Q: Why do dogs have recurrent anal gland problems?
A: In grooming schools during the 40's and 50's ( and even some "old school" programs today, groomers were taught to clean the dogs ears, trim nails and express the anal glands. Emptying the anal sacs was considered to be courtesy, but the downside is that pets were never meant to have those anal glands recurrently expressed. And one of the main reasons pets have recurrent problems with the anal glands is unnecessary trauma. If every single day I told you to wake up and squeeze your salivary glands every time you eat, you could end up with soft tissue trauma. Unnecessary trauma is a major reason why animals have recurrent anal gland problems, so if your pets don't have anal gland problems right now, tell your vets and groomers to please leave them alone.
Q: My dog has hairy ears, what should I do to prevent ear infections?
A: Many vets and groomers are just now starting to come to the conclusion that instead of plucking ears completely clean, the ear canal hair should be trimmed with blunt tipped scissors or clippers. Other alternatives are plucking just a few hairs a day and cleaning weekly. Previously it was believed that ears filled with ear hair could not circulate air and thus would cause infections. Now, reasoning has evolved that if the hairy ear remains clean and dry, as long as there are no underlying conditions, the ear will be not become infected.
Q: What is "quicking" the nail?
A: Quicking a nail is when a nail is trimmed to the point of making it bleed. Inside a pet's nail are blood vessels and nerves. For dogs with clear nails, the blood vessel is more easily seen and avoided. For dogs with black nails, the blood vessel is completely hidden from view and quicking can happen more easily. Quicking a nail is comparable to receiving a very minor paper cut. Some dogs don't react at all if their nail is quicked. Stopping the bleeding is easily done by applying styptic powder or gel to the bleeding nail. If no styptic powder is available, flour or even a bar of regular soap will also stop the bleeding. Highly excitable dogs can cause their own nails to bleed.
Q: What is a mat?
A: A mat is a tangle of hair or fur that cen be found anywhere on apet that has not been brushed and combed regularly. When a mat is left on the pet for a long period of tie, it begins to grow (collect more tangled hair) and pulls at the skin, eventually ripping itself away from the skin. The skin underneath the mat cannot breathe and will retain moisure and bacteria. Hot spots can form under the mats, abscessed open wounds, mold and maggots can also reside underneath a mat.
Q: How often should I brush my pet?
A: It depends on the type of hair involved. Regular brushing helps to de-shed as well as bring out the natural oils in a pet to keep the skin and coat shiny and healthy. It promotes the re-growth of new hair. A short-haired dog may only need brushing once a week, but a dog with medium to long hair that need regular trimming will need brushing combing every one to two days to keep mats from forming. Brushing using a slicker brush or pin brush will usually only get the hair that lies on top of the coat. It may not get the hair that lies closer to the skin. A comb will get the hair close to the skin. Very often, people who do brush their dogs don't also comb them, so mats will form close to the skin and the owners will not realize it. Combing a dog will very easily let you know if you have missed any mats. Once a mat has formed, it can be difficult to remove. Please speak to your groomer about proper brushing and combing techniques and tools.