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First Aid: Is your up to scratch?

For many of us our dog is our most loyal companion. Period.

As dog owners we’re fully responsible for our dogs well-being, however, many owners would struggle to help their dog in an accident or emergency. Just like us, our dogs are susceptive to serious health conditions like strokes, poisoning, heart attacks, broken bones or organ failure and the question is… would you know what to do?

It’s very important to know how to deal with situations like this, so taking a first aid course should be at the top of your list of things to do.

Since moving to the UK I’ve taken numerous first aid courses. As a dog groomer and a boarding kennel owner, I have to take a pet and human first aid course every 3 years. Have I ever had to apply what I learnt? Thankfully, only to manage small incidents, like minor bleedings.

I came a cross a lovely lady named Sophie Bell about a year ago. Sophie is a vet and she also teaches animal first aid courses. When I spoke to Sophie at the BIGA grooming competition in December, we had a little chat about her courses and it went something like this 🙂.

Jitka: Tell us something about yourself and the courses you offer.

Sophie: I’ve been a vet for 10 years. I work mainly in emergency and critical care but also have a love for all things natural too. My courses cover a lot of in-depth information and help pet owners as well as pet professionals.

We talk about health conditions such as diarrhoea and kennel cough and some home remedies that can really help. We look at how to clinically examine your dog and what subtle signs to look for when they’re in pain. There is a practical bandaging element and a chance to try CPR on my state-of-the-art manikin. We discuss different approaches to neutering, vaccinating and deworming and the options available to you. Then we cover the major emergencies such as gastric torsion, pyometra, seizures and ingestion of toxins – how to spot early signs and what you can do. There’s a section on wounds, bleeding and shock and traumatic incidences such as a road traffic accidents. There is an awful lot of information but everyone finds it very useful and they feel empowered once they’ve completed it.

Jitka: You also do a very popular online course?

Sophie: I offer an online version of the course which makes the courses more accessible. It is video based so very visual with a chance for you to test your knowledge and print notes to form your own handbook. Being prepared and understanding your pet is vital to ensure your don’t miss major issues, also being better equipped with information means you can chat to your vet and potentially save on a vet visit if they deem it unnecessary

Jitka: We’re talking mainly about dogs. But what about other small pets?

Sophie: The course focuses on dogs but there is a mention of cats and other small furries. The cat version of the course is being released next year alongside other pet related health courses.


Jitka: As a vet do you see many cases where a dog owner could help his/ her dogs but because of a lack of first aid couldn’t?

Sophie: I see a number of cases where I wish owners had taken a course as they could have saved their pet. One common problem is when pets have a fit. People are unaware of the protocol they should follow to safeguard their pets life.

One huge issue is the heat a pet generates during a seizure. Owners are unaware of this and fail to cool their pet down which can lead to multi-organ failure especially brain damage. That’s why everyone should take these courses as you never know when a pet may fall ill.


I’m happy to report that Sophie is coming to Vita Canis Style to Rescue on the 26th April 2020, as one of our speakers. 

If you don’t want to wait, check Sophie’s online courses here.

Jitka xx  

Tips how to talk to your groomer and get what you’re after.

Does your fur-baby ever come back from the salon looking nothing like you expected? Are you sure you communicated properly with the groomer?

Below are some tips on how to talk to your groomer and get what you’re after 🙂.

I’ve been in the dog grooming industry for over 20 years now and even though I’ve retired, I’m still very much involved. I rent my salon to 3 very talented ladies, do seminars, teach one on one and exhibit my products at grooming shows. On top of this I, of course, still trim my own dogs. Am I the only one who feels that they can’t keep up with how fast their dog’s hair grows 🙈?!

Over the years while talking to other groomers, it’s always the same stories that come up no matter what country you live in… the same misunderstandings and the same requirements and frustrations.

At this time of the year dog groomers are under a lot of pressure because everybody wants their furry friend to be smart for the festive season. They work tirelessly, for many long hours and some have no days off. Been there, done that… not anymore.

To make everybody’s life easier, clear communication is key while also remembering that good communication is a two-way street.

Your dog groomer should ask you open-ended (instead of yes/no) questions about your dog and the style you require. Follow these open-ended questions with more direct questions because this can help ensure that you and your groomer understand each other clearly.

After examining the coat, your groomer will ask you what length of coat you would like (assuming that the dog is well brushed).

“ Short but not too short”

Not a clear answer. Short is anything between 3mm to 2”.  Sometimes it’s hard to imagine the exact length so your groomer may show you the blades and comb attachments to help you to choose.

