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1285 Elgin Mills Rd E Unit 3-4
Richmond Hill, ON, L4S 0B5
Canada

4162387358

Woofur is your one-stop pet care services business providing dog grooming, cat grooming, pet spa services, luxurious overnight dog boarding, doggy daycare, dog obedience training, pet specialty retail and cat sitting services serving Richmond Hill, Markham, Thornhill, Vaughan, Newmarket, Aurora, Stouffville, North York, Scarborough, and the Greater Toronto Area.

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We support healthy, natural, and non-toxic living for our pets. Learn how you can do this at home too to keep your pets happy and healthy!

Help! My Dog's been Skunked!

Brittney Szucs

Spring is here, the season of singing birds, budding trees, blossoming flowers and skunks!?! Dogs are curious by nature and if they cross paths with those adorably striped creatures, they will unfortunately come out of the chance encounter not smelling so sweet.

Why and What do Skunks Spray?

Skunks are crepuscular, meaning they are active mainly at twilight, dawn and full moon (dimly light) nights. They have a strong sense of smell and hear well, but do not see very well. They do, however, have very good aim with their offensive scent.

The scent glands are similar to dog and cat anal glands. They are located on either side of the anus and produce an oily secretion containing sulfur compounds (mercaptan).

Skunks are adept as using their scent glands as a weapon against predators, however spraying is not their first line of defense. They will engage in a series of displays to ward off potential attacks before spraying. If a skunk feels threatened, they will hiss, stamp their feet and raise their tail as warning signs. A mother skunk with kits may spray offensively.

Tips – Do the following before bathing your skunked dog

Before handling your dog, you may want to put on some old clothes. Skunk spray is actually an oil and is very difficult to remove from clothing.

  1. If possible, leave the dog outside to prevent the odor-ridden oils from getting into your house.

  2. Determine where the spray hit the dog. Depending on your dog's hair type, you may be able to trim away or comb out some of the affected hair. If you think your pet was sprayed in the face, flush your pet's eyes copiously with clean water, ideally with sterile saline solution (Note: Please use saline eye wash intended for use within your eyes and not for contact lenses.)

  3. Use paper towels to soak up the oils from the coat before you begin washing. Be careful not to spread the oils from one part of the dog to another. Only wipe where the oils are already to avoid making the problem worse.

  4. When you're ready to wash the dog, only clean the sprayed area. Skunk spray is oily and can easily be spread all over the dog. You will most likely have to give the dog more than one bath, so save an all-over bath until the second or third washing.

How do I get rid of skunk smell on my pet or myself?

It may be particularly difficult to get the odor out of dogs with thick coats. If you don't act fast, it may be possible to smell the odor on your dog for up to two years, especially when the dog gets wet.

It is best to bathe your dog with a pet safe shampoo before the skunk's sulfuric spray dries on the fur. After bathing you can try some of the following methods.

  1. Household Products

Paul Krebaum, a chemist, developed a more effective formula for de-skunking a dog. Mix in an open bucket or bowl, and DO NOT store any left over solution:

  • 1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide
  • ¼ cup baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of strong liquid soap such as dish washing detergent

Mix the ingredients in an open bucket or bowl. The mixture will fizz. Wet your dog and thoroughly massage the solution into the coat. Be sure to keep the mixture out of the dog’s eyes, nose and mouth. If it is necessary to apply it to the dog’s face, very carefully use a washcloth or a sponge. After applying the mixture to all parts of your dog that may have been sprayed, rinse the dog thoroughly.

CAUTION: Do not mix and/or store ahead of time as the mixture may explode!

2. Store Bought De-Skunking Products

There are several products you can buy at the store to de-skunk your dog like Envirofresh Odor Out. It eliminates skunk odors and is safe to use on your pet, in your laundry, and in the air!

3. Professional Dog Groomer

Better yet, leave it to the professionals! Take your dog to your qualified groomer where they can rid your dog of the unpleasant odor left by skunks. Using a medicated skunk bath that will shampoo, condition, deodorize and leave your dog's coat with a radiant sheen!

Resources

http://www.dogbreedinfo.com/skunk.htm
http://vetmedicine.about.com/od/veterinaryqa/a/Skunks.htm

What are Papilloma Warts in Dogs?

Brittney Szucs

What is Papilloma?

Papillomas are benign clusters of abnormal cells caused by the papilloma viruses, which creates cauliflower-like skin and mouth lesions in dogs. These viruses tend to affect young puppies (typically under 2 years of age) who get outbreaks of oral papillomatosis, immuno-suppressed dogs, and older dogs who grow warts as they age.

