in that of domesticated animals.

As it turns out, according to Olmert, oxytocin suppresses the fight or flight response, one of the most powerful motivators in the animal kingdom; it also stimulates trusting, close, and nurturing behavior and lowers stress hormones, heart rate and blood pressure. In fact, Olmert and others make the argument that oxytocin may have been a major factor in the domestication of animals.

Olmert brings a new perspective to several of the major themes in the behavior of domesticated animals, covering well known stories such as Clever Hans, the "trick" horse, Rico, the brilliant German Border Collie and the taming of the Russian silver fox and points to what she thinks is the role of oxytocin in  these events. 

The central theme of the book is the relationship between pet dogs and humans. It's now possible to measure the degree of oxytocin produced by interacting with our pets and, as you might expect, petting a dog produces high levels of oxytocin in both the human and the dog. The best anti-stress results are produced at forty strokes a minute, the same rate we naturally use to stroke our pets.

One study showed that the biggest factor in who survived a heart attack was not family or friendship, but whether a patient had a pet. Interestingly, another study showed that when humans are performing a stress test, having a friend or spouse nearby had no effect on reducing heart and blood pressure, but the presence of their dogs kept them significantly calmer.  Simply owning a cat produced a 30% reduction in the incidence of heart attack. It is often said that during tough times people prefer the comfort of a pet even to their closest human kin.

Is anyone surprised that stroking a pet produces a feeling of well-being? Well, no. But it is interesting to see this profound effect has shaped our shared history with animals and to speculate on how we might leverage the effects of oxytocin to improve our future. It certainly helps to illuminate why so many of us have chosen to work with animals and why we derive such pleasure from it. Grooming produces oxytocin in both the groomer and the groomee!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Thanksgiving Idea: Low Fat Carrot Dog Treats

If you're worried about your pooch's waistline, and for many of our furry friends you should be, consider making these low fat treats for the holiday:

1 medium banana
1 c shredded carrots (can buy pre-shredded for convenience)
1/4 c unsweetened applesauce
1/8 c water (or more as needed)
1 1/2 c whole wheat flour (plus extra for rolling out cookies)
1 c rolled oats

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray or a light coat of oil.

Mash banana and mix in shredded carrots (give carrots a rough chop to make the pieces a little smaller.) Add water and applesauce and stir. Add flour and oats and combine thoroughly. Using hands, knead into a dough. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to 1/2" thickness. Cut into 3" shapes using a knife, cookie cutters or the rim of a glass. Put the treats onto the oiled baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes. If your dog prefers a crunchier treat, turn off the oven after baking and let the treats cool in the oven overnight.

This recipe makes 24 treats which will keep for 3 weeks in the fridge or 6 months frozen.

Thank you Country Gardens, Hyannis for this great recipe!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

2 Million Dogs, 2 Miles

A satisfying a day was had by all the 200 or so dogs that strolled through Plymouth under brilliant fall sun and skies today in order to raise funds for the fight against canine cancer. What more does a dog want than the simple joy of taking a walk? 101 dogs preregistered online but scores more lined up to take part in the walk.

It was a parade of breeds with some unusual attendees among the throngs of Golden Retrievers; one woman brought her 18 year old cat, Felicia, perched on her shoulder, complete with pink polka dotted sweater and matching leash. All together we saw four Dogues de Bordeaux, not a dog you see every day in Southeast Mass. 

We gave out coupons, dog treats and brushing guides and had a good time chatting with other visitors, vendors and sponsors. In fact, we saw the folks from the Howl-a-Day Inn there. Three interesting non-profits attended: 

"I can follow the scent of a criminal for up to 10 days but all he needs is a split second to kill me" is what you'll see on the home page of this organization's web site. They primarily raise money to furnish active police dogs with bullet-proof vests, but they also provide other essential equipment such as kennels, heat alarms and even the purchase of dogs themselves. Check out their online store for gift ideas.

Great photos and stories on this group's web site. FairyDogParents helps prevent dogs from being surrendered to shelters due to financial hardship. They've sponsored more than 100 dogs since March of 2009 and have pledged to help 175 more by the end of 2012.

Helping Hands for the Plymouth Animal Shelter: These kind folks raise money for veterinary, wellness care and spaying /neutering for animals lodged at the Plymouth Animal Shelter to supplement the town budget. All monies raised, donated or collected go toward the well being of the animals.

 We'll certainly support the Puppy Up! Walk again next year.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Onset of Winter: Scratch, Scratch Scratch!

We turned on the heat this morning and for both us and our pets that's going to produce some dry skin. There are many reasons why your dog or cat might be scratching: fleas, ticks, allergies, other skin diseases, fungus or simple dry skin can get pets itchy. Once the scratching begins it can cause secondary problems like hot spots and lick granulomas. 

We have seen many customers recently who are troubled by fleas. There seems to be a fall "bloom" of these nasty little critters, so it your pet is driving you crazy with the thump, thump, thump of constant scratching, get in close and make sure it's not a flea problem. The easiest place to spot a flea in on the belly where hair is sparse. Watch for little red bumps or small flecks of black "flea dirt" (actually flea poop) as well as the actual fleas scuttling away through the fur. We've heard dozens and dozens of customers complain that they have their dog or cat on Frontline or Advantix and the fleas just keep returning. Our veterinarian is seeing the same problems and recommends treating pets more often. Consult with your vet if you're using a flea/tick prevention product but still getting fleas. 

Diagnosing and treating skin problems is a complicated affair so once you've ruled out fleas you might want to follow the regimen recommended for dry skin. If the scratching clears up, voila, you're done. If not, there's nothing harmful in the steps you'd take for treating dry skin. From our friends at here are 5 tips for combating dry skin for dogs. The recommendation for cats is basically the same: 

1. Bathe your dog as little as needed to keep its coat clean. 
2. Brush your dog often to remove dead hair and dander. 
3. If bathing is necessary, use a moisturizing shampoo made for dogs. Their pH is different from ours, so don’t be tempted to use a human shampoo- it is much to harsh for their skin. 
4. Follow a bath when necessary with a moisturizing rinse made for dogs and their special needs. 
5. Don’t forget that healthy hair and skin comes from within. Use a good quality, name brand food and consult with a veterinarian about the addition of fatty acid supplements which can make for healthier, glossier hair.

