Thinking of shaving your dog for the summer? Wait!

By Nancy Bynes

With warmer temperatures here many dog owners are exploring options to help their pets stay comfortable.

Shaving off all that hair is probably the most popular option. Indeed, for some coat types, this is an ideal solution. Not for all. With the exception of hard-coated terriers, dogs come in one of two coat types: single coated and double coated.

Examples of single-coated breeds are poodles, shih-tzus, bichons, etc. This type of coat will continue to grow longer and longer, much like human hair, with genetics being the final determination in reference to length.

Double-coated or fur-bearing breeds have coats that grow to a predetermined length. They can be further separated into open coats and closed coats.These breeds have a hard, protective outer coat (guard hairs) and a soft, dense undercoat. Examples of open, double-coated breeds are any of the spitz-type breeds, such as Siberian huskies, Pomeranians and chows.

This coat is designed to shed snow or ice and provide maximum protection against freezing weather.

Closed, double-coated breeds have noticeably longer guard hairs, which lay down over the undercoat, sort of like a blanket. While the outer, or guard, hairs get wet, the undercoat works to keep the dog's skin dry. Examples include golden retrievers, Australian shepherds and Newfoundlands.

Single-coated breeds can be clipped down to the skin, and the coat will grow back pretty much as it was before. The same is not true for double-coated breeds. For this reason, shaving these dogs down is not a solution to summer heat.

Think of a healthy double coat as an old-growth forest. There is a balance with different parts providing different benefits. If you clear-cut an old growth forest, there will be immediate regrowth of a lot of young trees very soon. Unfortunately, they won't initially be the same kind as those you cut down. Instead, the forest has to start from scratch and spend decades, first growing ground cover and softwoods that provide an environment for slower growing hardwood varieties. It takes generations before the natural balance is restored.

While on a much shorter timeline, it's the same thing with a double-coated dog. Guard hairs represent old growth, and undercoat represents ground covering vegetation. The act of shaving a double coat removes the dog's natural insulation and causes his system to kick into high gear. He'll now produce coat to protect himself from extreme temperatures, sunburn and sharp objects.

Since the top coat or guard hairs take a long time to grow, what the dog's body produces first is soft undercoat. That's why we hear people say, “I shaved my dog, and it grew back twice as thick and really fuzzy!”

In reality, what happens is that the original coat isn't restored at all. What grows in instead is thick, prolific undercoat mixed with short new guard hairs. We call it false coat or coat funk.

So, why is this bad? Picture this scenario:

It's 90 degrees outside. You're getting dressed to go work in your yard. Are you going to put on a light cotton T-shirt and sunblock or thermal underwear and a sweatshirt?

A dog's shaved-down false coat is like that sweatshirt. It's dull, soft and soaks up water like a sponge. Burrs and foxtails stick like Velcro. Above all else, it's way too thick for hot weather.

By the time that false coat grows out enough to protect the dog from sunburn, scrapes and bites (the usual job of the top coat), it is so thick that the poor dog might as well be wearing thermal underwear and a sweatshirt.

Remember, Mother Nature designed the undercoat to be extremely heat-retentive.

Do you take your dog to a grooming salon? You can request a bath and blow-out. Virtually all modern professional grooming salons have high velocity blow dryers in their work areas.

These powerhouses can literally blast the dead undercoat out of your dog's hair after a thorough bathing with minimal brushing and combing needed.

The benefit to your dog is a healthy, balanced coat you can both live with. Sure, you could opt for the shave-down, but you'll more than likely be back in a month or so for another “shave-down” because your dog is cooking in its own hair.

Then, if you're like most owners who fall into this cycle, you'll intentionally let your dog's woolly false coat grow out all winter “for warmth,” only to have it shaved off again in the spring.

In reality, all winter long while you're under the false notion that your dog is staying warm and dry under that thick layer of fuzz, his coat is matting, retaining water and mud and possibly even mildewing. It will stay cold and wet for hours. Do you see the vicious cycle that started?

In some cases, owners really don't have a choice. If there's an underlying skin condition, requiring removal of the hair, obviously shaving is the lesser of two evils.

Same applies if the coat is so matted that shaving is truly the most humane option, affording the owner a chance to start over and improve their brushing skills. These are situations to thoroughly discuss with both your veterinarian and your groomer so you can make an informed decision. However, if your sole motivation for shaving your dog in the spring is to “keep him cool,” you need to know that you're actually creating a far worse situation than you think. Aside from destroying coat integrity, shaved dogs are susceptible to a multitude of complications, including, but not limited to, alopecia, heat stroke and skin cancer, specifically Solar-induced Squamous Cell Carcinomas and Dermal Hemangiosarcomas.

Sometimes, these complications are not reversible.

Nancy Bynes is a certified master groomer with more than 38 years of experience. She lives in Nevada City.

This article was originally published in the Nevada City Union, June, 2011.

Dog Food RECALL on select Pedigree dog food

PEDIGREE® Adult Complete Nutrition Limited Recall Due to Metal Fragments



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - August 31, 2014 - At PEDIGREE®, we care about all dogs and their safety and well-being is extremely important to us, and to our mission – to make a Better World for Pets. For that reason, we have announced the extension of a previous voluntary recall of PEDIGREE® Adult Complete Nutrition dry dog food products due to the possible presence of a foreign material. The voluntary recall still affects 22 bags shipped to Dollar General across four U.S. states, but it now is being expanded to 55-pound bags of PEDIGREE® Adult Complete Nutrition dry dog food products sold in Sam's Club in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio.

This recall is being expanded to Sam's Club in the U.S. because some of the affected production lot was originally said to be held in inventory but was instead released to consumers, which has necessitated the expansion of the recall. We are confident no other packages or retailers are affected by this recall.

Bags may contain small metal fragments, which could have entered the packages during the production process. The foreign material is not embedded in the food itself, but may present a risk of injury if consumed.

We encourage consumers who have purchased affected product to discard the food or return it to the retailer for a full refund or exchange. We have not received any reports of injury or illness associated with the affected product. The lot codes indicated below should not be sold or consumed.

At Mars Petcare, we take our responsibility to pets and their owners seriously. We sincerely apologize for this situation and encourage you to reach out to us at 1-800-305-5206 from 8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. CST if you have questions.

This voluntary recall affects two packages sold in the United States only. No other PEDIGREE® products are affected, including any other variety of dry dog food, wet dog food or dog treats. The affected packages are:

  • 55-pound bags of PEDIGREE® Adult Complete Nutrition dry dog food sold at Sam's Club will have the lot code432E1KKM03 printed on the back of the bag near the UPC and a Best Before date of 8/7/15. See below for a list of Sam's Club stores.
  • 15-pound bags of PEDIGREE® Adult Complete Nutrition dry dog food sold at Dollar General stores will have the lot code432C1KKM03 printed on the back of the bag near the UPC and a Best Before date of 8/5/15. See below for a list of Dollar General stores.


23100 10944PEDIGREE® Brand Adult Complete Nutrition dry dog food in 15 pound bags

23100 10731PEDIGREE® Brand Adult Complete Nutrition dry dog food in 55 pound bags

Dollar General
Affected 15-pound bags were sold between August 18 and August 30 at Dollar General stores in:

  • Arkansas:
    • Perryville
    • Cabot
  • Louisiana
    • Baton Rouge
    • Calhoun
    • Hineston
    • Jonesville
    • Pineville
    • Slaughter
  • Mississippi
    • Magnolia
    • Vicksburg
  • Tennessee
    • Memphis

Sam's Club Affected 55-pound bags were sold between August 14 and August 30 at Sam's Club in:

  • Michigan:
    • Comstock Park
    • Muskegon
    • Jackson
    • Roseville
    • Saginaw
  • Saginaw
    • Kokomo
  • Ohio
    • Dayton
    • Holland
    • Lima

How carefully do you keep toxic substances out of reach of your dog?

Dogs are considered members of the family for most Americans and they have more in common with their smallest members of their family .... toddlers, than you might think. Neither can read, comprehend mortality or thinks twice before putting something in their mouths.

While most parents try to stay vigilant when it comes to their kids and toxic hazards, pet owners should take the same precautions. 

In 2013, the Animal Poison Control Center, which is run by the ASPCA, fielded around 180,000 calls concerning pets that were exposed to or ingested potentially toxic substances. Most cases could have been prevented if dog owners had been more proactive.

The top 10 hazards for 2013

  1. Prescription human medications
  2. Insecticides
  3. Over-the-counter human medications
  4. Household items, from cleaning products to paint
  5. Human food (other than chocolate) that is toxic to dogs
  6. Veterinary medications
  7. Chocolate
  8. Rodenticides
  9. Plants
  10. Lawn and garden products

Potentially Toxic Plants to Dogs

Potentially Toxic Foods to Dogs

  • Chocolate
  • Coffee
  • Alcohol
  • Avocado
  • Milk
  • Grapes
  • Raisins
  • Yeast Dough
  • Xylitol
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Chives
  • Macadamia Nuts
  • Salt

Common sense and vigilance will help  prevent many cases of accidental poisoning, but if you suspect your dog has ingested something toxic, err on the side of caution and call your vet right away or call the ASPCA Animal Control Center at 888.426.4435 (a $65 consultation fee is charged that covers the initial call and all follow-up calls).


Dog Food RECALL on select Science Diet dog food

On June 2, 2014, Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc. of Topeka, KS is voluntarily recalling 62 bags of Science Diet® Adult Small & Toy Breed™ dry dog food as they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. The suspect product, part of a single production run, was distributed to 17 veterinary clinic and pet store customers in California, Hawaii and Nevada between April 24 and May 13, 2014. Salmonella can affect animals eating the products and there is risk to humans from handling contaminated pet products, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the products or any surfaces exposed to these products.

Healthy people infected with Salmonella should monitor themselves for some or all of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever. Rarely, Salmonella can result in more serious ailments, including arterial infections, endocarditis, arthritis, muscle pain, eye irritation, and urinary tract symptoms. Consumers exhibiting these signs after having contact with this product should contact their healthcare providers.

Pets with Salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some pets will have only decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. Infected but otherwise healthy pets can be carriers and infect other animals or humans. If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.

This voluntary recall is limited to 62 15.5 lb. bags of Science Diet® Adult Small & Toy Breed™ dry dog food with the Stock-Keeping Unit (SKU) code, “Best before” date and production code shown below. This product was accidentally released, as revealed during a routine inventory reconciliation. All 17 affected customers have been contacted by Hill’s and there have been no reported illnesses related to this product to date.

Product NameBag SizeSKU“Best Before” Date/ Production Code

Science Diet® Adult Small & Toy Breed 15.5 lbs. 909708 2015 M094

The SKU number is located on the bottom of the bag, both side panels and on the back lower right hand corner below the UPC code. As illustrated below, the “Best before” date and production code is stamped on the top, middle of each bag:

Consumers who may have purchased any of these specific 62 15.5 lbs bags of Science Diet® Adult Small & Toy Breed™ dry dog food should discontinue use of the product and immediately call Hill’s Pet Nutrition at 1-800-445-5777 Monday-Friday during the hours of 7am-7pm (CT). Hill’s will arrange to collect the unused portion of the product at its own expense at a time convenient for the consumer and will provide a full refund.

This voluntary recall does not impact any Science Diet® Adult Small and Toy Breed™ products with different “best before” dates or any other Science Diet products.

Enjoying Central Park with your dog

There probably isn't a better place to take your dog in New York City than Central Park. Whether you're walking around the Great Lawn or sitting on the benches near the Band Shell watching the tourist pass by, it is a great place to spent the day with your pooch. 

Tug when he was 1 year old striking a pose in front of the Boathouse.

Tug when he was 1 year old striking a pose in front of the Boathouse.

Here are few tips for spending the day with your pooch in New York's largest, and in my opinion, greatest park..... Central Park.

Off-Leash Hours and Locations

From 6 am to 9 am & 9 pm to 1am your dog is allowed off-leash.  There are 23 designated off-leash areas around the park where dogs are allowed off-leash, and those areas pretty much cover a large portion of the park..... with a few exceptions:

No dogs allowed on or off-leash at any time: 

East Green
Elm Islands at the Mall
Great Hill Glade
Lilac Walk
Ornamental Fountains
Reservoir Running Track
Sand Volleyball Court
Sheep Meadow
Water Bodies 

Allowed with your dog on-leash only at all times:

Arthur Ross Pinetum
Bridle Path
Cedar Hill
Conservatory Garden
Kerbs Boathouse Plaza
Shakespeare Garden
Strawberry Fields
Turtle Pond Lawn

Map of Central Park dog friendly areas and amentities

Water for your Dog

Central Park has 15 dog drinking fountains throughout the park as well as the snack bars, Le Pain Quotidien near Sheep Meadow and at Kerbs Memorial Boathouse, which leave water for dogs in a bowl or bucket even in the winter months. 

These dog drinking fountains are turned off around the beginning of Nov and turned back on around sometime at the end of March or early April, so remember to bring water for your pooch during the winter months.

Don't allow your dogs to drink out of normal drinking fountains, instead bring one of those collapsible water bowls.

Dog Runs

There are no dog runs in Central Park, and from 9 am until 9 pm you are not allowed to have your dog off leash anywhere in the park. The closest dog run to Central Park is Bull Moose Dog Run which is right next to the Natural History Museum on W 81st St..

What happens when you have your dog off-leash at the wrong time

Technically your dog is supposed to be on a leash not longer than 6 ft., but you always see people with those Flexi leashes and nobody says anything. Last time I checked it was a $100 fine for your dog being off-leash on public property, but double check the fines.  

Dog Poop

There are no poop bags available in Central Park, so remember to bring some. Just like having your dog off-leash, it is a $100 fine if you don't pick up after your dog.

Licensing and Vaccinations

New York State law and New York City Health Code require that dogs be vaccinated against rabies and every dog owner carry proof of a current dog license and rabies vaccination while in public.

For more information about licensing and vaccinations, contact the Department of Health & Mental Hygiene through 311, or visit NYC Health Department website's dog licensing page.

Events for Dogs

In the fall make sure you check out My Dog Loves Central Park Country Fair: An annual event that includes competitions, micro-chipping, entertainment, fun activities, and much more.

DOGSTRONG will be rolling out a series of blogs on dog parks/runs in the New York City area. We have visited every dog park/run in NYC, Long Island, Westchester, Northern New Jersey and Southwestern Connecticut. We will be telling you what attributes they have (dog drinking fountains, separate large and small dog areas, ground cover used, etc) and what we think of them. You will be able to comment on your own experiences with a particular dog park/run stay tuned.

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