Since all canine papilloma viruses are opportunistic as all dogs are assumed to have been exposed to this virus, only dogs with weaker immune systems would likely have a flare up.  However, canine warts do not affect humans, cats or other species, so you don't have to worry about catching anything from your dog. 

Papillomatosis in Puppies

Young puppies often contract papillomatosis or oral papilloma where the lips, gums, roof of the mouth, inside cheeks and very rarely around the eyes will develop cauliflower-like fleshy wart clusters. It is usually spread by direct contact with dogs with saliva is exchanged through licking, playing, and greeting. The virus can also be spread through sharing of drinking water, insect bites, cuts, and scrapes.  However, the most common ways of transmission is through oral contact. 

Photo above shows a puppy with a papillomatosis on his bottom lip.

Photo above shows a puppy with a papillomatosis on his bottom lip.

This virus usually affects puppies that are under two years of age typically because their immune systems are still fairly immature compared to adult dogs so they have not built up an effective immune response to eliminate the virus.  It will typically take puppies anywhere between 2 weeks to several months to get its immune system in gear to resolve a case of oral papilloma.

If your puppy has contracted oral papilloma, please refrain from any contact with other dogs (e.g., refrain from dog parks, doggy daycare, meet and greets on walks, and doggy socials) until all the warts have resolved on its own.  If you choose to have the warts physically removed via surgery, it doesn't remove the virus from your dog's body.  Therefore it is always best to have the warts fall off on its own to ensure your puppy's immune system has done its job at fighting against the virus. 

For dogs who are suffering from immunodeficiency and have developed large amounts of oral warts where it becomes difficult to eat or drink and quality of life is compromised, please seek veterinarian assistance to obtain suitable antibiotics for your puppy. 

How do I treat Papillomatosis?

The best way to prevent papillomatosis is to ensure your dog has a strong immune system by keeping them healthy with a good diet and lifestyle. It's important to also strengthen their digestive system with a good amount of probiotics as well as digestive enzymes to help them breakdown and absorb the foods they eat better.

It has been implicated by many veterinarians that vaccines may be a cause of papillomatosis, so it's important not to over-vaccinate our pets. Often warts are an indication the animal has received too many vaccines, or has had a negative reaction to vaccines.

A very useful homeopathic treatment for warts is called Thuja occidentalis, derived from the northern white cedar, Arbor vitae, which means "Tree of Life." Thuja is the primary vaccinosis (adverse reaction to a vaccination) remedy for cats and dogs but also helpful for symptoms of disorders that affect the skin, including warts, rashes, eruptions, cysts, and tumors. Please consult with your holistic veterinarian prior to using Thuja in treating of your dog's papillomatosis. 

In order to reduce your pet's chances of contracting papillomatosis, it's important to reduce the number of unnecessary vaccines your pet receives.  This will also help to maintain a healthy and strong system for your pet!

Resources:

www.vet.bc.ca/oral-papillomas.pml

http://www.pethealthnetwork.com/dog-health/dog-diseases-conditions-a-z/oral-papilloma-virus-dogs

 

Colloidal Silver for Pets

Brittney Szucs

Uh oh - Buddy's chronic ear infection has returned and Molly's stubborn tear staining is only getting worse!  But before desperately calling your vet for another pricey round of antibiotics, you think to yourself that there has to be another solution! Have you ever wondered if there's a more natural approach to treating some of your dog's ailments? If so, you might want to consider colloidal silver- read on to find out just what it's all about. 

Colloidal silver is a natural health product composed of tiny silver particles mixed in a liquid base. These particles are thought to be able to penetrate the body's cells and kill pathogens (viruses or bacteria that cause disease). The product can be used to treat a variety of conditions in both animals and humans due to its natural antibiotic, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties.

Sample bottle of Colloidal Silver made by True Raw Choice

Sample bottle of Colloidal Silver made by True Raw Choice

Since colloidal silver is an all-around pathogen fighter, it can be used to treat all kinds of common conditions and infections in your pet including: ear infections, cuts and scrapes, rashes, yeast infections, and eye conditions. Even if your dog seems to be in perfect health, it can be used as a general immune booster to keep your dog happy and healthy before any of these stubborn problems occur.

Since colloidal silver is tasteless, odourless, tear-less and non-toxic, you can use it for pets both internally and externally. Keep reading to discover a few common uses for this handy product.

