Grooming | Grooming Grooming en-us Tue, 21 Oct 2014 06:00:00 -0700 Tue, 21 Oct 2014 06:00:00 -0700 Orion <![CDATA[Why Severely Matted Hair Needs Professional Attention]]> If you know a dog with a soft and long, shaggy or curly coat, then you probably know the feeling of running your fingers through your friend’s fur only to discover a nasty bit of tangled, unpartable hair -- a mat. These stubborn clumps of hair range in severity from just unsightly to downright dangerous.

My mom’s senior dog, Rags, is a mop-like creature of unidentifiable lineage, and although she was named because of her high-maintenance hair, I think she is loved in spite of it.

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My mom texted me these autumn glamour shots of Rags in all her shaggy, pre-haircut glory.

Mats are an unfortunate reality for Rags and many other dogs and their owners, and while some can be dealt with without a trip to the groomers, others are more serious.

According to Jenn Shaw, owner of Tall Tails Grooming in Red Deer, Alberta, dogs can develop three different kinds of mats. Two of them can be dealt with in DIY fashion, but the third kind is best left to the pros.

The first type of mat is really just a bunch of dead hair that needs to be loosened up and brushed out. The second type, the dreadlock-like kind, can be snipped out fairly easily. “I would recommend placing a comb between the skin and end of the knot and trimming on the knot side to prevent accidentally cutting the skin,” says Shaw.

The third and worst kind of matting is severe matting, which according to Shaw, forms a sheet similar to a sheep pelt that covers large areas of flat skin.

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This is a guy that needs a little help with his sheep-like coat. Photo courtesy:

These severe mats can wrap tightly around legs, tails, and ears. Removing this kind of mat at home is extremely risky as thinner skin can get pulled up into the mats when the dog moves. Tackling this kind of mat can result in accidentally cutting your dog’s delicate skin.

“Many owners are embarrassed to bring their severely matted dog in to a professional for a groom, but I would much rather be responsible for safely removing mats than later having to deal with a terrified dog who has been badly cut at home due to inexperienced de-matting,” says Shaw. “Better late than never!”

She says that while an owner may have to sign a waiver recognizing the increased risks associated with this type of groom, it’s much safer than taking the mat into your own hands.

As a professional groomer, Shaw doesn’t discourage some forms of DIY grooming, including doggie haircuts and shampoo sessions, but she says these severe mats are a different story. "I can never condone trying to remove severe matting at home yourself,” she says.

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A makeover of this magnitude needs a professional's skills. Photos courtesy:

“Professional groomers have the tools and experience necessary for clipping this type of matting without harming your dog, but there may still be a risk of skin discomfort due to limited blood flow or hidden skin conditions underneath the matting.”

Of course it’s best to avoid matting all together by brushing out your dog’s dead hair before and after your furry friend gets wet, but for some dogs, like Rags, tangles are still going to happen and are best dealt with on the grooming table.

About the author:  Heather Marcoux is a freelance writer in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but Specter the kitten and GhostBuster the dog make her fur family complete. Heather is also a wife, a bad cook and a former TV journalist. Some of her friends have hidden her feed because of an excess of cat pictures. If you don’t mind cat pictures, you can follow her on Twitter; she also posts pet GIFs on Google +

Tue, 21 Oct 2014 06:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/dog-grooming-tips-severely-matted-hair-professional-attention-help
<![CDATA[Tips From a Groomer: How to Trim Your Dog's Nails at Home]]> The other day my husband told me our cat had spent a good chunk of her afternoon grooming our dog's paws.  

"Good," I joked. "Someone needs to do it and it's not going to be me."

Of course I'm not really going to count on Ghost Cat to ensure that GhostBuster’s doggy nails are trimmed -- but I know that I am much too anxious about nail clipping to do it myself. I can hardly clip my own toenails without cutting myself.

My husband, on the other hand, is pretty good at nail clipping, at least when it comes to cats. He can clip kitty claws without even waking our sleeping cat, but when it comes to dog nails his skills are yet untested. Our gorgeous GhostBuster has put his paws in the hands of professionals since he came home with us after his adoption this summer.

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Groomer Jenn is great with GhostBuster. Somehow I don't think my pup would be so chill if I were the one wielding the clippers.

According to GhostBuster’s groomer, Jenn Shaw, owner of Tall Tails Grooming in Red Deer, Alberta, it’s very important to keep the nails trimmed short enough that they aren’t pushing on the ground. Long nails could be bad for the bone structure of the feet. “Unless you have a dog who runs on concrete a lot and wears them down naturally, you have to keep an eye (or an ear for clicking on the ground) on the nail’s length,” says Shaw.

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GhostBuster does a lot of walking on concrete - not so much running though.

With that said, trimming nails too short can also be painful for dogs. They can get stressed when the quick (the part of the nail containing blood vessels and nerves) is cut.

"Usually a lot of the upset also comes from the reaction of the owner at the sight of blood and yelp of their dog," explains Shaw. "Future nail trims become anxiety inducing for everyone involved."

If you do accidentally cut down to the quick, Shaw suggests using a styptic powder or pen (both can be purchased at drug or pet stores) to press against the end of the nail to stop the bleeding. If you have no styptic supplies around, cornstarch or flour can also help.

Of course, what we really want to do is avoid bloody trims in the first place. Shaw says it’s best to go slow when giving your beloved pet a pedicure.

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Dog nail cutting by Shutterstock.

“Try cutting a little at a time until you can see the end of the quick -- which looks wet or darker compared to the chalky look of the nail -- to prevent cutting too deeply,” she says.

Some dog owners are comfortable using this method to trim those toenails, but for others (myself included), the whole process of an at-home nail trim is just way too stressful. “Dogs have this amazing ability to pick up on their owner’s anxiety,” says Shaw. “So if you’re nervous trimming nails at home, it’s better to have them maintained by a professional."

Forgoing nail trims is simply not an option, as ingrown nails are dangerous and very painful. 

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This poor dog's nails grew quick - and went straight into the paw. Photo courtesy Tall Tails Grooming

“If you’re not comfortable clipping nails at home, especially the tricky black ones, it’s something a groomer can generally do on a walk-in basis within a few minutes.”

For now, that’s what I’m going to stick to. At least until my husband can clip dog nails as well as he cuts kitty claws.

Read related stories on Dogster:

About the author:  Heather Marcoux is a freelance writer in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but Specter the kitten and GhostBuster the dog make her fur family complete. Heather is also a wife, a bad cook and a former TV journalist. Some of her friends have hidden her feed because of an excess of cat pictures. If you don’t mind cat pictures, you can follow her on Twitter; she also posts pet GIFs on Google +

Fri, 17 Oct 2014 02:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/dog-grooming-tips-how-to-trim-dogs-nails
<![CDATA[How to Safely Shampoo a Dog Who Has a Skin Condition]]> Dirty dogs need to get clean, but when your dog suffers from a skin condition, the last thing you want to do is soap him up with something that might banish the dirt but bring on the itchy dandruff.

When we adopted GhostBuster he suffered from a yeast problem, and our vet prescribed a special anti-fungal shampoo and instructed us to bathe him every other day. After our pup finished his course of this special soap, we weren't quite sure how often we should be sudsing him up, so we turned to Jenn Shaw, owner of Tall Tails Grooming in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada, for some shampoo advice.

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My husband and GhostBuster back when we were DIY shampooing our itchy rescue dog.

“Try not to bathe your dog’s body more frequently than every three to four weeks so that the natural oils in the skin and coat can generate proper growth of hair and keep the skin from drying out,” explains Shaw.

I’ve been happy to reduce the frequency of GhostBuster’s bathings, as getting the medicated lather rinsed out wasn't always easy, and I stressed over whether we were making GhostBuster’s skin problems even worse.

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Because GhostBuster is not a fan of the hose we would rinse him by the bowlful. It took a lot of bowls.

“Improper shampooing can cause allergic reactions when a harsh shampoo is used or not rinsed out completely,” explains Shaw. She suggests a gentle, tearless dog shampoo for at home use, as these formulas are best for preventing allergic reactions or eye infections.

“If your pet has dry skin, a conditioner can help prevent dander and shedding but will require more thorough rinsing,” explains Shaw. “Rinse until you think you’re done, and then rinse again.”

While proper rinsing prevents skin reactions, all that water can become problematic for a pup’s ears.

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Jenn Shaw at Tall Tails Grooming is careful as she washes around GhostBuster's ears.

“Keep water out of the ears by being careful about where you’re washing, or putting a piece of cotton ball in the ear opening until after the bath to prevent ear infections,” says Shaw, who adds that thorough drying is also very important in preventing skin infections (and hypothermia in winter months).

While skin conditions are a huge concern when it comes to shampooing your dog, Shaw says owners really need to consider the dog’s whole body before beginning the bathing process. She suggests people become acquainted with a dog’s anatomy, structure and health conditions before attempting to bathe the pet.

“They have a different range of motion than people and stretching or twisting a leg too far in the wrong direction while your pet is struggling can cause strains or tendon tears and even dislocated joints in some breeds.”

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GhostBuster doesn't get twisted when he goes to the groomer.

Brushing your dog’s hair is an important part of a grooming routine, with some dogs requiring a brushing before they even get wet. Unfortunately, overzealous (if well-meaning) brushings can cause health issues. “Some brushes, when used repeatedly with too much pressure over the same areas on your dog, can cause 'brush burn' or scrapes on the skin,” explains Shaw. “These areas can become bruised and infected and will require a vet’s attention.”

