Hello Serenity Paws Family!
This is the time to take caution as we begin to see the season heat up and come to an end.
We understand that people love the long locks and fluffy look of their pets. Unfortunately, this can be a burden on their health and comfort.
If it is hot for you, please put yourself in their position and remember it is extra hot for them as well, especially if the coat is long. With a long coat comes extra challenges and difficulties spotting summertime troubles, so we'd like to see everyone opt for a simple short cut that allows your pet to be comfortable.
Aside from the heat, the other culprits that can cause a lot of frustration in caring for your pet’s coat and well-being are:
dead grasses, weeds, and seeds as well as fleas, ticks, chewing lice, and bot flies.
Below is a glance at what we see here at Serenity Paws this time of year.
Matted Coats- Families are typically very busy and during the summer months have less time to be brushing. Vacations, hikes, and boarding stays can all make keeping a long coat thoroughly brushed very difficult.
One very important thing to remember: A long coat on a dog is like wearing a parka, snow boots, a scarf, a hat, and a face covering in 80–90-degree weather. This can be 100% miserable. Furthermore, if the coat is matted the heat can cause a lot of discomfort for them and it can trap sticks, weeds, stickers, insects, and even hide sores. Even in an air-conditioned environment any coat with hair longer than 1/2 an inch is very warm and you must take extra precautions so that your pet does not overheat.
This matted coat looked nice on top, but as you can see it is the ideal environment to hide all kinds of troubles.
Spear Grass- As many of you have experienced and seen our posts on our blog and social media- the spear grass in this area is ruthless! It seems to be all over! This grass will poke into your pet’s coat and then use its spiral tail to embed the seed into your pet’s skin (the tail will usually break off leaving the seed poking into your pet's body). Keeping the coat short so you can see better will help you battle this pesky seed.
‘Goat Heads’ (Puncture Vine)- they start popping up more aggressively during this time in the season (they hang around year-round). This seed will grab on and almost instantly tangle up your pet’s coat. It is super important to brush/cut them out immediately. They are small and can cause a lot of pain if matting starts to get tight to the skin and/or these pesky seeds get embedded between paw pads.
Ticks, fleas, chewing lice, Botflies, hot spots, OH MY!
See your local vet or pick up an over-the-counter medication to fend off these pesky bugs. Check your dog’s coat thoroughly after walks, runs, hikes, play dates with other furry friends, and romps in the park 😊 If you live where you get regular visitors from squirrels, deer, and rabbits or have a lot of brush and woodsy area- be extra vigilant in your snout to tail assessments.
Ticks- They are the largest out of the bloodsuckers. They get larger as they suck the blood. Do a thorough check of your pet, especially after hikes and walks. See your local vet or a Serenity Paws pet hygienist to help with removal and prevention.
Chewing Lice- These are very small. They look like tiny specks of pepper and will cause your pet to be VERY itchy. They do not move as fast as fleas and will likely be stationary most of the time because they latch on and suck blood. They have been mistaken for dandruff and dry skin. Bring your pet in so that a Serenity Paws pet hygienist can help identify and treat them.
Fleas- only slightly bigger than the chewing Lice (see picture above for size) but these little buggers are very fast. They too will make your dog very itchy. Many people do not think we see fleas as much in Colorado Springs, but they definitely ‘frequent’ the area and we see many cases a year. Serenity Paws uses products that work as natural pesticides (such as citrus-based shampoo). Come see us if you think your pet might be bothered by any of these pests.
‘Bot flies’- eww…we know! This can happen and DOES happen to many of our pets during the months of August and September. A fly will land on your pet and lay its larvae - when pets come in with larvae, commonly, owners say they think it is a ‘spider bite’ or a ‘bee sting’. Of course, these are definitely things that can happen, but if there is a large mound with a hole (this is the ‘breathing hole’), chances are your pet has a ‘bot fly’. Your pet hygienist at Serenity Paws can help spot and treat them, but as always, be sure you have a good vet to call. Serenity Paws sees a minimum of 15 cases during the months of August and September- it is common and can happen to ANY pet ANYWHERE there are flies.