Oral Intake
Being tasteless, it should be relatively easy to give an oral dose of colloidal silver to your pets without having to worry about them spitting it right back out! The dosage can be given using either a syringe or a dropper. You can give your pet even more of a boost by combining internal intake with external application of the product. For example, you can treat an eye infection by giving colloidal silver to your dog orally while also dropping it into the infected eye. A general guideline for oral dosage is 1/2 tsp per every 10 lbs, once per day, unless otherwise specified by your holistic veterinarian.

NOTE: You might think you're making your task easier by adding some of this product into your pet's water bowl, but unfortunately this defeats the purpose. Diluting colloidal silver will reduce its effectiveness. Always read and follow manufacturer instructions.

Skin Application
Colloidal silver can be used topically for open wounds and skin infections like hot spots, ringworm, wounds and burns. It will feel soothing to your pet while it helps to heal the skin by repairing any tissue damage. When treating wounds with colloidal silver, simply apply with a cotton ball or swab and clean the wound. For skin conditions, you can apply a compress to the area or spray colloidal silver directly onto the area. It's that easy!

NOTE: Some manufacturers have spray cap packaging for easier application.

Ear Application
Colloidal silver can be great for treating ear infections. The liquid can be dropped directly into the ears (3-4 drops into each infected ear) to help fight off bacteria and yeast while being fed orally as well.

Eye Application
Colloidal silver can also help treat eye problems like infections, allergies, inflammation and tear staining. It can be applied directly without worrying about it stinging your dog's eyes! To use it, apply 1 drop three times a day into the affected eye or follow the advice of your holistic veterinarian.

Resources

http://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/five-immune-boosting-uses-of-colloidal-silver/

https://holisticpetcareproducts.com/colloidal-silver-uses-treating-pet-diseases/

Diatomaceous Earth for Pets

Brittney Szucs

What is Diatomaceous Earth?

Diatomaceous Earth is a naturally occurring plant-based powder. The chalky white powder is composed of 'diatoms' which are algae-like plants that have been around for millions of years. The Diatomaceous Earth products available to consumers may also have other diatom derivatives mixed together and can be formulated as 'food grade' or 'filter grade'.

How does it work?

Diatomaceous Earth is a natural, non-toxic, chemical-free and safe way to keep your cat or dog free of parasites both internally and externally. The fine powder kills parasites while doing no harms to your pets or you!  Under a microscope, the powder has microscopically sharp edges that are safe for your pet but are deadly to parasites and insects. Diatomaceous Earth has been used for decades to kill parasites, insects, larvae, and eggs when their sharp edges pierce through and dehydrate these pests. 

How safe is Diatomaceous Earth?

Diatomaceous Earth is perfectly safe when used on dogs, cats, and even humans! Just be sure that you are ONLY using 'food grade' versions of Diatomaceous Earth as the 'filter grade' Diatomaceous Earth can be harmful to your pets.

How is it used internally?

Diatomaceous Earth can be fed to your pet to clear out any internal parasites including:

  • Roundworms
  • Pinworms
  • Hookworms
  • Whipworms

It should be fed for at least 30 consecutive days to ensure both adult and hatching eggs have been destroyed. To feed it to your pet simply sprinkle it over their food. If your pet is a little unsure about eating the powder you can also try mixing in a little warm water or crush a small amount of treat on their food to encourage eating.

Feeding Guideline

How is it used externally?

Diatomaceous Earth can be used externally to help prevent and treat fleas and ticks. To use the product, simply sprinkle a liberal amount on your pet's entire body and work it though their coat and skin. After about 8 hours of application, you can wash the powder off of your pet with a gentle, herbal infused shampoo (Note: For cats, please check labeling to ensure the herbal shampoo used is appropriate.). Please follow with a rich conditioner to re-hydrate the coat as diatomaceous earth will dry out the coat and skin of your pet(s).

How to use it for flea infestations?

If you have a case of flea infestation at home, diatomaceous earth can also be used to treat your home to rid of parasites.  Simply sprinkle and dust a light film of diatomaceous earth evenly over your floors, carpet, bedding, furniture and directly on your pet.  After 3-4 days, vacuum the powder from all surfaces, followed by mopping and wiping down of all dusted surfaces.  Reapply as needed.

To maintain a pest-free yard, dust about 1 lb per 500 sq. ft of diatomaceous earth all over the yard.  However, it doesn't work immediately, so please do so on a day that's not raining and reapply as needed on a monthly basis. 

Why use Diatomaceous Earth over other methods?