The last thing I want to do right now is make my itchy dog’s skin conditions worse, so I’m going very gentle with the brushing and am leaving the shampooing to the professional.

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The results of a gentle brushing in the backyard.

Shaw suggests if owners notice any skin conditions that develop after a professional groom, a phone call is in order. “Your groomer will appreciate a call so they can record your pet’s skin sensitivity and will then ensure that a different shampoo or brush is used for the next groom so that the same problem doesn't arise again.”

How do you shampoo your dog? Any special tricks to your lather-rinse-repeat routine? Let us know in the comments.

Read related stories on Dogster:

Learn more about dogs with Dogster:

About the author:  Heather Marcoux is a freelance writer in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but Specter the kitten and GhostBuster the dog make her fur family complete. Heather is also a wife, a bad cook and a former TV journalist. Some of her friends have hidden her feed because of an excess of cat pictures. If you don’t mind cat pictures, you can follow her on Twitter; she also posts pet GIFs on Google +

Fri, 10 Oct 2014 02:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/dog-health-care-grooming-shampoo-tips-skin-condition
<![CDATA[Our Best Tips for DIY Dog Grooming]]> When household expenses need to be scaled back, salon visits are often one of the first things to go. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got a head full of hair or a body covered in fur.

Before my husband and I bought our first home, I was in the habit of paying oodles of money to maintain my mane of blonde highlights, but after we became homeowners and added a second cat and a dog to our family, my hair costs kept moving further down the budget spreadsheet.

As a new roof, some vet visits, and pricey pet food bumped my hair right out of Excel, I eventually I just stole my husband’s hair clippers and decided to take a DIY approach to my own hair. As a result my Lab mix GhostBuster has been on the grooming table more recently than I’ve been in a stylist’s chair, but according to his groomer Jenn Shaw, owner of Tall Tails Grooming in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada, dogs can also benefit from a bit of DIY hairdressing.

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GhostBuster enjoyed his time on Shaw's grooming table.

“Even as a professional groomer I don’t necessarily discourage people from cutting their pet’s hair at home,” explains Shaw. “I definitely encourage regular maintenance between grooms.”

As a Lab mix, GhostBuster’s beautiful double coat requires brushing, not haircuts, but for dogs who need frequent trims, the at-home haircut can be good for both the animal and the bank account.

“Some people’s financial situations don’t allow for professional grooms and it’s more important for the dog to be comfortable than to look professionally polished,” says Shaw, who stresses that owners need to educate themselves on apprpriate grooming techniques and tools beforehand. She says the tools I use on my own hair wouldn’t work on any dog’s coat. “Clippers used for human hair don’t have the power or speed to cut through pet hair and can actually pull the skin into the blade causing nicks and cuts,” she says.

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Human clippers are only for humans.

“Human clippers usually only have one length of blade which can often be too short on pets and cause razor burn. Also, the heat of these blades must be closely monitored or it can literally burn their skin.”

Shaw says that if you plan on clipping at home, it’s imperative to invest in a decent pair of pet clippers. This can mean an initial investment of more than $100. “You get what you pay for, so spending more on clippers will mean that they run cooler and more effectively, actually working properly and painlessly for your pet’s hair,” she explains.

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No human hair tools are going to be able to get through this. Photo courtesy:

Owners also need to take extra care and caution in areas where the dog’s skin is thinner. These areas include the underside of the neck, face, eyes, ear edges and flaps, armpits, belly, sanitary areas, toes and tendons on legs.

When cutting or brushing the hair in these areas, there is a higher risk of bruising or cutting your pet as the thin skin pulls up quickly from the body when the fur is handled, making it easy to catch with grooming tools.

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GhostBuster appreciates Shaw's professional knowledge and tools as she grooms his ears.

“A small nick on this thin skin can turn into a bigger problem since it can be prone to tearing like tissue paper, especially if using scissors instead of clippers.”

Shaw recommends supplementing DIY grooms with professional quick services for the face, feet and sanitary areas to avoid the risk of cutting those sensitive areas. She says some professional groomers do offer these trims as walk-in services.

I’m thankful that GhostBuster’s coat isn’t the kind that needs shaving -- I have enough trouble clipping my own head!

Do you groom your dog at home? Tell us some tips in the comments!

Read more about grooming: 

About the author:  Heather Marcoux is a freelance writer in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but Specter the kitten and GhostBuster the dog make her fur family complete. Heather is also a wife, a bad cook and a former TV journalist. Some of her friends have hidden her feed because of an excess of cat pictures. If you don’t mind cat pictures, you can follow her on Twitter; she also posts pet GIFs on Google +

Mon, 06 Oct 2014 02:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/dog-grooming-at-home-diy-tips-haircut
<![CDATA[5 of the Most Common Dog Grooming Mistakes]]> Whether they have short hair, long hair, smooth or coarse hair, all dogs need a little help from humans when it comes to grooming.

As a new dog owner, my grooming experience has pretty much been limited to backyard baths and following our Lab-mix GhostBuster around with a vacuum cleaner (seriously, last weekend we upgraded to a shop vac). 

That’s why I asked Jenn Shaw, owner of Tall Tails Grooming in Red Deer, Alberta, to explain the five most common grooming mistakes dog owners make.  

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GhostBuster was a good boy for his groom with Jenn Shaw.

1. Lack of training

According to Shaw, grooming is simply another aspect of training -- and improper training can create unhappy grooming sessions for everyone involved.

“If you have a new puppy, it’s important to get them used to brushing, bathing and having their feet, faces and ears handled from day one,” says Shaw.

She stresses the importance of introducing grooming early, especially for breeds who will need haircuts throughout their lifetime. When pups have had their second set of immunizations, around 13 weeks old, Shaw offers abbreviated grooms to get the little ones used to being in a different environment and used to being handled.

But what about dogs like my GhostBuster, who didn't find his forever home with me until he was two years old?

“For rescues or dogs acquired later in their life, it’s important to approach grooming with a calm manner and lots of praise, making every experience positive,” says Shaw. “Even dogs who are predisposed to having a bad reaction to grooming can be turned around with the right encouragement.”

She recommends owners approach a new dog’s grooming in a calm, firm and patient manner, and include lots of positive reinforcement like praise and treats for the dog’s calm cooperative behaviour.

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Good thing my husband was super calm the first time he shampooed GhostBuster.

“Shorter sessions may also be useful,” Shaw explains. She also tells owners not to let the dog decide when grooming is done. 

“If the owner gives up every time their dog or puppy reacts poorly to an aspect of grooming -- like ear cleaning, tooth brushing, or combing out tangles -- the dog will learn very quickly that acting up means that grooming stops.”

Owners who aren't able to be calm and anxiety-free when teaching their pet about grooming are advised to book professional grooming sessions until they get used to it.

2. Long hair + water = mats

Another common problem groomers deal frequently is matted fur in longer-haired dogs, but the cause of the mats isn’t always obvious to owners.

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This long-haired beauty won't be getting matted any time soon.

“Most pet owners don’t know that when a dog with long or thick fur gets wet, they have a higher likelihood of getting painfully tight tangles and mats,” says Shaw, who recommends brushing as much dead or tangled hair out of the coat before a bath, swim or walk in the rain or snow.

“A quick brush to check for tangles before getting wet can prevent a lot of uncomfortable brushing or a shave later on.”

Shaw also suggests doing a quick brush after the dog has dried off, just to make sure any dead hair loosened up by the water comes out. If mats are discovered during a bath, she recommends using conditioner and a comb to loosen them as much as possible, and says blow drying will help break the the tangles apart.

3. Incomplete grooming

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GhostBuster has clean ears thanks to his groomer!

“Be thorough,” Shaw cautions. She says many owners concentrate their brushing efforts on their dog’s back, missing other areas that need grooming just as much.

“It’s important not to forget about those trickier areas like faces, ears, tails, bellies, bums and legs when grooming at home,” Shaw advises. “For shorter-haired dogs, it’s still important to brush all areas to promote healthy skin, oil production and fur growth.”

Your groomer can tell you which at-home tools are best for your pet, as different coats need different brushes and tools.

Shaw says part of a thorough groom includes checking the inside of ears and mouths, and suggests asking your vet or groomer what the most appropriate cleaning schedule is for your dog.

“Expensive and painful dental and ear issues can be easily prevented with regular maintenance.”

4. Creating bad grooming habits through improper play

“It seems cute when your pet snaps frantically at the garden hose, shakes her head when you blow on her ears or plays chase with the hair dryer or vacuum," says Shaw, "but this type of teasing can make grooming really difficult for you or your groomer and scary for your pet."

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GhostBuster's paws get touched all the time, which comes in handy at the groomer.

A professional groom involves equipment that vibrates, shakes, sprays, and blows air at the dog, and Shaw says owners need to make sure that they’re not teaching the dog to bite or run when a groomer turns a tool on.

“Some owners also can contribute to head, tail or feet sensitivity in their pets by teasing them,” says Shaw, who suggests creating positive experiences for the dog when having those areas handled.

According to the professional groomer, “playing shake a paw, or gently grabbing their tails, jowls or ears while giving lots of praise,” makes grooming safer, as the dog won’t overreact to being touched in those areas.

