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How to Help your Dog with Mosquitoes

“Dear Dogsized, My father’s border collie is constantly harassed by mosquitoes. Are there any dog-safe products for Charlie? – Kiku”

dog-mosquitoMosquitoes are definitely a problem for dogs! Not only do mosquitoes harass and bite dogs (as they do humans), mosquito bites can result in everything from an annoying itch to more serious parasitic diseases. Mosquito bites are also a primary cause of heartworm in dogs. If your dog has more hair (e.g. a chow) then they have more natural protection than say a bit bull or “bully” breeds. Regardless, those areas that show more skin e.g. nose, ears, eyelids, abdomen, groin and inside the legs are more prone to getting mosquito bites (and can also get sunburn).

There are plenty of things you can try to change in your environment to reduce the amount of mosquitoes, for example, avoiding stagnant water, using products containing oil of sandalwood or citronella and staying inside, especially in the early morning and early evening, when mosquitoes are most active.

Mosquito Repellent for Dogs

flys offTo protect your dog, do NOT use human mosquito repellents containing DEET on dogs. Instead, look for repellents formulated especially for pets that contain either permethrins or pyrethrins. Here are some dog mosquito repellent products for your dog to try:
Flys Off Spray
Flys-Off Fly Repellent Ointment
Pet Naturals of Vermont Protect Flea & Tick Repellent Spray
All Terrain Natural Pet Herbal Armor Insect Repellent Spray
Even if you use a mosquito repellent, make sure your dog is taking a heartworm preventative, such as Heartgard Plus, and also a topical treatment and prevention of ticks, fleas, mosquitoes, biting flies, and lice, such as K9 Advantix II.(see also our article on Advantix vs Frontline).

Mosquito Bite Treatment

Luckily there are some solutions to help your dog if he does get bitten. Treat bites with an antibacterial cream (e.g. Neosporin) to keep them from becoming infected. To help with the itchiness, you might also want to try Sulfodene or a Pet Hydrocortizone (Zymox).
Please see your veterinarian if the bites appear very large (i.e. possibly something in it) or if they do not heal or appear to be getting worse.

Flying with Your Dog on a Plane

plane dog

Kobi (8wks) in his travel bag on his first flight.

I have a real plane dog. The day I adopted Kobi, I took him on his first flight (see right). Since then, I’ve taken Kobi on several flights both domestically and internationally. As such, I can definitely help you with tips for flying with a dog.

Kobi is under the typical 20lbs limit for in-cabin flight travel, so he’s always been in the airplane with me. (I can’t comment on plane travel for dogs that are larger and need to be in the hull, i.e. as cargo.)

Before Your Flight with Your Dog

You will need to check with the airline you plan to fly with and see what their pet regulations are. There is no standard set of rules and they can change. Sometimes rules are different depending on where you are flying to (e.g. Hawaii).

First of all, make sure the airline will take your breed. Some airlines will not accept brachycephalic or snub-nosed dogs, e.g. Pugs. Shih Tzus.

You need to purchase a ticket for your dog, as well as, yourself. I find this highly annoying because your dog will end up sitting in your seat area. You have to put him in front of your feet, on the floor, under the seat in front of you. Don’t forget that despite the fact that you purchased a ticket for your dog, this does not give you an extra bag. If you’re flying coach, you are still only limited to one bag and one personal item. The dog bag will count as the “one bag”, so I just bring a purse as my personal item.

It’s important to make sure your dog has a ticket because there generally is a limit on the number of pets in the cabin. Note service animals are typically not counted in the maximum number allowed in the cabin.

Getting the Right Dog Travel Bag

Your dog will need an airline approved dog bag. I’ve never experienced an airline exactly measure the bag my dog was in, however, your dog needs to be able move around in it – typically stand up enough so he can switch his body position front to back and visa versa. I have heard stories of airlines doing this test. The dog bag also needs to be able to fit under the seat in front of you.

I recommend getting a dog bag which allows your dog to see out as much as possible (this also helps with ventilation). It should also have flaps to close the “windows” of the bag, because sometimes your dog will just want to sleep and not be distracted.

