Basic Information, How To, Let's Talk

Brushing Tools & Techniques

Brushing is a vital part in maintaining a dogs coat and well being.  Depending on the dogs coat, you need to figure out what is the best method of attack for brushing out the dog.  If you have a Shih Tzu, you definitely don’t want to be using a zoom groom (a rubber brush used for deshedding and bathing), and if you have an Australian Cattle Dog you don’t need to be using a dematter.  Every dog is different, so we are going to be discussing a few of the tools that can be used, how to use them, and on what coats they work best with.

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I lift and hold the hair in the opposite direction, against the grain, and brush down with the grain to get as close to the skin as I can.

Now in the world of grooming, if you are a first time groomer or a new pet parent, going down the grooming isle of a store can be a little intimidating.  There are all sorts of brushes, combs, gadgets, that it is hard to decipher what would be best.  If you have a longer haired dog, such as a Shih Tzu, Lhasa Apso, Havanese, Schnauzer, Golden Retriver, Shiloh Shepherds. etc, a slicker brush and a comb is your best bet.  A slicker brush helps break apart the strands, brushing out tangles.  Now, with longer hair dogs, my recommendation is to brush the coat entirely, head to toe, then go over the coat with the finer side of a comb.  You want to make sure the pins are getting down to the skin, then carefully running along the skin with the comb.  If you get stuck, you’ve more than likely found a tangle that needs to be gently worked out.  One great way is to use your hand, lay it flat against the coat, and lift the hair in the opposite direction, where you can see the skin underneath, see image above.  You then take the brush, and work the hair that your hand is holding down.  This helps you get close to the skin, and get underneath the coat.  I will say, that has been the biggest obstacle with brushing for pet parents who have longer haired dogs.  Some may brush the top coat very well, but once you get underneath, it is matted because they didn’t work the brush and comb to the skin.  One piece of information, is if you get a brand new slicker brush, you can easily brush burn the dog.  What I recommend is scraping the brush against some concrete or hard, textured surface to dull down the tips a bit, so it is not as rough.  Brush burn almost looks like a rash forming, and blood can seep through follicles of the hair.  A slicker brush needs to be replaced rarely, even with professional groomers.  If you are a pet parent, I truly feel you would never need to replace your slicker brush, unless something happens such as the handle breaking or the teeth wearing down.

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A large Miracle Coat Brush

My favorite slicker brush ever is the Miracle Coat Brush.  I swear by it.  I have used so many different slicker brushes, and this one has a way of breaking apart tangles without hurting the pet.  It reminds me of the Wet Brush, just for dogs.  I purchase mine from Amazon, and they carry the small, which is great for tiny dogs, the medium, which I feel works for puppies all the way to large dogs, and the large, which is fantastic for dogs such as Irish Wolfhounds and Newfoundlands, because it covers a wider area quicker. Also, quick side note, this post is not sponsored.  All of these brushes I own, because I found these are the only brushes I need, and I professionally groom, and have been professionally grooming for over 11 years.

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Image from FURminator, http://www.furminator.com/Products/Dogs/dog-grooming-deshedding-tools/how-to-stop-dog-from-shedding-medium-long-hair-dog-grooming.aspx

Another great brush is the FURminator brush.  This is more useful for shorter hair that is a bit thicker at the base that tends to shed, such as German Shepherds, Labs, Shiba Inus, etc.  You want to brush with the grain of the hair, or how the hair is laying.  You never want to brush against the grain.  Now, with this type of brush, you need to be careful, because this tool is like a blade, and it can brush burn a dog if pressed too hard or is used too frequently over one area.  I brush over one area, then move to another area.  Slicker brushes and combs still work great on these dogs as well, but you tend not need to worry too much about getting close to the skin for tangles.   Huskies and Malamutes also work great with the FURminator brush, but it might take a little more effort because even though they have that thick coat that sheds, it is sometimes hard getting close to the skin because their fur is longer and much more dense.  FURminators are expensive, I am not going to beat around the bush on that.  They run anywhere from $30 to $60, and you can get them at many different locations.  I do feel they are worth it, however, I have not tried any products that are similar to this tool.  So I cannot vouch if there is a good dupe for this product hanging around.

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Image from Amazon; https://www.amazon.com/Safari-W6116-De-matting-Com

A dematting tool can sometimes, SOMETIMES be used on longer coats.  It is a sharp tool used to cut and break apart matts.  When I say sharp, I mean sharp.  You need to be careful handling it because you can cut yourself and the dog.  I tend to use dematters for matts that are away from the skin, that are not super tight, and I feel can be brushed out without causing harm to the pet.  You want to be holding the instrument perpendicular to the pet, and make sure the sharp, jagged edges do not come in contact with the pets skin.  With short, quick strokes, you work through the matt to break it up.  I also like to use a dematter on dogs with long hair and thick undercoats, such as Rough Collies and Newfoundlands.  They are quicker at breaking apart the undercoat and removing it.  Dematting tools don’t seem to run too much.  I’ve been enjoying using the Safari De-matting Comb, that I pick up from Amazon.

