Dr. Marty Becker joined Good Morning America on Monday to talk about the importance of pet grooming.
After the show, Dr. Becker replied to your e-mail questions in the online Q & A below.
Q: We have a terrier mix, his name is Boomer and he weighs about 10 pounds. We had the worst luck with these fleas. We wash Boomer at least once a week, is there anything you can suggest that will help us try to control our flea problems? Thank you for your time.
Jay Vargas Riverside, Calif.
A: According to the veterinarian who's widely considered to be the top flea expert in the world (has Dr. Flea on his license plate) Dr. Michael Dryden, professor of veterinary parasitology at Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine, says in these situations that you need to get the dog on a product that not only kills the fleas but sterilizes the flea eggs. Ultimately, controlling the fleas will depend on preventing these fleas from reproducing. Don't expect instant results with any flea products. Dryden emphasizes pet owners must maintain their pets on these parasite control products for a sufficient amount of time — up to six months — to insure flea elimination. When asked why owners often say one product works better on a pet, Dryden said most of the time it's a placebo effect. However, there are species differences, and differences in the effectiveness of products on individual pets, even within the same breed. The effectiveness of a product also depends on the strain of flea you're up against. In a given area, fleas can be more susceptible to one product over another. His top three tips:
1.Give parasite control products the time to work. Need a minimum of 60-90 days in a normal situation to get rid of fleas, much longer with problem cases such as yours. 2. Treat all the animals in the household. Dryden laments that many times people treat the fleas on their dogs but not their cats, and vice versa.
3. Go back to the veterinarian if you have a problem. Don't go to a pet, farm or grocery store for parasite control products. Ask your veterinarian for which product, or products, is best for your pet. Ask the vet which products they use on their own pets. For example, I use Bayer's K-9 Advantix on my dogs, whereas other vets use other products. If you've given the first products plenty of time to work, and have treated all the pets in the household, your veterinarian will have a Plan B, or C that will get the job done.
Q: I have 17 dogs, mostly misfits. Some of them have very shaggy hair and it is hard to groom them. For example, two of my German shepherds have had trouble shedding their winter coats, yet they do not like to be brushed. They are both outside dogs, but the shedding and unkempt hair must be uncomfortable. I have heard of a negative ion brush with plastic bristles and also your grooming glove on Good Morning America. Where can I find these on the Internet or which stores? Thanks. Jill Currie Grandview, Texas
A: First of all Jill, thanks for having a heart and home big enough for 17 dogs. When you describe them as misfits, I assume that most of them came from a shelter and needed a special home such as yours. "I believe that grooming can determine the quality of a dog's life in a family setting," said Diana Mohler, a veteran groomer, who writes a monthly grooming column in Dog Fancy magazine. "Simply put, clean dogs get to live indoors and interact with the family on a daily basis, while unkempt dirty dogs are often banished to the backyard." All dogs require regular grooming, even pooches with short hair and the so-called "non-shedding breeds" such as terriers and schnauzers. Like all dogs, these breeds do in fact shed on a constant basis, as old hairs die and are replaced by new ones.
The difference between these dogs and "heavy shedders," is that instead of falling out, their dead hairs tend to stick to the coat and form mats. Although shedding is a year-round activity for dogs, your pet will lose more hair throughout the spring, when her lighter summer coat grows in, and again in the fall, when she replaces this hair with her winter tresses. The stiffer summer coat leaves extra space between the hairs so more cooling air reaches the skin. It's a good idea to brush your dog more often during these peak shedding periods, but be sure to maintain a good grooming schedule throughout the rest of the year too.
As a rule of thumb, long haired dogs need to be brushed daily, yes daily, while short haired dogs can go two weeks. If a dog is heavily matted or has a lot of residual winter coat, the Spotless Paw glove won't suffice. It's like using a BB gun when you need a howitzer. For heavily matted dogs like yours, ask your veterinarian or groomers about some special mat-busting grooming products such as shedding blades, undercoat rakes and dematting tools. See www.hagen.com to find the right Le Salon grooming tool for your pet. Many groomers and pet owners are raving about the FURminator shed-less treatment. This special process features a special FURminator tool that extracts loose hair and undercoat from your pet, leaving only the shiny and healthy top coat (www.furminator.com).