Diatomaceous earth is a natural and toxic free product in comparison to 'spot-on' type treatments. Remember, 'spot-on' type treatments are pesticides and, therefore, can be harmful to your pets (Read our blog on safe and natural alternatives to flea and tick control.).  They have been reported to cause:

  • Rash
  • Vomiting
  • Redness
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of hair
  • Lack of coordination
  • Itching with discoloration
  • Seizures
  • Drooling
  • Lethargy
  • Increased excitability
  • Tremors
  • Changes in body temperature

Final Notes

Diatomaceous earth is an effective and natural treatment for preventing and removing both internal and external parasites from your pets. It is a cost efficient alternative to spot-on' type treatments currently in the market and is safe for dogs, cats and humans!

Resources

http://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/benefits-diatomaceous-earth/

http://diatomaceous.org/diatomaceous-earth-for-pets-and-animals/

6 Simple At Home Grooming Tips

Michelle Tao

Having your dog(s) and cat(s) professionally groomed on a regular schedule will help keep them healthy and feeling great! But your pet(s) will need some at home maintenance in between their grooming visits. Below are 6 simple and awesome tips to help you keep your pet in tip top shape at home!

1. Brushing - Single Coated Dogs

Single coated dogs refer to those with only a single layer of hair that grows uniformly over the body. Breeds such as Shih Tzu, Poodle, Bichon Frise, Maltese, and Yorkshire Terrier are all single coated dogs.  These breeds are generally considered 'groomable' breeds that can be shaved, clipped and scissored appropriately. 

If you are planning on bathing your pet(s) at home, please thoroughly brush through your pet(s)' coats to ensure they are tangle free before bath. DO NOT bathe your pet(s) if there are still matts or tangles in the coat! Water will tighten matts, making them tighter and larger than before!  If your dog's matted coat is too difficult to brush out, DO NOT proceed in bathing your dog and please seek help from a professional groomer.

To maintain single coated breeds, you will need 2 simple tools:

  • A firm slicker brush;
Slicker Brush

Grip the slicker brush with your thumb resting on the top of the brush and brush in parallel to the contour of the dog's body, in the direction of the coat. The brush is more gentle when used this way and there is less chance of causing skin irritations! 

HINT: When purchasing a new slicker brush, check the firmness and sharpness of the pins by running the brush parallel to your own skin to test the sensation caused by the brush. This will help you determine how gentle to brush to avoid skin irritations.

  • A Medium/Fine tooth comb
Fine-Med-Comb

After your pet has been brushed through, use a Medium/Fine Tooth Comb to run through your pet's coat to ensure he/she is matt-free. 

2. Brushing - Double Coated pets

Double coated dogs and cats refer to those that have a top coat made of harsh guard hairs and an under coat that is made of soft and diluted hair. Dog breeds such as American Eskimos, Pomeranians, German Shepherds, Siberian Huskies, and Samoyeds are all double-coated dogs. These breeds are generally considered 'natural' breeds that will need to undergo regular deshedding treatments to help eliminate their shedding coat.

Are you considering grooming your double coated dog to help him/her stay cooler this summer?  Read our blog post, To Shave or Not To Shave, to help you make a safe and healthy grooming choice for your dog (not applicable for cats). 

To help maintain double coated pets at home, you will need 2 simple tools: 

  • A Medium/Fine Tooth Comb
Fine-Med-Deshed

Simply use this tool to comb through your pet's entire body to remove any undercoat that may be stuck or are ready to be released.  When you are complete, you should be able to run your comb freely through the entire coat. 

  • A Curry Brush
CurryBrush

This gentle tool will feel like a massage to your pet! Use this tool to remove any excessive top coat that your pet is shedding.

(NOTE: We DO NOT recommend untrained owners to use the Furminator tool. Improper use of this tool can irritate and lacerate your pet's skin and damage your pet's coat.)

3. Nail Clipping

Regular nail clipping can help prevent your pet from slipping on your floors, scratching you (or other family members) unnecessarily, and most importantly, prevent posture or gait issues from occurring due to excessively lengthy nails.

Begin trimming your pet's nails by cutting a small amount of nail off at a time working in a circular motion around the nail until you reach the blood supply of the nail, also known as "quick". Once you've trimmed a nail, you can use that nail as a reference point for how much you can remove from the rest of the nails. If you do happen to cut the quick don't panic! Apply pressure over the quick and apply Styptic Powder (or Corn Starch) until the bleeding stops.

HINT: Nails on the back paws are generally shorter than the front paws.

HINT: Nails on the back paws are generally shorter than the front paws.