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Image from Mars Coat King; https://www.mars

The rake or Mars Coat King is great for brushing out undercoat on longer haired dogs that shed, such as the Golden Retriever, Border Collie, etc, that the FURminator brush wouldn’t work on.  This sometimes reminds people of a dematter, but it is not sharp in the same sense as a dematter.  The prongs tend to be molded inward, like a hook, preventing possibilities of injuring the dog and groomer, but it has a way of hooking onto dead undercoat and pull it out.  These can run a bit pricey depending on the brand.  Some store brands, such as Paw Brothers make a good rake from $8 to around $20.  The actual Mars Coat King brand can be up there in price, but you are paying for quality and lasting power.  So do your research on the brands.

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Image from Amazon; https://www.amazon.com/KONG-ZoomG..

The last brush I recommend is the Zoom Groom, or any type of rubber brush that resembles the Zoom Groom.  This brush can be used dry or wet.  It is great for scrubbing shampoo in a dogs coat while bathing, and it is extremely useful at pulling dead undercoat from short haired shedding dogs such as Pugs, Chihuahuas, Jack Russel Terriers, Labs, etc.  Brushing with the grain of the hair, if you do short, quick strokes, you will see so much dead hair just pull together, and sometimes stick to the brush.  This type of rubberized brush has always been one of my favorites.  This brush does wear down over time, so repurchasing is required.  However, that being said, one rubberized brush like this has lasted me around 8 months to a year, and they are not too overly priced in my opinion.  I have been able to find this product at PetCo, PetSmart, Amazon, and a few others.  Amazon had the cheapest price around $6 if you purchased it as an add on item, just in case you were wondering.

So, those are the brushes that I use constantly, and honestly those are the only brushes I use.  I have not needed to pull in any other brush, or purchase a different brush.  Having those in my kit, I have the necessary brushing tools for any type of coat and coat problem that may arise.  I hope this post was informative and helpful for you.  Any questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to leave them in the comment section down below, and I will get back to you as soon as possible.  Thanks for stopping by, and until next time!

leahsignature

Let's Talk, Matting

Matting: The Tangled Truth

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A severely matted dog that had to be shaved.

Matting is a very touchy subject among some pet parents.  Most pet parents that I have dealt with concerning matted dogs, swear that they brush their dogs out every day or just brushed them out fully before coming in, and have no matts.  Most of the time, that is not the case.  Just to be clear, groomers were not born yesterday, and do not appreciate being lied to.  I have had some clients, when they brought their dog to me, I could tell that they were trying to keep their dog brushed out.  The top part of the coat was brushed out, but unfortunately when breaking apart the coat to look near the skin, it was matted.  Most of the time it was new dog owners, still learning how to maintain their dogs coats.  Those pet parents are usually very understanding and concerned if you show them the matts underneath, and want to learn how to properly maintain their dogs coat.

So what do I mean by matting?  Well, matting is basically severely tangled hair.  There could be a few matts or tangles, most commonly behind the ears and in the arm pits, or matts all over.  Here’s the thing, most matts cannot and should not be brushed out.  It is painful and can rip the skin or cause brush burn.  Every case will be different, but what I am talking about are dogs fully matted.  If you bring a dog to me, that hasn’t seen a groomer in 3-6 months, and you expect me to fully brush out the dog in 2 hours what wasn’t done in the 3-6 months prior, there will be an unpleasant awakening for you.  If matts are extremely tight, the safest and most humane thing to do will be to clipper them out.  You do NOT use scissors to cut out matts that are close to the skin.  Let me make this clear, YOU DO NOT USE SCISSORS TO CUT OUT MATTS CLOSE TO THE SKIN.  I have seen dogs skin sliced open because people, some groomers and some pet parents alike, think it is totally fine to trim out matts that are close to the skin.  Unless you want a vet visit, DO NOT DO IT!

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This dog took over an hour to shave down because he was so severely matted.

Yep, used bold and italics on that.  I cannot stress that enough.  Now, back to matting.  The best thing to do is shave out the matts, and sometimes, shave the dog down.  Unless you have a double coated dog, the hair will grow back.  On double coated dogs that HAVE to be shaved due to matting, there is a possibility the hair might grow back in patches, a different texture, or not at all.  Also, this is for pet parents, do not blame the groomer because your dog had to be shaved.  It is not the groomers fault, nor your dogs fault, for being matted.  If you decided you wanted a long hair dog, you need to be able to put in the time and effort to upkeep the dog.  Letting a dog become severely matted is a form of animal cruelty, just to be perfectly clear.  Depending on the matting, as well the groomer, severe matting can be reported to animal control.  All it takes is about 15 to 20 minutes, using a slicker brush and a comb to work through the dogs hair, every other day to help prevent matting.

Matting is not pleasant for the dog.  When matts pull at the skin it is painful and it can cut off the air circulation to the skin.  Matts can harbor moisture and bacteria underneath, and once shaved off can reveal skin and bacterial infections.  However, like I have stated, if a dog is matted, the most humane thing to do is shave them down.  There is another important topic that coincides with matting, that I know I speak for all groomers concerning this.  If a dog has to be shaved down due to matting, please do not laugh at it, call it names, or call it ugly.  If you are a pet parent and you do this, or one of your family members do this, your dog knows.  Your dog will feel the demeanor change in your voice.  It is not your dogs fault that they had to be shaved down.  It is not your groomers fault for having to shave down your dog.  The responsibility of brushing out your dog REGULARLY falls on you and your family.  I know I am being blunt and harsh, but that is the God’s honest truth.  I have had people yell at me because I had to shave down their matted dog.  I have had such severely matted dogs that their coats came off in sheets.  Then, when they have picked up their dog, they proceeded to laugh at their dog and call it ugly.  Then call back and yell at me because they claim that their dog is embarrassed that it’s shaved, and won’t come out of hiding.  Although I’m not a mind reader, I have been working with dogs long enough to read dogs body language well.  Dogs can sense demeanor changes in the parent, groomer, handler, etc, and you can truly hurt and upset your dog by what you say to them and how you say it.  Again, it is not the dogs fault or groomers fault that you cannot brush your dog.  To be clear, this small informative rant is directed more towards people that bring in matted dogs every time, expecting groomers to do what they didn’t do in 3-6 months prior.  I am, as well as most groomers, very understanding about some matts.  I have had several customers that unexpected life events happen, and brushing their dog wasn’t a priority, whether it be family death, illness, etc.  There are always exceptions to every rule, but unfortunately, when it comes to matted dogs, the previous paragraph is what most groomers deal with.

The reason that paragraph is so heated is because I love dogs.  I love dogs more than most people.  When dogs are treated as commodities, and not as living, breathing, feeling, loving creatures, I get upset, as do most groomers.  If you are a pet parent, and need tips on brushing out your dog because you want to avoid all of that (good for you, and thank you), stay tuned for Wednesday’s post, which will be about brushing techniques.  Also, don’t hesitate to ask your groomer.  Groomers love giving advice and want to help you maintain a happy and healthy dog.  I have shown so many customers brushing techniques and am absolutely happy to help!  Some groomers even offer in between brush outs from $10 to $20, where you can call them up, and they can help brush your dog for 10-20 minutes.

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A puppy that have to be shaved down, because the pet parent wasn’t brushing close to the skin, but the top coat was brushed out.  A very common problem with new pet parents.

If all else fails, and you know you cannot maintain your dogs coat, or maybe you unfortunately cannot afford to get your dog groomed as often as you would like, that is totally fine.  The best bet on that would be to keep your dog short.  Your dogs face, ears, and tail don’t have to be as short as the body, as long as those are brushed out, but it will help on the ease of maintenance.

Groomers, do not be afraid to say no.  If a pet parent brings in a matted dog, and wants you to brush it out, do not let them intimidate you.  When I was a younger groomer, that happened a lot.  I didn’t want a customer to yell at me, or be upset with me.  Every once in a while I can still get a little nervous.  However, you always need to make sure you are doing what is best for the dog.  If a dog is matted and needs to be shaved, and the owner doesn’t want to do that, send the dog away.  You are not going to compromise the dogs safety and wellness for a pet parents vanity.  For grooming, the dogs safety and well being comes first.

Well, yet another long discussion.  Hopefully that was helpful and informative.  If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please leave them in the comment section down below.  Till next time!

leahsignature

First Impression

First Impression: ikaria Comfort Pet Shampoo

ikariaimpression0825-001This is an exciting day for me, because today I am going to do a first impression on a new shampoo.  Every time I have done a large order through Pet Edge, they have graciously sent out new products to try.  Well, today I am going to try out one of those products.  It is the ikaria Pet Shampoo in the Comfort formula.  Before we go into the impression, I will talk about some of the claims that are on the bottle, go over the ingredient deck list to see if there is any cause for concerns, and talk about the overall rating of this product by other users.  Also, one other side note, the I in ikaria is not capitalized for a reason, that is exactly how it appears on their labels and products.

Looking up this product, I was able to locate it on Pet Edge, Amazon, Walmart, and Jet.com.  Prices range from $8.99 to $16.99 for the 16 ounce bottle.  Pet Edge was the least expensive, while Amazon was the most expensive.  Looking at the ratings, this product ranged from 4 to 4.5 stars out of 5 from consumers.

Like stated in the title, I have the Comfort version of this shampoo, which has a sandalwood, vanilla, and basmati water scent, and this formula claims to calm dry, itchy skin as well as help prevent hot spots.  Going off of the back of the bottle, the purpose of the ikaria line is using essential oils and plants in the product, and use salon-quality and human-grade ingredients.  It claims to be safe for dogs, cats, puppies, and kittens over 8 weeks old, and contains gentle coconut cleansing and conditioning agents, oatmeal and silk proteins, aloe, Vitamin E, and Pro Vitamin B5.  It can be diluted for use as much as 6:1, but can be used straight.

