Friday, February 14, 2014

So Fresh & So Clean

See that look of concern? He's hoping all doggie parents clean and groom their sweet pets often because he knows how important it is for their health! Actually, he always seems to have that look of concern on his face. He's in the moody teenage years and he gets concerned and moody a lot. Not bad moody. Just concerned moody. For example, he's concerned that we only gave him one bowl of food in the morning and then another one in the evening. He's concerned that we only take him outside four times per day. He's concerned that he only got one treat when he did his down-stay. He's concerned that he isn't allowed in the trash. There are things in that trash that he could use/eat/tear up/sniff/scatter.

For real, though, let's talk grooming. That is everything from eyes and ears to teeth and coat. Paws too. Let's not forget the paws. How often are you brushing your pooches coat and teeth? Each type of dog has different needs so I'm only getting into Barry's needs for his breed and his specific needs.

For pitbull types, such as Barry, it is recommended to brush his coat at least three times per week. Everyday is ideal. We don't brush him everyday - I'd say 4 times per week is what we do. The more you brush them the better, though, as this enables you to go longer between baths. Brushing also helps remove the shed hair from his undercoat and it circulates the natural oils to assist in keeping their coats nice and shiny, and helps keep their skin from getting dried out. Barry likes to be brushed. He sits nicely for it and cranes his neck with delight.

Yeah, that's the spot. Right there. Don't stop.
After we have brushed him thoroughly we either take a lint remover roller all over him or the vacuum. He doesn't mind the vacuum as long as there are treats involved. We put the brush attachment on the hose and get the shed hair off of him. Not only is this process good for his coat and skin, it's good for our furniture too. We use the Kong Zoomgroom. This was recommended to us by an employee at PetSmart. She said it works great for short haired dogs like Barry. So far it's been just fine. We love that it doesn't have any metal bristles or sharp pieces. One day Barry got ahold of it and chewed it a bit. We have about 3/4 of the brush left in one piece and it is still totally usable. So we'll keep using it. Overall a nice and easy to use brush that seems to really do the job well.
So far we've only given him one bath. We will probably only bathe him 3 or 4 times each year. For Barry he doesn't really get dirty, not yet at least. He doesn't have a yard to roll around in or anything like that and being a short haired pittie he isn't very odiferous and stays relatively clean, especially with frequent brushings. Another thing about Barry is that he has sensitive skin. We can't give him frequent baths or he would dry out and be all itchy and scratchy. Even for myself this is true! I shower frequently but I find that the more I shower (like if I work out I have a 2nd shower during the day) the dryer my skin is. It's the same for your dog. We use John Paul Pet Oatmeal Shampoo. It's got a natural scent of sweet almond. It's great for dogs with dry and sensitive skin like Barry. Being that we've only used this once and have never given him another bath, I like the stuff so far. The bottle is large and will probably last us for years to come.

We also wipe him with unscented baby wipes if he gets a splash of muddy snow on his legs, paws or belly. We don't want to leave him with muddy stuff on his sensitive skin. It's a nice alternative to frequent baths as well. I think we probably wipe his legs down about twice per week if we see that he got a little messy outside. The first time we brought Barry to the pet store we bought him these. Each sheet is very tiny - like the size of those shine blotting papers. They are also very thin. we went through that pack fast even though there are 100 wipes in the package. We had to use multiple wipes for each use. I thought they smelled great, though. That was the only thing I liked about them. It was like perfume wipes for Barry and his legs smelled amazing afterwards. Once the pack got low I decided I'd just buy unscented baby wipes from there on out. First of all, the baby wipes are cheaper, bigger, and thicker than those pooch wipes. Second, they are good for use on sensitive skin! Being that they are baby wipes I figured that these would be better for Barry. He never seemed to have any reaction to the other wipes, I just wanted to use something gentler. I picked up a pack of unscented baby wipes, generic brand, 30 pack (big, thick wipes) for $1 at Target. Even if I wanted to get 100 wipes it would still be much cheaper. Just a tip!!

We also brush his teeth!! Yes, this mean pitbull gets his teeth brushed and there hasn't been nary a bite. It is recommended to brush your pooches teeth every day - just as you do. Dog's teeth are similar to human teeth in that they need care just like yours do. Admittedly, we do not brush his teeth everyday. Every few days is about the schedule we're on now.

We use these finger brushes for best control. Also they were relatively cheap. We didn't know how well Barry would do when we started brushing his teeth but he does really well. He lays still and seems to kind of enjoy it. Maybe it's the meat flavored tooth paste.

The toothpaste works fine. It doesn't actually do anything to freshen Barry's dog breath but it makes the process better for Barry. I'm sure in the end it's all about the brushing action and less about the toothpaste itself. As long as his teeth and gums can stay healthy I'm not going to worry about his bad breath.

For his paws and nails it's good to keep them clean too. When he goes outside in the cold we always use Pawz rubber booties. He gets the large size and each bootie lasts four days to a week. They are a little tricky to put on but once you've got the hang of it you can pop those suckers on pretty quickly. The booties not only help keep his feet clean but help keep out the snow and ice which can slip in between his paws and cause a lot of discomfort. The biggest reason for us using these is that the snow/ice melt salt that is used on the sidewalks and streets is awful for doggie paws. It can cut into their pads making them bleed and crack. It's just all around bad for them as the stuff is like acid even on the thick skin of their pads.

Here is Barry sporting his Pawz booties. The large size only comes in
purple but he's secure in his masculinity and the color doesn't bother him.
When it gets warmer we'll have the pleasure of just taking him outside without putting all this stuff on him! Those booties are awesome but it's just another step in the process that is already a long one. When that time comes (how I long for warmer weather) we'll start using Musher's Secret. We have a container of the stuff now and have used it a few times but for the winter we feel like nothing compares to the pawz booties. When it's nice out and there isn't any snow or ice to speak of the Musher's Secret will help protect his pads from getting cracked and raw on the cement sidewalks. I've heard people rave about the stuff and since Barry's a city dog he gets more walks on sidewalks than your typical suburban/country dog. In fact it's pretty much just all sidewalk. There will be the occasional park but there are certainly more sidewalks than parks. We will strive for parks and trails and many breaks from the city, not just for Barry's sake but for ours, as much as possible. It may seem silly to use this stuff for their pads but if you have a city dog that walks on hot, hard cement multiple times each day you'll understand.

Now as for his nails. Those nails. The torture Barry has put them through. Eeesh. When we first brought Barry home his nails were quite long. Not unhealthy long, but longer than they should have been. He was in the shelter for about two months and his nails grew. If you recall, he had taken issue with being left at home alone, being put in a crate, being placed in the bathroom, and being left at Grandma's alone. Each instance damaged his nails. From scratching at the door too much, to digging his way out of the crate, to eating/digging the wall in the bathroom, and finally to scratching and pounding Grandma's door until the eye hook latch came undone. Every one of those occurrences damaged his nails to the point of bleeding and cracked nails with exposed quick. We took care of him by cleaning his paws in warm soapy water with a few drops of tea tree oil. Then using a cleaning spray that also helped ease pain, putting Bag Balm over his exposed quicks and wrapping his paws. The wrap never stayed - no matter what method we used. He would expertly get the wraps off - no matter what material or method we used. In the end we just had to keep his nails clean so there would be no infection and put ointment on the exposed areas to keep out bacteria. His nails healed up quickly each time.

Now they are growing back in but the quick is so long (seen in the picture above) that we'll have to wait to trim them. Typically, you won't need to trim your dog's nails at all if they are getting adequately walked. The walking on hard surfaces files them down eliminating the need for you to trim. I do, however, understand there are different circumstances for each pooch and pooch parent. For example, during the winter months we'll need to trim his nails as he'll be wearing the Pawz booties outdoors and that won't allow his nails to get nicely filed down. I imagine by next winter we'll have to start the trimming process. For now, though, he's done quite the job getting his nails far too short than they ever should have been so it will be a while before any trimming is needed and by that time he'll be walking around on cement sidewalks.

For his ears it's good to just take a look inside to make sure there isn't any build up or dirt anywhere. So far his ears are super clean. Nice and pink and shiny inside. If there is building up taking a damp towel or washcloth and wiping out should be just fine. Also, when bathing him it is recommended to put cotton balls in his ears so that no water gets in. Pitties are supposedly prone to ear infections so water will just make that worse. I have noticed that he probably has allergies of some sort. His eyes water a little and can be red (just slightly) and when we go outside in the frozen tundra this seems to exasperate the watering eyes. He will do the doggie body shake (because it's fareeeezing outside) and that water from his eyes just flies all over and gets on his face. I always wipe this off for him once we're inside. I also check him frequently throughout the day and wipe his eye boogers off.

Cleanliness is next to dogliness!

Another tip I have for your animals is to use Bag Balm on their wounds. The stuff is thick and while it's not the germ fighting ointment you would use on your cuts it still works as a good barrier from bacteria getting in. It helps soften and cover the wound when a bandaid can't be used. We have used bag balm on the tip of Barry's tail when he was afflicted with 'Happy Tail' and on the tips of his ears. Everywhere we've used Bag Balm he has healed up very nicely. We're pretty sure it's because he's a particularly healthy dog and because the Bag Balm was able to cover his sores allowing them to heal up quickly.

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