Pet Advice: Deciding on a Groomer

Perceptive Cat Diagnoses Cancer in Calgary Man's Lungs
By KATIE SCHNEIDER, Edmonton Sun Media

This was no ordinary CAT scan.

But it potentially saved Lionel Adams’ life.

Now recovering from surgery to remove cancer from his lung, Adams, 59, is crediting his eight-year-old feline friend Tiger for alerting him and his family doctor to a mass in his lung.

“He would climb into bed and take his paw and drag it down my left side — he was adamant there was something there,” he said. “And it was right where the cancer was.”

Adams, who has suffered from bronchitis, asthma and emphysema, had showed no symptoms of lung cancer before his kitty’s bizarre examination.

But about seven months ago, after mentioning the cat’s strange behaviour to his family doctor, he was referred to a specialist who caught the disease at stage one in his left lung.

“They did an X-ray, they spotted something on the left side,” he said.

To get rid of the cancer, doctors removed a piece of his lung about the size of a Coke can that had been shredded in half. And now Adams is heralding Tiger as a hero for potentially saving his life.

“I think if he hadn’t done the pawing part it could have gone on for another five, six months undetected,” he said. “I feel like it could have been a lot worse if the cat hadn’t had tuned us in to something there, to something he felt was wrong.

“I would say he’s my hero.”

Barbara Walmer, department head of behaviour at the Calgary Humane Society, said though studies reveal dogs are capable of sniffing out cancer and predicting types of seizures in their owners, other pets like cats have been reported to act in similar ways.

She said cats have a good sense of smell and can be tuned in to illnesses in humans because they are sensitive to subtle changes in their body language.

“If they spend a lot of time with you they learn a whole lot about you, your body language,” she said. “When things change because of illness they pick up on it, so whether it’s they know if it is cancer or something is changed, we don’t know.”

Either way, Tiger should be credited for potentially saving his owner’s life, Walmer said.

“Especially with the way it started and how it ended up unfolding … they really would have not found out if the can’t didn’t act,” she said.

And that’s saying a lot for a cat that has never been one for showing affection. “He’s never had that much to do with me except to come over for a pet,” Adams said, with a laugh.

Kirby: Cats Train Humans to Open Doors
By Robert Kirby - Salt Lake Tribune

Anyone who has ever been owned by a cat knows it's almost impossible to reason with one. Cats see humans as a necessary evil. The people who live in my cat's house are nothing more than automatic door openers. Bob Valdez speaks several languages fluently, but all I ever hear him say is, "Hey, fat guy! Open the door."

Unfortunately, Valdez rarely wants to go out in the daytime. Mostly he wants to go out after 2 a.m., when police patrols are thin and he can murder with impunity.

My wife has surrendered completely. When Valdez starts scratching the carpet, she staggers out of bed and opens the door. Ditto when he wants back in an hour later.

Don't bother with the advice. We tried a cat door. Once. I nailed it shut when I got up to eat some Cap'n Crunch one night and found the neighbor's wiener dog in our kitchen.

Valdez has all the amenities -- food, water, litter box, toys, satellite TV with the Playboy channel -- so it's not as if he's suffering by having to stay inside. It's just that he has my wife trained.

Yesterday, Irene announced she was through taking care of my cat. Every time Valdez woke her up, she was going to wake me up.

The problem is that my wife hates confrontation with anything other than me. If Valdez makes her get out of bed, she won't make Valdez pay for it. I will.

Because Valdez feels the same way about dog slobber that vampires feel about holy water, last night I filled a spray bottle with murky water from the dogs' dish. If it was war he wanted, it would be to the death.

Sure enough, at 2:17 a.m., my wife kicked me. Valdez was scratching the carpet. I grabbed the spray bottle and blasted him twice. He tore off down the hall cursing.

He was back at 2:41. This time I got up and chased him into the front room, where I shot him again behind the sofa. He bashed out of there, knocking over a plant.

At 3:20, the scratching woke me up again. Valdez bolted down the hall before I could get a bead on him.

He returned at 4:14 and found me waiting for him. This time I followed him downstairs and got him a good one as he hurtled into the basement, knocking family pictures off the wall.

I found him under the pool table and let him have it. From there, the fight spilled into the storage room, where I managed in the nick of time to get between him and the gun safe. I wasn't sure whether he had the combination.