 At Aussie Pet Mobile, we carry several medicated shampoos that are good for dry skin and other skin conditions, such as oatmeal and lavender shampoos and Epi-Soothe shampoo and conditioner by Virbac, which is prescribed by veterinarians for dry, itchy skin. We've been successful getting several customers' skin to calm down using Epi-Soothe. If your pet does get a hot spot, there are numerous products on the market that you can spray or rub onto the distressed area to stop that itch. Some are cortisone based and others have herbal ingredients such as mint or tea tree oil that are anti-itch. 

You might also try the hold home remedy to put a kettle of water on the stove to humidify the air. If you throw some cinnamon in it you've got dry skin treatment and holiday cheer all rolled together in one.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Puppy Up!

In 2008 Luke Robinson and his two dogs Murphy and Hudson walked 2,000 miles from Austin TX to Boston to raise awareness about canine cancer. Luke had lost his beloved dog Malcolm to cancer and promised to dedicate his life to raising awareness and funding for canine cancer and comparative oncology.  Luke had a vision that if 2 dogs could walk 2,000 miles, 2 million dogs could walk 2 miles. The 2 Million Dogs Foundation and walk is the grass roots campaign that resulted and 2011 is its inaugural year. 

Cancer is a big problem in pets. According to the National Canine Cancer Foundation it affects one in three dogs and is the cause of nearly half the deaths in dogs older than 10. It's also similar to cancers found in humans and the field of comparative oncology relies on a pet-people partnership to research causes and treatments. 

From the Puppy Up! web site, learn the 10 L's of canine cancer:

  • Lumps
    Not all lumps and bumps are cancerous in dogs. There are sebaceous cysts, lipomas, and warts all of which are benign but if you detect a growth on your dog it’s important to have it checked out by a veterinarian and if warranted, aspirated and biopsied.
  • Lesions
    Scratches and abscesses are not uncommon for the normal, active dog but the sores that don’t heal can be of concern.
  • Lameness
    Bone cancer is typically found in larger breed dogs like Great Danes, Bernese Mountain dogs, Rottweilers, Boxers, Newfoundlands, Saint Bernards, and Great Pyrenees and the primary early indication is prolonged limping or favoring a limb or side. Other types of cancers can also cause persistent lameness.
  • Appetite Loss
    If your dog shows no interest in eating or their daily consumption has declined for several days, take them to a vet.
  • Lethargy
    Tiring out easily, unwillingness to exercise and loss of interest in normal daily activities can be an early sign of cancer.
  • Weight Loss
    Not to be confused with loss of appetite. Cachexia, or emaciation, is often associated with cancer and can occur even if your dog is still eating normally. So if your dog is inexplicably losing weight, consult a veterinarian.
  • Loud Odor
    A very strong and offensive smell can sometimes be a byproduct of tumors in the mouth and nasal cavity.
  • Loss of Normal Body Functions
    Dogs having difficulty voiding or defecation or unusual urine or feces should be looked at.
  • Bleeding or Bloody Discharge
    Blood present in vomit, stool, and nasal discharge are cause for serious concern and although not always telltale signs of cancer, your dog should be examined as soon as possible.
  • Labored Breathing
    Abnormal respiration or respiratory distress can be a symptom of cancers in dogs.

Check your dog often for lumps and ask your groomer to report anything they find. We touch every part of your dog during a groom and can assist you in keeping an eye out for any suspicious lumps or lesions.

Aussie Pet Mobile will be walking on Nov 6th in Plymouth in honor of our beloved Lucky, who died this fall. No sweeter dog ever lived. If you'd like to join us, post on our Facebook page and we'll figure out logistics.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Fungus Among Us

The recent rains have brought up a bumper crop of mushrooms around the Cape and South Shore. We see them everywhere, from woodland trails to manicured lawns to open pastures, popping up  in every shape from tiny parasols to golf balls, soft balls, fluted goblets and one that resembled a bowler hat or perhaps a space ship.

Albeit charming in appearance, we've all been warned many times not to eat wild mushrooms. Delectable sautéed with butter and herbs or stirred into sour cream for stroganoff or soup, yes, but unless you are a mushroom expert and 100% sure of what you've collected, wild mushrooms shouldn't be on your menu, nor your pet's.

This spring one of our customers on the South Shore told us about nearly losing her beloved Golden Retriever because the dog had eaten some harmless looking mushrooms growing in her suburban yard. Luckily she was able to rush the dog to an emergency vet who was able to save the dog, but had she not been home or noticed her pet's distress the result would have been tragic. 

The ASPCA reports that 99% of mushrooms are harmless but the 1% that are toxic are extremely dangerous. They recommend that you should immediately call your veterinarian and/or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888 426 4435 if you see your pet eating a wild mushroom. If you have a yard, keep an eye on any mushrooms that appear and remove and discard them safely as soon as possible.

We recommend that you take advantage of this beautiful fall weather by taking as many long walks with your dog as possible, but keep an eye on your pooch when walking in the woods.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Rescue Story: Hunter

This week's post comes to us from young blogger, Dylan, who helped us with Hunter' groom at the MSPCA and documented Hunter's story.

Hunter is a four year old dog and he is up for adoption. He loves car rides and he has been at the shelter since July 22nd. Hunter is a Cocker Spaniel mix. He is good with children. He is housebroken and is good with other dogs and cats but he will chase bunnies! He is a chestnut red, and has yellow highlights. He is at the MSPCA animal shelter in Centerville and is looking for a good home. He is an easygoing dog. Maybe you would be the fit for this sweet loving dog.