Make sure to get your dog used to his travel bag. He should not be testing it out on his first flight. We made sure to feed Kobi in his travel bag before he used it on a plane. As such, he has positive experiences associated with his travel bag.

Last but not least, often you will need a health certificate from your vet, which might need to be dated within 10 days of the first flight your dog will be on.

Next step: What to Bring for the Day of Travel

Great Martingale Collars Made From Hemp

One of Kobi’s favorite styles: Wilson

I’ve been meaning to write this post about Earthdog martingale collars forever! Kobi has been wearing Earthdog collars for years and we love them!

What sparked the initial need to look for a non-synthetic collar was that Kobi has a lot of allergies and seemed to be bothered by nylon and other materials commonly used for collars. He would scratch at a lot of collars, but once we tried the Earthdog collars, Kobi seemed really comfortable in them. He’s also only 20 lbs and some of the leather collars seemed a bit too heavy / thick.

Another favorite style: sage

I also really like a Martingale collar because of the control it gives you over your dog. A martingale collar is made with two loops. The larger loop is slipped onto the dogs neck and a lead is then clipped to the smaller loop. When the dog tries to pull, the tension on the lead pulls the small loop taut, which makes the large loop smaller and tighter on the neck, thus preventing escape. Properly fitted, the collar will be comfortably loose when “not in use” or alternatively…if your dog is going along with where you want to go, it will be comfortably loose.

Many Martingale collars are made with chain, which I don’t like with my smaller dog (Kobi is a 19 lb Havanese). Over time the Earthdog hemp collars will get quite soft, but due to the construction of the Martingale collar, it will still get tighter around the neck when Kobi isn’t interested in going in the direction I’m planning to go. However, it’s not as harsh or extreme as a Martingale collar with chain.

On top of all that goodness, Earthdog products are handmade in Nashville, TN, USA. The collars come in a variety of colors and patterns.

Best of all, Kobi loves his collar. Post bath or post brushing – he’s very happy to have his collar put back on and comes over tail wagging when I bring it out.

Dematting Your Dog

dematting

Many dogs have the issue of getting their hair or fur tangled. This is especially true for non-shedding dogs, e.g. Havanese, Maltese, Shih Tsu and some Terrier breeds. If it doesn’t get brushed regularly, this can result in mats. So what should you do when you realize your dog’s fur is matted?

First thing to do is assess how badly your dog’s fur is matted. Also consider the weather/season is outside. Perhaps it’s winter and you’d rather keep your dog’s hair longer for protection from the elements or if it’s summer you and your dog might be better off to take him to the groomer to have a short haircut and groom.

If you think this is something you could tackle and your dog can handle, then here are our tips and suggestions:

1. Realize it will probably take a few sessions or days to properly demat your dog’s coat. We do not recommend you try to do it all in one session. Of course your groomer will do it in one session, but that probably explains why my dog hates going to the groomer. To keep the peace with your dog, I would break up the grooming sessions.

Dematting Comb

Dematting Comb

2. Make sure you have the right tools. We recommend a dematting comb, a regular dog brush, a slicker brush and a comb (e.g. Fine/Coarse Steel Greyhound Comb). I use these various tools on my dog (a Havanese). You might also consider getting some detangling spray made for dogs.

3. Make sure you have the right treats. Some dogs are more sensitive than others. Some dogs enjoy getting groomed and others don’t. Regardless, dematting can hurt the dog at times – we’ll show you how to avoid it, but it can happen. So we recommend that you have your dog’s favorite treats on hand so you can reward him through the process.

Greyhound Comb

Greyhound Comb

4. Determine where you are going to groom your dog. I would recommend a place where your dog is comfortable, but can’t easily escape. I groom Kobi in our living room on a high countertop. He’s comfortable enough because it’s the living room, but it’s also high enough that he won’t jump down and escape.

