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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.

Top 5 Tips for Cold Dogs and Winter Weather

cold dog yorkie

Geez – I’m cold!

It’s freezing across the country and most people are huddled up inside. So what should we do with our dogs? Clearly they still need exercise and have to “do business”, so when is it too cold for them?

1. Identify Your Dog’s Susceptibility

There are many different factors in determining a dog’s resistance to cold. According to Dr. Susan Whiton and Dr. Sophia Yin: “The animal’s ability to tolerate really cold weather depends on age, nutritional status, health and coat density.”

cold dog - husky

This Freezing Weather Is Awesome!!!

Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences has stated “it is clinically accepted that indoor pets that are not acclimated to cold weather should not be left outside when the average daily temperature is below 45 degrees Fahrenheit.”

Dogs that tend to do well in the cold include Alaskan Malamutes, Siberian Huskies, Malamutes and Chow Chows.

Dogs that are more susceptible to the cold are toy dogs (e.g. Yorkies) and dogs without hair (i.e. Chinese Crested) or do not have thick coats (e.g. Greyhounds).

If your dog is a puppy, very old or sick, you might want to consider using an Indoor Dog Potty while the temperature is below 45 degrees.

2. Know the Signs of a Cold Dog

If your dog is shivering, whining, stops moving, starts looking for warm places to burrow or is in a curled position, it is probably too cold. When the weather is severely cold, take shorter walks. Don’t try to take your dog on the same length walks as during warmer weather. A shorter walk can still accomplish enough exercise and relief breaks without causing your dog (and you) to become too cold.
In regards to dogs that spend more time outside in the winter, according to Dr. Susan Whiton and Dr. Sophia Yin: “The dogs that are not doing well will have ice on their fur. It indicates that they are losing enough body heat to melt the snow. Because their coat is not insulating well more ice will build up making the hair less lofty and less insulating.”

3. Get a Dog Coat and/or Dog Boots

dog coatSweaters and Dog Coats can keep your pets warm. Make sure they fit correctly. They shouldn’t be too loose or too tight. Using a dog coat with good under carriage coverage will be very helpful for dogs with longer coats that more easily collect ice on their fur.

Dog boots and paw protectants (e.g. Musher’s) can protect your dog’s paws from the cold and salt. After a walk outside, check to make sure any salt or antifreeze products are removed from paws or fur. To remove any snow from a dog’s coat, use a towel or hairdryer.

Let's Play Indoors!

Let’s Play Indoors!

4. Play Indoors

If it’s too cold for your dog outside, then make sure to spend more play time with your dog indoors. If your dog is a fan of fetch – this is probably really easy – just keep throwing a ball down a hallway. My dog isn’t a super fan of fetch, but if I do it with treats, he’s happy to play fetch indoors.

You can try teaching your dog tricks or play some of their other favorite games to keep them active during the winter. If they need more exercise, consider organizing a doggy play date or taking your dog to a doggie daycare so they can play with other dogs.

5. Adjust Your Dog’s Diet

If your dog is spending a lot of time outside (e.g. they’re a Siberian Husky), then you probably need to increase their food consumption.

If your dog is spending more time indoors, you probably need to somewhat reduce their food intact.

See our article on: How to Check If Your Dog is Overweight

Top 10 Indoor Dog Gates

You love your dog, but sometimes you need your dog to stay in a specific area of your home. Maybe you’ve got a puppy on your hands or you don’t want your dog in the formal living room. We’ve looked around for some of the best designs that we think our Dogsized fans will love:

dog gate 1. Supergate Deluxe Decor Gate
This Supergate Deluxe Decor metal gate offers both security for your family and style for your home. It is very durable and constructed with a strong powder-coated metal. The arched gate offers a one swinging walk-thru panel built with a double-locking system, as well as, a stay-open feature.
dog gate 2. Convertible Elite Dog Gate
This 6-panel elite dog gate configures into a free standing dog gate, a room divider, or a pet pen. It’s designed to confine your dog safely in areas with larger openings, yet fit beautifully in any home decor. The gate includes a lockable door that allows you to move freely from room to room. Each panel locks in place at 90- and 180-degree angles using a specially designed cap, which also provides extra stability.
dog gate 3. Elegant Dog Gate
There’s no reason to sacrifice style for function with this beautiful dog gate. This is a freestanding dog gate made of chew-resistant, rich, solid wood. It also has a walk-thru door which allows easy movement between spaces. This dog gate by Primetime Petz is easy to use and folds down to store in seconds.
dog gate 4. Hardwood Dog Gate
A handsome, versatile gate you’ll enjoy having in your home. Customizable, panels can be configured to work in any open space or doorway. Place into a C-shape into the corner of a room to use as a crate or play pen. The collapsible feature and integrated carrying handles make it easy to store. Made of solid hardwood with walnut color finish.
MDOG2 free standing pet gate 5. MDOG2 Free Standing Pet Gate
Looking for something more modern and white? This chic free standing pet gate is designed for small to medium breed dogs and comes in different finishes. This gate comes with EVA feet for protection of the floors and is very simple to set up.
dog gate 6. Free Standing Wood Dog Gate
We love the look of the arch on this solid wood dog gate. The Free Standing Dog Gate by Majestic Pet Products is ideal for keeping your dogs confined while still keeping your home elegant. Built with solid-wood and triple hinge construction, it is both durable and versatile. It comes in a cherry stain wood or white.
dog gate 7. Wood One-Touch Dog Gate
This dog gate is beautifully crafted and has a “tension-mount” design that allows you to easily attach it to a doorway/hallway opening to keep your dog confined to their own “special” area. The gate door allows you to move freely from room to room. The “one-touch” handle design provides the option of opening/closing the gate with one hand. Lockable gate door provides additional pet security. It’s made of polished wood and metal and comes in 3 colors.
dog gate 8. Wood and Steel Designer Gate
This steel streamlined design has a gate with natural-grain dark wood that complements the style of your home. For convenience, the gate swings open in both directions. It’s easy for adults to open with one hand and shuts firmly with a simple push. The designer gate includes extensions that provide a custom fit and works for all areas of your home.
bindaboo gate 9. Indoor or Outdoor Retractable Gate
This award winning retractable gate may be used both inside and outdoors as it’s made from a UV treated durable mesh to keep it from fading in the sun. It fits narrow to wider openings up to 55in (140cm). Very space efficient and the gate retracts out of the way when not in use.
Extra Wide Free Standing Pet Gate 10. Extra Wide Free Standing Pet Gate
This Design Studio 2-in-1 Free Standing Dog Gate is designed with premium hard wood and black accents. It expands to fit a variety of openings from 40-70 inches wide. The patented slide and wide latch system is simplistic and allows you to easily move this gate to different openings around your home. Easy to install and quick take down.

Canine Flu – Be Aware and Protect Your Dog

canine fluRecently, there’s been a “bug” circulating around the neighborhood dogs and it was believed to be kennel cough (i.e. bordetella). However, with the number of dogs it affected in such a short amount of time, tests were made and the “bug” is kennel cough caused by canine flu (aka canine influenza), which is highly infectious. According to Dr. Kristin Lester, DVM, kennel cough can be caused by numerous organisms and frequently occur concurrently (e.g. bordetella bronchiseptica, parainfluenza virus, advenovirus type 2 and canine influenza, distemper, reovirus).

canine fluIf your dog has not been vaccinated against canine flu, then your dog will have zero immunity towards this virus. Of course, no flu vaccine is a 100% guarantee you won’t get the flu (just like the human flu vaccine), but it’s better than zero defense. While this might not be going on in your neighborhood (yet), we thought it would be good to update everyone to help keep your dogs safe and healthy.

If your dog frequents doggie daycares, dog parks, or any other locations where dogs play and hang out, you might want to have a discussion with your vet and consider getting your dog vaccinated. I just made an appointment today to get my dog, Kobi, vaccinated and apparently it’s a two shot treatment. Kobi will get a flu shot today and then we’ll go back in 3 weeks for the next round.

sick dogUnfortunately, a friend’s dog caught the canine flu. We thought it would be helpful to let you know how it ran its course. They first had their dog (we’ll call her Bella) on antibiotics, which was possibly more preventative than reactive, but was suggested by their vet. Bella’s parents kept her away from other dogs to prevent spreading the virus. To be safe, if your dog catches the flu, they should not be in contact with other dogs for at least 7 days after symptoms have resolved. The flu virus can also take up to 10 days to gestate and your dog may not show symptoms for over a week.

sick dogBella had a nasty cough (sounded like choking), which lasted about a week. The cough got worse before it got better and it was horrible sounding. Bella’s parents gave her honey, to try and coat the throat a bit (mixed reviews on this, but regardless she loved it) and gave her a couple of spoons of coconut oil with her food (a natural anti-viral). They also gave her lots of water, including luke-warm chamomile tea as it apparently reduces stomach spasms from the cough and made her drink lots. They also cut back on the length of Bella’s walks, much to Bella’s annoyance.

After 7-8 days from presenting signs, Bella was no longer coughing and had a lot more energy. She is back to playing, chasing and chewing her toy duck and was bouncing around on their walks. We’re so happy Bella’s feeling better!!!

Thanks to Dr. Kristin Lester, DVM, Fetch Club and Downtown Dog NYC for keeping us up-to-date on canine health issues in the NYC area!