Foxtails are here, your pet’s enemy!

Foxtails, I hate them.  It’s that time again and weekly, I picked out 4 infected foxtails out of the armpits of a dog being groomed with mats making the matters worse.  This will be a part of my daily work until end of October so here it goes….

They are a weed that looks like a bushy tail and when dry or brittle can enter your pet’s body like a fish hook that can cause a world of problems on short and long hair breeds.  It goes into the skin, spines can break.  In fact, there are barbs on the barbs.
Once these things get started in, they can embed firmly and don’t come out very easily.

If you have a medium to long hair dog, combing and brushing after EVERY outing at dog parks, hikes, yards, etc is helpful.   Check in and around pets ears, eyes, between toes and pads, underarms, everywhere.  Early detection can help you prevent an infection or abcess.
Unfortunately this is a problem until Fall.




Last year,  about 5 dogs a week in the my grooming world had foxtails, only to return with the same scenario on the next visit with explanations of how they went on hikes or  dog parks yet didn’t remove them.  This is routine for a groomer and we’re there to help.

The barbs can initially be caught on the fur or hair then later that night when you pet is rolling in its bed cause the barb to get closer to its body or enter the skin.  They can travel within the body and in severe cases have been known to hit vital organs or even death in very extreme cases.

Last year, I personally know of three short haired dogs who had to go to Berkeley ER in the same week

One up the nostril with symptoms of constant sneezing and pawing at nose.  Simply from sniffing near a cluster of them caused this $$$ vet bill.

One in the eye, hidden in the eyelid with symptoms pawing at eyes

One in the ear straight heading near the eardrum  with constant head shaking like getting water out of the ear.

Beetle had swallowed some last year and a trip to the vet with anesthesia, probed down the throat and no trace of evidence.  $300 bill.   The symptoms were wretching, hacking, can’t swallow, and vomiting.  I also have to pull them out of my indoor/outdoor cat’s fur, thank god he’s black for easy detection.

I am so not looking forward to this for my pets after a horrible time last year.

Like a cactus, keep them away as much as possible or be informed how to keep your pet be safe and pain free.

Clipper Alopecia

I worked on a dog two days ago who had clipper alopecia.  A border collie mix who got shaved  by their old groomer for the heat and now the hair isn’t growing back.  The owner was shocked that the no one told her about the possibility of it not growing back nor the fact that it had exposed her dog to more heat being bald with no protection from the sun.  Now her dog’s black hair is growing back grey and in patches.


This does happen when a dog with a double coat gets shaved such as pomeranians, huskies, border collies, australian shepards, chows, among other breeds or mixes that have top and undercoats .   It may never grow back the same in texture, thickness,  in patches and peach fuzz like.  I plan to get some before and after pictures and for now I will post a helpful link to explain more in detail.

Here is a Pomeranian that gets shaved constantly.  The top coat is no longer growing just patches of the undercoat. Original black color is changing to a brown color.

Below: Chow mix after being shaved for years

Tear stains & mouth stains? What can I do?

Unfortunately there are many many factors that cause tear stains.  Everything from minerals in water, excessive tearing, genetics, health, diet, fleas, allergies, blocked tear ducts and the list goes on.  Most people can try to get a professional opinion from their vet or try different things to rule out.  A premium food with no fillers, corn, dyes including treats is an option.  Most recently I have seen great results with Angel Eyes, a supplement used with food.   Two maltese I groomed had the worst stains and after this product, no more stains with their next visit.   The other product is Eye Envy, the only downfall is applying a solution then apply a paste two or three times a day which most owners  do really well for the first week and then cut back over due to busy schedules.  Through the years, groomers have tried many over the counter topical eye stain removers with little to no results.  On the Angel Eyes Website, there are over 23 pages of success stories.  You can get this product at most pet stores  but keep in mind it may work for some not for others.

Always check with your vet before using Angel Eyes due to an antibiotic in the ingredients.   Prolong use of antibiotics could cause a resistance to antibiotics in need of a medical issue.