These are the number and hours for the shelter in Centerville where Hunter is:

Phone: 508 775 0940

Monday: Closed all day
Tuesday: 12:00 - 4
Wednesday: 12:00 - 4
Thursday: 12:00 - 4
Friday: 12:00 - 4
Saturday: 12:00 - 4
Sunday: 12:00 - 3

Thank you, Dylan for this wonderful article!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Domestic Violence Affects Animals Too

Some of you may watch Animal Cops or other TV shows that illustrate the scope of the problem with animal abuse and neglect. It's frankly unbelievable to many of us what can happen to an abandoned or abused animal and yet, organizations like the MSPCA encounter domestic violence and neglect cases every day. These sad circumstances occur close to home: We visited the Friends of Falmouth Dogs program and facility last weekend and learned that one of the dogs available for adoption was virtually abandoned by a divorcing couple who moved away but left their pet in the house with the arrangement that someone would come by to feed her twice day. Not the situation we would want for this lovely playful girl but luckily the caregiver surrendered her to Friends of Falmouth Dogs where she gets great care and is now available for adoption to her forever home.

You expect that animals will get a fair chance in the United States where we have minimum standards for animal care and laws to back them up, but conditions are worse in the developing world. You may know that some of us at Aussie Pet Mobile Cape Cod lived and worked in India for a year. During our time there made friends with a local shop keeper who had two wonderful pet dogs - a relatively rare occurrence in rural India where only the most affluent can afford to feed an additional mouth, much less two. Our featured photo is of Amar with his two beloved pets. One day in June of 2010 we found Amar at his shop in tears. His beloved dog Mochi had been brutally killed the night before, just outside his home, while Mochi was stretching his legs before bed. There is no recourse in rural India for such a crime against nature, but here in the US you can Take Action to improve the conditions for animal welfare.

Please visit the MSPCA Government Affairs page and click Take Action to protect all victims of domestic violence.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Recipes: Soft Dog Treats

Some of our best customers are senior dogs who have mobility problems or wouldn't be comfortable in a cage at a grooming shop. Here's a recipe for soft dog cookies for those K9s who prefer a softer treat.

Incidentally, we just discovered that Grigri loves crisp apples. He was jumping his heart out for them at the barn when we were working on his agility skills. Who knew?

3 (2 1/2 oz) jars of baby food, either beef or chicken.
1/4 cup dry milk powder
1/4 cup wheat germ or cream of wheat

Combine ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Roll into small balls and place on well-greased cookie sheet. Flatten slightly with a fork. Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or until brown and cool on wire rack. Refrigerate or freeze.

Try a new treat with your pet this week to encourage his or her focus on you for training or just to be nice :).

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Brushing Guide: How to Maintain Your Pet Between Grooms

We attended the MSPCA's Walk for Animals today to donate prizes, clip nails for a donation to the MSPCA and give away brushing guides to Cape Cod dog owners who supported the event by registering their dogs for the walk. The event was graced by superb September weather and Grigri even won second place in the talent contest!

The brushing guide explains the importance of choosing the right location and using suitable equipment. A flat surface at a convenient height is best for your back, but you'll have to keep your hands on him or her to make sure there isn't a fall. If you bought your brush or comb at the supermarket, it may not be the right type or quality to ensure brushing is comfortable for your dog or cat. We recommend our customers visit a full service pet store to choose their grooming equipment. If your pet has been scratched by a too-firm brush he or she may be reluctant to let you get near with that brush again. On the other hand, if your tools are too soft, they won't reach deep enough into the coat to remove snarls and undercoat effectively.

If any mats and tangles present are minor, they can be worked out by gently separating with fingers and a comb and then combing out. Never use scissors to cut out a mat that lies close to the skin. It's far safer to use a clipper. Detangler products can help make hair slipperier but don't overdo. Use both comb and brush to ensure that all tangles and mats are removed; otherwise, they'll just get worse.

Work systematically around the body, not allowing your pet to bite at the grooming tools, or you! It may seem cute but you want to discourage any kind of biting or mouthing behavior. Make sure you address hard to reach areas such as under the arms and around the tail. High friction areas tent to produce the most tangles and mats.

If brushing gets away from you and your dog or cat becomes seriously matted, you can always have her clipped and start fresh with a short coat. More frequent grooming appointments or shorter, more manageable coat lengths are alternatives to thorough regular brushing. Each family has to decide how much brushing they are willing to do and can fit into their schedule.

Ask your groomer for the brushing guide and start connecting regularly in a healthy, happy brushing session with your fur baby.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Book Review: Dog Sense by John Bradshaw

This excellent new non-fiction pick surveys the latest animal behavior research and makes recommendations for the future of dogs as companion animals.

First Bradshaw debunks the conventional wisdom that dogs are "little wolves" that seek to control their "packs" (households) through dominance. He attributes this misinterpretation to earlier wolf research that studied captive packs in zoos, where groups of unrelated wolves struggle to establish workable relationships and dominance and submission play important roles. Natural packs in the wild that are basically family units whose behavior is characterized by affiliation and cooperation.

After setting the record straight about how wolves actually behave, Bradshaw draws clear distinctions between dogs and their wild ancestors. He chronicles the way in which the domestication of dogs may have occurred, illustrating the many ways in which dogs endear themselves to us by providing not only practical services like guarding, herding, hunting and hauling, but affection, companionship and play.

Nevertheless, Bradshaw observes, just as dogs are not "little wolves", they're also not "little people" and most probably do not experience the range of emotions we are tempted to project onto them, such a guilt or revenge. Treating a dog like a child can put the dog in a baffling and frightening situation: Fifi almost certainly will not recognize a cause and effect relationship between the trash container she overturned and spread throughout the house earlier in the day and her owner's anger upon returning home.

Finally, the book explores how we should manage our relationship with dogs going forward. After all, inviting our furry pals into our houses and bedrooms raises expectations about their behavior that are increasingly hard for dogs to achieve. Such natural doggie pursuits as digging, barking, rolling in dead things and scavenging food are discouraged in household pets; dogs labeled as "wild" or "destructive" often find their way into rescue organizations where they face a lonely life or, considering the oversupply of dogs, eventual destruction.