4. Ear Cleaning

Regular ear cleaning will help keep your dog's ears clean and aids in preventing ear infections.  Some dogs will also have hair growing out of the ear canal that may be gently plucked with a small amount of ear powder. (Please note not all breeds need ear hairs to be plucked. Please check with your professional groomer or veterinarian.) 

To clean your dog's ear, apply a small amount of ear cleaning solution to a cotton ball and gently rub the underside of the ear and the opening to the ear canal.

HINT: For excessive buildup, you may use a cotton swab to clean out any waxy debris in the grooves of the ear. DO NOT place the cotton swab into the ear canal to avoid damaging the ear drums.

HINT: For excessive buildup, you may use a cotton swab to clean out any waxy debris in the grooves of the ear. DO NOT place the cotton swab into the ear canal to avoid damaging the ear drums.

5. Eye Cleaning

Many breeds of dogs require daily eye maintenance to help rid of gunk build-up and remove excessive tearing. Neglecting to clean away the buildup that forms in the corners of the eyes can result in skin irritations and possible eye infections. To remove any thick buildup, use saline solution or colloidal silver with a cotton ball to gently wipe the area clean. 

NOTE: If you notice yellow or green discharge in your dog's eyes, it is possible he/she may have an eye infection and may require a medicated eye drops prescribed by your veterinarian. 

NOTE: If you notice yellow or green discharge in your dog's eyes, it is possible he/she may have an eye infection and may require a medicated eye drops prescribed by your veterinarian. 

6. Teethbrushing

Although often overlooked, the health of your pet's teeth and gums have a
part in their overall health and well-being. Your regular at home pet care
routine should include nightly teeth brushing. You can purchase a pet
specific toothbrush or a baby toothbrush with extra soft bristles to brush your pet's teeth.  Please only use pet friendly toothpaste as human toothpaste is TOXIC to pets.

To introduce teethbrushing to your pet, try applying some toothpaste onto your finger and allow your pet to lick it.  Once he/she likes the taste of it, apply a pea-sized amount onto the toothbrush to get another yummy taste of the toothpaste but to also get used to the sensation of the toothbrush.  Once your pet seems to enjoy the toothbrush, lift the side of your pet lips and gently brush up and down his or her teeth. Don't forget to brush the hind molars as they typically hold the most plaque.

HINT:  The best time to brush your pet's teeth is just before bedtime so he/she won't be consuming any food or treats after this process.

HINT:  The best time to brush your pet's teeth is just before bedtime so he/she won't be consuming any food or treats after this process.

If your pet won't stay still while you attempt to brush their teeth, try asking for help to stabilize your pet while you brush.  And don't feel guilty if you miss a day of teethbrushing - just try your best to maintain a somewhat regular schedule to prevent excessive plaque build up.

 

5 Great Games to Engage with Your Dog

Michelle Tao

Playing with your dog is a great way to build a mutually strong and lasting relationship and strengthen trust between the two of you.  It can also:

  1. Encourage your dog to exercise their BODY and their MIND;
  2. Help you alleviate stress and get a healthy dose of physical exercise;
  3. Reinforce your dog's training;
  4. Help you understand and communicate with your dog better.

Games as Rewards

Any activity that is both controlled by you and enjoyed by your dog can be used as a reward for good behaviour. Just like using treats, toys, praise or affection, you can use your dog's favourite game as a form of positive reinforcement reward as well. 

Playtime tips

  • Stay in control of the game
  • You are the one to decide when playtime is over
  • Don't include your body or clothing as part of a game
  • Incorporate commands such as 'sit', 'stay' and 'down' often
  • If your dog doesn't seem to understand a game, go back to the basics or try a new game
  • Remember to have fun!

Game #1: Fetch

Playing fetch with a ball, stick, bone, squeeky toy or Frisbee is a great way to help your dog engage in vigorous physical exercise. Its also a great way to practice recall and patience. Start in close proximity where you lightly toss the toy you are playing with. Once your dog becomes interested and picks it up with his/her mouth, praise your dog immensely with positive rewards so your dog remembers that picking up the toy is a good thing.  

Once your dog has mastered this, teach your dog to bring the toy back to you by teaching him/her the "Drop-It" command.  Once your dog has the toy in his/her mouth, put a piece of delicious reward really close to his/her nose so when your dog attempts to take the treat, he/she will automatically drop the toy to do so.  As he/she is doing this, mark the action of spitting out the toy with the verbal cue, "Drop-It" so your dog makes the connection to the cue and the action.

Practice this continuously so your dog can now enjoy a good game of Fetch with you!