We broke some Christmas ornaments, and I slashed my toe. Valdez popped up from behind some food storage and spoke in cat tongues. He was soaking wet by this point, but I got him again.

After bandaging my toe, I got back to bed around 6:30. The wife got me up a half-hour later to clean dog slobber off the walls.

If Bob comes back tonight, he'd better be wearing a raincoat.

Robert Kirby can be reached at

Why We Love Cats and Dogs
Written by: Christine Le - The Celebrity Cafe

PBS explores this amazing relationship.

Whether or not you love cats and/or dogs, you may have watched the PBS show titled, “Why We Love Cats and Dogs.”

The episode, part of the television network's Nature series, aired on Feb. 15. Unlike Nature's usual documentaries, this episode focused on the relationship between humans and animals, instead of on the animals in their natural habitats.

“I don't have a pet and never have, and I have no desire to,” said Fred Kaufman, 17-year veteran executive producer of PBS's Nature. But he said he was fascinated by the close relationships many people have with their pets, according to

So what exactly makes us adore these canines and felines? According to the L.A. Times, unconditional love plays a role. The documentary stated that these animals provide endless opportunities for kisses, cuddles, laughter, and slobber, delighting humans anytime during the day.

Other people in the documentary explained that their pets helped them cope during times of sickness, loss, and helped them to mature, reported the New York Times.

There were also scientific standpoints. According to, evolutionary biologist and professor emeritus at the Univ. of Colorado, Marc Bekoff, brought up the notion of “mirror neurons.” This concept suggests that shared emotions and empathy biologically connect humans to their four-legged companions.

“So little is actually known about [our relationship with our pets] and yet millions and millions of us have it,” said animal behaviorist Sarah Wilson, who also appeared on the show. “It amazes me that there is hardly any research on it.”

A commonly unknown fact is that we can eliminate cats’ behavioral problems. Faculty member of Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Nicolas Dodman, explained that this can be done by engaging the cat in training and agility exercises.

Interspersing the scientific commentary were pet owners’ personal stories about their cats and dogs. One of the stories was of a dog named Jerry — a victim of canine cancer with three amputated legs. His owners sold their home and business to travel across the country with him in their RV. It was how they wanted Jerry to spend his last few months of life.

“That is very moving, and many people can relate to a pet who is coming to the end of their lives,” Kaufman said of Jerry's story, according to

Other commentary shared by pet owners included a man who said his dog had taught him how to love. “I never thought I would get that from a dog,” he said, reported the New York Times.

A blogger on, Tracey Clark, summed it all up in one sentence. “The connections we make and the relationships we forge with these animals — regardless of species — are meaningful and important and real; part logic, part magic, but totally undeniable.”

The True Look of 'Sadness'....

Thanks to Kathy from Bhc, Az

Pet Detectives to the Rescue
by Sharon Seltzer, Pet Rescue Examiner

Now the Heaven Can Wait Sanctuary is helping him find a new home.The anguish of realizing that your pet is missing from his safe home and lost out in the world by himself is probably one of the worst feelings a pet owner can have. Frantic owners are typically left to search for their beloved four-legged family member by themselves with few resources available to them.

But one group of animal lovers in Southern Florida decided to help people during this time of crisis and united together to form the Pet Detective Club. They are dedicated to tracking down every missing pet in their area. And during their first year, the group of volunteers reunited 45 cats and dogs with their families.

The Pet Detective Club was organized by 22-year-old Melissa Pimentel who is a regular volunteer at the local animal shelter. She was saddened to see the large number of lost pets that are picked up by animal control and sent to the shelter. When she learned that the vast majority of those cats and dogs never go back home again, she decided to step in on their behalf and help.

Pimentel and other club members spend their free time trying to match “lost pet” ads and flyers with animals turned into the shelter. They also research internet postings, track down leads and scour neighborhoods.

Pimentel told Pet Pulse News that one reunion happened after a grey Schnauzer arrived at the shelter. The dog’s fur was matted and she looked like she had been on the streets for awhile, but the little dog still had on a pink collar. Pimentel poured over ads and internet listings until she found a picture of a much healthier Schnauzer wearing the identical collar. She called the owner arrived at the shelter in record time.

Pimentel said this of the reunion, “I'm not kidding you, I've never seen a dog do back flips, but she did back flips because she was so excited. And it was a family with little kids and they were ecstatic."