5. Is your dog dirty? If your dog needs a bath, definitely do this before you do a dematting session. It’s going to be more work if you have to extract both dirt and hair mats. Sometimes it might be easier to try to demat your dog right after a bath, but it really depends on their fur/hair and your dog’s personality. My dog goes a bit nuts after a bath so it’s not a great time to groom him.

6. Lightly brush your dog’s coat all over his body. It might help to use some detangling spray before you brush your dog’s hair, but it really depends on your dog’s hair/fur. When you’ve completed this step, you’ll know how badly your dog is matted and where the problem spots are.

Master Grooming Tools Stainless Steel Soft Slicker Brush

Slicker Brush

7. Mentally break up your dog’s hair problem spots into various sections.
For example, with my dog I typically break up the areas I need to work on as follows:
– Ears – matted near the opening of the ear canal, but my dog loves to have his ears/ear area brushed
– Tail – less sensitive and easier to brush out because the hair is coarser
– Belly – super sensitive, but often not that matted
– Chest – can be really matted, but less sensitive than belly
– Paws – not typically that matted, but he hates to have his paws touched
– Underarms – probably not the scientific name, but hopefully you understand. This is where you’ll find a LOT of matting. Unfortunately for Kobi, this is also a sensitive area.

dog anatomy

Dog Anatomy

Your dog may have different areas that are sensitive or less sensitive or matted. Regardless, break up the list of “to do” areas – you don’t want to tackle all the sensitive areas at once.

8. Where do you start?
Some groomers and breeders state that you should start at the bottom and basically create a line in the dog’s hair and work your way up.
We find that to be really time consuming and doesn’t really take into consideration where your dog’s sensitive spots are. For example, our dog Kobi would freak out if we started at the bottom of his belly or paws which are his super sensitive areas. As such, we recommend starting where your dog is less sensitive and enjoys being brushed (for Kobi it would be his ear area).
Then mix it up between sensitive and less sensitive spots, as well as, spots that are easier to brush and more difficult.

9. How to brush / which tools to use?
Any person that has had relatively long hair will understand the golden rule that you don’t pull hair (or fur). If there is a tangle, you need to hold the hair at the root (so it doesn’t hurt) and then brush/comb through the tangle. This is also the golden rule when it comes to brushing / dematting your dog.

Dematting

spraying detangling spray on the matted area

As mentioned before, first start with an overall light brushing. Don’t force any tangles. Consider using detangling spray. Then do your mental break up of your dog’s body and problem areas and assess what would be easiest to start with.

For example, I’ll start combing Kobi’s ears with the greyhound comb using the wider prongs. When I get to a matted area, I’ll hold his hair at the roots/base and then use the dematting comb. When Kobi has relatively few tangles around his ear area, then I’ll switch to using the fine prongs on the greyhound comb and/ or the slicker brush.

Dematting

insert dematting comb into mat, hold hair at the roots and then pull away from the dog

When using the dematting comb, it’s easier to start with a smaller area of the matted fur. Hold the base of the hair and then put the prongs in the matt, sharp edges away from the dog and then pull away from the matt and your dog. If you properly hold your dog’s hair, it will not hurt them.

If it’s a really large mat, start with a smaller area of the mat using the dematting comb and intermittently use the slicker brush which will help take out the matted hair leaving you a cleaner and easier smaller mat to tackle. Remember to hold your dog’s hair at the root/base as much as possible so you don’t pull their hair/fur. To the left is an example of us taking out a mat from Bootsie – a very cute Tibetan Terrier.

10. Break up the locations on where you are grooming/brushing/combing your dog

dog grooming 3

I’m mat free now!

I typically start with Kobi’s ears and head. Next I will brush or comb his back which is sensitive but generally doesn’t have too many mats. I’ll ignore any mats that might be on his back and move on to his tail. Afterwards I’ll go back to a matted area on his body, then back to an unmated area.

In between zones, I’ll make sure to give your dog treats and verbal approval (i.e. “good dog”).

The first time you do this with your dog, you might want to set a time limit (e.g. 10 mins). You can repeat the process each day until your dog’s coat is dematted.