HINT: Do not let your dog take the fetch toy and run away with it.  Doing this consistently will teach your dog NOT to bring his/her toys back to you for play. 

Game #2: Tug of War

A friendly game of tug-­of­-war is a great way for your dog to exercise their natural predatory instincts. Choose a toy designed to withstand the game (such as a rope toy) and initiate play with a verbal command such as 'take it' or 'tug it.'  Similar to the Fetch game, it is important that your dog understands the 'Drop-It' command.  As you are enjoying the tug, ask your dog to "Drop-It" periodically so he/she knows you are still in control of the game.  

HINT: DO NOT play tug with your own belongings (e.g., socks, slippers, etc.) and try to pick only 1 or 2 toys to designate as tugging toys so your dog will be able to understand your intentions when you present the toy to them and you will understand what game he wants to play when he brings the toy to you!

Game #3: Treasure Hunt

Ask your dog to stay in the 'Down' position while you hide some of their favourite healthy treats around the room. Use your choice of release word (e.g., "Go Find It") to release your dog from the 'down' position so they can begin the hunt! This game is great for stimulating your dog's sense of smell and will help them exercise their mind. 

HINT: You can also create a smaller version of treat/toy treasure hunt using cups! Simply place 3 cups upside down and place a reward beneath one of the cups. Your dog will have to use their memory and senses to uncover the treat beneath the correct cup.

Game #4: Toy Hunt

This game is the advanced version of the Treasure Hunt game as mentioned above and will work well with dogs that are very toy and treat motivated. Begin by hiding some treats inside a toy (HINT: find or make your own toys or balls that have little pockets inside for treats) 

Begin by asking your dog to stay in a "Sit" or "Down" position. Once you've hidden the toy you can release your dog from the stay position and ask them to "Go Find It." When teaching this game to your dog initially, start by hiding the toy in a visible area and each time the dog successfully finds the toy you can increase the difficulty of the hiding place. Remember to give them lots of praise once they've found it by giving them play time with the toy!

Game #5: Hide and Seek

Hide and seek is a fun and simple game. Start by asking your dog to stay in a "Sit" or "Down" position while you hide. When you've found your hiding spot call to your dog to come find you by either using his/her name, or the commands "Come" or "Find Me".  

Once your dog has mastered this game with you, ask a family member or friend to join you in this game by hiding in another location so your dog will now have to seek out 2 people instead of 1. 

This game exercises and reinforces your dogs recall training and as your dog improves his seeking abilities you can begin hiding in trickier places!

Be Creative and Have Fun!

Remember, any activity that is both controlled by you and enjoyed by your dog can be used as a reward for good behaviour and converted into a game. So be creative in choosing and creating fun games that by incorporating different games, commands and even tricks that both you and your dog can enjoy!  Have fun!

6 Safe and Natural Alternatives to Flea & Tick Control

Michelle Tao

It's that time of the year again - season for fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, and other insects that carry diseases!  Although there are an overwhelming number of flea and tick control products out on the market, most are chemical based and can cause adverse effects on your pet's health.

The most popular kind of flea and tick control product on the market is the “spot-on” type, sold under brand names like Frontline®, Revolution® and Advantage™. Spot-on flea and tick products are liquid pesticides applied to a "spot" on the pet's skin, usually around the back of the neck or shoulder area of pets. There are additional forms of flea and control products, such as powders, collars, chewable tablets, and sprays, which are no less dangerous to you or your pets. The active ingredients in these solutions include chemicals such as imidacloprid, fipronil, permethrin, methoprene, and pyriproxyfen, all of which have caused serious health issues when tested in animals. (1)

If you read these product labels carefully, they will warn you not to get these substances on your skin, to wash your hands after applying them, and to keep them away from children.  If these products are so toxic, why is it okay for these chemicals to be absorbed by our pet's skin? 

FleasTicks

As per United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), "In spring 2009, EPA received more than 44,000 reports of pet incidents involving spot-on pesticide products. We received enhanced information on individual reported adverse effects from the companies that hold registrations for these products. We are pursuing a series of actions to increase the safety of spot-on pesticide products for flea and tick control for cats and dogs. " (2)

In response to the large number of adverse reports received, the EPA issued a report in 2010 that determined inert ingredients in spot-on products were generally assumed to contribute to toxicity; dosage ranges were considered to be too wide in some cases and product labeling was identified by the EPA as needing revamp in many instances; the EPA's Companion Animal Studies guidelines are insufficient to predict the toxicity of spot-on products.