“ Don’t make him look like a poodle.”

Fellow groomers hear this sentence far too often from crossbreeds owners. This is sometimes very difficult, especially if your cockapoo, shnoodle or labradoodle has a very curly coat like one of his parents or grandparents… the poodle. Yes, the face and feet don’t have to be shaved but the coat on the body and legs will look like a poodle. Also, with age, the coat usually gets more curly and there is nothing anyone can do about.

Life is too short not to fretting over things that cannot be changed. We need to learn to adjust your expectations and change our outlook. Then we don’t waste moments that could have been great ones.

“The last groomer shaved him.”

If you take your dog to a reputable and caring groomer and he/she shaves your dog, there is usually a reason for that. This reason is most likely, a matted coat.

Matting refers to densely tangled clumps of fur in a pet’s coat. If a coat is not properly and/or frequently brushed, loose and live hair become embedded in large masses. Some coat types also matt easier and quicker than others. Harsh coats don’t matt as easily as the wool coats of a poodle or bichon, or the mix wool coat of a cockapoo and doodle.

There are two main reasons your groomer will suggest clipping:

1) If your dog won’t tolerate de-matting it’s the only sensible thing to do. De-matting solid knots is not only painful (imagine you have dreadlocks and you try to brush them out) but it also damages the coat.

2) If the coat is solidly matted and it looks like felting. This results in it being impossible to penetrate the coat with water, shampoo and conditioner.
 
After all this, the good news is that the coat will grow back and while it’s growing you can systematically brush and comb you dog. Check my blog on how to look after different types of coats.

Is brushing your dog stressing you and your dog out? Why not try Calming Floral Spray. Many groomers use it in their salon with great results. I frequently use it on our puppies when teaching them to be brushed, bathed and trimmed and it really does work!

“I want him to look like the dog in this picture”.

Another common requirement that can cause lot of misunderstanding. When we buy a certain breed we all want it to look a certain way and there’s nothing wrong with that. What we don’t realise (me included, years ago) is how much work is involved in creating this definite look. Let’s take a wirehaired Fox terrier for example… neat and tight jacket, fluffy and snow-white legs, rich red/brown and even richer black markings with a crispy beard and short sharp eyebrows, creating the typical expression for long legged terriers. When we see a photo like this we need to realise that there’s hours and hours of hard work that people put into this.

These dogs will be coat stripped weekly (the technique is called rolling), sometimes even twice a week. They’ll have regular bathing and conditioning of the furnishing and will be hand stripped as well. It also has to be accepted that the dog will be stripped bald once or twice a year. This is a very short and simple description about what is required for a show terrier and I’m not even going to start on the different styles for poodles and other breeds and their coat maintenance!

If you’re not showing and you don’t want to put that much effort into the whole process, then you have to compromise.

This is where clear communication between you (as a dog owner) and your groomer is important. Your groomer should happily show you how to brush and comb and what shampoo and conditioner to use and how often etc. They should also offer bathing in between haircuts and tidying up but then it’s your responsibility to do your bit in between too. The more effort you put into your dog’s coat maintenance, the more likely your groomer will be able to create the style you always wanted for your dog.

“To effectively communicate, we must realise that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others”.

Anthony Robbins

Jitka xx

5 TOP possible reasons your dog is itchy.

Is your dog’s skin itchy and you just can’t figure out why?

Here are 5 TOP possible reasons!

1. External parasites

When our dog starts scratching the first thing we’re advised to do is to check for external parasites…. especially fleas. 
 
Flea bites can make a dog uncomfortable and itchy and they can also bring about other problems.

  • Dogs can be hypersensitive to flea saliva causing an allergic reaction.
  • Flea larvae can be infected with tapeworm eggs and if your dog eats an infected flea he can become a host to this parasite. As a result, if your pet has fleas you should treat him for worms.
  • Fleas only suck blood from their hosts as adults. A flea can live from between 14 days to one year and a female can lay up to 50 eggs in one day – that’s 1,500 in a lifetime!
  • It’s estimated that 95 percent of flea eggs, larvae and pupae live in the environment (dog beds, carpet, the gaps in flooring) and not actually on your dog.

Regular use of Vita Canis Insect Repelling Citrus Spray repels fleas and stops them from becoming a problem! 

Environmental allergies could one of the reason why your dog is itchy.

2. Environmental allergies

An allergy is an abnormal response to something in the environment and this substance is called an allergen. It’s very common in people and it’s no different for dogs. People, dogs and other animals that are allergic need only come into contact with very small amounts of the allergen to cause the reaction and the symptoms.

Skin problems in dogs are commonly caused by allergic inhalant dermatitis (hay fever, atopy). While humans have mast cells in the respiratory passages that become inflamed and cause sneezing, dogs inhale the pollen but develop atopy in the skin. Dogs don’t usually sneeze with atopy, most just become itchy which causes them to lick, chew and scratch.

When your dog suffers with inhalant allergies it’s impossible to avoid the allergens as the pollen is pretty much everywhere, even though surprisingly, only about 1% of the total weight of a pollen contains the allergic portion! This doesn’t sound too bad, however when you consider that the ragweed plant can produce 1 billion pollen grains and most pollens and moulds can travel 30 miles in the wind that makes it pretty impossible to avoid them.*

I created Vita Canis Skin Relief to help dogs suffering from environmental allergies and to help them deal with the symptoms. Give it a try!

Skin Relief is a 100% natural treatment for dogs suffering from the discomfort of itchy skin. It provides fast relief for allergic reactions, combats itching, and helps break the frustrating cycle of itching and scratching. A synergetic blend of essential oils, hydrosols and soothing calendula oil, supports the skin’s healing process too.

3. Anal glands

Anal glands are small glands on either side a of dog’s anal opening. They produce a particularly thick, smelly, oily liquid secreted by glandular tissue for identification and territory marking. This is the reason dogs smell each others bottoms when they meet and greet. Did you know that?

Domestic dogs and cats have mostly lost their ability to empty these glands voluntarily.  Passing normal firm stools puts a pressure on the rectum walls to empty the glands and to some degree, help to lubricate the anal opening in the process, making it easier for a dog to poo. Dog’s anal glands may spontaneously empty just by walking around, especially under stress, creating a very sudden and very unpleasant change in his odour 🙈.

Anal glands fill for a few reasons but most commonly when the dog’s stools are soft (after a few days of diarrhoea), so there is not enough pressure to empty the glands. Whenever they fail to empty properly there’s a chance of becoming impacted (firmly pressed) or even worse, infected, which is then a very painful condition and requires urgent veterinary treatment. This results in pain, increased swelling and, sometimes, even abscesses and fever.

If the anal glands don’t empty, they become swollen, but it’s not painful.  It does, however, cause discomfort for the dog so he will try to lick his back end, nibble the base of his tail or scratch. 

Years ago, one of my dogs, Blondie, would scratch her ears when her anal glands where full. I have no idea why, but I believe everything is connected.
 

If you see your dog nibbling his back end or tail or dragging his bottom on a floor… have his anal glands checked by a veterinarian. You can also ask your dog groomer to check the glands on your regular visits. Have a look at my blog about this here.

4. Ear problems

If there is no foreign body present in the ear and you wish to use a totally natural treatment, time to try Vita Canis Ear Cleaner! Have you tried it yet?

Problems with ears can cause a lot of discomfort to our dogs and once they start scratching it causes a vicious cycle of scratching, skin irritation and then scratching even more. Ear infections in dogs are most commonly caused by a range of factors, including bacteria, yeast, ear mites, excessive hair, moisture or wax, foreign bodies and allergies. Because the ear canal in dogs is mostly vertical (unlike the human ear canal, which is horizontal), it’s easy for debris and moisture to be retained in the canal itself leading to problems.

If your dog shows sudden signs of:

Ear pain, inflammation of the ear flap (redness), ear odour, discharge, continual head shaking or drooping of the ear, please have your veterinarian check it out. There may be an infection or it could even be that a foreign body is present causing the infection.

Methods of transmission of infection include direct penetration from the external environment, overgrowth of microflora in the ear itself, perhaps due to stress, hot weather or other factors such as immunosuppression or injury, for example.

If there is no foreign body present in the ear and you wish to use a totally natural treatment, time to try Vita Canis Ear Cleaner! Have you tried it yet?


5. Tight muscles

This is one I’ve observed in my dogs as well as other dogs in the salon. I’ve witnessed dogs scratching for no particular or visible reason but when I’ve touched the area the muscles underneath felt tight and the area warm. But why does this make them scratch? I think the reason is that the muscle tightness causes discomfort and it’s the dogs way of trying to soothe himself, much like we touch our shoulder, or elbow, or other area when it hurts…  a dog is trying to do the same.

In cases like this I would gently massage this spot, using a technique called effleurage.