5. Make grooming a year-round priority

When the weather starts to get colder (as it already has in my part of the world) owners understandably want to make sure that their dog has enough fur to keep them warm, but neglecting grooming actually does more harm than good when it comes to protecting that insulating coat.

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My little friend Sophie, in the spring of 2011. She didn't know it, but a shave was in her future.

“When grooming is neglected for cooler months, matting often occurs before the weather warms up in springtime,” says Shaw.

The only cure for that kind of severe matting is a short shave -- the exact opposite of what dogs and owners want in the middle of winter. “Regular maintenance throughout cold wet, months can prevent a bald dog in February,” Shaw explains.

Regular maintenance and appropriate training seem to be the keys to grooming success. I’m happy to say that with Shaw’s help, it seems like my GhostBuster is getting the hang of getting his hair done. 

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Clean and calm.

Does your dog like going to the groomer? What are your biggest problems when it comes to grooming your pup? Let us know in the comments. 

Read more about grooming: 

About the author:  Heather Marcoux is a freelance writer in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but Specter the kitten and GhostBuster the dog make her fur family complete. Heather is also a wife, a bad cook and a former TV journalist. Some of her friends have hidden her feed because of an excess of cat pictures. If you don’t mind cat pictures, you can follow her on Twitter; she also posts pet GIFs on Google +

Tue, 16 Sep 2014 06:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/common-dog-grooming-mistakes
<![CDATA[How Much Extreme Dog Grooming Is too Extreme?]]> We hope that every good dog owner gets his or her dog groomed when it's needed. It's one of those things that just goes along with being a good pet owner, whether it's brushing them yourself to get the knots out, or going for the full monty at a fancy professional place.

But what about when grooming goes beyond that? Is there a point at which grooming your dog can be excessive or cruel?

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I'm not entirely sure what the answer is, but some of the pictures in photographer Paul Nathan's book, Groomed, certainly test the limits for me. On the one hand, there's getting your pup dipped in a flea bath and brushed so that the dog is free of nasty snarls in their fur. On the other, there's dying and fluffing their fur until the dog looks like Pluto from the Walt Disney cartoons with the face of Donald Duck on the haunches.

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Nathan went to Intergroom, an international conference of dog and cat groomers, and photographed their work. The most colorful examples are from the "Creative Grooming" category, where the dogs aren't simply cleaned and prettified, but remade into something else entirely. The dog literally becomes a work of art.

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Nathan says in an interview with Feature Shoot that although a lot of people immediately think that the process is cruel to the dogs, it just isn't so. The dyes used are nontoxic and last anywhere from a few washes to a few months, depending on the dye and the dog, according to Nathan. (I do have to wonder what these dogs look like after a few weeks. Do the dyes become muddy and blend together?)

It's also not something that every dog can do, he says. It requires a huge capacity for patience on the part of the dog as well as the owner.

"As with child stars, some are just born with patience and the will to please that help them deal with the long process involved in creating a creative grooming piece," he says. "In most cases the colors are done in stages on different days, usually in sessions of no more than three hours with plenty of breaks for the animal. Every dog is different, and only the groomer knows how long to work with a dog. Keeping the dog happy and comfortable is key."

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The comparison with child stars is unfortunate, because it just kind of plays into the suspicion that the process isn't great for the dog. Bring up child stars, and you evoke Jackie Coogan's exploitation by his parents, Judy Garland's descent into drug addiction and early death, and the conflicts between Macauly Culkin's parents.

But frankly, it's hard to see any harm actually coming to the dogs, or at least any risks that one wouldn't find in any other dog competition. All my web searching hasn't turned up any reports of any of these dogs developing speed habits or committing suicide as they yearn for their glory days of being dyed in day-glo colors. Certainly none of them has written tell-all books. Yet. Is the doggie equivalent of Mommie Dearest forthcoming? So far, all the risk seems to fall on the dogs' dignity.

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What I find to be really missing from Nathan's pictures is the owners. He notes that "when the dogs are presented, the groomer is often dressed to match the animal and there is a set or backdrop where the animal is presented." I'd like to see some of the pictures of the owners and their pets side-by-side. If nothing else, it shows that the owners are willing to undergo the same things the dogs are, and that the dogs don't have to look outrageous by themselves.

What do you think? Is this silly, playful art that bonds owners and pets? Or is this just taking the grooming thing way too far?

Via Feature Shoot

Learn more about dogs with Dogster:

Tue, 25 Mar 2014 12:00:00 -0700 /the-scoop/extreme-dog-grooming-pictures-photos-too-much
<![CDATA[DIY Dog Care: How to Give Your Dog an At-Home Spa Day ]]> After a hard, dirty day of chasing squirrels, nothing soothes the not-so-savage beast like a nice, relaxing bath. But if you’re like me, even spelling out the “b”-word is enough to send my two pups, Daisy and Bud, into a panic. Yeah, you could spring for a grooming to get the grit out, but I actually found that setting a spa-like vibe helps us all relax and get the job done at home.

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Wet dog in shower by Shutterstock

Before check-in time

So not only does the word “bath” alert my geniuses that the unthinkable is about to occur, but it’s even gotten to the point that reaching for my waterproof apron and gloves, not to mention their shampoo, brushes and towels, sends them scampering under the bed, never to be coaxed out again. So my work-around consists of gathering all of that stuff into a tote bag way beforehand and stashing it behind closed doors in the bathroom. Works like a charm.

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Unhappy Bud, before we figured out spa day.

Set the scene

The idea is to make the environment as calm and peaceful as possible, since my dogs are anything but calm when in close proximity to a bathtub. 

Instead of the often harsh bathroom lights, I like to turn off as many overheads as I can and instead spark up some candles. Now in the olden days -- like five years ago -- those weren’t an option. I was too worried that one of my pooches would knock one over and start a fire. But now, there are these great inventions called “flameless candles,” that are perfect for the situation. They’ll run you about $5-$15 at a bed and bath store, but they’re totally worth it. Some of them are even lightly scented. But remember dogs’ noses are a gazillion time more sensitive than ours, so a little aromatherapy goes a long way. 

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These flameless candles are dog-safe. LED candles by Shutterstock

Music to my dogs’ ears ranges from classic rock to classical, so I’ll fire up some of that for them to listen to. Or we’ll howl along to some blues. But there are great spa sounds CDs and music feeds online as well. I also move slowly and use a soothing tone of voice. It’s all about setting the vibe.

Mass … ahhhh … ge

Who doesn’t like a nice rubdown? At our house, it’s basically the act of being petted with long strokes, which is a favorite activity anyway. It’s also not a bad idea to brush your dogs out before the bath, to get rid of as much excess hair as you can (your tub drain will thank you). And you can accomplish both in one fell swoop by using a massage brush with rubber bristles. The gentle pins not only stimulate the skin’s natural oils for a shiny, more healthy coat when dry, but they’re also great to use in the tub itself to gently massage the shampoo into the dog’s coat. So now that we’re all relaxed…  

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Pomeranian being brushed by Shutterstock

A nice, warm bath

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It's much easier to do this at home. Dogue de Bordeaux not enjoying a bath by Shutterstock

Turn on the water and get the temperature right (not too hot, not too cold) before putting your dog into the actual tub. Treats come in handy at this point, to coax your pal to either jump into your arms or into the tub itself. Get him wet all over. I use a big plastic pitcher for the job, but a built-in sprayer is definitely handy.  

There are almost as many choices for dog shampoos are there are for humans, at every price point, in every scent, with every combo imaginable for skin, coat type and more. And if you really want to go all-out, there are even actual doggie-spa scrubs, including one I found that offers “a combination of grapefruit seed extract, apricot and avocado oils and sulfur to provide relief from flaking skin, excess oils and scratching.” We prefer the basic oatmeal formula. But whatever shampoo you decide to use, make sure to rinse it out well, using your hands to squeeze out the excess. Now jump back! There will undoubtedly be a whole lotta shaking going on. 


You know how after a spa treatment, they give you a nice comfy robe to lounge in and a nice cup of water with an herb or fruit infusion to sip? Then you know what’s next for your pooch. For that final relaxing touch, rub him all over with the biggest, fluffiest towel you can find (this is my dog’s favorite part). It may take more than one towel to dry, depending on the size of your dog. Offer up some nice, fresh water and let him ease back into the day by chilling out with a chewie... Now give yourself a nice big tip! 

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Bud says, "Ahhh, that's the ticket."

Read more about bathing and grooming your dog:

About the author: Atlanta's own Toni Perling writes mostly about dogs -- hence her blogger name, Doggienista, and her two beautiful rescues, Daisy Jo and Bud Earl. She tweets for them at DaisyJoBudEarl and covers all the latest Hollywood dog scoop at her Celebrity Dog Blog. She's also a longtime supporter of spay/neuter/rescue, and adopted her first dog, a sweet lovable mutt named Sophie, from an L.A. County shelter. Toni started out in Hollywood as a TV writer, with credits ranging from network drama to informational, including a boatload of episodes of a little Discovery Networks show named I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant, before transitioning to the web.

Mon, 04 Nov 2013 02:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/dog-care-how-to-diy-at-home-spa-day
<![CDATA[Does Your Dog Prefer to Be Dirty or Clean?]]> Here in Georgia, it’s been raining a lot more than usual this summer. During a straight four-week period, it’s rained every day. I’m not talking about little sprinkles or a nice soothing rain that gently taps on the top of the house and runs down the windowpane. No, I’m talking about severe thunderstorms and torrential downpours. It has gotten so severe that large amounts of water washed away all the pine bark, dirt, and clay along each side of our backyard.