Other communities have also witnessed the addition of pet detectives. Karin TarQwyn of Bristow, OK has solved 1,500 cases in the past four years. She is a licensed private detective who uses the help of her own dogs to track down missing pets. She told that she is currently looking for a Dachshund named Dazzle who dug a hole under her fence and has been missing for a month. TarQwyn has been close on Dazzle’s trail, but so far the dog has eluded her.

Pet detectives are desperately needed. Police do not have the time to look for missing pets. And many owners do not know how to find their furry friends. Pet detectives learn to think like a cat or dog and are familiar with the resources in the area.

Save 5% on Pet Supplies Orders Over $75

10 Ways to Save Money on Your Pet's Health
by Lauren Brown, NY Pet Health Examiner

Saving money is on everyone’s mind these days. While we can cut back on that cup of Starbucks or a new pair of shoes, we can’t stop providing for our pets. On average a dog costs $1,200 per year and a cat costs around $800. I’d argue those figures are even higher for many people who indulge in specialty pet boutique offerings like custom beds and sweaters.

While pet food and cat litter remain fixed expenses, there are steps that you can take to reduce the amount of money that you spend on your pet’s health. By planning ahead you can lower the chances of having to pay costly veterinary bills. Making prevention your goal will not only save you money but it will also keep your pet happier and healthier.

Infectious diseases are on the rise and veterinarians have found that vaccinations are an effective way of protecting your pet. Discuss with your vet which vaccinations he feels are necessary as well as the frequency with which future vaccinations need to be administered. Necessary vaccinations depend on your pets’ lifestyle, how often he’s indoors, exposure to other animals, and are not uniform for all pets. More easily transmittable and potentially fatal diseases are part of core vaccines. For dogs they usually include: distemper, adenovirus, parvovirus and rabies. Cats receive panleukopenia, calicivirus and herpesvirus, and rabies as part of their core vaccines. Lyme disease and kennel cough are two non-core vaccines that can be given to your dog depending on his lifestyle.

Heartworm protection.
Heartworm occurs when a mosquito bites an animal that has been infected, gets the worm larvae in its blood and then goes on to bite a healthy animal. While this disease is more common in dogs than cats, it is extremely debilitating and can be fatal if left untreated. There are a number of heartworm medicines in the form of pills, injections and topical liquids. Talk to your vet about the best course of action for your pet. The disease is curable in dogs, but unfortunately is not in cats yet. By preventing worms from infecting your pet you can avoid expensive x-rays, bloodwork, and injections that are necessary to treat heartworm.

Dental care.
Just like you, your pet’s mouth needs to be kept clean every day. Oral care is extremely important in your pet. Infected gums and tartar can lead to more serious infections throughout the body. Invest in specially formulated toothpaste for your pet in addition to a diet that promotes good dental health. There are also gels and rinses that can be used to aid the cleaning process. Look in the pet store for chew toys that rid your dog’s teeth of plaque build-up. Make it a point at your next visit to the vet to ask about dental care so that you are equipped to do it at home. That way you can prevent expensive and painful extractions and infections down the line.

Exercise and diet.
Like humans, cats and dogs are also experiencing an epidemic of obesity. In 2007, the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention found that 43% of dogs and 53% of cats were overweight. Also like us, increased weight leads to heart disease, diabetes and a number of other ailments. While it’s easy to show our pets love by giving them an extra treat, think twice before you do. A fat pet is most likely unhappy and unhealthy. With regular exercise and a well rounded diet, you can prevent weight-related illnesses and give your animal a better quality of life.

Pet insurance.
While you may have trouble securing your own insurance, pet insurance has become increasingly popular. By paying a small monthly fee, pet owners can get coverage for costly procedures, medications and visits to the vet. There are a variety of different plans out there so do some research to find one that’s right for you. Many plans have premiums and co-pays, and may have restrictions for particular breeds or require that you go to a certain veterinarian. With greater technology in veterinary medicine also comes at higher costs. Insurance is a practical way to pay for all of the treatments that your pet may require in the future.

Wellness exams.
Do not forgo the yearly exam for your pet if you want to save some money and you think your pal is healthy. Animals age more rapidly than humans and often do not outwardly show signs of illness. Use the visit to ask questions about the latest in treatments, nutrition and dental health so that you are in the know. Many illnesses are treatable if caught early on, so save yourself and your pet the pain and suffering and make that trip to the doctor.

