Sunday, June 12, 2011

Pet First Aid

Have you ever considered what you would do in an pet emergency? Have you ever had a circumstance where your dog was injured, choking, or ill and you didn’t know what to do? A veterinarian is your pet’s best chance for survival or treatment, but how do you keep the dog alive or comfortable until you can get to the vet? We all love our pets, but is there ever a situation where it isn’t safe to interfere or assist?

As a dog groomer and pet owner, I highly recommend taking a Pet First Aid course. I have certified in Pet First Aid several times, and now hold a American Red Cross Pet First Aid certificate. I have rarely had to use the skills I learned, but I have been grateful for the training when I needed it. For example, two of my dogs have choked, and required immediate assistance or they would no longer be with us. A neighbour’s dog was hit by a car and was badly injured.

A Pet First Aid course can take anywhere from 4 to 12 hours, usually on a weekend. A Google search for your city will yield class providers and dates. Groomers can also usually attend certification classes at most of the major trade shows. It is a small amount of time to spend on something that could have a profound result for your family. Ask your pet caregivers, the sitters, walkers, trainers and groomers, if they have taken a Pet First Aid course.

I have also purchased a terrific resource for home and travel. It is an app for your phone or tablet that contains nearly all of the information you would need in a pet emergency and includes excellent videos on how to perform the techniques. For the minimal cost of $3.00 you can have your reference textbook on hand at all times. Find it at:

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Drying at Home

I was just chatting with a client today about the gorgeous weather and I mentioned that I finally put away all of the winter coats on Sunday. I would normally feel embarrassed that I had left this little task until June but we have had such bizarre weather this spring that I truly feel I was justified in leaving the parkas in easy reach.

Now however, we are well into the start of summer. Many lucky souls have begun enjoying their pools and sharing the joy with their canine companions. Cottage season has begun, and the dogs are dock diving. Many more folks who would not normally consider bathing their dog in the cooler weather break out the hose and kiddie pool and give it a go in the backyard. Naturally, all of this results in a wet dog, otherwise known as the  friendliest creature on the planet.

It may be that you are a free spirit and the prospect of a soaking wet dog doesn’t trouble you in the least. True, physics is a wonderful thing and a dog can shake a great deal of the water off of its fur but, depending on the type of coat your pet possesses, it can take many hours or even days for the dog to dry completely to the skin. This can be problematic for some breeds, leading to itchiness, hot spots, and bacterial or yeasty, smelly skin infections. It is important to note that matts that are allowed to wet and dry undisturbed also become even tighter and more difficult to remove.

You can speed the drying process by using an absorbent cloth or towel to remove as much water from the coat as possible. I like to use chamois cloths to soak up the water, squeezing them through the fur rather than rubbing. A particularly good type of chamois style cloth is called The Absorber. When the cloth is saturated, wring it out and keep sponging. You will be amazed at how much moisture is removed. I always follow up with a traditional towel dry because I think it is the part of grooming that all dogs enjoy the most. Many dogs love it if I lay the towel out flat and allow them to rub and roll themselves along it. For this reason I usually have two towels, one under the dog and one for towelling off. If you are reluctant to use your good linens on Rover, check out Value Village or the Salvation Army stores for used towels. They might be 70’s chique, but your dogs won’t care.

Air and towel drying is best suited for smooth or short coated dogs. All other coats will require a little mechanical aid to dry properly. A hand-held human hair dryer can be used on many smaller dogs, but you must be extremely careful with the heat settings. Most of those dryers are TOO HOT and I have seen the results of what one careless owner did to their poor dog with a hot hair dryer directed too long in one spot. Use one with a “Cool” button, and use an elastic to hold the button down if your hand gets tired. Keep one hand on the dog beside where you are drying, and do not stay too long in one spot. There can really be no excuse for burning your dog.

If you have a larger, hairier dog, it is possible that your pet will still be damp from its last swim by the time it goes for the next one. If you want to avoid the notorious “Wet Dog Smell” (which is caused by bacteria on the skin, among other things), I would recommend first rinsing your dog after it swims in a pond, lake, or chlorinated swimming pool. If your dog is crate trained, one excellent drying method is to use a large box fan in front of the crate to dry your dog with the volume of air. With a wire crate you could place several fans around and on top of the crate. Simple plastic fans are inexpensive, fairly quiet, and safe, but you should make certain that the cords are out of reach and that your dog is never left alone. Never, ever use a heater or heated dryer for this purpose. My favourite fan to use for this is actually a carpet dryer, used for when you have a flood.

If you are short on time and really need to speed up the drying process, consider using a high-velocity dryer. These dryers “blast” the water off the coat with the force of the air speed. They tend to be a bit noisy but have the advantage of drying the dog right down at the skin. You will need to be careful around the eyes, ears, genitals and backside of the dog. There are reasonably priced high velocity dryers for sale at most big box pet stores. You might also check your shop vacuum to see if it has a blower function. You can use that just as well, but make sure there is no debris in the hose or it will blow out onto your dog.

High velocity dryers can be used on any dog, but your dog may need a gentle introduction to the experience. Use patience and bribery, but be assured that it really isn’t a big deal. My dogs don’t seem worried about it at all.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Make a List of Your Emergency Veterinary Clinics

Do you know where the closest emergency veterinary clinics are in your area? It is a good idea to have a list and keep it handy rather than having to come up with the information when you are panicked. Our regular veterinarian is available seven days a week and also has an emergency pager number, but that is exceptional. Animal emergencies always seem to occur at three o’clock in the morning. We also called all of our emergency vets when we lost our dog Cleo in case she had been injured and brought in by a Good Samaritan (actually, we called everyone but the emerg vets were in the top 10). Here is a list for my area:

Vet Emergency Clinic: NORTH CLINIC
280 Sheppard Ave. East
Toronto, ON M2N 3B1
Tel.: (416)226-3663
Fax: (416)226-3696

Vet Emergency Clinic: SOUTH CLINIC
920 Yonge St. Suite 117
Toronto, ON M4W 3C7
Tel.: (416) 920-2002
Fax: (416) 920-6185

Toronto Veterinary Emergency Hospital
21 Rolark Dr, Scarborough, ON M1R 3B1
Phone: 416-247-VETS (8387)
Fax: 416-287-3642
Toll Free: 1-888-593-7068

Kingston Road Animal Hospital - On Call Emergencies &
Toronto South Emergency Animal Hospital
1025 Kingston Road
Toronto, ON M4E 1T4
Tel: 416-690-0625
Phone: 647-393-VETS (8387)
Fax: 416-351-1272

Mississauga-Oakville Veterinary Emergency Hospital
2285 Bristol Circle, Oakville, Ontario
L6H 6P8
Tel: (905) 829-9444
Fax: (905) 829-9646

Veterinary Emergency Clinic of York Region
1210 Journeys End Circle
Newmarket, Ontario L3Y 8Z6
Phone: 905-953-5351
Fax: 905-953-4136

Vaughan-Richmond Hill Veterinary Emergency Clinic
10303 Yonge Street,
Richmond Hill, Ontario L4C 3B9
905-884-1 VEC
Fax: 905-884-9979

Animal Emergency Clinic Of Durham Region
1910 Dundas St E, Whitby, ON L1N 2L6