I eventually had to install underground tubing to force the rain from the gutters and yard to one of the multiple drainage grates that meanders down to the back of the property. At first this didn’t even hold all the excess water. So we put more drainage grates in the tubing and a thick layer of rock was laid on top. Thousands of dollars later I have water streams on each side of my house that I never planned on before the start of summer.

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Walking in the woods and collecting environmental allergens can cause seizures, too.

Our dogs don’t enjoy having to go potty in the rain. They definitely don’t like getting their paws wet every time they go outside. It got so bad that Kramer’s front left paw got itchy and we had to treat it with a special ointment. If that wasn’t bad enough, we’ve kept a towel by the back door for grooming -- we use it to dry both of our dogs off from snoot to toot every time they go outside.

The only thing the dogs enjoyed about the southern monsoons was the one thing we enjoyed least. There was mud and clay everywhere. It had run down the sides of the backyard into the middle of the yard, along the fence and in the back garden area. It was an absolute mess, but the dogs were like two pigs rolling in a mud bath. They were relentless. They always wanted to walk in the messiest areas and try to cover their entire bodies with mud. This was especially true after we spent time and money getting them bathed and groomed. It seemed they much preferred the feel and smell of red Georgia clay to the fresh smell of an oatmeal bath.

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Bathe your dog with a mild shampoo. Yorkie gets bathed by Shutterstock

After each visit to the backyard, we had to wipe their paws with wet towels, followed by a dry towel. We hoped that this helped clean them a little and not track the clay inside. However, we have brown-colored carpets and brown wooden floors, which help to hide the dirt, but it will take some extra deep cleaning after the summer is over.

Our groomer, Michelle, does a wonderful job of keeping our dogs looking their best. With our boy Kramer, the dirt and grime doesn’t look too bad when we take him in to be groomed. He hides it well with his short haircut and his liver/tan colorings. The only noticeable areas are his paws, since they are a lighter tan color after they are fully bathed.

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Kramer came to us via Schnauzer Love Rescue.

For our little girl Dusty, it’s a whole different story. She is solid white with long, soft cotton-candy-like fur after she gets groomed. However, before the visit, she looks more like a little orange dog with red and brown whiskers. Small mats often hide in her fine white fur, and the tips of the fur on her belly are bright orange from the clay.

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Is that my Dusty dog or a wet rat? During and after grooming.

A while ago, we finally had a two-day break in the weather. It was finally warm and sunny, though the ground was still soggy. We decided to head to the mountains with our dogs. We own some property up there, and the dogs love to run and play in the open fields near the lake.

We assumed that the ground would be drier up north since the streams and rivers flow to the south. Also, the large field near the lake has always been mowed short and the lake never flooded before. Well, you know what they say about assuming? We found this out the hard way.

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Dusty and me near the spillway and waterfall.

Everything looked fine at first. The grass was a little taller, but it was still a location where we could let the dogs run. As we got them out of the car, they immediately ran into the open field. We followed and quickly realized that the ground was a mess here as well. The ground was soupy and slushy and our feet stuck in the mud. The lake had flooded at some point and left a sheen of silt and sand, while the spillway near the lake and stream had overflowed as well, pushing gravel and sand back into our favorite open field.

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A dirty dog is a happy dog ... and maybe a not-so-happy owner. Golden Retriever in mud by Shutterstock

By the time we realized what had happened, it was too late. The dogs were running circles around each other and enjoying life. Our freshly groomed dogs were now covered with mud, clay, sand, dirt, grass seeds, silt, and any other mess they could find. They had smiles on their faces and we had egg on ours for not realizing that the mess was everywhere. They were extraordinarily happy to be there. Us? Not so much.

I guess the old saying is true: A dirty dog is a happy dog!

Does your dog prefer to be dirty or clean? Do they immediately roll around in dirt after a bath? Share your stories and pictures in the comments!

Check out these other great articles on Dogster:

Thu, 15 Aug 2013 02:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/dog-grooming-dirty-clean
<![CDATA[Does Your Dog Like Grooming?]]> You know your dog needs to be bathed and groomed regularly, no matter the breed, size, or coat of the dog. Regardless of his behavior -- if he barks, howls, or yaps -- your dog will need a regular shave and a haircut. Of course, the more active the dog, the more likely he will get into some muck and yuck and will need to be groomed more frequently.

Our dogs are on an every-three-week grooming schedule and don’t seem to mind it too much. However, I’ve had some dogs really throw a fit when I get them ready to go to the pet salon. 

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Our dogs Kramer and Dusty look much better after their haircuts.

I think our groomer, Michele, is the best in the business. She’s been grooming our Schnauzers for the past six years. They always come home with the perfect Schnauzer skirt around their torso and legs and a shorter cut on their backs and heads. Their beards and mustaches are always trimmed perfectly, providing a perfect accent to their beautiful eyes and face.

This past weekend was the three-week mark for us to take our dogs to the groomer. Kramer, who we recently adopted, came to us with a short summer cut that just needed to be slightly trimmed. His liver-and-tan fur went from a darker brown and tan before his bath to a lighter, shinier brown and tan afterwards. The complete grooming made his light brown eyes shine. We were told he was the perfect gentleman during the whole process.

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Some dogs welcome a trip to the groomer to get rid of that excess fur. Shih Tzu getting groomed by Shutterstock

For our little white Schnauzer, Dusty, the grooming was overdue. It rained in Georgia every day for the past three weeks, which is uncharacteristic of this area. The ground is always soggy, and the moist red clay seemed to be everywhere, giving Dusty’s feet and mustache a reddish hue. We attempted to wipe her down after each visit outside or after her daily run in the park. We even washed her face and feet a few times. However, this proved futile and only a professional could get it done the right way.

Dusty likes to throw a little fit when entering the pet salon. I think it’s more from her excitement and her way of announcing herself than any worry she has about grooming.

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Pomeranian being brushed by Shutterstock

For our Schnauzer boys, Buzz and Woody, the visit was more of an ordeal. They refused to walk into the groomer on leash and threw a fit if we tried to carry them in. Instead, we kept them safely in their crates and wheeled them inside on a pull cart designed for show dogs' crates. This also provided a safe, familiar, and comfortable spot in which to wait until it was their turn. They preferred this much better than being temporarily housed with the other dogs in the main grooming area. 

The real challenge was getting them from the back of the SUV onto the crate. As soon as I opened the back door the excitement began. They barked and let out squeals that rang throughout the parking lot. The shrill noises that came from our dogs were so loud that it could frighten those who didn’t know them. The employees simply smile and say, “Here come the Link boys!” On one occasion, someone rushed to our car to see if the dogs were okay. They thought we had accidentally closed a door on their paws or something. Yes, the noise was so loud you would have thought we were killing them.

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Buzz and Woody look handsome and a little stressed after returning from the groomers.

When we had Pomeranians, I did all the grooming of our dogs at home. Money was tight for newlyweds, and the bathing was not too difficult since the dogs could fit in the kitchen sink. I remember our little five-pound girl, Baby, seemed to have three pounds' worth of thick coat to wash. It usually took several rinses to get all of the soap and conditioner out.

The trimming was a totally different story. Whether I used scissors or shears, their fur would always come out uneven. Our Poms never really had much issue with the home-style grooming. They actually pranced around the house afterwards, being very proud of how clean and good-smelling they were.

I believe it’s a very good practice to keep our dogs bathed and groomed regularly. You can do it yourself, especially if you have the skills. But I know my limitations. I have a few skills, but grooming isn’t one of them.

Does your dog like to be groomed? Do you groom your dog or leave it to the professionals? Share your stories and pictures in the comments below!

Check out these other great articles on Dogster:

Thu, 25 Jul 2013 06:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/does-your-dog-like-behavior-grooming
<![CDATA[Can Dog Toys and Grooming Products by Hartz Withstand a Summer Day with Ace?]]> Editor's Note: In case you're wondering, this is *not* a sponsored post. We get a lot of products for review in the mail and asked Hartz to send over a selection for consideration.

Summer has arrived in full swing, and that means Ace and I seize every opportunity to run and play. The days are longer, folks seem more relaxed, and even San Francisco has been warmer because of a regional heat wave. It’s been the perfect time of year to test products for grooming and play from Hartz, a company whose products you’ve probably seen in your neighborhood big box store or drugstore. I was curious to review these affordable and readily available products to see whether they could assist Ace and I in our quest to have as much fun as possible while the heat wave lasts. 

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Look at that happy face! Ace loves the Dura Play ball.

We started our experimentation with several Dura Play toys ($5 to $10). These squeaky toys have a latex exterior and a foam interior, so they combine durability with squishiness (that’s a scientific term). My samples ranged in size –- the balls and bones were smaller in size, while the football is more appropriate for a medium or large dog. 

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I reached my goal of an exhausted Ace -- thanks Dura Play!

The Dura Play toys were a huge hit with Ace, who loves to retrieve more than almost anything (eating peanut butter and licking men’s beards are also high on her list). Her favorite was the ball, which includes little ridges to help her pick it up quickly. At the park, these toys bounced pretty high, even in the grass! I think this surprised us both. When we got home, I just wiped down the latex surface with a wet towel and we were good to go for another round of play inside the house. 

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The Dura Play bone was fun to play with indoors.