All pets should be spayed or neutered when they are young; however, it’s never too late to have the procedure done if your pet has not been fixed. Having this done not only prevents unwanted pregnancies in your pet but it also ensures a great chance of reproductive health. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 50% of all breast tumors in dogs and greater than 85% of all breast tumors in cats are malignant. Spaying your pet greatly reduces the chances of mammary gland cancer and other illnesses that afflict the reproductive system.

Prevent accidents.
Whether ridding your house of poisonous plants or foods that are harmful to animals, take the time to make your home pet-friendly. Also, think about new items that are brought in on a daily basis. Don’t leave your medications or cleaning products lying around. Be cognizant of open doors and broken fences to prevent runaways and car accidents. Use baby gates to keep animals off of new furniture or a light colored rug. Move vases and antiques out of reach. While you can’t avert all disasters you can minimize the risks by preparing a safe environment for your animal companion.

Know your pet.
Be familiar with your breed and your specific pet. If you know that your pet is prone to joint problems, discuss with your vet ways to prevent or delay the onset of arthritis. There may be a particular diet or certain medicines that will help your pet live without pain and prevent a more serious and costly illness in the future. Think about your pet’s routines. If you can tell that certain times of year or certain behaviors are typical when you pet is unwell, take action before the ailment is full-blown.

Give love.
An enjoyable and easy way to nurture the health and well being of your pet is through love and attention. A pet that is loved is more likely to be well behaved and less destructive. The more time you spend with your pet, the more easily you can determine if something is wrong with his health. Taking your dog to the park or giving your cat an extra cuddle is also free!!

Are You Passing on Stress to Your Pet?
By Val Cole, Vancouver Sun

Dogs and cats take notice of changes in your mood or behaviour

Has the economy got you worried? If so, have you noticed that your pet isn't himself these days, either?

While dogs, cats and other household pets don't follow the stock market or care about plummeting real-estate values, they pick up on everything you're feeling; if you're anxious, they will be. In fact, it's been said that the more intelligent the animal, the more psychological stress it will experience -- anyone who owns a border collie can attest to that!

Most pets thrive on routine and predictability. Not only do changes in your behaviour signal danger, any variation in food, location, schedule or the number of people or pets in the house can upset their balance and make them feel out of sorts. Obviously, not being able to understand what's happening around them can be very frightening.

Birds are excellent barometers of the energy you're exuding. If you're acting differently, they might start doing strange things with their food like constantly pecking at it and dropping it. Birds also express stress by pulling out feathers, making more noise than usual or, conversely, sitting completely still for long periods. Some signs that your dog is stressed include: licking/chewing legs or paws, hair loss, yawning, diarrhea, panting, scratching, trembling and even sneezing. Also watch for unusual snapping or growling and noticeable differences in activity level (no interest in play at one extreme or hyperactivity at the other). Loss of appetite for food or treats is a dead giveaway -- as are sudden accidents in the house -- that your little guy is feeling a bit panicky.

You'll know your cat is picking up on your nervousness if she seems restless (literally climbing the curtains) or starts marking furniture with urine or feces. Hair loss is also common in times of stress, as well as excessive howling. It's important to become aware of the signs of stress in your pet because studies have shown that, just like with humans, long-term stress leads to illness. As the stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol) are released into the system on a regular basis, the immune system shuts down and the risk for cardiovascular disease significantly increases.

Besides monitoring your own behaviour to minimize how much stress you're passing on and making sure that your pets get enough mental and physical stimulation, there are some wonderfully simple ways to ease your pet's anxiety. Pheromone products like Comfort Zone for cats and Comfort Zone with D.A.P. (Dog Appeasing Pheromone) for dogs are extremely helpful because they mimic happy, soothing pheromones that the animals produce themselves. You can buy spray versions (great for the kennel for the trip to the vet) and plug-in diffusers that can treat the whole room for a month at a time. If your favourite pet store doesn't carry them, you can order them online from

Other natural products include Rescue remedy and Bach Flower Remedies. These plant essences are added to their water and can help to take the edge off.

Pet-Sitting Business Booms
By Rudabeh Shahbazi -

RICHLAND-- The economy has brought a constant stream of bad news. People are losing jobs and entire industries are going under.

But it's not all doom and gloom. People in the pet-sitting business are sitting pretty.

Veronica Alford-McGlothan took matters into her own hands, leaving the corporate world behind to start a pet-sitting business.