Effleurage is a massage technique that involves a series of long, smooth, rhythmic strokes over the skin, using either the fingertips or the palms. This movement is usually repeated a few times over the area. It stimulates the blood flow, relaxes muscle fibres, reduces muscle tension and stimulate nerves in the tissues. I would then apply Skin Relief, because it not only provides relief from allergic reactions and combats itching. The peppermint in the Skin Relief also has analgesic properties thereby relieving muscle pain and joint pain.

So there you have it! My TOP 5 reasons as to why your dog could have itchy skin!

I hope it’s been of some help ❤︎

Jitka xx

* Ackerman, L., D.V.M. ; Skin and haircoat problems in dogs ; Alpine Publications, 1994

Keep Calm and Keep Showing

Are you into dog showing?

I’m not as much as I used to be, mainly because it’s very time consuming. It’s hard to find time to travel around the country, pretty much every weekend, while having so much going on. I do miss it occasionally though, I must admit.

There are two shows I’ve never missed since moving to the UK, namely Crufts and National Terrier

Crufts is advertised as the world’s greatest celebration of dogs. Next year you’ll find it at NEC in Birmingham on the 5th – 8th March and it will host over an amazing 27,000 dogs from across the world! The show will be broadcast on Channel 4 and live streamed on the Crufts’ YouTube channel.

🥇 What can you see at Crufts?

Loads of show rings (lol obviously). Somehow, it feels a bit different than any other show. Perhaps it’s the green carpet, the light and the vibe that create the unique buzz.

Discover Dogs.

You can also see many other dog activities like agility, flyball and dancing and you can visit Discover Dogs, where each breed has their own stand to promote their breed. This is the perfect place to get to know the breed you are looking to buy or it can even help you decide what breed to get if you have no clue. If you just want to walk around and stroke and cuddle dogs all day long, and talk to likeminded people, you can even do that. How awesome is that?!

Stands.

Let’s not forget the stands… there are loads and loads of them with everything you can think of. Don’t worry if you forget your coat, scarf or trainers because you can even find those there amongst all the doggy stuff!

I’m over the moon because I managed to get a stand at this prestigious show and since I received the confirmation my mind keeps jumping between excitement and freaking out slightly 😊.

National Terrier.

National Terrier is the other show I’ve never missed. It’s usually on the first Saturday (or Sunday) in April, held at the Staffordshire Show Ground in Stafford. The National Terrier Club was registered with the Kennel Club in 1903 and is the premier Terrier Club in the United Kingdom. National Terrier is referred to by terrier people as Crufts for terriers and I think wining Best In Show at this show is a dream for every terrier exhibitor.

🥇 What does a “show dog” actually mean?

According to Wikipedia, a show dog might refer to any dog entered into a dog show. More specifically, a show dog is a dog which has been specially bred, trained, and/or groomed to conform to the specifications of dog shows, so as to have a chance of winning. The purpose of showing a dog is to evaluate breeding stock.


🥇 What is Dog Showing?

Dog showing or exhibiting is an exciting competitive activity where dogs compete against each other for prizes or awards. It’s a competition where a dog’s attributes and confirmation are compared against a breed standard for its breed. Whilst it can often be taken very seriously, it can be a fun pursuit that people and their dogs thoroughly enjoy. Dog shows are held all over the country, and to find a show within your area, check the Find a Dog Show website.

To pick a show puppy from a litter is not an easy task. It takes years of experience with a breed to see a potential start of a show ring in an eight-week-old puppy.

I asked John what he looks for when choosing a potential show dog. His answer was that a show dog has to have the right attitude and needs to enjoy the whole process, as well as a little bit of exhibitionism. It’s important to remember that show dogs are not machines. They work in harmony with their handler but they also have their good days and bad days just like us.

Ch. Saredon Enigma aka Alan

When Alan (CH Saredon Enigma, Group Winner at Crufts 2017) was a puppy, he and his sister Tinker Bell suffered from motion sickness. Thankfully at that time I was already making my products, so Calming Floral Spray came to the rescue. We sprayed the bedding before we put the pups in the car and then sprayed the back of the car too. It didn’t take many attempts to notice the improvement.

I’m glad we did it and eventually his motion sickness was cured. He lives in Malta now and travels around Europe, winning whatever he can! Thank God and thanks Calming Floral Spray!

Are you showing at Crufts neat year? Or just visiting?

Come and see us in Hall 3. We have some great surprises in line for you too!!

Jitka xx

Winter Paws

The temperature has dropped in the last few days and I can feel it while writing this blog.

I’m not complaining though because at least it’s still sunny, and crispy morning walks are definitely more pleasant than daily mud baths 😂. In the countryside, I welcome dry and icy days because the dogs come back from their walks relatively clean.

Salt and grit and paws.

Back when I used to live in town and took my dogs for their winter walks the roads were quite icy. I was always concerned, with there being no grit on the road, that I was going to fall. The other worry was that if there was salt on the roads and pavements, that it would irritate my dogs’ paws. 

You see, when the temperature drops below 0 °C water freezes into ice, making the pavements and roads slippery and dangerous.

The salt and grit that are spread on the roads make the roads safer, there’s no doubt about that.

Why salt?

The reason salt is used is that when it dissolves in water it lowers the waters freezing point. As a result, the water remains a liquid even at temperatures below 0 °C. This process doesn’t work, however, when the ice is already completely solid as salt can obviously only dissolve in a liquid.

Road salt is made from rock salt that is derived from underground mines and then crushed. The rock salt is treated with an anti-caking agent (preventing the formation of lumps and making it easier to pack and transport) for optimal effectiveness. Did you know that although rock salt is coarser than table salt it’s still made from sodium chloride? By the way…have you used road salt (sometimes even table salt) at the front of your doors in winter when the temperature drops? 

Pause and think of paws.

With all this in mind, how would you feel walking with your bare feet that have a few cracks on your heals on salty (never mind cold) roads? Why is it any different when it comes to our dogs?

Small, delicate doggies, such as the Chihuahua and other toy breeds, are known for their sensitive paws. Just the same, lean dogs, like Greyhounds, Whippets, and similar breeds are also more likely to have sensitive paws.

On the other hand, dogs like Alaskan Malamutes, Siberian Huskies, Spitz like dogs and Pastoral breeds have paws that are hardier and more ‘outdoorsy’. Although this is true we should still keep an eye on their paws too.

Ouch!

If you’ve ever had cracked skin on your hands, you know how it feels if you have to wash dishes, do housework or bath your dog. Even worse is if you’re a dog groomer where the constant dryness and cracks become very uncomfortable and even painful 🙈. Now imagine putting salt on your cracked hand… OUCH! The reason why it stings is that the salt dissolves which causes the fluid surrounding the damaged tissue to become extremely hypertonic (meaning that the concentration of salt and other electrolytes is higher than it is in normal body fluids). Pain detecting neurons have their receptors in the tissue and they respond to the stimulus i.e. the hypertonic fluid surrounding the damaged tissue.

Our dogs can suffer from the same problem on their paws just as we can suffer from sore, dry cracks on our hands or feet.

By using Vita Canis Paw Butter, which is deeply moisturising and nourishing, you’ll help to create a barrier on your dog’s paws. This semi-solid whipped butter with essential oils is formulated for dry cracked paws, noses and elbows. 100% natural, vegan and cruelty-free, Vita Canis Paw Butter has a pleasant earthy aroma, is lick-safe and contains no synthetic ingredients and fragrances. 

Irritating chemicals.

It’s not only the salt that bothers our dogs’ feet though. The various chemicals and sand that’s added to the salt, providing us with more friction for our boots and cars, contribute as well. These chemicals act as skin irritants and can cause dryness thereby irritating the skin in between their pads. And if this isn’t enough, if your dog takes to licking his paws after walks on this surface he can digest the ice-melting chemicals which can be toxic 😱! 

Wash, wipe & check.

You can see why it’s very important to wash or wipe your dog’s feet as soon as you get home from a walk to remove the salt and other chemicals from your dog’s paws as soon as possible. Do this before he has a chance to lick them! 

After a thorough wash, check your dog’s paws and pads for cracks, minor cuts, and even small particles of salt or gravel stuck in his hair or in between his pads. If you find any scratches or scrapes an application of Vita Canis Soothing Antiseptic Spray can help.

Soothing Antiseptic Spray is an antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal and antiseptic treatment that provides relief from scratches, minor wounds, and hot spots. It has a regenerative effect on damaged skin, doesn’t sting and is safe for sensitive and allergy-prone skin. 

Enjoy!

Although this might all sound scary please don’t let it deter you from walking your dog and enjoying the time together. Come rain, sun, snow or ice your furry friend will appreciate your attention and the exercise… whatever the weather.

Jitka xx

What People Say...

Used you’re Calming Floral  Spray yesterday was so impressed with it . I had a dog in my salon that has dryer seizures and gets anxious. I sprayed it around her and was remarkable the difference in her behaviour. It actually worked so well I had to check dog was okay she was very relaxed snoozing I’ve tried other remedy’s with no real effect shall be sticking with your calming spray from now on 😍
Lisa Addison