In the course of normal play with Ace, she did not rip or destroy any of the Dura Play toys. However, I did take the toys away from her when she settled in to start chewing. Also, as you know by now, Ace is a small fry, so larger dogs who persistently chew might have a different experience. 

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Ace is not a fan of bathing.

After wearing Ace out with the Dura Play toys in the dog park, it was time to clean and groom her back to perfection. We started with Ace’s nemesis -– bath time -– using Groomer’s Best Oatmeal Shampoo ($10). Since Ace hates all baths, we can’t ask her for feedback this time, but I found that the shampoo smelled pretty good and maintained Ace’s glossy coat. I was surprised by how watery the shampoo is compared to human or other dog shampoo, and it was difficult to get a lather going without using a lot of product. 

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The fine-tooth combs on the Fur Fetcher did not pick up much hair from Ace's short coat.

Next, Ace we tried brushing Ace with the Groomer’s Best Fur Fetcher. The brush is well made and has a comfortable rubbery grip. Normally, brushing is one of only two grooming activities Ace enjoys (the other, strangely, is brushing her teeth!), but she didn’t care for this brush. I think it has to do with its design, which looks like two parallel chevron-shaped flea combs. I found the combs to be scratchy to the touch. Given that Ace has a short, smooth coat, I can’t say whether this style of comb might be better suited for dogs with longer hair. 

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Ace and her arch nemesis, the nail clipper, have a staring contest.

If the bath is Ace’s nemesis, then nail clipping is her arch nemesis. It takes two people and a jar of peanut butter to cut one nail, and ten days to do a full two-paw manicure. So I had a long time to think about the utility of the Groomer’s Best Clipper and File ($7.40). I like the clipper very much. The handle is rubbery and slightly angled to make it easy to hold. It has a little latch to keep it closed when not in use. I found the blade to be sharp enough for Ace’s nails, and precise enough that I didn’t get anywhere near the quick (good Mama!). I did not even attempt to use the nail file given Ace’s skittishness, and I can’t imagine a world where a dog lets you file her nails, though I’m sure it must be possible if such things as dog nail files exist. This particular file is thick and robust, and it looks like it would stand up to doggy nails.

You might think all that primping and preening went straight to Ace’s head. While I do think she’s gotten a bit full of herself since we started writing these reviews, Ace is still your everyday dog, and, like people, all dogs have certain needs. We asked our stoic model to try out Home Protection Dog Pads ($12.99 for 32 pads), Hartz’s new wee-wee pads (again, that’s a scientific term), which promise to prevent leakage by turning dog urine into a gel inside the pad. Ace and I relied on similar pads when we were potty training a few years ago, and we still use wee-wee pads when we fly across the country to visit my family a few times a year. 

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Ace said her modeling contract prohibits nudity, so she insisted on taking this G-rated photo of the dog pads instead.

In comparison to the pads I usually buy at our local drug store chain, the Hartz pads look similar from the outside -– a green plastic layer covered with a white fabric-like absorbent layer. After closely examining the used pad, it appeared the urine had in fact become a gel-like substance inside the pad and seemed to prevent the urine from spreading. The pads are fairly small (21-inches square), but an “extra large” size is available to accommodate larger dogs.

Dogster Scorecard for selected Hartz products

  • Quality: Grooming tools and toys seem durable and built to last.
  • Style: I love the Dura Play toys’ shapes and colors –- blues and greens are perfect for summer.
  • Function: Some grooming products may be better for dogs with different types of coats. Toys appear better suited for small- to medium-sized dogs.
  • Creativity: The Home Protection Dog Pads and Dura Play toys show Hartz can re-imagine classic dog products.
  • Value: These toys and grooming products are affordably priced.

Bottom line

Hartz products are affordably priced options to help your dog frolic at the park or cool down in the bathtub this summer.

Hey Dogster readers, we want to hear about your favorite grooming products for dogs. Drop by the comments section to tell us about the fabulous products you use to keep your dogs looking their best from nose to tail!

Read more reviews by Ace's Mama:

Tue, 09 Jul 2013 10:00:00 -0700 /doggie-style/hartz-dog-toys-grooming-products-boston-terrier-review
<![CDATA[How I Won the Year-Long Battle with My Dog's Hairstyle]]> Before I got Obi, I spent a long time researching the type of dog I wanted. While size, color, and breed varied, they all had one thing in common: short hair. But when the cutest Maltese I’d ever seen ended up at our local pound, I couldn’t resist. 

I, too, have long hair, so I can appreciate the fact that it requires care and patience. But I didn’t quite know how much care and patience. Today, I certainly have a deeper appreciation for the time my mom spent brushing out my tangles. These photos and descriptions document my battle with Obi’s hairstyle over the past year. 

Phase one: Cousin Itt

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Obi’s hair was long and fluffy the first day I brought him home. I was overwhelmed by the cute. (Photo by Crystal Maldonado)

The character known as Cousin Itt from the 1960s American television series The Addams Family is nothing but a skinny little tower of long, cascading hair wearing sunglasses and a hat, running about spewing gibberish that his kinfolk can somehow understand.

When I first encountered Obi and his two brothers at the local dog pound, their hair was so voluminous that it covered their big, brown eyes. They were all hair -- matted, tangled, and messy. I could tell they hadn’t been brushed in ages, perhaps even in the four months since they’d been born. But I still thought Obi was easily the cutest pup I had ever seen. Even if he couldn’t exactly see me back. 

Phase two: The mop

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Eyes clear? Check. Fur still ridiculously long even if all the tangles are gone? Check. In dire need of a haircut? Check! (Photo by Crystal Maldonado)

When I took him home, I realized how bad some parts of his fur actually were, knotted with strands woven tightly together like steel wool. Thankfully, it was nothing a little gentle combing couldn’t fix. So I immediately invested in a brush. Once I had that, I could spend the time to carefully pick the tangles out of his hair. It took a while. Actually, “a while” is an understatement. But Obi, never having been handled with such care, didn’t mind. He let me do what I needed to do until he was good as new. Or, at the very least, good as a mop. 

Phase three: Lady Gaga

Just a few days later, I brought Obi to the groomer. I wasn't too familiar with many groomers (one thing I regret not looking into prior to getting a dog), so I took Obi to PetSmart and asked for an all-around trim. The result? Blunt bangs that frizzed outward as if they didn’t want to be on his head anymore. I call it his Lady Gaga phase. He doesn’t like to talk about it. 

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Obi came home from his first grooming appointment with blunt bangs. I would have been upset, but I couldn’t stop laughing long enough to muster up the annoyance. (Photo by Crystal Maldonado)

The shorter hair, however, made brushing him much easier. Every night before bed we’d settle on the couch and I’d brush out his fur. I'd also use that time to brush his teeth and clean his eyes, which are prone under-eye stains. He was more comfortable with me, which meant he was OK with throwing a fit and letting me know he didn’t care to be brushed. I was also comfortable enough as a dog mom to let him know it was happening because I said it was happening

Phase four: The shag

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Obi’s hair grew longer and longer the more time he spent in his cone. (Photo by Crystal Maldonado)

Shortly after Obi got his Gaga cut, he needed surgery, both to be neutered (another thing he doesn’t like to talk about) and to mend a hernia he’d been born with. The surgery went well, but it healed slowly, which meant he spent a long, long time with his head buried inside of a cone. My boyfriend took to calling him Conedog, and we pretended he was a superhero. 

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Suddenly, a new superhero emerged! (Photo by Crystal Maldonado)

Nevertheless, the cone made it so he couldn’t get a haircut for a while. His white hair was growing quicker than I could tame it. On top of that, it was difficult to brush his underside –- the area around his belly and under his legs, most prone to knots -– because of the surgery. I did what I could, but Obi started to resemble a 1970s shag carpet. 

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I don't recommend that you and your dog go to the same groomer. Young woman and Yorkie by Shutterstock

Phase five: The lamb

After his surgery, his hair was just as long as it had been when he first came home with me. He needed a cut –- badly. But I didn’t want him to come home with blunt bangs again, or any other weird hairstyle. I imagine permed hair would not be a great look on him.

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Without all that fur, he looked much smaller. (Photo by Crystal Maldonado)

Instead, I specifically told the groomer two things. One: "No bangs.” Two: “Cut it tight to his body.” Now that he was out of his cone, I needed all of his knots gone so brushing his coat could resume. When I got him back from the groomer, I wasn’t sure I’d picked up the same dog. He was ... tiny. To be fair, he was only seven pounds or so to begin with, but now he looked like someone had tossed him in with the laundry and accidentally shrunk him a size or two. 

Obi looked like a fraction of the dog he once was. I also ran into another issue I hadn’t quite anticipated: It was the dead of winter, and Obi was freezing. He quickly took to wearing a sweater to compensate. His hair curled at this length, so I started calling him my little lamb. 

Phase six: The Obi

Now that Obi had had a few haircuts, I was able to understand what worked and what didn’t. Things I hated: bangs, hair that was too long, hair that was too short. Things I loved: hair that made maintenance easy, a style that looked cute, a cut that kept the hair out of his eyes. Short hair around his eyes helped alleviate the build-up of tears beneath his eyes and made cleaning incredibly easy. A comb, tissues, and special tear pads aided in that, too.