She says it's recession-proof. She's getting so much business, she's expanding Nanny Canine to Spokane.

"Fortunately, it's working really well with the economy," she said. "People are still traveling, they travel when parents and children are sick, and they need someone right at the last minute to take care of their babies."

She says she's seen a big trend in sick animals who need extra care. She gives them medications and takes them to the doctor, as well as running a pet taxi service and doing pet errands.

Helping Kids Deal With the Loss of a Pet
by Lisa Dunn-Dern, LA Children's Lifestyle Examiner

This morning, our dogs went to the veterinarian to get their booster shots. While we were waiting in the reception area, a family with young children came in to say good bye to their very ill dog who was going to be euthanized later today.

Saying farewell to a love one is one of the most difficult things any of us will ever go through.
To help small children cope with the loss of a pet, here are some tips.

Acknowledge your child's feelings. Whether your child is devastated or calm, validate what ever they are feeling.

Prepare for a disruption in your child's life. If your child was in charge of feeding your pet, remember there will be a sad void during that time of the day. You may notice some insecurity after losing the unconditional friendship a pet can provide. Accept that your child will need a few days to get use to their new schedule.

Reminisce about good times with the pet. Allowing your child to reflect in a positive manner about the pet will provide more closure.

Hold a mock funeral in your backyard. Allow your child to guide the ceremony. The mock funeral will also give your child more closure. I think fish should also be buried. It just feels so disrespectful to flush them down the toilet.

Even if you plan to get another pet in the future, donate your pets bowl, crate, or any toys to a local animal shelter. Bring your child with you to donate the items to show your child how your old pet can still “help others".

The passing of time heals all wounds. Allow your child to mourn for a few days before redirecting your child's attention to something else.

Don't try to replace your pet right away. It gives the message that life is cheap.
Your child will probably not be able to fully accept or appreciate the replacement so soon after the loss. After some time has passed, start introducing the idea of a new pet to your child.

These three children's picture books about the death of a pet will help comfort to 3-12-year-old children and their families.

1. Good-bye, Mousie by Robie H. Harris

2. Dog Heaven by Cynthia Rylant

3. Cat Heaven by Cynthia Rylant

There are also pet sympathy cards, small memorial plaques with the pets paw print embedded, or my favorite, memorial coins, available at
which have heartfelt messages engraved on them. Placed one in your child's pocket to remind them that their pet will always be in their heart.

Deal of the Week 120x60
AmeriMark Direct is a leading direct marketer of women's apparel, shoes, name-brand cosmetics, fragrances, jewelry, watches, accessories, and health-related merchandise.

Double-Checking for Dog Safety
Aleah Mahan - cjonline

We had always thought our backyard was both dog friendly and dog safe. However, Pepper's laceration injury last Sunday created a "must" to take a dog's-eye view of our backyard.

We were surprised to find potential dog-injury objects:

--Latch on gate from porch to backyard - removed for the time being until we can find a safe alternative.
--Bolt-ends on our deck, in any area we felt they could ever be bumped in - now sawed off and smoothed.
--Two areas on our wood fence that over the years, has dried and caused a sharp section to pop out - only visible by slowly walking the fence line - to be removed and the area sanded.

Two sharp corners on our porch deck - next to the entrance of porch to yard. These corners, while taller than our dogs, could be "bumped" into if they were leaping while playing - which are now smoothed and rounded.
Two sections of our "guest" doggie kennel had two very small "twisties" of chain link to hold them to the anchors - which we replaced with smooth clamps.
Two screws which hold a section of plastic lattice over an area on the bottom of our deck, had worked their way out a bit - now rescrewed back in.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so check out the places your pet spends its time for any potential hazzards.

Care Center Tells Patient Cat Has to Go
By Kathy Antoniotti - Beacon Journal staff writer

New administrators say feline not allowed; agency says it's therapy for woman with multiple sclerosis

Seven years ago, Johanna Shapiro faced two unpleasant realities over which she had little control.

Battling progressive multiple sclerosis that began when she was 29, the mother of two was forced to move out of her New Jersey home and relocate to an assisted living facility. But before the move, Shapiro was also forced to part with her two Siamese cats. The care center had a no-pets policy.

A year later, Shapiro, who is now 56 and severely disabled, moved to the Windsong Care Center in Copley Township to be closer to family members.

The family chose Windsong because it was home to two resident cats and Johanna, whose nickname is Ansje, loved felines.