A newer non-antibiotic eye stain remover formula is called Tear Stain Supplement by Vet Classics.  It’s also a powder supplement given as needed or until stains are gone.   I found this widely on the web on different sites as well as Ebay and was referred this product by one of my clients given to them by their vet with good results.  Another similar product can be found at PetFoodExpress called Naturvet Tear Stain which has mix reviews working for some and not for others.

I don’t want to vaccinate my dog

Through the years, I’ve met many people who have chose  not to vaccinate their dog from illness to never going outside.  Whatever the reason is know that there are options out there if you plan to use boarding, grooming or put your pet in a populated area.

There are many reasons why many people are staying away from vaccines these days with lots of theories available on the internet.  It’s debated greatly.

The truth is that any reputable place will accept either vaccination paperwork or a titer test.   A “titer” is a measurement of how much antibody to a certain virus (or other antigen) is circulating in the blood at that moment. Titers are usually expressed in a ratio, which is how many times they could dilute the blood until they couldn’t find antibodies anymore.  You may need to call different vet’s to see who offers them.

Keep in mind that a Bordetella (Kennel Cough) vaccine may not cover  many strains and mutations of the virus which may be why your pet may have gotten KC regardless of  being vaccinated.  It happened to us.  I did all the protocols  and he still got KC when he had a 3 day stay at his vet for a stomach issue.  After lots of searching, I realized there was nothing I could have done differently since the variety of strains were not phased by the vaccine.

In the end, decide with your vet which is the best option for your pet and know that if you chose not to vaccinate that the option of a titer is available for those that use daycare, boarding, grooming among other pet related issues.

The dangers of cage drying

Cage drying has gotten negative attention in the news about pets being heated to death.  What a horrible thought, I cannot imagine my little Beet being in a heated cage to the point of death.

The truth is that not all cage dryers are bad, some use the air in the room and directs it into the cage, never using any heating elements.  It’s similar to a  fan in front of the kennel to help the drying process to get your pet dry and back in your arms as soon as possible, all with room temperature air.  These are helpful with dogs that have seizures, elderly pets, or puppies scared of loud noises like the fluff or force dryer.

Have you ever put your head out of a car window on the freeway and find it difficult to breathe.  This is similar to the  process of  cage dryers in front of a narrowed nostril pet who are also sensitive to these type of dryers.

Heating Element Cage Dryers

The other cage dryers that have heating elements are to be watched under strict supervision and some even have timers that go off after 15 minutes.  These are not to be used with any short nosed or trachea problematic breeds.  Leaving a pet unattended for long amounts of time can cause death.  In the circles of groomer’s message boards I participate in, I’ve noticed many groomers are definitely not using these like in the past, now that non-heating cage dryers are available.

Dogs that are sensitive to cage dryers are brachphalic breeds and or stenotic nares ( narrowed nostrils):

Affenpincher, Brussels Griffon, Bostons, Chichuahua, Yorkie, Frenchies, Bulldogs, Boxers, Shih Tzu’s,  Toy and Mini Poodles, Cavaliers, Pugs, Persian Cats and other breathing challenged pets.

HEAT STRESS – Because of all these upper respiratory obstructions, the brachycephalic dog is an inefficient panter. A dog with a more conventional face and throat is able to pass air quickly over the tongue through panting. Saliva evaporates from the tongue as air is passed across and the blood circulating through the tongue is efficiently cooled and circulated back to the rest of the body.

In the brachycephalic dog, so much extra work is required to move the same amount of air that the airways become inflamed and swollen. This leads to a more severe obstruction, distress, and further over-heating.

For myself,  I use a fluff or force dryer after the bath then proceed with the haircut.    I have met many responsible groomers who use non heating cage dryers with the strict safety standards with close monitoring and continue to be incident free.

If its not safe, I’m not using it, period.  When I work on any person’s beloved pet, this is who I am reminded of.  My own dog.