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We’ve been around the block, so now we know what works for us -- a short-but-not-shaved cut. (Photo by Crystal Maldonado)

The truth is, brushing out Obi’s hair is not a difficult task, so long as I keep up with it. Time consuming, sure, but annoying or difficult? Not at all. It gives us a little time to bond before bed. Once I knew which areas I needed to focus on brushing out -– behind his ears, near his collar, and under each of his limbs –- the task began to take significantly less time. Regular haircuts guarantee that, too, although I have been known to forget to schedule an appointment and end up with a dog who looks more like a lion with a fluffy mane than anything else. 

These days, we’ve figured out which cut works for Obi and me, even if it isn’t quite that long, luxurious cut that most Maltese dogs sport. Instead, he looks a bit like a teddy bear, and there’s no bow to hold the hair out of his eyes. I think he’s oddly OK with that.

What does your regular grooming routine entail? 

Read more on grooming: 

Wed, 08 May 2013 10:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/battle-dog-hairstyle-photos-grooming
<![CDATA[Quick Question: Would You Give Your Dog a Glitter Tattoo? ]]> Jorge Bendersky, a celebrity dog groomer in Manhattan's Upper East Side, saw a grooming problem with the dogs of New York, a problem that is common to the dogs of America, if not the world: not enough glamour. 

"In the summer, they cut the dogs' hair short, so you've got to supplement the glamour," he told "Having no hair is no excuse not to be glamorous." 

So, fellow dog owners, you knew you had to supplement the glamour, didn't you? YOU MUST SUPPLEMENT THE GLAMOUR!

But how does one supplement the glamour? Bendersky shows you the way. Two words: Glitter tattoos. Two more words: Tramp stamp. Put them all together and you get tramp stamp glitter tattoos. And that is Bendersky's million-dollar idea, which dogs are completely on board with. Take it away, Bendersky: 

"Dogs are like humans, and when they accessorize they get attention. A pink dog does not know it's pink, but when people are smiling and taking pictures, it gets attention," he said. "So, a dog likes to get tattoos."

QED, haters. 

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Jorge Bendersky

His clients agree.

"When I'm in Central Park, tourists are constantly stopping to see him," said Joanie Pelzer, who has an 8-year-old Chihuahua named Hubbell with a glitter heart stamped on his hip. "He absolutely loves the attention."

So, what exactly is a glitter tattoo? It's not that big a deal. First, you press a stencil into the dog's fur. Then, you fill it with canine-safe glue. Finally, you throw some dog-friendly glitter on it. Done. Anyone can do it. Jorge Bendersky can do it, for $100 a pop. 

"It's all about the tramp stamp," Bendersky said. 

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When does one choose to tattoo one's dog? Fallon O'Brien, who has a 7-year-old Chihuahua named Fletch with a butterfly tattoo, knows just the time. 

"Sometimes, my dog and I dress in the same color if we're going to a red-carpet event. During the summer, it's just too hot to have him wearing outfits like that," she told "The tattoo is a good option."

Totally. Perfect call to go with the tattoo. 

"I go to a lot of events, and people dress up their dogs in expensive outfits," she added. "It was something I could do to make my dog stand out that wasn't that expensive."

Let me remind you: One hundred dollars. 

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To its credit, talked to the ASPCA for this story, who said glitter tattoos aren't inherently dangerous, as long as the products are nontoxic.

“There are numerous products on the market that are meant to ‘beautify’ pets, and safety truly depends on the individual product and whether the ingredients are potentially toxic or not," said Dr. Tina Wismer, medical director at the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center. "Pets explore the world with their mouths and are likely to groom and lick any topical agent off their skin or fur."

Jorge Bendersky seems like a good guy and a solid groomer. We don't want to be too hard on him -- he's separating fools from their money. But really, the last problem dogs have is not enough glamour. 

What do you think? Would you give your dog a glitter tattoo? 

Via; photos via Jorge Bendersky's Facebook

Tue, 30 Apr 2013 10:00:00 -0700 /the-scoop/dog-grooming-glitter-tattoo-celebrity-jorge-bendersky
<![CDATA[5 Tips on How to Survive Hair-Shedding Season]]> They say that a pet never leaves your mind or heart –- and how can it when you spend all day at work picking strands of dog hair off your clothes? Pets bring us so much fun and happiness. It's a small price to have to pay to put up with always being covered in hair. 

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Groom your pet outside so you don't have to vacuum your home afterward. Retriever being brushed by Shutterstock

For those of us with dogs who mainly live inside, molting is a year-round occurrence, occasionally getting worse during the spring and fall. Animals who spend a lot of time outside, like working dogs and cats, will have two main molting seasons: at the end of spring as the winter coat falls out, and beginning of autumn as the summer coat is replaced by the winter.

Being covered in hair is no fun, especially when you’re running late for work and your darling white dog has decided to take a snooze on your black pants. Here's how you can make molting season as simple as possible for you and your pet:

1. Stick to regular grooming 

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Groom your dog often -- or you might end up with enough fur to stuff a pillow. Dog fur by Shutterstock

Regular grooming is the best way to help in the fight against pet hair. Not only does giving your pet a brush help loosen his skin and get rid of hair, it also gives you quality bonding time and a chance to check over for any lumps, bumps, or heat. Grooming should be a frequent and even daily part of your pet’s routine.

Your dog’s coat type will dictate how he should be groomed: wire "slicker" brushes should be used on long-haired breeds, non-molting dogs need professional clipping every few months, and wiry types should be stripped when necessary. Stick to a grooming routine, and remove the loose hairs before they have chance to fall out. Remember that all pets benefit from professional grooming services every now and again!

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Brush out loose hairs in your dog's coat before they have a chance to fall out. Paws and brush by Shutterstock

If your pet is molting excessively, keep a close eye on him, especially if there are other changes to his behavior. If you are ever concerned about your pet, take him straight to the vet.

2. Try a healthier diet

A well-balanced diet can help your dog maintain a healthy coat. Feeding a diet rich in minerals, antioxidants, vitamins, and essential oils will improve the condition of your pet’s coat. Omega-6 helps to stop the skin from drying out, and nourishes and replenishes the skin. The skin stays healthy, and your pet can maintain active coat growth. Omega-3 helps to support outer-coat hairs, providing waterproofing and protection from the elements.

While changing up food won’t eliminate molting, it will help your pet to grow a healthy coat. Remember to make any changes to your pet’s diet gradually.

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Keep your dog out of a room or two to cut down on fur buildup. Dust bunny by Shutterstock

3. Get the right tools

Make sure you have a decent supply of lint rollers for your clothes. Failing this, a large volume of sticky tape will work just as well. A vacuum cleaner that has enough suction power to lift hairs from the depths of your carpet is a must, as well as having a bag big enough to cope with daily cleanses!

Good grooming equipment is vital: Ask around at local pet store,s and see what other owners are using. The better quality your brushes are, the more hair you’ll be able to remove.

4. Pet-proof your house

Have you considered having a "pet-free" zone in your house, to try and minimize the amount of hairs lying around? Keeping one room out of bounds can make a massive difference, especially if you often have visitors, or someone has an allergy. If you prefer that your dog has the run of the house, cover your sofas in throws or blankets, and make sure your pet has a comfy bed and encourage her to use it.

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Terrier being brushed by Shutterstock.

Central heating is just as bad for animal coats as it is for our hair and skin, so if you have suddenly started turning it up, that could be a reason your pet is losing a lot of hair. 

And remember, dogs and cats who have a "natural" or outdoors lifestyle will molt less than those who live inside a house that uses lots of central heating. This isn’t always the case, though -– some animals just lose hairs more frequently than others!

5. Dress like your pet!

In all honesty, it’s probably easier just to buy clothes and furniture the same color as your pet. Maybe this is where the saying about dogs looking like their owners originates from?

Do you have any tips for hair-shedding season? Let us know in the comments!

Ben Skinner is a lifelong dog lover, although less can be said about dog hairs. He writes for MyOffers and spends much of his spare time cleaning up after three Labradors. He believes the simplest solutions are best when it comes to animals.

Thu, 11 Apr 2013 10:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/5-tips-how-to-survive-dog-hair-shedding-season
<![CDATA[Obsessions: Earthbath's Green Tea Leaf Grooming Wipes]]> I can't take full credit for this recommendation: Dogster Community Manager Lori Malm pointed it out at a pet boutique in Mill Valley last month. She and her elderly one-eyed Pekingese, Beasley, are fans of chamomile teabags for ridding pups of eye booger trails (pro tip!) and Earthbath's Green Tea Leaf Grooming Wipes for other messes that don't require a full bath. 

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Our pack of Earthbath wipes with green tea extract.

Now that I am hip to this, Moxie will be getting more post-dog-park wipedowns. As you can see from his smiling face below, he could not be more thrilled.

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No, mom, haven't I been a good dog lately? Not the wipes!

Sure, you could use a regular wet nap, but then your pup would miss the antioxidant goodness of green tea leaf extract, and all that aloe vera and vitamin E, which moisturize coat and skin. Also, Earthbath is a bit of a nerd when it comes to creating products that won't hurt the environment (or your pupster) -- so its wipes are free of parabens, phosphates, pthalates, and synthetic dyes.

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This is going on the Internet?! Oh, how embarrassing...

Earthbath has six varieties in its grooming wipes lineup, including a hypoallergenic edition and wipes for cats.

Dogsters: How do you keep your dogs clean in between baths?