''This is a wonderful facility. This in Ansje's home,'' said Shapiro's sister, Leisje Grob of Coventry Township.

Shortly after Shapiro's arrival, she formed a bond with a male gray and white cat named Snoopy which had been adopted by the center four years before her arrival.

Snoopy, who now calls Shapiro's room home, faces eviction. New administrators at the facility say the 10-year-old feline has to go.

''He adopted me,'' Shapiro said of Snoopy.

The issue over whether Snoopy would have to find a new home began brewing in November.

Amy Beichler, executive director of Cuyahoga County's Public Animal Welfare Society, said she thought the issue was resolved when the agreement was reached around Thanksgiving to confine the cat to Shapiro's room.

''I felt we [PAWS] needed to get involved because this cat is therapy for her,'' said Beichler.

The agreement also required that Snoopy be up to date on his inoculations and Shapiro's family provide all of the cat's food and care.

But in January, new administrators, including on-site director Michael Demadall, told the family Snoopy had to go.

''I was told it's a liability issue,'' Grob said.

The Summit County Area Agency on Aging, whose volunteers visit the care center twice each month, learned of the situation and have urged administrators to let Snoopy stay for Shapiro's well being.

''The cat helps the resident feel less lonely and alleviates stress and depression for her,'' said Francine Chucharis, ombudsman supervisor for the long-term care program.

In a Jan. 31, 2009, letter addressed to Scott Bauer, director of operations for Windsong, PAWS attorney Dennis J. Niermann said Shapiro's mental well-being impacts her health.

''It appears that the compassion for your clients is severely lacking, if not entirely absent,'' Niermann wrote.

Shapiro's physician, Timothy J. Carrabine of the Oak Clinic for Multiple Sclerosis in Uniontown, also sent the facility a letter asking administrators to allow his patient ''to keep her cat as it helps with her mental well-being.''

Windsong officials have not responded to calls seeking comment.

Last week, Shapiro was told by Windsong that Snoopy would have to leave by the end of this week.

''It's an unusual situation and I think they've dug their heels in,'' said Grob.

Beichler said she doesn't understand Windsong's stern stance.

''We told them they could stop all this bleeding. All they have to do is let the cat stay,'' said Beichler.

Choosing a Groomer

You wouldn't let just anyone cut your hair, so make sure to choose carefully when selecting a groomer for your pet. Grooming services can include a hair cut, trimming or shaving, combing, brushing, bathing, clipping nails, ear cleaning and teeth cleaning. Here is an extensive list of things to consider so that both you and your pet are happy.

WHN Tip: Love Your Pet!
According to a survey by Furminator, Inc., shedding is the major cause of negative feelings for pet owners towards their cats and dogs. Regularly brushing, cleaning, and grooming your pet will decrease shedding and increase the healthy, shiny quality of your furry friend's topcoat.

"Every dog [and cat] benefits from a professional groom, and no, haircutting is not mandatory," says Tracey Fisher, Resident Dog Grooming Specialist at PetSmart. "Professional grooming encompasses important steps such as cleaning the ears, clipping the nails, brushing out dead hair and improving the condition of the pet's skin and coat with health enhancing shampoos and conditioners."

Getting Started

--Make a list with pros/cons for deciding on a groomer
--Evaluate grooming needs and options.
--What hours/days are you able to drop off/pick up your pet for grooming?
--Consider your budget. What can you afford to spend on grooming?
--How often does your pet need to be groomed?
--How far are you willing to drive?

WHN TIP: Start Young
If you get a dog or cat, start the grooming process when they are young so they get used to it early. Where and whom to ask: Family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers for recommendations. Breeders, animal clubs, your current vet or local animal shelter. Local and online directories. If you're moving to a new area or home, ask your current veterinarian, breeder or groomer for recommendations in that area.

Service Basics

Here is a "starter list" of advice and ideas to help narrow down your grooming choices.

Where is the practice located? Consider if it will be easy for you to get there from both home and work.

What hours and days are they open?

WHN Expert Tip: Scheduling
Being able to drop off and pick up your pet at times that are convenient to your schedule will help prevent your pet from having to be at the salon longer than necessary.
- Tracey Fisher, PetSmart

What types of services are available? How much do services cost?

WHN Expert Tip: Average Costs
Expect to pay anywhere from $35 or more for a shampoo and hair cut.
- Humane Society

Are they accepting new clients?