Hot Spots- This skin condition is officially called acute moist dermatitis or pyotraumatic dermatitis. It is a bacterial infection that can develop from a scratch, an insect bite, gnawing at an itchy spot, overgrown hair, and/or trapped moisture. They are warm to the touch, can smell bad, have scabbing as well as pus, and usually the area is VERY itchy. Moisture can become trapped by matted fur, a dog collar, or simply thick fur making the environment ideal for a hot spot, so be careful during swimming seasons, rainy seasons, and sprinkler playtime. It is typically a secondary infection caused by some other sort of injury or abrasion to the skin. Hair loss from around the infected area is common and typically a thick scab forms on the site. The regrowth of the hair after healing can sometimes be a different color once healed. Although Serenity Paws can help expose the area to help with the healing process, it is good to call your vet for treatment.
Please keep your doodles, poodles, woodless, etc at a short length in order to help maintain their comfort and health and make it easier for you and our team to keep these nuisances to a minimum. Likewise, keep your Retrievers, Newfoundlands, Shiloh Shepards, Colorado Mountain Dogs etc. with short ‘feathers’ and ‘skirtings’. This allows you/us to be able to watch for seeds, weeds, fleas, bites, hot spots, and bot flies. Then we can treat the problem quicker or prevent it altogether.
*If you still don't want to part with the long locks- please be sure you are grooming at home or with us more frequently. Come ask us questions if you know you have a dog that has fur and it isn't supposed to be cut so we can discuss options.
Knowing the difference between hair and fur:
If you have a dog that does not shed, it has HAIR.
It will grow and grow and grow and needs to be brushed DAILY similar to humans. These dogs tend to need grooming more frequently. Shih-Tzus, Doodles (ALL DOODLES), Portuguese Water Dogs, Maltese, Black Russian Terriers, etc… Please keep them cut short during this time of year as their hair wasn't made to deflect the above-mentioned culprits of summer and tend to be more problematic when long.
If you have a dog that sheds, it has FUR.
This type of coat typically stops growing at a certain length and serves the purpose of regulating body temperature and protecting the skin. German Shepards, Golden Retrievers, Newfoundlands, Labs, Colorado Mountain Dogs, Bernese Mountain Dogs, etc. This coat (fur) is designed to deflect some of these grasses and weeds; however, they can still get caught in the long ‘feathery’ hair on the rear, belly, tail, legs, and pads that tend to grow long. Although you should not be cutting into their body coat, we do recommend taking the ‘feathers’ short to help maintain cleanliness and reduce matting in long areas. If your pet doesn't have the long feathers, please be sure to come in and get the undercoat blown out to help the shedding process during the summer to make sure they stay cool.
Whisky C. showing off his beautifully requested short feather style trim. His family likes to hike, and they know this works best for him and them. Whiskey has FUR so we don’t cut his body hair, we simply tighten up his feathers, keep his pads shaved, and style his mane.
Riggs, showing off his short ears and body with a cute 'up-do'. Riggs has hair. He must be groomed every 4 - 6 weeks. Keeping it short helps to keep the tangles to a minimum.
(If you have trouble keeping ears tangle-free, short ears are always a cute style.)
Both types of coats are different but require just as much maintenance, ESPECIALLY during the hot months.
Let’s normalize short, easily maintainable, and healthy cuts for summertime, they LOVE IT! 😊
As always, come see us and ask us questions about your pet’s coat and what kind of cut and scheduled grooming frequency would work best for your lifestyle and needs.
Regular grooming will help defend your pet against many ailments.
Thank you to our model dogs (and their families for trusting them in our care)
Happy, Whiskey, and Riggs
*Try to do your walks in the early morning or evening hours. Be careful walking and exercising pets during summertime regardless of coat length. Keep them off hot cement because it can burn their feet. :)