Now, I am going to go over the ingredient deck list.  Now usually with any ingredient deck list, they are listed in order from the amount of each ingredient contained in the product.  The first ingredient is water, the next are some surfactants, both anionic and amphoteric. “Surfactants are compounds that lower the surface tension (or interfacial tension) between two liquids or between a liquid and a solid. Surfactants may act as detergents, wetting agents, emulsifiers, foaming agents, and dispersants,” (Wikipedia).  On the bottle, the surfactants are said to be gentle coconut derived cleansing agents.  Next we have cocamidopropyl betaine and cocamide DEA, both of which are derived from coconut oil.  Here is where this can be a cause of concern for some.  “California listed cocamide DEA in June 2012 as a chemical known to cause cancer based on the assessment by The International Agency for Research on Cancer, which evaluated skin exposure tests on animals,” (CEH.org).  On both of these ingredients, Dogs Naturally Magazine claimed that these ingredients are dangerous in dog shampoos, 20 Ingredient’s You Don’t Want In Your Dogs Shampoo and 3 Dangerous Ingredient Groups In Your Dog’s Shampoo.  However, researching the FDA, or the Food and Drug Administration site, they see no cause for concern with these substances in products.  From what I have read and understand about these substances, is that they can be mild, skin irritating substances.  Other articles I have found on this subject are from Decoded Science and EGW’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. The purpose of these substances are for foaming and thickening in this product.  Next down on the list is glycol stearate, a conditioning agent/emollient, then oatmeal protein, silk protein, and aloe barbadensis, used for soothing, comforting, and moisturizing the skin.  Panthenol follows, which is a provitamin of B5, and is used for moisturizing and lubricating (EGW).  Then we have Vitamin E, Sandalwood with Vanilla & Basmati Rice essences, citric acid, DMDM Hydantoin, which is a preservative, and FD&C Yellow #5, which help gives it the yellow coloring.  Now, with DMDM Hydantoin it is an antimicrobial formaldehyde, but the purpose of this substance is to help prevent mold and bacteria from growing in the product, helping the product have a longer shelf-life, and with the ingredient being the second to last substance in the product, it doesn’t raise any cause for concern for me.  So after going through the ingredient deck list, the only cause of concern I have is dealing with the cocamidopropyl betaine and the cocamide DEA.  With anything, do your own research and come to your own conclusions.  I do know those substances to be in a wide range of products, not only for animals but as well as humans, and I have not had an issue, nor any of my dogs, so I feel comfortable using this product.  I do intend to find 100% natural and organic shampoos and conditioners to research and review in the future.

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Here is the ikaria shampoo on Xandria, and as you can see it suds up very nicely.

Alright, now that we got the base of the product information out of the way, let’s talk about this shampoo!  When smelling the shampoo, it has a light, clean scent.  Sandalwood and vanilla is detectable, but not overpowering.  It is not a super viscous product, it is slightly runny, but not so thin such as water.  The product is not very opaque, it has a light yellow tint to it, and almost a glossy, pearlescent appearance.  For today, I am trying this product out on a Bichon Frise, who has a nice dense coat.  When applying the shampoo to the coat, I used a small palm size amount, and noticed it spread and lathered easily.  It produced a nice suds that I was able to work throughout the body, without having to pour out additional product.  The shampoo rinsed easily and I did not feel there was any residue left on my dog.  I did not add additional products today to the coat, such as my normal conditioner and leave-in conditioner I use, for I wanted to see how the product would perform on its own.  After towel drying my dog, I proceeded to velocity dry his coat.  Dry time was about the same, I did not notice any lengthened or shortened amount of dry time.  After brushing out the coat, I noticed that the coat was nice and soft, and it was easy to brush out.  The residual scent on my dog is not overpowering, it is light and clean, but barely there.

Overall, first impression is that I enjoyed using this shampoo.  I have a few pet parents that do not like overpowering scents, but still want their dog to smell good, and I feel this would fit the bill.  Obviously since this is not a full review, I cannot determine whether or not this shampoo helps prevent hot spots, or if it soothes itchy skin.  The next time the Bichon comes in, I am going to take a look at his skin and coat, and check to see if there has been any change, I am also going to give it a try on Lillith, my own dog, because she is famous for getting hot spots and having really itchy, dry skin.  So, look for a full review in the future on this product to know my final thoughts.