Q: I was wondering what you recommend I do when I take my puppies on long trips! They get car sick so easily! But they can't stay home alone! Thanks bunches!
Lindsay Center, Texas
A: It is very common for puppies to get motion sickness but most will grow out of this nuisance problem over time says Dr. Rolan Tripp, of La Mirada, Calif., the founder of AnimalBehavior.net.
Two subcategories of this car sickness are motion sickness and stress-anxiety (read afraid of going to the veterinarian). The way you tell the difference between the two is based on mood and activity. With motion sickness, the puppies tails are wagging, they're happy, then suddenly they throw up in the car. With stress-anxiety, they huddle, shiver and vomit out of stress. If it's a stress based problem, take the puppy on short trips to both fun and boring places. In the fun category, your might consider taking puppy to a park, the beach, or out for a treat. The boring places might be a quick car trip to the post office, dry cleaning, pick the kids up from school, etc. The idea here is to desensitize the pet from extreme fear of car; probably for good reason, the dog thinks getting in the car always means going to the veterinarian for vaccination or other procedures that hurt. Besides short trips to both fun and boring places, Dr. Tripp recommends feeding the puppy in the car, in the garage, every night for a week. This serves to make the car a happy place — food, fun, good times — not just bad things like needles and getting neutered! For motion sickness, puppies almost always grow out of it by six months. If they don't, there may be something else going on and you should have your puppy checked by a veterinarian.
Q: I rescued a Bichon Frise from a puppy mill about a year and a half ago. She is deaf and would have probably been put down but she is a wonderful dog and has learned hand signals. The problem is the staining from her eyes. I have tried many things sold commercially to remove the stains and to prevent further staining and nothing seems to work. My vet has not had an ideas nor has the groomer I use. She is such a beautiful dog — but the eye staining detracts from her appearance.
Do you have any suggestions? Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.
Beverly Mollette Columbus, Ohio
A: First of all, let me give you a great big electronic hug for being willing to accept, accommodate, and pamper a dog that many others would consider disposable. Many people that show this breed insist on using distilled water for their dog to drink says Diana Mohler, a veteran groomer from Lake Elsinore, Calif., and coauthor of How Willy Got His Wheels, a story about a little paralyzed dog who was rescued and is now fully mobile. Mohler explains that many times local has excess calcium and magnesium, for this and a few other sensitive breeds, and this leads to tear staining. White skinned dogs are almost always more sensitive and affected by this condition. You might also consider visiting a veterinary ophthalmologist or allergist specialist (see the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Web site www.acvim.org for one in your area.) Allergies that may cause the irritation, that causes excess tearing, that causes the staining.
Q: Supposedly you were explaining something about giving dogs a bath that is a power wash. Can you e-mail back to me as soon as possible what to look under or what you explained about giving dogs a bath. I have two black chows and they need extra fine care. I will await your response. Thank you!
Jerry Meidl Milwaukee, Wis.
A: The product you're referring to is called the Hydrosurge Bath Pro Traveler www.hydrosurge.com. This unique system produces a vigorous, penetrating, cleansing action-spray of shampoo and water through a portable, handheld sprayer. This can be worn on your belt and used in the house or outside as well.
The bathing solution easily penetrates even the toughest coats down to the skin to flush away debris, loose hair, dead skin for the healthiest skin possible. Plus, pets love the invigorating massage. These systems are recommended by veterinary dermatologists for problem skin conditions as they gently debride infected/dead skin and increase blood and oxygen flow. This system can do wonders for pets with seborrhea, pyoderma or allergies that cause dry, flaking, itching, infected or oily skin. The good news is that you can now give your pet a groomer-qualtiy bath, at home, in half the normal time. The great news is the price of this unit just dropped by more than half and now retails for $199.
Find out more about veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker on his Web site: