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Joint Support

By Guest Author Barbara Osgood-Hartness, In Clover

Joint disorder is the #1 chronic condition affecting up to 25% of dogs. Yet less than 15% of dogs afflicted with joint disease actually receive care, thus reducing the quality of life for the animal. Injury, repeated stress, excess weight, poor diet, and genetic predisposition can contribute to unhealthy joints. There are effective treatment options available and significant differences among them.

When the Healthy Joint Becomes Unhealthy

In healthy conditions, the natural joint building blocks, cartilage and synovial fluid, reduce friction and act as a shock absorber. The body makes these joint building blocks normally by producing glycosaminoglycans, or GAGs. These GAGs consist of glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate and hyaluronic acid. In the unhealthy joint, production of these joint building blocks is impaired. The animal's body is unable to keep up with demand for building blocks, resulting in irritation, inflammation, pain, and decreased mobility.

Common Signs of Unhealthy Joints

Pet guardians can easily recognize signs of unhealthy joints in their dog or cat. For dogs, one might notice decreased endurance, stiffness following activities, inability to jump into the car or onto furniture, hesitation getting up, difficulty with stairs, and stumbles or “bunny hops”. Cats tend to show signs of joint disorder by reduced grooming, due to pain when twisting or turning. Cat owners may also notice long and overgrown toenails, since scratching hurts the toes and feet. Also, joints may be swollen and seem painful when touched.
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Grooming 101: Fluff drying

July 19, 2010, By Laureen Osborne, N.C.M.G., ARTICLE, GROOMING

One of the reasons your dog looks so great when he comes back from the groomer is because he has most likely been ‘fluff’ dried . Fluff drying is a technique using a dryer and brush together. Instead of letting the coat dry naturally, the groomer aims the dryer’s air flow at a section of hair while brushing at the same time. With a little practice, you can learn to do this technique at home.

Dry like a pro

There are many advantages to fluff drying: the coat will dry quicker using this method, the coat can be straightened (which is important if you plan to use scissors), fluffing with a brush can help remove any remaining mats or undercoat, and fluff drying can improve the appearance of a sparse coat or one that has been clipped short.

Professional dog dryers are the best choice for fluff drying. They provide maximum air volume and most have variable heat controls. Choosing a stand model will allow you hands-free operation. Professional dryers are very powerful and if you decide to use one, you must be careful not to burn your dog’s skin.

The right tools

A professional dog dryer is a costly investment for most pet owners. A human hair dryer can be used instead; clamps are available that attach to the edge of your grooming table to hold the hair dryer. This will give you the use of both hands: one hand to hold your dog, the other to hold the brush.

Choose a soft grooming brush for fluff drying. Your dog’s skin may already be a little irritated from dematting and brushing prior to his bath, so a soft brush is important at this stage of his groom.

Depending on your dog’s coat type, fluff drying will affect the hair in different ways. For example, fluffing a curly coat (like on a Poodle) will cause the hair to increase in volume, and stand away from the body. Fluff drying a wavy coat (like the leg furnishings on an American Cocker Spaniel), will cause the hair to straighten so that it lies flat.

How to

To fluff dry, aim the nozzle of the dryer at the area of coat you wish to dry. Using a light stroke, either lift and straighten the hair or brush in the direction the coat grows. Your groomer can instruct you on the proper technique to use in order to achieve good results for your particular breed.

To practise, put the dryer nozzle a few inches from your forearm. Leave the dryer in place for a few seconds and notice how fast your skin starts to feel hot. Next, move the nozzle quickly back and forth over your forearm. Notice that the dryer feels a lot less hot when it is kept moving. Always remember to keep moving so that you don’t burn your dog’s skin. If your dryer is a stand model or is clamped to the table, keep repositioning your dog and try to work quickly.

Laureen Osborne, N.C.M.G., is the author of three books on dog grooming, including The Pet Owner’s Guide to Dog Grooming available at: larkspurpublications.com.

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Ask Laureen Osborne a grooming question.

This article originally appeared in the July 2010 edition of Dogs in Canada. Subscribe now and never miss an article.

Teaching children to interact safely with puppies

August 11, 2011, By Joan Weston, ARTICLE, BEHAVIOUR

Timmy and ‘Lassie.’ Elroy and ‘Astro.’ Stewie and ‘Brian.’ The kids and dogs folklore is everywhere. It’s enough to make you wonder why the nursery at Saint Petunia’s doesn’t just hand out a free puppy with every baby delivered as part of its incentive program.

Perhaps surprisingly, kids and dogs aren’t always a great match. Parents who have youngsters and then opt to add a puppy understand this all too well after the fact. “I love my kids and ‘Trinity,’ but it’s really hard to do this,” laments one mom, “if I’d realized how much work it was going to be, I’d have definitely waited.”

Keeping puppies safe

While we often worry about our children’s safety around dogs, the puppy may be in more danger than your six year old. Children are impulsive and can be easily frustrated when a dog doesn’t understand or do what they want. They may lash out at the dog in a moment
of anger.

There are some ways that you can safely blend a family with kids and dogs. First, start with realistic expectations. A puppy isn’t going to transform your kid into a responsible adult. While you can expect that you may be able to cajole your child into the occasional feeding, don’t scold him when he doesn’t. He’s the kid; you’re the parent. I wanted a drum set, chickens and a go-cart at different times in my childhood. My parents had the good sense to deny me those things. Berating your child for not taking care of the dog will only cause him to resent the new pup, and damage the relationship that you’re hoping they’ll form.

Breed considerations

Consider getting a medium-sized breed such as an American Cocker Spaniel. While smaller breeds can be fun, they also require more supervision, because children tend to treat them like toys. Kids are more likely to be inappropriate by hugging and carrying a dog that looks like a toy to them.

Another option is to adopt an adult dog that has a proven track record with children. Getting an adult means the children are more likely to treat him like a dog from the start, and he’ll be more used to dealing with kids and their capriciousness.

Provide safe spots

Get a few crates or an exercise pen and leave them around the house. Placed in multiple rooms, they’re a great way for the puppy to be with the family and still be safe when parents are busy. A toddler can easily learn that when the puppy is in its ‘bedroom’ the child cannot go in or stare at them.

We all love our pets, but it’s important to teach children how to show affection safely. The two big No’s are picking up puppies and hugging. Both can result in injuries to the dog. Petting is done with one hand on a dog at a time, not two. This helps to insure that the dog can get away if he feels uncomfortable.

Walking the dog

The minimum age for a child to safely walk a dog alone is 14. Sending an eight year old out to walk a dog is irresponsible; you’re setting both up for disaster. What if your dog pulls away to chase a squirrel across a road, or another dog attacks your dog? Both instances can result in injury or death and a child should not be put in that position.

Kids and dogs can be best friends, but it takes planning and time to ensure that both partners remain safe with each other. Starting on the right foot lays the foundation for a loving animal-human bond that will last a lifetime.

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