Also, disclaimer, because it being 2017, we need a disclaimer for everything.  This product was sent to me as a sample from a larger order that I purchased from Pet Edge.  I did not know they were going to send me this product, nor did Pet Edge or ikaria pay me or ask me to do this first impressions.  This is all my own choosing and doing.  I give my honest opinion no matter what, because frankly I don’t give a damn what other people want me to do or say.  Another side note, the pet parent of the Bichon Frise knew I was going to try a new shampoo on her dog.  I asked her permission to try out this shampoo.  She is excited and hopes this shampoo works out.  Any questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to leave them in the comment section down below.  Till next time.

leahsignature

 

How To

Drying Tips & Tricks

dryingtechniques0823-004There is a lot that goes into drying a dog, and unfortunately this is one of my the main aspects of grooming that dogs don’t care for.  Can we really blame them though?  The dryer is usually very loud, and blows air hard and fast to help dry the coat quick.  For any aspect of grooming, after a bath, the dog needs to be fully dried.  For haircuts, it is not a good thing to run blades and equipment over wet hair, it will rust your equipment, and dull it, making it necessary to have your tools sharpened more frequently.  On top of that, it is difficult to give an even, good looking haircut, when there are tufts of damp spots all over.  On the same aspect, you do not want to be brushing a wet dog.  It is not good for the dogs coat or skin.  Also, if you are trying to get undercoat out, don’t expect to get any out unless the dog is fully dried.  Wet hair clings together, is dense and stays closer to the skin.  Drying helps break apart the hair, pull it away from the skin, and enables you to fully brush out that undercoat.

When drying a dog, I have noticed their most sensitive areas to dry are the butt, feet, and head.  The butt because air that is blowing around their anal opening feels immensely strange, and they just want to sit down.  Feet because a good amount of dogs do not like their feet messed with too much, I mean, they do walk on them, so I would be sensitive as well.  The head, well, the head should be pretty obvious.  The dryer being super loud, blasting air in their ears, air going up their nose and their mouths, of course they are not going to like it!  However, we are going to touch on ways of drying, and helping the dogs cope as best as possible, with as little stress as possible.

dryingtechniques0823-001One thing that I like to do after the bath and towel drying the dog a little is spray in a leave-in conditioner.  Whichever you prefer, I always go with The Stuff, it helps shorten drying time, helps me brush out the coat quicker, softens the coat, and makes it shiny.  If interested further on this subject, click here to go to my full review on The Stuff.  Then, I like to put cotton balls in the dogs ears before I dry them.  Now, I don’t have to do this with every single dog, because I have quite a few dogs that tolerate the dryer beautifully.  However, putting cotton balls in the ears during the drying process helps block the ear canal from the harsh air flow, as well as dull down some of the noise.  This is especially helpful with puppies.

When I start drying a dog, I always, ALWAYS like to start with their back end.  The reason for this is it helps give them time to adjust to the noise and the feeling.  You want to hold the base of the nozzle where it connects to the hose.  If you hold the hose, it can burn your hand, because the machine can heat up the hose.  You can try out different motions to dry the dog, but you want to try and use your shoulder to move the hose back and forth.  Using your wrist and elbow can cause strain and injury.  Groomers are famous for getting tendonitis and carpal tunnel.  I slowly work down the backs of the legs, then move up towards their heads.  Now, you need to be able to read the dog, and adjust your drying with the dogs needs.  If it is a new dog, and you have a two speed dryer, try it on low speed or one speed first, to see their reaction, so how comfortable they are with the drying process.  I dry puppies differently, and I will touch on that in a second.  Usually, at this point I am drying with a nozzle on, example shown on the side.  If the dog seems to be tolerating it well, I will dry their body as much as I can with the nozzle on the hose.  For their head, I take the hose and dry them at a distance, just to get the bulk of the water off their head, but again, I will adjust accordingly to how the dog is reacting.  If they are stressing out about their head being dried, I will back off, and continue with their body.  At this point, if I am at my professional grooming facility, I will turn off the dryer, and put the dog in the kennel and put a kennel dryer on them, as long as they don’t have any breathing or trachea issues.  Now, to make this part perfectly clear, the kennels I use are not fully enclosed, and do not have a plastic covering to encase them.  The kennel dryers I use are not heated, they blow room temperature air, at a low speed.  Think of a box fan that you use for your house, on low speed. I do this to give the dog a break for a bit and to help get some of the excess water to fall off their coat.  This also helps with the drying time later.

dryingtechniques0823-002After a good break, I take them out, place them on my table and hook them up, and start the drying process again.  However this time, I take the nozzle off the dryer.  Now it will feel more like a high powered hair dryer, dispersing air in a larger area.  Now with this method, you do need to be careful of the air heating up, because even though it is not a heated dryer, it is still a machine.  You always want to be checking the temperature of the air leaving the hose.  Too hot for you, too hot for the dog.  The nozzle off approach is exactly how I start with puppies, I NEVER attempt to dry a puppy with the nozzle on the first couple of times, I want to slowly introduce them to drying.  It is stressful and scary enough as is for puppies on their first few grooming experiences.  Doing the same thing as when I originally started, with the nozzle off I start drying the coat at the back end, then I work section to section.  Going down a leg, fully drying a foot, moving to the other legs, etc.  You want to make sure that the coat is fully dried, all the way down to the skin.  When you can see every strand separated, instead of big clumps of strands, that is usually a good indicator the coat is dry.  Also, use your hands or even have someone else go over and see if they feel any damp spots.

