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What are anal glands? Do you express them?Anal glands are oval-shaped sacs located on either side of the anus. These glands produce a fluid with a strong odor (fishy/metallic) unique to each dog, which is used as a scent marker. This fluid is excreted when pressure is placed on the gland during a bowel movement. Sometimes a dog may involuntary excrete fluid when they are scared or stressed. If your dog has leaky anal glands, it may be a sign that you dog needs diet changes. Specifically, a diet that is higher in fiber. No, we do not express anal glands. The proper way to safely express anal glands is done internally and considered a medical procedure, which therefore needs to be done by a veterinarian. By expressing externally, which is legally the only way a groomer can express anal glands, is very risky and can cause more harm than good, especially if there is an underlying internal issue that we cannot see. If you have concerns about your dog's anal glands, we can inspect them and give you our recommendation if a vet visit is necessary. This is a perfect situation of "if it isn't broken, don't fix it." The dog should be able to express the glands themselves. If there is a concern, then you should contact your veterinarian.
Do you pluck hair out of the ears?It really depends on the amount of hair in the ears. If there is an excessive amount of hair, we will pluck what is needed to allow proper air flow, but we try to leave some hair in the ears. The hair is there for a reason: to keep debris out of the ears. If you pluck all of the hair, it is more prone to infections. Also, when you pluck the hair, it leaves open pores, which is a favorable breeding ground for bacteria, which again can lead to infections. If an infection is currently present, we will avoid plucking anything until the infection has cleared up, because plucking can lead to further irritation. When cleaning the ears, we will trim any long ear hair to avoid matting from occurring in the ear canal.
What is matting? How do you address matting on my dog?Matting is a condition that occurs when a dog's hair becomes tangled and knotted. Matting will typically occur against the skin, and is usually worse on longer coats, dirty coats, and combined coats. Doodles are a perfect example of a breed that has a combined coat, which is a coat that is mixed with two different coat types (the long, curly coat of the poodle, and the flat, wavy double coat of the golden retriever.) Many times, we hear that the owner is brushing the dog at home, but what's actually happening is that the owner is only brushing the outer layer of coat, and isn't fully getting down to the skin, which is where the matting occurs. To avoid this, a technique called line brushing, with the use of a metal tooth comb with teeth long enough to reach the skin is the best way to ensure that all tangles are out of the coat. The most common areas for matting to occur are the high-friction areas, or areas where the coat has a tendency to rub against itself. This usually occurs behind the ears, in the armpits, tail, belly, and joint areas. Also, matting is more likely to occur under any collars, harnesses, or sweaters. Another point to make is that matting tends to happen when the coat gets wet. To avoid this, it is best to make sure that your dog is fully brushed out before giving them baths or allowing them to swim in bodies of water. If matting is already present, the matting has a tendency to get tighter after getting wet and drying. What can you do with my matted pet? It really depends on the severity of the matting. If the severity is minor, we might be able to brush out matting during your dog's appointment. If you agree to us de-matting your dog, we do charge $60/hour for this service, because it is a process that requires time and patience to remove matts without causing much pain to the dog. In severe cases where shaving is the only option, there could be an added fee if it takes more time to carefully shave under tight matting. In most cases, it is best to shave under the matt to reduce the pain involved in the process, and since matting typically occurs at the skin, the hair will need to be shaved quite short, but never fear, the hair will grow back! Why does matting hurt? Matting alone inflicts pain on the dog, because it is pulling on the hair and therefore pulling on the follicle. For the folks out there with long hair, I compare this feeling to when you've worn a ponytail in your hair for an extended period of time, and once the ponytail is removed the scalp can feel tender. This same concept is involved with matting, and then to add pulling on the matt to try to get it out, can be extremely painful. Depending on the severity, matting can cause skin irritations, bruising, and restrictions in blood flow. Severe cases can lead to hematomas or even the need for amputations. This is why groomers will often opt for shaving, because our goal is to build a level of trust with your dog and to create a positive relationship with your dog. Inflicting pain in this way can lead to a break in trust which will make grooming your dog in the future more difficult. How can I brush out my dog's current matting? There are tools that can be used to split and remove matts, but this can be a tedious and painful process. A detangling/conditioning spray should always be used if you plan on taking the time to brush out matts. The spray will help to coat and lubricate the hair shaft to make it easier to separate. The first thing that you are going to want to do is to cut through the matt with a matt splitter or scissors. PLEASE, EXERCISE EXTREME CAUTION! Failure to do this properly could result in cutting your dog's skin. Next you are going to want to use de-matting rake to separate the matt even more, followed up by a slicker brush and finally a metal tooth comb to ensure that everything is removed. Line brushing is another technique to ensure that you are brushing everything down to the skin. If you want a better understanding about proper tools and techniques, we would be happy to discuss this with you!
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