Six do's and don'ts:

• Don't be an alpha: Trying to control dogs by acting dominant will just frighten them.

• Understand your dog's emotional limitations: The latest research suggests that dogs can feel love but not guilt.

• Avoid punishment: As a general rule, positive reinforcement is the best way to control a dog's behavior.

• Respect your dog's senses: Dogs have been extremely sensitive ears and noses, and intense stimuli can make them miserable.

• Look beyond breed: Personality and trainability should be the priorities when selecting a pet.

• Teach your dog to cope with being left alone. Dogs are emotionally dependent upon humans and can become distressed without us.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Lucky Cats! Adoption Fees Waived for Adult Cats August 27-28, 2011 at the Cape Cod MSPCA

Meet Jaxx, a polydactyl cat at the MSPCA. This cat has an extra toe on each of its front paws, a much beloved trait which many people consider lucky. There are a lot of these guys in New England and especially Boston, and they are known as Boston thumb cats and mitten cats because the extra toes look like a thumb and are used by some cats to catch objects with one paw, open latches and other feats of dexterity.

The trait was favored by sailors and spread throughout the Atlantic trade routes from Boston on ships. Sailors considered them lucky and since sailors needed all the luck they could get they took them on board where they performed as superior climbers, mousers and ratters.
Sadly, these cats were persecuted in Europe during medieval times because they were considered “witch cats” and destroyed, but they were welcomed in New England and have become quite common. One reference we found noted that they are especially common in Yarmouth. If so, yippee for Yarmouth! The trait is common in Maine Coon cats where it is thought that the extra toes act like snowshoes. Ernest Hemingway loved them and of the more than 50 cats who live on his Key West estate, more than half are polydactyl, giving rise to the term Hemingway cats.

Jaxx is available for adoption as well as many other charming felines at the MSPCA Centerville Adoption Center and that a special adoption event August 27 and 28 offers cats over 1 year old for free! Whether you find a polydactyl cat or not, you will be changing the luck of any cat you adopt. Come by the Adoption Center and take a look. Even if you can’t find room for a new kitty in your home, these wonderful critters will give you a smile.

Note that if you have a polydactyl cat, you have to make sure that cat is “sharpening” those extra claws or they can curl into the pad and hurt your kitty’s feet. If your thumb cat is too squirmy to trim those nails, call us for a “nails only” appointment.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

"Short But Not Too Short"

It seems this is what we most often hear requested by customers: "Short but not too short." Oh my gosh, can you imagine how hard it is to guess what someone else means by short? We group our clips into "functional" categories so it's easier to communicate with customers about what they have in mind.

A "buzz" or "shavedown" is the shortest clip we do, about 1/16th of an inch or a little longer. It creates a fine, silky texture on many soft haired dogs and cats - like a fine Persian carpet. This is the length we must clip when a pet's coat has tangles or mats, because we have to be able to get the clippers under the knots or mats, which lie close to the skin. We also clip lots of cats into lion cuts at this length. It takes about 3 months for a cat to re-grow a coat clipped this way. Amadeus, the labradoodle pictured here, received a buzz cut this weekend at Country Garden's Dog Days of Summer as a fundraiser for Barnstable Dog Parks.

A "summer" or "utility" clip is 3/8" - 3/4". These lengths give pets more coverage but are short enough to avoid matting and can help keep pets cooler during hot weather. Less hair on the pet also means less hair in the house. Pets with fluffy undercoats, such as huskies and many cat breeds, look better with tighter clips.

At about 1" many coat types will knot and mat so the choice to preserve a longer coat length involves a commitment to brush and demat regularly or arrange for professional grooming at least once every month.

At Aussie Pet Mobile Cape Cod, we offer "preferred customer" discounts for those who want to get on our schedule at least once per month. Call the office for pricing at 508 534 9875.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Mats and Haircuts

We who have the longhaired breeds struggle with mats. It seems that one day your dog has a few knots and tangles which you religiously comb out and the next day, boom! You have mats and your dog will have to be shaved down to start anew.

Many customers ask us not to shave their dogs down to the skin. You probably chose your dog at least in part because of his or her beautiful coat and you don't want to lose it. But here's the thing with mats. Once you get them you have to shave close to the skin to be humane. Also, you wouldn't want the cost of attempting to preserve the coat as it would take many hours longer to do.

What happens is that the hair of many breeds known for mats has a rough texture on the hair shafts that tends to knot and tangle where hairs rub together. The knots and tangles twist in the friction areas, such as under the "arms" and behind the ears or wherever your dog or cat sleeps or rubs. As they twist, the knot takes up more and more of the "slack" hair, making it larger and tighter to the skin. Thus, a fully formed matt lies right up against the skin, often getting impregnated with skin and dander and making a big mushy mess.

If you're old enough to remember using a telephone with a spiral cord between the phone and the receiver, you'll remember how each time you picked up the receiver it twisted that cord and over time the receiver got so tangled and twisted that you couldn't really put it up to your ear and you had to untwist and tangle the thing.

That's how it is with mats. However, the phone doesn't have sensitive skin, and your dog does, so pulling on the mat to untangle it hurts your dog. The quickest and least painful solution is to shave under them. This removes them with no irritation to your dog and less cost to you. Sometimes if you catch them while they're still loose knots you can preserve a little bit of coat length, but if you're feeling mats, they're already close to the skin and you'll have to shave close.

The good news is that hair grows fast. If you do have to shave your dog down, his or her hair will be back in a few weeks and you can start again. If you keep your dog's coat less than 1" long and brush every day you'll never be troubled with mats. And if you mess up, as most of us do, and the mats get away from you, we can give your dog a stylish short clip and get him clean and cute again. No worries.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Rescue Story: Barney

This gorgeous boy came to the MSPCA when his elderly parents had to move to a small, second story apartment, where Barney couldn't follow them, in order to cope with some health challenges. Although matted and dirty, Barney is every inch a gentleman, here pictured getting some special attention from MSPCA visitor Savannah Janik-Pecknold.