Now, time to dry the head.  Like I have said previously, this is one of the main issues dogs have with drying.  If you put cotton in their ears before drying the first time, check to see if they are still in there, if not place new ones.  Now when drying their face, I like to hold on to their muzzle.  The reason for that is because I can help hold their face (as best as they will let me), to help control where I am blowing the air.  I try and avoid their noses as much as possible.  I like to blow on top of their head, down the sides of their cheeks, I will then lift their chin and dry under there, and keep repeating that process for a few minutes, then give the dog a break to dry their ears.  Now, with the ears I am going to try and explain this as best as I can.  I like essentially fold the base of their ears, covering their ear canal; this helps to further prevent air from blowing into their ears.  So, I tend to pinch the opening of the canal closed with my forefinger, middle finger, and thumb, then use my ring finger and pinky to hold up the rest of the ear so I can dry the ear.  This for me is second nature, but I promise you, holding the ear canal closed helps the dog tolerate drying the ears more.  It might take some time getting use to, but try different holds that help keep the canal closed, and you will have an easier time drying the ear because the dogs tend not to freak out or stress out as much.

dryingtechniques0823-003With the nozzle off, I keep bouncing from area to area, if they are starting to get stressed with me drying their head, I got an work on their body.  I do not like to stay drying in one place too long, because as I have stated previously, the dryer can heat up, warming up the air.  I don’t want to stick the dryer on one place for more than a few seconds at a time, because I do not want to hurt them.  Keep bouncing around, and stay at a distance from your dog, I would say about 6 to 8 inches.  If you notice the dog is stressing out, regardless of giving certain areas a break, give the dog another break.  You never want to compromise the safety and well being of your dog.  If it takes longer, oh well, you need to do what is best for the dog.

Now, if you are drying at home, with your own hair dryer, you can use the same drying techniques with the nozzle removed from the hose as your own hair dryer.  HOWEVER, hair dryers are heated!  If you have a cool setting, you need to be using it.  If your hair dryer does not have a cool setting, you are going to be drying your dog for a while at a distance, because getting too close to a dogs skin with a heated dryer, you will burn their skin.  You need to be a good distance away, and have your hand touching your dog while drying so you can keep a constant feel of the air temperature.  Drying at home may be a little more tricky, because you need to make sure you have a spot where your dog is secure, but safe.  You want to make sure if anything were to stress out your dog, you could quickly detach them if needed.

One final note is that I do not like brushing out dogs while drying.  I want to fully focus on drying my dog first, that way I can focus on thoroughly brushing them later.  I will be having a post coming up on brushing techniques for different coats.  Any questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to leave them in the comment section down below.  Till next time.

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Let's Talk

Bringing Groomer’s Pictures

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A side view of a freshly groomed dog, making sure to get the entire body in the picture.

Here is something that I’ve seen somewhat discussed, but not in full detail that I think is needed.  When pet parents bring pictures to their groomer of what they want their dog to look like.  I have known quite a few groomers who absolutely hate when pet parents bring in photos as reference.  However, I don’t mind.  I’m going to discuss a few important points of bringing groomers pictures, and hopefully groomers and pet parents alike will be viewing this a little differently.

When a pet parent brings in a picture of how they want their dog to look like, it does help the groomer with more of a visual representation of what the pet parent is looking for.  Groomers are not mind readers, so having a visual aid can be very helpful.  However, there are several things that need to be considered when bringing in pictures.

Firstly, when searching for pictures, you want to be searching for dogs that most resemble your dog.  Not only are you looking for pictures of the same breed, but you want to resemble the hair type as much as possible.  What I mean is, if you have a Miniature Schnauzer, do not bring in a picture of a Bichon Frise.  Why is that important?  Well, groomers cannot change the texture and look of your dogs coat.  We cannot replicate a look based off a different breed and coat type.

Another thing to consider, look for pictures of dogs freshly groomed.  I have had a lot of pet parents bring me in pictures of dogs wanting a specific length or look, and the dogs hair in the picture was grown out.  When hair is dirty and grown out, trying to match that is very difficult, because what you see in the picture will not be what you see on the dog.  To try and explain this a little better, I will give you an example.  I had a customer bring me in a picture of their dog when he had shorter hair.  This dog was a rescue and had a lot of skin issues, causing patches of missing fur.  That picture was the grow out after clearing up his skin.  It looked to be about 1/2 inch left all over his body.  Now, here is the problem with that.  His coat was super shiny and soft.  When I did his all over haircut, his shiny coat was gone.  Now, of course I explained this to the customer, well tried to explain it to the best of my abilities, as well as the cons of cutting into his fur, but he was not happy because it did not match the picture.  Again, even though I explained everything to him before the groom, he was not happy.  I’m sure if you are a groomer, you know where that went to.

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A good front view, including the full front of the face and body.

Also, please have the pictures printed out on quality printer paper, and let the groomer be able to hang on to it for reference for the groom.  Looking at a phone for a minute does not help the groomer, nor if it is a poor quality picture on printer paper.  Try and find pictures that showcase the front of the dog, head on so the groomer can look at the entire head, a front view of the dog sitting, as well as a standing side view of the dog.  Having those angles gives a better visual for the groomer.