Thu, 31 Jan 2013 08:00:00 -0800 /doggie-style/earthbath-all-natural-grooming-wipes-green-tea
<![CDATA[Dogster Giveaway: Win $40 Worth of Cloud Star Grooming Products]]> The folks at Cloud Star want your dog to lead a happy, healthy life, which is why their made-in-the-USA grooming products are made with all-natural ingredients and pure botanical extracts that are safe for frequent use, even with puppies who love to frolic in the dust and mud. The company donates at least 10 percent of its net profits to social, environmental, and animal nonprofits, which makes them awesome in our book. 

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Pomeranians in tin bath by Shutterstock

It's been so sticky and hot this summer that we want to help your dog cool down and be a little less stinky. So this week, one lucky reader gets to win a "Wag More, Bark Less" package from Cloud Star that includes the following:

  • One bottle of Buddy Wash Dog Shampoo in Original Lavender and Mint
  • One bottle of Buddy Rinse Hydrating Therapy Conditioner in Original Lavender and Mint
  • One bottle of Buddy Splash Dog Spritzer
  • One "Wag More, Bark Less" brushed-twill appliqued baseball cap with Velcro closure (fits you -- or your dog ... )
  • One "Wag More, Bark Less" bumper sticker

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That's a $40 value, which smells pretty sweet to us! 

How to Enter

In the comments section below, simply tell us how you and your dog plan to wag more and bark less this summer. How will you have fun? You might be enjoying yourself at the dog park, taking it easy at home in the yard, or visiting the groomer for a spiffy trim.

We'll pick our favorite answer, and that lucky person will win all the goodies above. (Sorry: U.S. entries only, please.) In addition, we'll send a "Wag More, Bark Less" sticker to our next five favorite commenters.

Please submit your comments by noon PST on Tuesday, August 7, 2012. The winner gets two days to respond; after that, we'll pick someone else -- sorry, that's just the way it goes.

To be eligible for prizes, you must use your Disqus account to comment below. Creating a profile and avatar takes just a minute, and is a great way to participate in Dogster's community of people who are passionate about dogs. Note that if you don't have a valid e-mail address in your profile, we can't contact you if you win.

Tue, 31 Jul 2012 09:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/cloud-star-grooming-products-giveaway
<![CDATA[Dog't Groom Me, Bro]]>
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Yorkie getting his hair 'did via Shutterstock.

Sammy is ready for his close-up. But he really wishes he was chasing a shiny, bouncy object somewhere far, far away.

Sun, 25 Mar 2012 11:08:00 -0700 /bolz/dogt-groom-me-bro
<![CDATA[Dogster Interviews Celebrity Dog Trainer Bash Dibra, Coach to Winners of Westminsters Past]]> Long before there was a Dog Whisperer, Bash Dibra of Fieldston Pets in New York City was training celebrity and champion dogs and teaching their humans (Matthew Broderick, Mariah Carey, Martin Scorsese, and Jennifer Lopez among them) the Three Ps: Patience, Perseverance, and Praise. Few behavior experts have Bash's intimate knowledge of a dog's inner wolf, for Bash actually worked with a real wolf named Mariah in the 1970s. "She taught me everything I know," he recalls of his friend and four-footed mentor.

The author of numerous books, includingStar Pet: How to Make Your Pet a Star, Bash knows star quality when he spots it whether he's casting for TV commercials or movies, or prepping dogs for their moment at the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, which starts today. Several of Bash's well-behaved charges will be strutting their stuff at Madison Square Garden today and tomorrow, so it was very gracious of Bash to sit and stay for a Dogster interview in the middle of a Westminster whirlwind of training sessions andradio/TV appearances. Read on to learn more about this pup-culture pioneer.

What breeds of dog are you working with for this year's Westminster show?

A Portuguese Water Dog named Swan, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Mickey,a Basset Hound named Gaston, a BichonFrise named Noodles,and a Standard Poodle named Jolie.

What are the special talents of each Westminster contender you're prepping this year? i.e. What, besides their champion status, makes them Star Pets?

The secret of a real star pet, or a champion, is the way the dog comes across. S/he ischarismatic and struts when he moves, as if to say, "Am I cute? Am I beautiful?" A great dog just stands out, exploding into the arena, or into the presence of a talent agent such as myself, with confidence. S/he has something that tells people, "Look atme don't I look great!"That'swhat we call the Star Pet phenomenon.

Each breed has an individual Star Pet vibe. And so, Swan the Portuguese says, "I'm a happy-go-lucky dog but I want to please you and I will please you!" Mickey the Cavalier is constantly happy, trotting with an upbeat gait and wagging tail. Gaston the Basset commands attention by walking with momentum and determination. Noodles the Bichon says, "I just got groomed and pampered I feel the love, so I will give that love back to everybody here at the Garden." And Jolie the Poodle says, "Look how beautiful I am, outside and in; I'm in perfect harmony."

What breeds of dog have you worked with in the past?

German Shorthaired Pointer, German Shepherd,Komondor, Puli, Doberman, Rottweiler, and American Staffordshire Terrier.

Being Magyar by ancestry, I'm partial to the Hungarian breeds. Please tell us about the Komondor and Puli you worked with, and what gives them Star Pet quality.

The Hungarian breedsare very noble and very loyal to their owners.When it's time to enterthe show ring, they say, "I'm a working dog a herder of sheep but if you wanna go to a show,I'll put on a show for you. I will show off my good looks!" In addition to their flashy corded coats, these breeds have a unique, regal, noble, and ancient bearing they're special.

You're the unaBASHed expert on canine star quality. In your expert opinion, what dog had the MOST star quality ever?

The icons of canine stardom are Lassie, Rin Tin Tin, and Benji. One of my favorite pictures is of me with Lassie, taken whenIpresented her with theStar Pet Award; Lassie thanked me by giving me a kiss (editor's note: see photo at top right). These dogs had the star quality that made themnaturally effortless on screen. They're the greatest Star Pets of all time.

What dogs live with you now?

Lulu the Bulldog, Amanda the Boxer, Shuggy the Cockapoo, and Delilah, a Parisian Shepherd.

A Parisian Shepherd?!

Yes,Delilah was a rescue, so at first we thought she was a mixed breed. And in photos shelooks like a shaggy dog. But observing her habits and mannerisms, we saw her herding ability, plus shealways liked to climb rocks and navigate obstacles. Isaid, this dog is really amazing, there's something more to her.

So we researched her and found out she's a Parisian Shepherd: They're smart, intelligent, and they aim to please. That kind of working stock makes for a wonderful Star Pet. Every dog is a Star Pet, but one that really stands out is a dog that says"I wanna please you what else can I do?"That's the secret of a real star, whether it's a pet or a person - that ability to understand exactly what the writer or director wants, capture the feeling, and nail it in one take.

Tell us something about Mariah the wolf and what you learned from working with her.

Mariah was my muse. She taught me everything, and shecrystallized the world of animal communication for me. She showed me what are the personal drives of wolves that all dogsinherit, andthis helped me understand how to communicate with people and their dogs.Size doesn't matter big or small, Great Dane or Chihuahua, all dogs share the ancestral drive of the wolf.

In the years since Mariah passed, which dog most reminded you of her, and why?

All the dogs I'veworked withhad a bit of Mariah in them, whether it's the body language or the drive. Every time I look at a dog, I always seesome facet of Mariah's spirit shining forth.

Tell us about the very first time you went to Westminster.

I used to go as a spectator in the '60s, just to see all the dogs. Then, in the early '70s, I worked with a German Shorthaired Pointer named Eli. I trained him for the competition and handled him in the ring; and in 1975, he won Best of Opposite Sex.

What's your favorite Westminster memory?

Eli's win, definitely.

Dogstravel from all over the country to compete at Westminster, but as a New Yorker yourself, do you think New York born-and-bred dogs have their own attitude?

Oh yeah I personally think a lot of dogs fromwithinthe New Yorkarea are true champions in their own right. It's like the Sinatra song says: "If you can make it here, you'll make it anywhere."That's reallytrue of New York dogs: they're savvy, socialized, and can handle any situation, from riding an elevator to riding in a taxi. New York is the best training ground for a Star Pet champion. Plus, in Van Cortlandt Park we haveCanine Court, the agilitypark Idesigned for dogs; all my Westminster contenders love to trainthere.

Whichof your poochprotegespresented the most unique training challenge?

The Komondor was really a challenge. Hewas imported from Hungary, andover therethe dog shows are really focused on the pure sense of what the dogs are supposed to be doing. The Komondor's job isherding sheep, and shepherding dogs can be very dominant. Gordy the Komondor was extremely dominant, and a bit of a menace. I said, "Welcome tothe US!Let's revamp our thinking." Imade him a canine good citizen.

Still, when we entered the show ring at Westminster, there were three other Komondors. As he walked by, he stared at them and they lowered their heads. He was telling them, "I'm winning today, and you're not!" And he did win that day!

That's some badass 'tude! Do canine champions who compete at Westminster know they are hot stuff?

Absolutely. When a real champion enters an arena, any arena,with everybody staring at him, then applauding when he moves,he seems to airlift himself! He walks around almost like he's flying. He works the crowd, and feeds off that admiration.

Does diva behavior ever happen? Please dish!

Of course!I rememberone beautiful Poodle, a couple of years ago,who wasvery pampered and loved. But whenever she felt she wasn't getting enough love if, say, her handler was busy doing something else she would just touch the handler with her paw to say, "Give me more attention, please!"She even did this in the show ring, giving her paw during judging! "Hello, I'm the diva here," she seemed to be saying.

