A Few Reminders For Healthy Pets

FOCUS ON PETS

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This column will be made up of tidbits of information gathered from a variety of sources. Some fun dog events are coming up that you certainly will not want to miss.

Payson Feed is having a "People and their Amazing Animals Talent Search". This could be your pet's path to fame and -- well maybe not fortune -- but certainly fun, since the winner will go on to national contests. Dog, cat, bird, pig, whatever -- bring your talented pet into Payson Feed on Saturday, August 21, from noon to 4 p.m. All animals must be on leash or in a carrier or crate. This event is sponsored by Purina Mills.

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Cookie keeps a close watch as Nancy Helmkamp clips his nails. Cookie, a mascot at ERA Realty in Strawberry is owned by Gary Rains but spoiled by everyone.

There will be three events. The "talent" category will be judged on the talent of the animal as well as his overall behavior and the uniqueness of the talent. The "most unusual" will be determined by the uniqueness of the animal, the owner/animal relationship and whatever else makes him unusual. The final category is the "cutest" and is for children 12 and under and their pet. Judging will be based on the relationship of the pet and the child, the pet's appearance and whatever else makes him cute. Bring your pet or come and watch. This should be a fun event.

The annual Dog Day in the Park, sponsored by PAWS in the park will be October 2 at the dog park. There will be fun and games, contests and information. Reserve the day and watch for more information. Start working on that wonderful costume.

During the fire season, I was reminding you to make sure your pet's shots were current. There has been some information floating around recently that many of the shots we normally get for our dogs are not needed every year. While discussing dog food and nutrition recently with Dr. Hallman of Star Valley Vet Clinic, he mentioned that because we live in an area where there is great exposure to all kinds of wild animals, and also because there are lots of feral animals and pets that are not well cared for running loose, these annual shots are very important. Parvo, for one, is very prevalent in the area. We need to keep our pets' vaccinations up to date. Rabies vaccinations are vital, but they are on a different schedule. Be sure to discuss all this with your veterinarian.

Nail clipping has been the subject of previous columns, but a recent article in Dog Fancy magazine gave some good pointers for people who are afraid to cut their pet's nails or own dogs who fight the procedure. Nail clipping is so important because if the nails get too long, it causes pain as the dog walks. Also, those extra long nails can grow back into the pad of the foot. The trick is to clip often and just the tips and then you will not need to worry about cutting into the quick. But if your dog fights you, here are some suggestions. Leave the clippers lying next to his food dish so that he gets used to seeing them. When you are watching TV, work your fingers down the legs and around the feet. His reactions will determine how slowly you proceed. Have the clipper sitting beside you where he can see it. When he is quite comfortable with your handling of his feet, hold the clipper in your hand as you move your fingers over the paw and eventually, rub the clipper over his nails and paw. When you think he is relaxed, hold one paw and clip one nail -- just the very tip. Praise him profusely and tell him what a good boy he is. Give him a treat and set the clipper down. Repeat the process the next day, doing just one nail but give treats and praise. When you think he is ready, clip a whole foot at once. Soon, with this patient approach, you can do all the nails in no time at all.

Another thing I was reminded lately concerns matting. Some dogs and cats develop mats readily while others easily avoid them. Frequent brushing keeps them out of the coat. Fleas and dry skin causing scratching encourages mats to develop. Skin can be pulled into the center of a mat, so do not attempt to cut it out without working through it with your fingers first. If your dog is badly matted, a dematting solution is available. Work this into the mat and then separate the hairs with your fingers before you work with a brush. Tugging on these mats is very painful for the dog or cat so be gentle.

That's all for today folks.

Christy Wrather is a columnist for the Payson Roundup. She can be reached by e-mail at cpwrather@earthlink.net or by snail mail at HC1 Box 210, Strawberry, AZ 85544.

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