One final thing to consider when bringing in a picture for your groomer, there is practically NO WAY the groomer will be able to match the picture 100%, regardless if it is a freshly groomed picture of your own dog.  There is no way to tell the actual length of the body, the head, ears, etc.  Groomers use their best judgment on what the picture is entailing and use their skills to match it as best as they can.  Please remember that they are human beings and not machines.  Keep in mind that groomers can jot down notes of the exact haircut they did, and because hair DOES grow back (unless we are talking about a shave down on a double coat dog, click here to read that post), they can make alterations for next time.  Groomers are not perfect, and do the best they can with what they got.

Hope that was helpful!  Any questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to leave them in the comment section below!  Till next time!

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Review

Review: The Stuff

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Image from Amazon; https://www.amazon.com/The-Stuff-16oz-Conditioner-Detangler/dp…

Today let’s talk about… The Stuff. Yes, The Stuff. It is a hypoallergenic, non-toxic leave-in conditioner. The claims, reading from the bottle I have, is that it is a coat conditioner, it helps shorten grooming time, it is a tangle remover and preventer, helps removes winter undercoat, repels dirt, dust, and urine, is pH controlled, and is suitable for all breeds. The Stuff is made in the USA by T*H*E Laboratories, Inc. I have been using The Stuff for almost 2 years now, and hopefully that says something about the product. Now, it does have a few drawbacks, but let’s talk about the pros that I have found with this product.

 

The way that I use it, that I have found works best, is to spray it into the coat after bathing and towel drying, but before velocity drying. Giving it time to sink into the hair follicles, I feel, helps utilize this product with the coats. It has a very light clean, almost lemon scent, but the smell dissipates after drying. Using this product, I have noticed a huge difference in drying time, as well as coat condition. Drying time is shortened, and the coat is left soft and shiny. I have also noticed that the coat is much easier to brush out. The reason I give these notes, is because I have done many side by side comparisons using 2 dogs from the same family with the same type of coat. One set I’ve tried this one was two Shetland Sheepdogs. I bathed the dogs at the same time, with the same shampoos, towel dried them, then sprayed one of them with The Stuff, and the other I did not. I then had one person dry one, while I dried the other. The one I had, which had The Stuff sprayed into his coat, was dry before the its brother. After brushing both dogs, my dog had a much softer and shinier coat, which even the pet parent recognized. I have done this experiment around 5 times now, and the results after the 2 time were more than conclusive for me. I cannot speak for the repulsion of dirt, dust, and urine or the product being pH controlled.

Another way I like to use this product is with matts. If I have a dog that is not fully matted, but maybe has a few tangles on his tail and maybe one on his ear, before the bath I will spray some of The Stuff onto those tangles, then lightly brush the product into the coat. I will let it sit for a couple of minutes, and then give the dog a bath. After the bath, I will concentrate a spray on the tangles, work it in with my fingers, then again, let it sit. When the dog is fully dried, brushing out the tangle is a breeze. Just a small side note, this product does not leave the hair greasy or oil. It melds in with the hair follicle and softens the hair without adding weight, texture, or grease/oil.

The price point for this product is right on the money, if you order it from a wholesaler, such as Ryan’s Pet Supplies or Pet Edge. Looking on Amazon at the time of writing this, The Stuff for 16oz Ready to Use is around $16, with Prime free shipping. However, that same size is $8.79 on Ryan’s Pet Supplies and $5.99 on Pet Edge, but you still need to factor in shipping. There is also the concentrated version, which you can dilute yourself, and even though you may be spending a little more upfront, you end up with more product in the long run at a lower cost per ounce. Another plus side to this product, is you do not need to use much, which extends the life of the product. A couple of sprays over the coat, and lightly rubbing it in will suffice.

Now, lets talk about the couple of draw backs. If this product lands on smooth floors, such as tile or linoleum, it will cause the surface to be extremely slick. There is a caution on the back of the bottle explaining this, so I am very appreciative of that. However, the second draw back of this product, is that there are no ingredients listed. I have searched Amazon, Ryan’s Pet Supplies, Pet Edge, as well as T*H*E Laboratories website, where they have a .PDF file with information about The Stuff, but not an ingredient deck list. I do not know why they do not have their ingredients listed on the product or the website, but that can raise some red flags to certain pet parents. I trust this product, I use it on my own dogs as well as clients dogs, and have yet to have an issue or cause for concern. As recommended with any new product, do a patch test and see how it interacts with the dogs skin and coat.

So in the end, would I recommend this product? Absolutely. The pros of this product, along with the immediate noticeable difference, makes this product well worth it. The softness and shine of the coats, along the added bonus of decreasing drying and brushing time, makes this product a necessity at my place of business. I hope this review was helpful, and if you have any product recommendations, things you would like me to test out and review, feel free to leave them in the comment section down below, along with any questions, comments, or concerns. Till next time!