My purebred German Shepherd bitch, Desiree, recently fell head-over-heels in love with a male GSD that we met while out on a walk. Do you think the fact that the are the same breed had something to do with it?

Yes, they really recognize themselves in each other the similar tail, body, mannerisms, all of those signals. "Look,he talks and acts and looks and sounds like me it's as if I'm meeting myself!" So they naturally gravitate to their own breed, and they bond over their similarities like long-lost littermates.

Day two of Westminster just happens to be Valentine's Day. Has it ever happened that a male and female of the same breed become smitten with each other while in the dog show ring?

Oh yeah. Championdogs see and notice each other all the time it's as if they're saying, "Oh, it's you again!" Sometimes, one dog will come in and another will roll on his or her back.

I remember a Yorkie boy flirting with a Yorkie girl, and the girl rolled over on her back, messing up her nicely groomed hair. The handler rolled his eyes, because it meant he'd have to brush the dog all over again!

Please give two examples of celebrity clients who displayed affection for their pet in a unique way.

I'll never forgot thelove that Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker had forSally, theirBorder Collie [Broderick] loved showing off her Frisbee talents, and he asked me to teach her to jump up into his arms. The signal was tapping his chest, then he'd open his arms wide and Sally would jump up into his arms!

Mariah Carey took her Jack Russell, Jack, everywhere she went.Jack loved balloons, so Mariahwould have balloons handy, so when he was in a playful mood, he could have fun and keep busy with "balloon bopping" poking at the balloon with his nose, like a seal!

What's your favorite part of being a dog trainer?

Helping people that have puppies, oradopt shelter dogs, get started in the right direction, solvingand pre-empting problems sodogs stay at home instead of going back to the shelter.

My passion is helping people keep their dogs, then taking the enjoymentof having a dog to the next level: Turning them into Star Pets.I lovetaking a dog that's a diamond in the "ruff" and proving that,with love and training, s/hecan shine like a star.

What's the most important lesson a dog ever taught you, and which dog was the teacher?

Muffin, my Tibetan terrier. He was a shaggy dog thatI adopted in the '80sbecause his owners said he was destroying their home and barking all day long, driving the neighbors crazy.

Muffin taught me that even a so-called "problem" dog can become aStar Pet. After I worked with him, Muffin became the hottest thing ever, enjoying a long, successful career of print jobs, commercials, and TV appearances, and moonlighting as a therapy dog, visiting hospitals and nursing homes. He even appeared on the daytime mystery soap Edge of Night with Lori Loughlin. He was just the best a wonderful dog, and a real star.

Mon, 13 Feb 2012 11:54:41 -0800 /lifestyle/dogster-interviews-celebrity-dog-trainer-bash-dibra-coach-to-winners-of-westminsters-past
<![CDATA[The Safest Ways for Dogs to Win the War on Fleas]]> The calendar says it's late autumn but in many parts of the country — my dogs' hometown of New York City among them — the unseasonably balmy weather saysIndian summer. And that means it's still flea season. In fact, the little demons are biting with a bigger vengeance than usual.

If, like me, you'd rather not introduce toxic pesticides into your dogs' bloodstream, you will need to take extra precautions right now to ensure that fleas don't makeyour K9's life a living hell.

One way tokill fleas safely is by liberally applying diatomaceous earth (aka diatom flour) to your dog's coat, reapplying whenever the dog becomes wet, and to any areas in and around your home you suspect to be attractive to fleas. It's one of the least toxic options available for natural, chemical-free pest control, and it works on roaches as well as fleas. (Read more about that here.)

Another way is to kill and prevent fleas is by bathing your dog regularly with a pet shampoo containing the brilliant biopesticide neem oil, which repels and kills fleas. My favorite brand is TheraNeem Pet Shampoo by Organix South (to whichI add several drops of Neem Oil, for extra potency. (Read more aboutneem, including supplementsyou can administer orally,here.)

For extra armor against those horrible biting pests,try a cool new, all-naturalproduct called Flea Flicker. Its diatomaceous earth base is souped up with numerous botanical ingredients: feverfew flowers, mullein flowers, parsley, rosemary, yarrow flowers, eucalyptus, chrysanthemums, and sweet orange essential oil.

"I chose the ingredients I did(as I do in each of my formulas) because each ingredient will address the variety of issues/challenges owners and their pets are faced with regarding fleas," says Cindy Wenger of Peaceable Kingdom Essentials, maker of Flea Flicker.

Feverfew & chrysanthemums contain certain compounds known as pyrethrins which have a paralytic effect on fleas, Wenger explains. Feverfew also repels biting and stinging insects, and that repellent propertyhelps keep nasty fleas from even approaching your dog.

"Mullein flowers applied externallyare a good wound healer and also contain the flea-killing compound rotenone," Wenger adds. "Limonene is a volatile oil found in citrus and parsley that is also a flea-killing compound. Yarrow has insect-repellent qualities, while fleas(and flies and mosquitoes) hate the smell of the eucalyptus. Rosemary, on the other hand, is a powerful antioxidant (and also a fly repellent)."

Incidentally, even the rosemary plant repels mosquitos — so consider keeping some potted rosemary around; its lovely, piny flavor is a great addition to many recipes.

There's a fringe benefit to using Flea Flicker, Wenger adds — it smells great! "Fortunately, the scented oils fleas dislike happen to have pleasant scents," she explains."Peppermint, lavender, citronella, cedar, rosemary, lemon, and orange essential oils chase fleas away without smelling noxious to people or animals." In fact, they smell lovely — alone and in combination.

"Peaceable Kingdom Essentials is a great alternative for the pet owner who wants to protect their pet, but who also doesnt want to endanger their health through the application of poison and other chemicals," Wenger concludes.

Amen to that.

Thu, 10 Nov 2011 13:03:00 -0800 /lifestyle/the-safest-ways-for-dogs-to-win-the-war-on-fleas
<![CDATA[Again, the Dogs of Occupy Wall Street Thank Darwin Animal Doctors for Caring]]> Once again, the dogs — and cats and rats (!) — of Occupy Wall Street are grrrateful to Darwin Animal Doctors (DAD) for offering free veterinary exams last night at Zuccotti Park.

As reported here and here, DAD — a 501(c)(3) nonprofit — iscommitted tohelping make sure the protesters' pets stay healthy and safe for as long as they stand their ground out there.

DAD has been tireless in galvanizing support from near, far, and widefor the protesters' pets. One veterinary technician, Stephanie Figueroa, drove in from Philadelphia to help; another vet tech, Adrien Zap, who recently returned from a stint of volunteering for DADin the Galapagos,camein from Connecticut.

"All the organizers walked around the whole night organizing the patients and giving order to the chaos, even when the temperature dropped into the thirties in half an hour," marvels Tod Emko, DAD's fearless leader. "Some walked around holding up huge signs for the campaign even though it must not have been comfortable."

In all, 10 animals were treated, including six dogs, one cat, and three pet rats. That's Konstantine Barsky of Brooklyn's Hope Vet in the photos, who — with his vet tech KimmyMazzola — has been helping out at Z Park for two weeks now.

"We vaccinated, gave dewormer (Panacur), Frontline (and Neem treatments for those who didn't want chemical treatments), dog food, blankets for dogs/cat/rats, and official vet-notated patient records, along with vaccination record stickers, to all patients," Tod says. "We ran out of pretty much EVERYTHING.So we need more of all of it! Especially dewormer, Frontline, and (for anyone who wants to ask their vet) vaccinations."

Tod is hoping that veterinarians will consider donating short-dated antiparasite medications and vaccinations to DAD for this OWS campaign. Make a donation here.

This column will keep you posted on DAD's next visit to Z Park.

Thanks to OWS volunteer Tia Foster for the photographs.

Sat, 05 Nov 2011 10:48:00 -0700 /lifestyle/again-the-dogs-of-occupy-wall-street-thank-darwin-animal-doctors-for-caring
<![CDATA[The Dogs of Occupy Wall Street Thank Darwin Animal Doctors for Caring]]> As reported here yesterday,Darwin Animal Doctors (DAD) came to the aid of the numerous dogsencamped outdoors at New York City's Zuccotti Park, site of the Occupy Wall Street protest.

The intrepid OWS protesters — on two and four legs — have been standing their ground despite the surprisingly early arrival of snow in New York City.

DAD volunteers held up signs pointing dog and cat owners to "Free Checkups." On hand and paw was Dr.Jodi Kuntz(pictured above) of New York City's prestigious Animal Medical Center, who donated her time to examine the protesters' pets.

The dogs were clearly gratefulfor the attention,generously bestowing kisses on the volunteers, including fearless DAD leader Tod Emko (pictured below,receiving passionate K9 kisses).

DAD will return to Zuccotti Park again soon; we'll keep you posted on the date(s). In the meantime, make a donation to help them help the animals of Occupy Wall Street. Here's an amendedwish list of needed items — any and all donations gratefully accepted:

- Dog booties

- Dog food

- Cat food

- Frontline (or any type of flea/tick treatment)

- Heartgard

- Dog-sized blankets

- Dog and cat toys

- Dog beds

- Large Tupperware containers (to keep pet food sealed and protected from rodents and insects)

Mon, 31 Oct 2011 12:00:07 -0700 /doggie-style/the-dogs-of-occupy-wall-street-thank-darwin-animal-doctors-for-caring