If your pet exhibits any signs of vomiting, diarrhea, trembling, seizures, and respiratory problems after application of flea and control products, your pets may be suffering pesticide overdose.  If this occurs, immediately wash the product off of your pets skin and seek veterinary care. To report any adverse reactions to flea and tick control products, please visit American Veterinary Medical Association's and FDA's websites.

Natural Prevention

To prevent fleas and ticks from your pets, the first step is managing your pet's health. Your pet's skin condition is an indicator of your pet's overall health and an important factor in flea control. The key to healthy skin is a healthy diet. To learn more about healthy diet choices for your pet, click here

We must abide by the laws of nature and feed foods that our pets' bodies need and eliminate ingredients that provide no nourishment. Their nutrients must be balanced because deficiencies will develop much faster in your dog or cat than they will in you.  For healthy skin, ensure your pet's diet includes probiotics, digestive enzymes, vitamin C, vitamin B complex, and essential fatty acids. 

Natural Management

If you, unfortunately, have a flea or tick issue with your pet, here are some safe, non-toxic and natural ways to manage the situation.

1. Diatomaceous Earth (DE)

DE is a powder composed of the fossilized remains of single-celled algae. It can be sprinkled on carpets, bedding, and on your pet's body to eliminate fleas and ticks safely. DE can also be ingested to help remove internal parasites. When applying, wear a protective mask to avoid inhalation, let the powder sit at least several hours on carpet before vacuuming. If DE is sprinkled on your pets, once the fleas and ticks are killed, please ensure you wash DE off of your pet's coat as this could dry out their skin if left on for too long. 

Caution: never use DE that has been chemically treated for use in swimming pools. Ordinary table salt or borax can also be used on carpets and should be vacuumed up the day after use.

2. Nematodes

Products containing beneficial nematodes (microorganisms that eat flea larvae) can be sprayed on lawns and, unlike many toxic treatments, are perfectly safe for animals, birds, and humans, as well as “friendly” garden dwellers, such as earthworms and ladybugs. Brand names such as Interrupt can be found in pet stores and in the lawn-and-garden sections of hardware stores and supermarkets.

3. Black Walnut

Black walnut is a very effective flea and tick repellent for pets when given orally several times a week. It can be purchased in capsules or in liquid form. Give only the minimum effective dose because it can be toxic in higher doses. Please consult a holistic veterinarian prior to administering this remedy. 

4. Natural Insect Repellent

Make an effective natural insect repellent for dogs that can be applied daily by adding five drops each of tea tree oil, citronella oil, neem oil, rosemary oil, peppermint oil, lavender oil and eucalyptus oil to one cup of water, shake it, and put it in a spray bottle. Do not use on cats.  

A great product that we carry is Omega Alpha's HerbaCoat Spray, which contains some of the essential oils mentioned above and have been proven to be effective in protecting humans and pets against fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, flies and other insects.  

5. Herbal Shampoo

Gentle herbal shampoos, such as Oil of Oregano, are effective and can be used as often as once a week, to help rid of fleas.  Beware, however, that if you bath your pets too frequently, it can dry out your animals’ skin. Caution: Flea-pesticide shampoos and dips are dangerous and toxic!

6. Maintain a Clean Living Environment

When your pet returns from being outdoors, comb your animal thoroughly with a fine-toothed flea comb to check for potential fleas.  If you do find any fleas or ticks, either dip your comb (if the critters are on it) or drop the critters directly into a bowl of rubbing alcohol and they will die instantly.  

Be proactive in vacuuming your rugs and furniture frequently and launder your pet's bedding weekly.  Flea eggs can be picked up by the vacuum, but may still hatch inside so please ensure you clean your vacuum thoroughly after vacuuming. 

The Bottom Line

Fleas, like any parasite, are more attracted to animals with weaker health. This is especially prominent in multi-animal households where the older dogs seem to be attracted to fleas but the younger ones seem to be clear of them. Therefore, it is really important to have your animal as healthy as possible, not only for fleas and ticks, but for parasites, heartworm, disease resistance, stamina, and long life. 

References:

(1) Kathleen Dudley, “Are ‘Spot-On’ Flea Killers Safe?” The Whole Dog Journal Feb. 2002.

(2) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “Pesticides: Health and Safety,” 9 May 2012.

(3) Dr. Karen Becker, "Advanced, Non-Toxic Pet Pest Repellent System That Works" 

(4) Flea and Tick image source - http://www.northdevonvets.co.uk

To shave or not to shave?