Barney and Savannah have something in common: they are both nine years old. For Savannah, that's the age of discovery - finding out about life and its promise. At nine years of age, Barney has reached his peak performance of giving love and requesting little in return. He's definitely a senior in terms of his breed's life expectancy, but clear-eyed and big-hearted, he seems poised to take on the next phase of his life with grace and dignity.

The American Kennel Club describes the Great Pyrenees dog as having "the distinct impression of elegance and unsurpassed beauty combined with great overall size and majesty… He possesses a keen intelligence and a kindly, while regal, expression. Exhibiting a unique elegance of bearing and movement, his soundness and coordination show unmistakably the purpose for which he has been bred, the strenuous work of guarding the flocks in all kinds of weather on the steep mountain slopes of the Pyrenees."

We spent our Sunday afternoon with Barney today to give him a makeover to help him find a home for his golden years. We styled him as a lion, leaving a generous mane and natural front legs while clipping out the matted and dirty areas around his hindquarters, tail and chest. In a few weeks his glorious white coat will fill back in, but in the meantime, he's clean and cool for summer.

Barney's a gentle giant and a willingly soul. He gamely tried to jump into the van and onto the grooming table, but needed some help as he's weak in the hind end. He walks easily on a leash and seems comfortable either lying down, or sitting for short periods. He didn't object to his bath at all, in fact, he jumped right into the hydro-bath (with a boost) and seemed to love being dried and brushed out. He needs so little to be safe and comfortable: board and room with a soft bed and a weekly brush would fulfill his needs.

Aussie PetMobile Cape Cod would like to support Barney to be happy and healthy and pledges to discount Barney's regularly scheduled grooms by 10% for life.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sunburn and Your Pet

Everyone knows you should protect your skin from sun damage by wearing a hat, staying in the shade and using sun protection products, but fewer people are aware that sun is a medical risk for their pets as well. Light or short coated dogs such as Maltese, Boxers, and the Bully breeds are especially vulnerable, as is any dog clipped short for the summer and those breeds that are susceptible to skin tumors such as Dobies, Poodles and Schnauzers. Even a shaggy-coated companion can get burned in sun-sensitive areas such as the nose, ear tips, belly or groin if exposed to bright sun for long periods of time, such as a day at the beach or on the boat.

Happily, you can take much the same precautions with your dog as you do for yourself. Provide shade and apply a sun protection product on sensitive areas that's especially formulated for dogs (cats too!) Using human sunscreens is risky because dogs, and particularly cats, will likely lick the product off and then you have to worry about whether it's safe to ingest. Probably not.

Several companies make sun protection products for animals, Epi-Pet, Doggies and Nutri-Vet are names you may see at your local pet store. Whichever product you choose, note that Octyl Salicylate products should not be used on cats because if ingested it breaks down into a substance that's toxic to them. Check your pet store for these products and others and keep some on hand when your pet is exposed to intense sun. With pets as with people, you need to use a significant amount (one tablespoon for every body part) and re-apply every 4 - 6 hours to be effective.

At Aussie Pet Mobile Cape Cod, we use a sun guard product on every light-coated dog we clip during the summer months but the protection is temporary so owners need to be aware of sun risks and be prepared to continue treatment as needed.

Happy summer!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Fur Side: De-Shedding Your Pet

One of my customers made me laugh by telling me she was imagining that we had a machine that we could put a dog into with just its head sticking out that would just suck out all the extra hair, kind of like what you might expect to find in an "I Love Lucy" episode. That would be nice, but de-shedding is just hard work, tools and technique, no machine at all.

I invited my customer into the grooming cabin to watch how de-shedding is done. First we clip nails, clean ears and eyes just as we do at the beginning of any groom. On big dogs we would use our high velocity drier to blow away dead hair and debris (small dogs are often wary of the noise of the drier and honestly, it's so powerful it could blow a very small dog right off the table!)

Then we use a de-shedding shampoo and a rubber curry tool in the bath to give a vigorous massage that releases and washes away dead hair. Following the rinse we massage in a de-shedding solution for at least five minutes, concentrating on the dog's heaviest coat areas, around the neck and hindquarters. Typically after a de-shedding bath the tub is coated with a layer of hair and the drain basket is totally full. After a thorough rinse and leave-in conditioner, we dry with the high velocity drier, again blasting out more hair. Whew! That was a lot of work and now the grooming cabin is filling up with hair that we'll conveniently suck into our shop vac, and you won't have in your house, but the real work starts now.

We use a de-shedding tool, or what's often called a carding tool, to remove excess undercoat. Furminator makes a line of these products for consumer use but many brands have been made and used in the grooming business long before Furminator captured the consumer market. We carefully draw the ultra-fine teeth of the de-shedding tool through the clean dry coat until it's captured all the excess hair, which can take a half an hour of more of dedicated work. These tools can irritate skin so it takes experience to know how much pressure to apply and how much repeated combing can be tolerated without redness or soreness developing. I often collect the hair gathered with the tool into a bucket to make it easier to clean the cabin and I can see how much hair is removed by the de-shedding process even after a professional bath and brush. For a medium or large dog, I can expect to gather 2 to 3 gallons of downy, "dust bunny-like" balls of undercoat just using the de-shedding tools. See Clover's picture at the head of this article.

We de-shed cats too, although most of our customers prefer a lion cut to reduce the amount of hair in their homes and their cats' tummies. Either way, having your dog or cat professionally de-shed can reduce the amount of hair in your home by 60 - 80% if done regularly. With a light coated dog, we might recommend you try de-shedding in spring and just professional baths the rest of the year to keep the "fur side" under control.

On their web site, Furminator says that shedding is the number one complaint of pet owners. I don't doubt it!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Should You Vacation with Your Pet?

With the big Fourth of July holiday at hand, vacationers are on the move and many are wondering and worrying about what to do with their pets.

There are many pet-friendly establishments on the Cape and numerous web sites encourage you to travel with your dog or cat by providing advice, travel products and destination info. But… Just after the movie Pet Detective came out, we read a newspaper article about a real world pet detective whose hobby is to help people recover their lost pets. This expert's advice about vacationing with your pet is absolutely clear: Don't! He reported that taking your pet out of its regular habitat is just asking for trouble. Pets can be disoriented and seek to find their way home. Your usual safeguards may not be in place (that hole in the fence you didn't notice or that door that doesn't close tightly). Pets are far more likely to get lost while on vacation, he says, and are harder to find in unfamiliar territory. Cats in particular have a hard time away from home.

Qualified pet sitters are available if you decide to leave Fido/Fifi at home, such as the good people at Red Rover.

If you decide to take the plunge, make sure you have an ID on your pet's collar that has your cell phone number on it or a local contact. Some pet friendly establishments offer temporary tags that identify your pet as an approved guest and also give local phone number. Microchipping is best but a temporary tag can be made in minutes for a few dollars at many large pet stores in and customized for your situation.

If your dog isn't crate trained, well before the vacation would be a good time to make his/her crate feel like a secure den. Many lodgings allow pets but some stipulate that the pet not be left alone in the room unless they're crated. A crate can also serve as an air-cooled alternative to being locked in the car or a hotel room if you can find a safe and reassuring place to set it up.

When you get back from your grand adventure, contact us for bath, haircut, aloe deep conditioning treatment, or flea and tick treatment as conditions dictate.

Have a great summer!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

To Clip or Not to Clip?

To be honest, I don't know whether dogs like being clipped for summer. As I have many times noticed and many dog owners assert, some dogs seem to prance and smile with a new clip. Is this our imagination, or might it just be that the dog is relieved to be done with a long and boring grooming session and happy to be free?

Aside from dog preference, does it make sense? One argument goes that a dog's coat provides insulation against heat as well as cold and therefore should be left alone, but many, many dog owners observe that whatever the logic behind the clipping decision, their dogs appear more comfortable with a shorter clip.

At Aussie Pet Mobile Cape Cod, we think the decision to clip or not to clip should be made based on the behavior of the dog. If you are wondering what to do, ask yourself the following questions:

1. Does your dog have extensive "undercoat" ( a thick, downy layer close to the skin that tends to shed in hot weather and grow thicker in cold)?

2. Is shedding extreme in spring?

3. Is your dog a "cold weather" breed like a Husky?

4. Does your dog pant and seek a cool place to sleep by digging a hole in the shade when the weather turns warm?

If any or all of these are true for you, we recommend you try a summer clip and compare your dog's behavior before and after. Aside from smiles and prances, does your dog pant less, and seem more willing to play on a hot summer day? Even if the dog doesn't appear to care much one way or the other, a summer clip can make a big difference for you and your housekeeping by reducing the amount of hair in your home and the sand or mud that your dog tracks in from the beach and yard.

A summer clip can range anywhere in length from peach fuzz to 3/4". We usually advise about 1/2", although on dogs with massive amounts of undercoat, a shorter end of the spectrum produces a smoother, more attractive finish. The clip can take the form of a "lion cut" with a longer mane, natural legs and a flag or ball on the end of the tail (see Aslan's photo at the head of this post) or same length all over.

We are booking for grooms and clips the week of July 4th. Call us if you'd like to see what a summer fashion could do for you and your dog.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

3 Ways to Celebrate Fathers

It's probably too late to buy a pet-themed t-shirt or tie for the father(s) in your life, and you didn't need to spend the money anyway. Alternatively, here are three (nearly free) ideas to celebrate the day:

1. Go for a walk:
Do you know a father who would like to spend more relaxing social time with you? Probably. Why not collect a father or two and walk dogs together? Or take a dog fancier on a trip to your local dog park to watch the mutts cavort. It's a nice way to spend a spring evening.

2. Make a cake:
Don't be scared. All you need is some store bought cupcakes and frosting. There are numerous specialized pans and recipies with dog and cat themes, but the easiest and most fun project might be to simply decorate with store bought ingredients. The picture above shows how you can take two cupcakes and frost generously to create a cute dog themed dessert only limited by your imagination and decorating skills.

3. Volunteer:
Join up or volunteer in honor of a favorite father. Your local animal shelter needs your help or you could clean a beach or trail. Or somebody's back yard or attic for that matter.

No matter which you choose, you'll find time to chat and probably chuckle. What better gift can you give?

Oh, and celebrating fatherhood doesn't mean you need to have a bunch of intact males running around. Please spay/neuter your pets and help keep an over supply of animals out of the shelters.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Scoop about Poop

Isn't pet waste "natural"? Wild animals leave their scat in the woods, why not pets?

The bottom line is that there are a lot of pets, and while they are not the major contributor to water pollution, studies show that the combined impact of all pets and wildlife poses a health threat to swimmers, other dogs and beaches, and can cause beach and shellfish bed closures.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health puts out a brochure that explains the risks of pet waste to water pollution on our beaches and sets forth guidelines for pet owners that make a lot of sense. Some highlights:

The Problem:

When animal waste ends up in the
water it decomposes, using up
oxygen. During summer months, low
dissolved oxygen levels harm fish and
other aquatic life.

Beaches and shellfish beds may be
closed, if evidence that diseas-ecausing
bacteria and viruses might be
present is found on routine water
testing. Pet waste can be a cause of
test results that close beaches and
shellfish beds.

The majority of water pollution comes
from small sources – especially at the
household level.

Many towns have “pooper scooper”
ordinances that require pet owners to
pick up and remove fecal matter from
public property. Fines can be
imposed on those caught violating
these laws.

Health Risks:

Pet waste can contain bacteria and
parasites, causing infections such as the

Campylobacteriosis: A bacterial
infection that causes diarrhea in humans.

Giardiasis: A protozoan infection of the
small intestine that can cause diarrhea,
cramping, fatigue, and weight loss.

Salmonellosis: Symptoms include fever,
muscle aches, headache, vomiting, and

Toxocariasis: An animal to human
infection that is caused by roundworms
found in the intestines of dogs. The
parasite can cause vision loss, rash,
fever or cough, and is a particular threat
to children exposed to parasite eggs in
sand and soil.

What You Can Do:

Always carry a plastic bag to pick up
your pet’s waste.

Do not throw pet waste near a storm
drain; use a trash can. Pet waste can
also be flushed down a toilet, but
please don’t flush the bag.

Make sure to dispose of pet waste in
a sealed bag so it doesn’t spill during
trash collection.

Do not flush pet or wildlife waste from
your deck or dock into the water.

Obey local leash laws and seasonal
bans at beaches.

Aussie Pet Mobile Cape Cod cleans Cape Cod by picking up trash and pet waste in addition to bathing and clipping our pets. Join us in keeping our fragile Cape Cod environment clean and green.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Kitty Spa

Ever wondered how to groom a cat?

Meet Bentley. He's a handsome longish haired boy who we groomed recently and gave a lion clip to reduce the amount of hair in his house. Bentley is sitting in the tub after his bath, wearing an e-collar, like the ones your vet uses to keep your pets from scratching or biting stitches when they're healing or a hot spot. We use the e-collar to prevent being bitten by a cat who loses her temper. It's less annoying for the cat than a muzzle. Bentley didn't mind being bathed at all and sat calmly in the hydrobath. Many cats take being bathed, groomed and clipped in stride, particularly if they have been regularly groomed since their kitten year.

The first thing we do is clip nails and clean ears and eyes and do any required clipping. Matted cats need to be clipped very short - what we call a "buzz cut" - in order to get under the mats where they form close to the skin. Contrary to what you might think, a cat with a buzz cut has the softest and cleanest coat you could imagine, like a fine Persian carpet. A long or short "mane" can be left to give the lion look, and the tail can be left full or with a flag or ball at the end. Cats that aren't matted can be clipped to a half or three-quarter inch clip, which reduces hair both inside and outside the cat but looks more natural.

Most cats don't like to be immersed in water, so our hydrobath is preferable. We have warm water pumped through a spray head that we use to massage away dirt, dander and hair. A kitty bath usually takes fewer than 5 or 10 minutes, then on to the grooming table.

Most cats don't need to be restrained on the table. Usually they tuck their feet underneath themselves and lie quietly on the table to be dried and brushed. If a cat loses her temper and won't sit still, we have a soft harness that gently circles the cat's chest and neck that will prevent them from leaping off the table.

It's true that cat grooming requires special skills in handling the cat and preventing injury to their delicate skin, but it's not as stressful for most cats as you would expect and can be critical to their health and comfort.

If you have a cat that has trouble grooming itself, is experiencing hair balls, is matted, or is simply overwhelming you with hair production, give us a call.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Spring Cleaning

We Clean Cape Cod is taking the weekend off from blogging to clean its house but we have an update on fiddle head ferns. They're in the market! Last night we had a delicious pasta salad with these seasonal treats, prepared as below:

Wash fiddleheads and quickly saute in the water clinging to the coils, adding 1 t olive oil when the water has evaporated. Continue to saute in the oil, adding 1 T chopped garlic and the juice of 1 lemon, for 3 - 5 minutes. When fiddleheads are tender, add to a warm bowl of cooked pasta along with a can of kidney beans, some matchsticks of red bell pepper, and a handfull of fresh flat leaf parsley and tarragon leaves. Toss with any vinegrette and celebrate spring!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Ticked Off!

It's tick season, which you already know if you have a dog or cat. Heck, you really don't even need a pet; I found a tick crawling across our sofa this week, just hiking along it seemed. I'm taking numerous ticks off the dogs I groom and I'm finding dead ticks regularly around the house where they've latched on to Grigri but fallen off after been killed by the tick preventive we use. Everyone I've talked to is having the same experience and we're ticked off!

A few suggestions for keeping your pets healthy during this trying season:

Dangers: Ticks carry some nasty diseases, even in New England. Both you and your dog or cat can be infected. Lyme's disease is the most well-known, but the entrancingly named Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and other conditions are also serious and can be fatal to a pet.

Tick Removal: Growing up on Cape Cod we picked a millions ticks off our dogs - this was long before the advent of tick prevention remedies (see below) - and there were several local strategies for getting the whole tick out. My family advocated using the tip of a burnt, but still hot, match to make the tick back out voluntarily. Others use petroleum jelly or nail polish to suffocate the tick. Research has shown that it's very difficult to get a tick to voluntarily "back out" and no folk method for doing so is effective; in fact, the longer the tick is left on the skin the higher the risk of infection so waiting for the tick to decide what to do is counter-productive. Quick removal should be your priority. Acarologists (people who study mites and ticks) recommend using a tool such as hemostats, high quality tweezers or any of several commercial tick removal tools to grasp and gently pull the tick away from the body. These tools are effective at grasping the ticks and also keep your hands free of tick saliva, which can infect you as well. An
analysis of several tools appears on the University of Ohio's web site. Whichever approach you use, inspect and remove ticks daily.

Tick Disposal: I was talking to my neighbor about the tick invasion yesterday and we got to talking about how to dispose of them once you get them off. In my family we favored flushing them down the toilet but I would feel guilty about using all that water now so I wrap them up in a tissue and squish them before throwing in the trash. My neighbor had a method I'd never heard of, which is to throw them into a bowl of water with a little dish detergent. The detergent acts as a surfactant and breaks down the surface tension in the bowl of water, allowing the ticks to sink and drown. Sounds neat and tidy but I don't know if it works.

Tick Prevention: Where we live on the Cape is prime tick territory. Surrounded by woods, brush and long grasses, we find it difficult to avoid them. Theoretically, if you stayed strictly on the paths and roads you could stay tick free because ticks cannot jump. They wait on grasses and shrubs and latch onto passersby as they brush past. The only sure fire method to keep your pets tick free is to use a specially formulated topical preventive such as Frontline or Advantix.

Aussie Pet Mobile has these products on board so be sure to ask your groomer if your fluffy friend needs his or her monthly application. We can take care of it for you at the end of a groom.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Trash Talk

We're becoming quite the connoisseurs of trash collection. I found the pictured beach buggy in a "free" pile by the side of the road and Jan came up with the idea of re-using heavy duty garbage bags in it. This shot is of Grigri and me setting off to clean Craigville Beach Road between Magnolia and Greeley. We don't usually take on cleaning the main roads but focus on the beaches and trails - there's just too much trash for us to carry - but this is our neighborhood and we wanted to give it a spring cleaning so between the rain drops we did the best we could on this mild spring afternoon.

As we worked I was reminded of our last dog, Queenie, who was a terrible trash dog and suffered from pancreatitis more than once after getting into a trash can. Although dogs seem miraculously able to ingest almost anything, in reality there are a lot of agents that can cause illness and death. Be careful what you discard, especially if your baby likes to investigate the garbage, and check out the ASPCA's list of 2010's Top 10 toxic substances that generated calls to their poison center:

Human Medications: Poisonings by our human meds topped the ASPCA's list, with over the counter pain remedies playing a major role. Don't give your dog any human pain pill without checking with your vet and if you drop a pill on the ground, make sure you find it before your dog does. Ibuprofen (Motrin) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) are both toxic to dogs.

Insecticides: These are ubiquitous around our homes so always be careful. One common problem is using flea control products on cats that are not safe for them. Check labels and make sure the product you're using is safe for kitties.

Mice/Rat Baits: This are highly attractive to cats and dogs. Even if you place them where your beloved pets can't reach them, the mice and rats can carry partly eaten bait into accessible areas. Make sure you keep bait and pets apart.

People Food: Did you know grapes, raisins, onions and garlic can make pets sick if enough is ingested? This doesn't mean that a bite of spaghetti sauce with a few onions in it is going to kill Fifi, but I can certainly visualize situations in which Queenie could have made herself sick getting into these foods if left unguarded.

Vet Meds: These are often made to taste good, so if your furry friend gets access he or she may eat more than one dose. Keep these items out of reach and contact your vet in a hurry if Fido eats the whole bottle.

Chocolate: I never used to believe that chocolate was toxic to dogs because my parents used to feed it to our poodles regularly, but this risk has been documented extensively, so beware. The darker the chocolate the more Methylxanthines it contains, which is the dangerous ingredient. Maybe my folks were just cheap and were handing out something with very little actual chocolate in it. Give your poodles a pet treat instead.

Household Toxins: Cleaners are perhaps an obvious risk, but also keep an eye on where your batteries and liquid potpourri are stored. What is liquid potpourri anyway? Doesn't sound like something I'd want around the house!

Plants: Both indoor and outdoor plants can be poisonous. Check the ASPCA's list of toxic plants out.

Herbicides: Apparently they taste salty. Who knew? Keep pets off treated areas until they are dry.

Other Outdoor Toxins: Antifreeze, ice melt products, fertilizers and many more products used around the house and garden are big trouble. Queenie would have eaten any of these and may not have lived to tell the tale.

Keep your trash secure and the poison control number handy - (888) 426-4435 (a $65 consultation fee can be paid by credit card) If you have litter in the car, by all means keep it away from Fluffy, but please don't throw it out the window either. We already have our hands full cleaning Cape Cod.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Pawdicures and More

"Pawdicure" is a silly word for tending to your pet's nails, but nail care is not a silly topic. There are serious health issues associated with letting your dog or cat's nails grow too long, in addition to that annoying clicking long nails make on your floors. Long nails strike the ground when your pet walks and that puts pressure on her toe joints making it less than comfortable to walk and potentially causing soreness or arthritis in the feet and further up the leg.

How often should nails be trimmed? That depends upon your pet's lifestyle. If her most athletic effort is stretching after a nap on the couch, her nails will not get worn down and will need to be trimmed every few weeks. If you have a dog that's regularly exercised on pavement or other hard surfaces, she may not need to have toenails trimmed at all, but her dew claws need to be attended to. If not clipped they can and do grow right back into her flesh, causing pain and possible infection.

It's simple enough to buy a set of pet nail clippers at the pet store, but using them is more challenging, especially since your "pawdicure" customer is not going to sit quietly and gossip with you as you deliver the service - at least none of mine do :). More likely your pet will be pulling his/her paws out of your hand every two or three seconds while you try to determine where to clip.

White nails are far easier to clip because you can usually see where the quick is by looking sideways at the nail. You should see a crescent of pink extending from the pad toward the nail tip. Clip just beyond this crescent of live tissue. If you clip too short the nail will bleed briefly; application of a styptic powder will quickly stop bleeding but it may sting.

Black or multi-color nails are more difficult to cope with because the quick is not usually visible, especially on a wildly wiggling paw. For dark nails, patience and experience are your best tools. Clip off only the very end of the nail to square it off and then incrementally clip closer, watching for a small black dot to appear in the cross section of the nail. Once you see this dot, you're close enough.

If your customer is patient, you can finish off the pawdicure with a nail file or Dremel rotary tool with file attachment to smooth the edges. When I was a child growing up on the Cape, we had a neighbor who painted her Yorkshire Terrier's nails a florescent pink - we conservative New Englanders thought that was too much! Times have changed and nail polish is a popular option. Some pet suppliers carry nail pens that make it easier to apply polish to furry friends.

One tip for nail trimming is to wash your pet first so it's easier to see the nail. If your Labrador has just come in from a muddy marsh it's going to be hard to figure out where to clip. The good news is that if you're a kitty fan, it's relatively easy to clip those razor sharp claws.

Of course, the easiest path of all is to call Aussie Pet Mobile for a nail treatment. We offer simple nail clipping, pawdicures with polish, and pad treatments for senior pets and others whose pads are dry; this can cause them to slip on hard floors and cause injury. We'd be happy to schedule an appointment when we're in your neighborhood.