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Basic Information, How To

The De-Shedding Treatment

FURminatorbeforeSo we have talked about basic bathing, now we are going to go further into bathing with the DeShedding Treatment.  It sounds more daunting than it truly is.  It is a technique using a de-shedding shampoo as well as a conditioner, blowing it into the coat, and doing a thorough brush out after fully drying.  This technique is recommended for double coated dogs that shed.  This type of service is not needed for dogs such as Malteses, Bichon Frises, or Poodles.  Examples of shedding dogs, Shiba Inus, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and Siberian Huskies.

Now, there are several shampoo brands out there that carry de-shedding shampoos and conditioners.  For today’s reference purpose, I am going to use the FURminator Shampoo and Conditioner, because that is what I use for this treatment on my own dogs as well as clients dogs at the grooming facility I work at.  Side note: Not sponsored.  I purchase these products on my own and have been using them for years.  They work great for me, never had any issues with them, and will continue to use them unless something happens.

So, after you started the bathing process, click here if you need a refresher, the shampoo that you will use to lather would be the de-shedding shampoo, in my case, the FURminator shampoo.  Work it all over the dog’s body from the base of the head, around the neck, and back.  The FURminator shampoo is NOT hypo-allergenic, so if your dog has skin allergies, I would not recommend using this shampoo.  Most de-shedding shampoos are not hypo-allergenic.  The de-shedding treatment is still possible, at this stage just use a hypo-allergenic shampoo as the base.  Then, time to put on the FURminator conditioner.  The FURminator conditioner is hypo-allergenic, which is one reason I enjoy this product because even on dogs that have allergies but shed, I can still use this treatment.  Rub the conditioner in well, starting at the base of the head, around the neck, and back.  Make sure you get the tail, butt area, and sides really well with these products.  Now, it comes time to blow the products into the coat.  This is where a high powered velocity dryer comes in handy.  You want to blow the product into the coat, it shouldn’t take more than a minute or two.  After that, let the product sit for about 5 minutes.  If you don’t have a high powered velocity dryer, just let the product sit for about 10 minutes.

After letting the product sit, it is time to fully rinse the dog.  Now, if you are using the FURminator products, it will take longer than normal to rinse out all of the product.  As I said in my bathing basics post if you think you are done fully rinsing the dog, rinse all over one more time.  Then towel dry, getting as much excess water off, eye wash, then optional, spray on a leave-in conditioner.  I then take the dryer and fully dry the dog.  You want the dog 100% completely dry, they cannot be damp for the next step.  If you have a velocity dryer, awesome if you are bathing them at home and need them to air dry, just wait till the next day.

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Image from FURminator, http://www.furminator.com/Products/Dogs/dog-grooming-deshedding-tools/how-to-stop-dog-from-shedding-medium-long-hair-dog-grooming.aspx

Now that the dog is fully dry, and like I said, they cannot be damp, it is time to brush them out.  If you were able to use a velocity dryer, you are not going to have to brush as much.  If you were not able to use a velocity dryer, you are going to be brushing for a bit.  Depending on the dog’s coat, you can either use a tool like the FURminator brush or some sort of Coat King or Rake.  FURminator’s tend to work best on shorter coat dogs, Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, and Siberian Huskies.  Coat Kings or Rakes work best on longer haired dogs, such as Golden Retrievers, Newfoundlands, and Border Collies.  A slicker brush and comb will also be helpful in this process.  One side piece of information concerning the FURminator brush, you do not want to run it over the same spot more than a couple of times, max 3 to 4 passes over one area.  The reason for this is the FURminator brush is like a blade, and it can cause irritation and brush burn on the dog’s skin if you press too hard and go over the same area too many times.  I like to do a few passes over per area then use a slicker brush and a comb.  Again with the slicker brush, dogs can get brush burn, so try not to press too hard on the dog’s skin.  After I have done both of those steps, I follow through with a fine tooth comb, and it will help find further thick areas that I need to work on.  If you were able to use a velocity dryer, most of the time about 10 to 20 minutes will suffice for brushing, but that also varies due to the condition of the dog’s coat.  If you were not able to use a velocity dryer, I would not do more than 30 to 40 minutes.  If you are at home and it is your dog, I would do 30 minutes one day, space out a few days and do another 30 minutes of deep brushing to break up the undercoat.

FURminatorafterNow, I do know with the FURminator treatment, I cannot vouch for all of the other de-shedding shampoos and conditioners, if you or the client is consistent about doing the treatment every 4-8 weeks, it has potential to help curb shedding up to 90%.  Consistency is extremely important for this service.  You cannot do this service one time and expect the shedding to be down by 90%, it does not work that way.  I have several clients that do this service, and we have been consistent with it, and their dogs hardly shed anymore.  Like I said, they are consistent.

Well, yet another long post.  Sorry about the lengths, but I am trying to be as detailed and thorough as possible.  Hopefully, it was easy to follow, and you learned something new!  Any questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to leave them in the comment section below.  Also, like I stated earlier, this is not a sponsored post, I bought the products mentioned and shown myself.  I have been using these products for years.  Okay, enough for now.  Till next time!

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