Groomers have historically been taught to express anal glands as a routine part of the grooming process. As such, many of our clients come in with the expectation that we will express their pet’s anal glands on a regular basis. However, not all dogs should have their anal glands expressed, so we strive to educate our clients on this issue.
First, it’s important to understand how the anal gland is intended to work. When animals excrete fecal matter, the colon expands and the anal gland secretes a liquid with a distinct smell onto the feces. This serves as a biochemical marker for other animals who are able to “read” these anal gland smells. This helps explain our pets’ seemingly incomprehensible interest in fecal matter. When a dog’s anal glands are functioning properly, these anal glands express automatically without need for human intervention.
However, there are instances in which anal glands do not function properly (we encourage our clients to speak with their veterinarian to better understand the reasons for this). In these cases, dogs can often be seen scooting their butt along the ground or repeatedly reaching around trying to lick their hind end. If this problem does not resolve itself, your veterinarian or groomer can express the anal gland to relieve the stress on the gland. However, this should only be done when it’s evident the problem is not resolving itself since repeated human intervention can cause the anal gland to stop functioning on its own.
In summary, most dogs’ anal glands function properly, so we adhere to the rule — “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Having said that, we strongly encourage our clients to be watchful for warning signs and consult with their veterinarian to better understand their dog’s bodily functions.
We decided to compile a list of basic grooming requirements for dogs. Some of these items may be more or less relevant for your pup depending on your dog’s breed and daily activities.
Nails Trimmed: Dogs’ nails are just like peoples’ nails – they don’t stop growing. As they grow, it’s imperative that you get your pups nails trimmed. If you fail to do this, they can curl around and grow back into the pad, creating a painful and uncomfortable experience for your pet.
Most grooming shops and vets will trim your dog’s nails for a small fee ($5 – $20). If you elect to do this yourself, you must be careful not to cut into the quick of your dog’s nail. This is the portion of the nail that is alive, complete with blood and nerve endings. If you cut into the quick, your dog will likely wince, yelp, or exhibit some sign of pain followed by a stream of blood. Needless to say, this is a job left to pet care professionals if you aren’t completely confident in your abilities.
Anal Glands Expressed: Your dog may or may not require this as this is something the canine body should do on its own when your dog defecates. From my personal experience, I’d guess that 30% of dogs have anal glands that do not express on their own. If you’re a pet owner that’s unlucky enough to have a dog with this problem, your dog will usually frequently scoot his/her butt on the ground, turn around trying to lick that area, and generally seem to be in a state of discomfort. Ears Cleaned: All dogs should have their ears cleaned with a cotton swab and ear cleaner. The frequency with which this is required varies greatly by breed. The breeds with droopy ears (cocker spaniels, labs, bloodhounds, etc.) are most prone to ear infections and should have their ears cleaned at least once a week. Dogs with ears that provide plenty of air flow to the ear canal (german shepherds, dobermans, etc.) will require far less upkeep. As you guessed, your groomer and vet will happily give you guidance on this practice.
Teeth Brushed: Dog teeth are just like human teeth – they experience tooth decay. Regular brushing helps extend the life of your dog’s teeth. Although your groomer will likely be willing to brush your dog’s teeth (and provide you with a doggy tooth brush), this is most effective when it’s done on a daily (or at least weekly) basis. Hair Cut: This is obviously unnecessary for many short-haired breeds. However, the increasing popularity of “doodles” (golden doodles, labradoodles, aussie doodles, etc.) has led to in increased demand for the expertise of groomers. For many breeds, it’s absolutely critical that they get regular haircuts to keep them comfortable and to prevent their hair from becoming a mess of tangles and mats. Your local groomer will happily provide you with these services. Bath: We won’t spend much time on this one as its most intuitive. However, keep in mind that you should usually avoid giving your dog a bath more than once every two weeks. Frequent baths can dry out your pup’s skin. Also, give some consideration to the type of shampoo you’re using. Talk to your groomer and/or veterinarian if you see your pup itching excessively as this may be an indication you should switch to a soothing shampoo that is friendly to your pup’s skin.
In the final analysis, the following rule of thumb will help ensure you have a well-groomed pet; consult your local pet services professionals. Your veterinarian and groomer will guide you along the way to ensure you are properly grooming and caring for your pet to ensure you can enjoy a clean, healthy, happy pup.
Is it time to send your precious cat away to a cat boarding facility while you go on vacation? Have no fear. Your guide to finding the perfect accommodations for your pet can be found below in several appropriate pointers.
1. Vaccines – Health and safety should be the first consideration in choosing the proper cat hotel. Any reputable cat boarding facility will require certain vaccinations given that cats can pass diseases between each other in a boarding facility. These vaccines should include FVRCP and rabies. Some facilities may also require a feline leukemia vaccine and this is a relevant vaccine if cats are touching noses or coming into close proximity.
2. Ventilation – When taking a tour of your feline’s potential pet hotel, it’s important to look for ventilation. A small room with many cats is a recipe for disaster. The AVMA has set up clear guidelines for pet boarding facilities and this includes the frequent exchange of air to ensure a constant resupply of clean air.
3. Noise – Cats can become easily stressed by loud sounds and this can result in larger issues such as ulcers or refusal to eat/drink. As such, it’s important to observe the noise level in the cattery. Are dogs barking in the room next door? A quiet cat room will result in a much better cat boarding experience for your pet.
4. Cleanliness – While this may seem like an obvious pointer, this runs deeper than looking for visible dirt since unseen bacteria can be lurking on surfaces. For this reason, it’s important to ask about the pet facility’s cleaning routine and it’s important to look at the material used to construct the cat enclosures. Is it easily cleaned or is it a surface like wood that could harbor bacteria and dirt?
You’re now prepared to find a destination for your cat’s vacation. You’ll be able to enjoy your own vacation knowing your cat is safe and secure in the hands of true professionals.
If you ever find yourself around tech startups, you’ll hear frequent use of the term “disruptive technology.” Forming a disruptive business model is the holy grail for most entrepreneurs as it has the potential for great profitability. Yet, the traditional manner in which we think of disruptive business models is somewhat incomplete. Allow me to take you for a journey as I endeavor to “disrupt” the traditional manner in which we think of disruptive business models.
As a pet industry CEO, I’ve watched the pet food market with great interest and found myself frustrated with an industry that was less interested in the actual quality of their product than the perception of quality. Specifically, this industry has historically focused on product differentiation through clever advertising ploys as opposed to the utilization of quality ingredients. Since most consumers didn’t understand the importance of examining ingredients, the big players in the pet food industry tended to fill these bags of dog food with cheap ingredients (with little nutritional value) and consumers would predictably purchase a bag of dog food if they recognized the brand from a television commercial. As a consequence, the myriad cliché dog food commercials of the past decades emerged and generally included some combination of the following: healthy young dogs bounding onto the screen, a lab or golden retriever (breeds that will eat anything) voraciously eating from a glistening food bowl, smiling healthy owners with pearly white teeth, and chunks of fresh meat falling from the sky.
While the majority of the pet food industry hid beneath the illusion created by ad execs, Blue Buffalo entered the market with a very simple strategy – use quality ingredients in dog food and inform the public of the merits of said ingredients. They broke with the traditional ad exec strategy that preaches the importance of connecting with the consumer on an emotional level and went straight for the jugular with a powerful weapon – truth. Perhaps this strategy wouldn’t have worked prior to the internet revolution, but we now live in a digital age where our access to information grows every day and it’s becoming more and more difficult for businesses with questionable ethics to hide the truth from the consumer. Conversely, this access to information enables and empowers businesses who utilize truth to grow their brand.
Did it work? You bet it worked. Blue Buffalo began grabbing market share from their stodgy old competitors to such an extent that Purina filed a lawsuit and went after them with a full scale PR blitz (I was beyond amused to discover Purina created the website Pet Food Honesty to discredit Blue Buffalo). Undeterred, Blue Buffalo went on to take their stock public and continue their growth trajectory. No matter the outcome of the Purina vs Blue Buffalo court case, the larger lesson we can glean from the Blue Buffalo strategy is that truth isn’t just something companies should exercise because it’s the right thing to do. It can actually be used as a disruptive (and profitable) force when you’re operating within an industry that prefers to hide from the harsh light of the truth.
Dog daycare is gaining in popularity for two primary reasons. 1) Daycare affords energetic dogs with the opportunity to expend energy in a healthy manner which usually makes for a tired and happy pup at the end of the day. 2) Dogs learn “doggie manners” by interacting in a group. This is especially important for young dogs as they learn they can’t simply run up and jump on top of any dog they see.
The benefits are clear, so apart from the obvious monetary cost, what’s the downside? Dogs are not perfectly predictable and it comes as no surprise that the occasional dog fight may transpire at doggy daycare facilities. While good dog daycare facilities have good practices and trained staff in place to minimize these occurrence, the reality is that dogs may sometimes surprise even the most experienced dog handler. Having said that, it’s important that you research prospective dog daycare facilities to ensure they have good dog daycare practices. Is there always a trained staff member present when dogs from separate families are combined? How many dogs are combined into a play group? What’s the ratio of staff to dogs?
Secondly, it’s possible your dog may get some type of sickness from another dog. This is no different than sending your child for daycare and most parents assume the risk their child will occasionally get sick as part of the daycare experience. Some would even argue it’s a natural part of building up a child’s immune system. In this regard, there is a perfect parallel between the child daycare experience and the dog daycare experience. However, there are things a responsible daycare facility will do to minimize such occurrences. This will include separating dogs that are known to be sick and cleaning fecal matter immediately.
Last of all, how often is your pet playing with others? At most daycare facilities, dogs will spend some “alone time” in some type of enclosure. This is understandable. However, the amount of alone time varies greatly by facility. Don’t hesitate to ask your dog daycare facility all these questions to ensure you get exactly what you’re paying for.
In our opinion, the advantages of doggy daycare far outweigh the downside and, as long as you find the right facility, your experience should be a positive one. You can look forward to a tired and happy pup when you get home from a long day at work.
You may have found yourself frustrated after hearing a friend highly recommend a boarding kennel only to find your pup does not do well at that facility. This is not surprising given that dogs are individuals with unique needs and desires. There is no “one size fits all” dog boarding experience and a good facility should have accommodations and activities designed for different types of boarders. In the event you can’t find such a multi-dimensional facility, take time to find the right kennel for your pet. We’ve identified a few different common “boarding types” to get you thinking about what your dog might need.
The Old and the Not-So-Bold – The Situation: It’s no surprise to any of us that our senior pets slow down a lot in their old age and are more interested in sleepy-time than romping play groups. In addition, the extremely timid (many chihuahuas fit this personality type) don’t do well with the boisterous antics of other pups in the kennel. The Solution: A boarding area that provides some privacy from the noise and excitement of neighbors suits this crowd much better. This may mean an enclosure that oozes privacy or an entirely separate boarding room where raucous puppy antics are not permitted.
The Easily Pleased- The Situation: To be quite honest, there is no situation at all. These guys (many labs are like this) thrive almost anywhere. As long as they have their food, water, TLC, and a safe space, they’re all good. The Solution: Love, food, water, and fun.
The Party Animals – The Situation: Many young dogs fall into this category as do many breeds that are built to work. Think shepherds, border collies, pointers, hounds, etc. These guys just need to get out there and have a good time! The Solution (Part 1): Extracurricular activities become very important for this group. The optimal scenario for this crowd is to play with others. If you know your dog plays well with others, find a facility that offers group playtimes and get an idea for the number of playtimes per day as well as average duration of said playtimes. The Solution (Part 2): Your dog does not play well with others? Bummer… but, don’t lose hope! Does your dog love to play fetch, play tug of war with a toy, or simply get out and run? Find the facility that is geared toward the type of activities that suit your pup the best. For example… at one of our facilities, we had a pit bull who loved to play tug-of-war. Yet, our pet care attendants would practically get their arms ripped off by his strength. We ended up attaching a rope and a spring to a tree so he could play till he was exhausted. He was a happy and tired boy upon his return to his enclosure and our staff still had their arms intact. Talk about a win-win!
Don’t assume that the fanciest or cutest facility is best for your dog. Rather, take some time to find the facility that has the flexibility and willingness to work with the unique needs of your pup.
There’s been a seismic shift in the way pets are viewed and treated by the pet industry over the last few decades and the humanization of pets lies at the heart of this sea change. To put it simply, pet owners increasingly view their pets as near-human members of their families deserving of a quality of care that is almost on par with that of human children. We realize that here at Pawville that we’ve also been swept up in this trend as is readily apparent from our village-themed boarding areas complete with “cobblestone streets,” porch lights, and mail boxes.
This pet industry humanization movement has its share of detractors ranging from famous TV personalities such as Cesar Milan to veterinarians. Their concerns are justified because the reality is that dogs are a different species with drastically different wants and needs than their human counterparts, and to make decisions for an entirely different species by saying, ” what would I want if I were a dog” is inherently flawed and illogical.
However, it would be a mistake to completely dismiss this trend. As it turns out, there are indeed instances where dogs and humans want the same things. As an example, humans asking themselves “how would I feel if I were a dog” has led to an ever-increasing and well-deserved stigma regarding tying up the family dog in the back yard.
The key is to invest a little time into understanding dogs’ wants and needs. With our feet firmly planted in this understanding of our canine friends, we can make better decisions for their well-being realizing that their wants and needs may sometimes vary from ours.
For many dogs, a trip to the local pet boarding facility is a treat. Many pups happily jump in the car and drag their owner through the front door of the boarding kennel. If this is your dog, this is not the article for you. This article is intended for you if your dog is a bit more timid and is hesitant to visit a boarding facility.
With human children, we easily make the distinction between wants and needs. We understand that our children should not watch TV for 10 hours/day despite their insistence that this is what they want. Yet, we often fail to make that distinction between wants and needs with our pets and are more likely to give them whatever they want without thinking about their actual needs.
A boarding kennel provides your dog with something they absolutely need in order to have a healthy state of mind – socialization. At your local dog boarding facility, your dog will likely be introduced to people of varying shapes and sizes. These interactions with all types of people help teach your dog that love and affection can come from strangers, By introducing your pup to more people and varied situations, you make them better equipped to handle social interaction and make them less fearful of strange humans.
The same holds true for socialization with other dogs. Fear of other dogs most often comes as a direct result of limited socialization with other dogs. Even if your dog doesn’t get the opportunity to play with other dogs at your pet boarding facility, the exposure to other dogs in their environment will help reduce this fear of other dogs.
Your shy pup may not want to go to a boarding facility but this doesn’t mean that’s what your dog needs. Dogs benefit greatly from being placed in situations in which their fear of the unknown is displaced by the knowledge that strange humans and dogs may not be so threatening after all.