How soon are appointments available?

WHN Expert Tip: Call Ahead
I try and call and get an exact time to bring my dogs in so they don't have to wait in a cage for hours.
- Beth Shaw, Humane Society National Council Member and Chair of Karma Rescue's Advisory Board

How long do appointments last?

Can I/Do I have to leave my pet for the day?

Are you familiar with my breed of animal?

Can you do a breed-appropriate hair cut?

Will you be able to handle my pet's special needs such as ________?

Do I need to bring proof of vaccination or other records with me?
What are special services? (cost for detangling matted hair, burrs in fur, etc.)


Ask about the grooming practice:

What type of training programs do the groomers attend?

Are they members of any grooming organizations such as the National Dog Groomers Association of America?

What types of licensing and certifications do they (or the store/vet/) have?

How many years of experience do they have?

Do they have liability and other necessary insurance (such as?)

What kind of animals does the groomer own?

How many pets have they groomed that are the same as your pet's breed?

What type of shampoos and conditioners do you use?

Do you use dryers on pets?

What do you do to calm pets down? (Some groomers might sedate pets with drugs before grooming.)

What do you do if a pet is sick?

What are their safety procedures in case of an emergency? (A dog or cat loses control, etc.)

WHN Expert Tip: No Federal Rules No federal agency regulates or licenses groomers, therefore, it is important to find out the training qualifications and experience level of the groomer. A training or safety certification is your assurance that the person working on your pet has taken the time and care to learn how to groom your pet safely - Tracey Fisher, Resident Pet Grooming Specialist

Before the Visit

You've made your choice - now get ready for the visit.

Ask what copies or items you may need to bring for the visit and services?

Work with your groomer to develop a grooming style that fits your pet, your family's lifestyle and works with your at-home routine. Think about seasons, too - longer hair for winter warmth? Shorter for summer heat?
Bring photos

Know exactly what you'd like your dog or cat to look like? Bring a picture along, "after all we do it with movie star haircuts all the time," says Fisher.
Grooming a dog? Walk your dog before the appointment. Running off steam and making sure your pet has done his or her "thing" will make for a much better behaved and a happier grooming client.

Can't make a choice? Do a test run. Choose a simple service to start and see how it goes.
Be sure to mention or share your list about your pet's health concerns and behavioral habits with the groomer beforehand.

The Facility

Once you have narrowed your choices, make an appointment to visit the groomer's practice. You may want to visit a few groomers before making a final selection. If you do, jot down notes:

--Does it feel safe and inviting? Is it well-lit? Are the rooms clean and in good shape?
--Are there any unpleasant odors? Are the cages clean? Are dogs and cats caged separately?
--Look around ... Do the other dogs and owners seem to be relaxed and happy with the services?
--Do you like the appearance of the other animals after their appointments?

At The Visit

Mention any quirks or behavioral traits to the groomer. Fisher says, "Information such as ‘he doesn't like his feet touched' or ‘he is afraid of loud noises' helps us adjust or modify the experience so that it's a positive one for everyone."

WHN Expert Tip: Trust Your Gut
Pet owners should always ask themselves "Am I comfortable with this groomer and this grooming environment?" If the answer is no, cancel the appointment and re-schedule somewhere you are comfortable. Rely on your instinct
- Sharon Zabala, Cathy's Critter Cleaners

Ask if you can watch the groomer as he or she works with the animals.

After The Visit

After you leave and you have forgotten to ask your groomer or a staff member something, don't be afraid to contact your groomer and get your question answered.

Here are some tips to help evaluate the grooming:

--Was the groomer helpful, courteous and knowledgeable?
--Did the groomer listen to my questions and answer them in a way that I understand?
--Was the groomer respectful and considerate to me and my pet?
--Did the groomer ask me questions?
--Did the groomer seem rushed or was the groomer attentive and willing to spend time with me and my pet?
--Did the groomer take down details about my pet's needs, medications, vaccinations and important contact numbers (vet, emergency numbers, etc.)?
--Would I prefer this groomer to be the primary groomer for all my pets or should I select different groomers for each pet?
--Do I feel comfortable with my decision? Trust your own reactions.

If you aren't comfortable with the groomer, consider finding another groomer. Also remember that you may want to give the pet/groomer relationship some time. It may take more than one visit for you and your groomer to get to know each other.
If you like the groomer, schedule your next grooming appointment. You'll save money and extra grooming costs if you do a few maintenance tasks on your own, like nail trimming or brushing.

