2016-08-11 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

It’s summer. Just when you thought it was safe to pick up a Post, he’s back, like “Jaws XV” or “Sharknado IV.” Monsieur Edgar (alias my “Edgar Afghan Poe”) insists on doing another dog health and beauty advice column because he wants to add his exotic flair to the international mood of the Olympics.

I don’t see any connection between top sports competitors and dog grooming but Monsieur Edgar does. He’s so pushy and pouty. Edgar’s even wearing a pretentious beret to convince readers he is a worldly authority on canine cosmetology. Note: Please ignore his brags and then fact check everything he suggests you do. Here goes:

Q. Monsieur Edgar, I LOVE your beret. You look so chic, and almost French like me. I have a question about the Olympics in Rio. There’s been so much talk about getting sick from the Zika virus. Are Zika mosquitoes a danger to dogs too? Signed, Pepe, a champagne French Poodle.

Monsieur Edgar, canine cosmetology expert Monsieur Edgar, canine cosmetology expert A. Pepe, if we are going to talk about dogs and mosquitoes, let’s talk about heartworm rather than Zika. Vets don’t know yet if dogs can get Zika. At this time, there is no evidence or research. Meanwhile, many owners on Long Island are either unaware or ignore the fact heartworm is so dangerous to their dog. They neglect to shield their dog with a monthly preventive pill. Some folks complain about the cost of these pills.

Heartworm is a deadly disease. It only takes one bug bite to infect an unprotected dog. Even if that dog has a long, thick or luxurious coat like I do, the bite of an infected mosquito can penetrate the skin. All breeds are vulnerable to heartworm, including a heartworm-positive Chow mix and a Husky that showed up as strays in our Town shelter.

More than 20 species of mosquitoes are known to spread heartworm, and they can carry infected larvae for miles, even transmitting the disease from wild canids (such as coyotes or foxes) to dogs. While mosquito repellents can reduce mosquito numbers, they don’t take the place of monthly heartworm preventives. If one infected mosquito bites a dog, even the best repellent won’t provide adequate heartworm protection. We would still get sick, very sick.

Heartworm disease can be cured but the treatment is long, expensive and potentially dangerous. The recovery is tricky too. After each immiticide injection, dogs are not allowed to exercise much or take long walks because, as adult heartworm disintegrate and leave our bodies, they can cause pulmonary embolisms. These can be fatal.

Pepe, please make sure your owners are giving you a monthly pill. Check the calendar to see if they have the date marked. If not, somehow communicate this message- a heartworm pill of prevention is worth many pounds of cure. By the way, I hate to burst your champagne bubbles, Pepe, but you are not French. Poodles come from Germany.

Q. Bonjour, Monsieur. I am a Golden Retriever, and when summer starts my mom asks the groomer to buzz my whole coat down to the skin. The groomer leaves my head alone so I look as if I’m the understudy for “Simba” in The Lion King. I am so embarrassed. Why would my mom do this to me? Signed, Goldilock-less, the Retriever.

A. Oh, Mon Dieu! You poor girl. I hate the “mane’’ look. It’s so humiliating, and makes your head look out of proportion to your body. Reminds me of big hair in the 1980s. Did I mention an AKC judge once said I had the best domino Afghan Hound head he’d ever seen? Hope you are not going out in public until your hair starts to grow back.

Goldilock-less, don’t blame your mom for being clueless. My hair is my claim to fame. I’d be embarrassed too. She thinks she’s preventing you from overheating by getting your fur sheared off. Actually the opposite is true. A summer crewcut can make it harder for you to cool. Most vets say not to do a shave down.

A short clipper cut is okay.

There are several reasons. For instance, Afghan Hounds are an ancient and noble breed. Our ancestors developed thousands of years ago in the deserts and mountains of Afghanistan. Our incredible coats insulate us from both heat and cold. In summer, any length coat can provide natural air conditioning. Tiny muscles in our hair shafts stand up to catch the breeze, similar to the way a person gets goose bumps. Northern breeds like Huskies and Malamutes are double-coated which insulates them from summer heat.

Also fur acts as a sunscreen so we don’t get sunburned and possibly skin cancer. White dogs shaved down, and breeds with very little hair like Chinese Cresteds and Xolos, are most at risk. There are special sunscreens designed for dogs. Finally our coat gives us a natural barrier between allergens such as dust mites, pollen and grasses. Hair keeps these irritants from causing allergic reactions on our skin.

Sometimes the hair doesn’t grow back or doesn’t come in evenly after a shave down. Afghan ear fringes take years to grow. Unless an Afghan is severely matted, you don’t cut off our ear fringes. Once a groomer snipped off my mom’s late Afghan “Alan’s” ear fringes. She went berserk and wanted the woman charged with a felony. Last I heard that groomer was still in federal prison.

Special Pets for Adoption: At least 1,000 Golden Retrievers are abandoned in Turkey. “Truman” is a two-year old, very social Golden Retriever rescued by LI Golden Retriever Rescue (LIGRR). He needs a loving home with a fenced-in yard. He prefers to be the only dog. Contact LIGRR at 516-578-3803 or ligrr@yahoo.com.

“Vinilo” #6-283 is a purrfect kitten about 12 weeks old. When he was a month old, Babylon Shelter rescued him from being trapped in an unusual spot. A woman could hear a cat crying in her yard but couldn’t find it. Chris, shelter director, cut a window in the bottom of a vinyl fence post and freed the tiny prisoner. Jill from the shelter fostered “Vinilo” until he was ready for his neuter and FeLV/FIV testing. Visit Babylon Shelter, Lamar St. W. Babylon, or call 631-643-9270 to meet “Vinilo.”

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