Michelle Tao

Do you have a double coated dog?  Are you thinking of ways to minimize his/her shedding? Are you contemplating on whether shaving his/her coat down is the right thing to do?  This article will provide you with all the key information you need to know about the grooming needs of double coated dogs and how to prevent a condition called Post-Clipping Alopecia.

Understanding Coat Types

First, we need to understand the two general coat types that are groomed - single coat and double coat.  

A single coat means that there is only a single layer of coat that grows all over the body.  Breeds such as Shih Tzus, Poodles, Bichons, Malteses, and Yorkshire Terriers for example, are ones with a single coat and are considered groomable breeds that can be shaved, clipped and scissored appropriately.  

A double coat means there is a top coat made of harsh guard hairs and an under coat that is composed of soft and diluted hair.  Breeds such as American Eskimos, Pomeranians, German Shepherds, Siberian Huskies, and Samoyeds for example, are ones with double coats and are considered natural breeds.  These breeds will go through regular shedding cycles, especially in the spring time, where their thick undercoat will completely detach from their bodies, resulting in excessive shedding coat.  For some dogs, this shedding coat may get trapped under the top coat, especially when it has come into contact with water, causing the undercoat to become impacted and matted, preventing air from being able to circulate between the topcoat and the skin. 

When this happens, some dog owners might contemplate, "why not just shave down the coat to keep the dogs cool?" 

It is a common mistake by humans to assume that dogs regulate their body temperatures the same way we do.  Dogs pant, humans sweat. When dogs pant on a hot day, it does not mean that they need to have their entire hair coat removed. For humans, when we remove layers of clothing, it increases our ability to lose heat via evaporation of moisture.  However, dogs do not have this ability as their coats are insulation, protecting them during hot weather. When natural breeds are shaved or clipped down, their topcoat will be cut shorter than their undercoat, eliminating the animal's natural ability to use their topcoat to protect their skin from weather conditions (snow, rain, excessive heat from the sun, etc.) and from environmental hazards (flies, mosquitoes, fleas, burrs, parasites, dirt, sand, etc.). 

CoatStructure

Post Clipping Alopecia

When natural breeds are shaved, a condition called Post Clipping Alopecia may occur.  This is a condition where hair growth is lacking after the coat has been clipped. It is a medical term coined by veterinarians to identify cases where animals were shaved (either for surgery or grooming) and had a significant delay in growing hair on various sites of the body.  Sometimes hair on natural breeds may not grow back appropriately until 1 to 3 years later or sometimes, hair may never grow back causing permanent failure of coat regrowth.  Once natural breeds have been shaved, their coats are permanently altered where they become more wooly, thick, fuzzy, diluted in colour, softer in texture, and are lacking in guard hairs.

Pomeranian suffering from Post-Clipping Alopecia that had occurred over 1 year ago.

Facts about shaving natural breeds

  • Shaving natural breeds DOES NOT reduce shedding - it only changes the length of the shedding coat.
  • Top coat of natural breeds WILL NOT grow back to its original condition where the hair was lush, rich, and moisture repellent after shaving.
  • Sometimes, the top coat of natural breeds MAY NEVER grow back, causing post clipping alopecia after shaving. 
  • Shaving natural breeds removes the insulation that dogs need to protect their skin and to regulate their body temperatures, putting the dogs at higher risk for sun-burns and heat stroke.
  • Shaving causes stress in some natural breeds, and may even send some into shock when their hair is being removed.

The Verdict?

All of this being said, there may be times where it becomes necessary to spot shave natural breeds.  In surgical or medical situations, a section of the coat must be shaved for veterinarians to have access to the skin underneath or if the undercoat has become so severely pelted that it can not be combed out.  If this is the route your pet needs to take, make sure your veterinarian is the one doing this.

Keep your natural breed dogs' hair well maintained by brushing them weekly so it prevents the coat from matting.  Doing so will eliminate any need for shaving which will help save your pet's skin and coat.  Let nature do what it's intended to for our pets so they can use their natural coats to keep themselves cool and protected from the sun in the summer and warm and dry in the winter.

Is the food you're feeding your pet causing more harm than good?

Michelle Tao

Dogs and cats are carnivores. They are meant to eat a high quality protein diet with high moisture content of about 70%, not the typical 10-15% moisture that we see on dry food (kibble) labels. The high moisture content is necessary to help prevent organ dysfunction, including kidney failure.  This is especially important for cats who do not typically drink as much as dogs, but require high moisture content in their diets.  Pets who are fed a dry food diet are typically found to be in a state of chronic, mild dehydration that can put a lot of stress on their organs. 

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