WHN Expert Tip: Winter Grooming Tips
Keeping your pets coat mat free and healthy will help your pet stay warmer and the coat and skin to be healthier throughout the winter. Heated houses can dry your pet's skin and coat making it itching and uncomfortable, and possibly leading to matting of the hair. A professional groom will clean and condition both the skin and the coat to keep it healthy and your pet happy every season of the year
- Tracey Fisher, PetSmart

Do Your Pet Homework
By Irene Seiberling, Canwest News Service

Getting an animal deserves serious thought beforehand

When it comes to pets, don't impulse buy, warns a Canadian pet expert.

If you're considering becoming a first-time pet owner, it's important to do your homework before you get the pet, insists David Kozuch, an Ontario-based veterinarian who's currently employed full time by a leading pet food company.

"That's incredibly important," he says.

Otherwise, both you and the pet may be unhappy. And, as a result, you may end up returning the pet.

A veterinarian can work with you and help you understand what you might expect, he says.

When it comes to budgeting for a new pet, there are all sorts of variables.

Is it an older pet? A big dog or little dog? Is it a cat or a kitten?

If you're getting a new puppy or kitten, visit a veterinarian, who can evaluate if the animal has any issues, Kozuch says.

A vet can often pick up on things like heart murmurs, or even more serious problems that the pet owner probably should know about immediately when they get the animal, versus down the road.

While some people choose to adopt pets that have health problems, because they want to take care of them, new pet owners should know about any health issues up front, he says. A veterinarian can also provide valuable pet tips for at-home examination, so you can identify early warning signs, such as a skin disease, or an ear or eye problem.

"For example, if you brought in a cocker spaniel or a German shepherd, I might say to you: 'Check his ears every day. Smell them. Make sure that the skin is nice and pink, that they're not scratching their ears.' So that if they do get an ear infection, we can treat it early and more effectively than if it goes untreated for a long time," Kozuch explains.

To help offset the cost of pet health care, a variety of companies offer pet insurance, he says.

"That makes it easier for them to deal with eventualities that might arise, if they're worried about not having the budget to deal with it," he says.

The right kind of nutrition -- especially for puppies and kittens -- is extremely important, Kozuch stresses.

You are what you eat. That's as true for pets as it is for people, he emphasizes. By getting that right, it makes a huge difference to overall health and well-being.

Nutrition can also create a smarter puppy, Kozuch insists.

"I wouldn't have believed it until I saw the research," he admits.

"We've done groundbreaking research that feeding a diet rich in DHA, one of the three fatty acids, results in a puppy that's more trainable and a smarter, if you will, puppy," says Kozuch, referring to research and clinical trials done by his employer, Proctor and Gamble, which produces Iams brand pet food.

"And that leads to less returns to humane societies, if they're getting puppies from a humane society. Because if the pet is easily trained, and is smarter, then it takes less time to get them house trained, or convince them that jumping up is not a good idea," he explains.

Before adding Fido or Fluffy to your family, Kozuch recommends going online and familiarizing yourself with what pet ownership entails. A good place to start is The Iams website at also has lots of information on how to match yourself up with a good pet.

Once you get a pet, it's important to have the initial visit with a veterinarian, and develop an ongoing relationship so that the pet gets the proper worming medication, vaccines, the proper advice about nutrition and pointers regarding what's good for them in terms of exercise and how much grooming is required.

Most veterinarians these days will put aside as much as half an hour for the initial visit, Kozuch says, because there are so many things they can go over with a new pet owner.

"A good veterinarian is asking if you have young children. Do you have immuno-compromised people in the house? All of those things factor into some of the care that animal should receive in that environment," he explains.

Where you live in Canada factors into the equation, as well. For example, there's different heart worm medication for different parts of the country.

And fleas are less of a problem in Regina, for example, than they are in Victoria, Kozuch explains.

There's tremendous variation in what individual animals need when it comes to exercise, Kozuch says. Obviously, a small dog will need less exercise than a herding dog, like a border collie, for example. And while an older dog that has arthritis might only be able to handle leash walking, a young, full-of-energy dog requires more of a workout, such as having a Frisbee or ball thrown repeatedly, so they can keep retrieving it.

That's another important reason for getting the right kind of pet for your lifestyle.

Click here to visit The EZ Online Shopping Network of Stores

No comments: