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A dog at Sendaishi Pet Resort works out on an underwater treadmill. Courtesy photo.




Lucky dog!
Spas and daycares to pamper and transform your pooch

02/27/14



 While pet grooming has always been essential to the health and hygiene of man’s best friend, newer cosmetic and therapeutic options are gaining popularity. Here’s the lowdown on how to treat your canine like the king of the castle with hair extensions, massages and other services. 

 
The basics
Dogs should get groomed regularly, said Manchester’s Sendaishi Pet Resort owner Bill Matott, to keep their coats, ears and nails clean and healthy. Long-haired dogs like poodles might get groomed as frequently as from six to eight times a week, while short-haired outdoor dogs might stop in only one or two times a year. 
Professional washes are often more thorough than do-it-yourself suds sessions, and they offer a variety of health benefits, even to dogs that don’t need spa treatment often. Groomers do away with the undercoats of double coated breeds like Siberian huskies or German shepherds. This can prevent hot spots caused by hair that lays up against the skin and gets wet so skin can’t breathe, Matott said. 
If you take your dog to the same groomer many times, professionals will also become familiar with any lumps and bumps unique to your canine. That means “we are going to know any any difference and changes in the dog’s body, which we would point out,” said Dawn Andrews, owner of Love Your Dogs Spa and Boutique in Hudson. 
Think there are a lot of human grooming products? Spas offer shampoos and soaps for even the pickiest pooch.  There are oatmeal baths for dogs with sensitive skin. There are odorless soaps and hypoallergenic ones. If your dog gets sprayed, there are de-skunking options, and if it gets bitten, there are flea shampoos. There are even special soaps for heavy shedders. 
When it comes to ears, groomers not only clean and remove hairs, but their experience and expertise makes it easier for them to spot potential problems. Ear infections are common amongst dogs, Andrews said.  But it’s something pet owners may not be used to noticing. A groomer can point out pet ears that are red and hot to the touch, which is a good indication of infection. 
Nail care also keeps your dog healthy. Groomers will fix up split toenails. Though they aren’t huge medical emergencies, sometimes winter weather can cause more nail problems than usual, and if they aren’t trimmed properly nails will have a higher tendency to get snagged on ice and pavement. 
 
High fashion 
Extensions and dyes are not just for people anymore. They’re all the rage in doggy dos. More and more pet owners are glamming up their dogs in the name of fashion and cuteness. 
Dyes and extensions are especially popular around Halloween, Andrews said. She started seeing more interest after she dressed up her own dog as a My Little Pony, dying its hair rainbow colors and adding long extensions to mimic a pony’s mane and tail. 
“People saw my dog with it and were like, ‘Oh my God, that’s so cute,” she said. “It’s fun for the kids. Parents brings their kids in and the kids are like, ‘Oh, I want that for my dog!’” 
Doggy hair extensions are similar to feather extensions for people. They come in a variety of colored strands attached to small plastic clips that hold them into dogs’ fur. Andrews said the best place to put them is behind the ear where the extra manes won’t bother dogs and they won’t easily slip out. When it comes to dyes, coloring works best on light-haired dogs, she said. And, of course, they are all non-toxic. 
 
Therapy sessions
If fancy costuming is one end of the dog-spa spectrum, therapy and rehab opportunities are the other. Sendaishi offers a variety of canine rehab options including underwater treadmills and doggie massage. 
Underwater treadmills originally were made for horses but a company called Ferno began making them for dogs about 15 years ago, said Matott. The treadmills are secured inside pools of water heated to 90 degrees, and they can run at speeds ranging from a tenth of a mile to five miles an hour. 
“What it does is if dogs have had any type of surgery or injury to the spine or legs, anything post-op, the heated water treadmill is a great benefit to get their strength back,” Matott said. 
Dogs are referred by a vet for treadmill therapy, and any sized dog from a dachshund to a Saint Bernard can benefit from it. 
Sendaishi also recently began offering canine massage services. While massages can be relaxing, they are also effective for helping to heal soft-tissue injuries and alleviating arthritis pain in older dogs. Massages can even help slightly overweight ones get healthy. 
“We’re trying to do is work in conjunction with vets for dogs coming in for weight loss and fitness. Sometimes they are a little old and overweight so massage doesn’t hurt to get some blood flowing,” Matott said. 
 
Building trust, playing nice
Not all dogs enjoy being pampered. Some dogs have been injured by previous groomers and will “absolutely not tolerate it,” Andrews said. In these cases, it takes a while to build trust between a pet and its new groomer. 
“It takes a while to build a relationship. It’s trust and love and we love them all and treat them as if they are our own,” she said. 
Sendaishi offers five separate play yards and dogs are separated by size. Larger and medium dogs play outside while smaller ones who don’t fare as well in more extreme temperatures play inside. While most dogs play in groups, dogs are “just like people. Some people like being around other people, others are a little solitary,” Mattot said. 
To identify whether a dog is an introvert or an extrovert, he screens them on the first day they arrive. 
“If we don’t think they will be compatible, we will have to tell the owners,” he said. “It happens to [about]  5 to 10 percent of dogs.” 
 
As seen in the February 27, 2014 issue of the Hippo.
 





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