Basic Information, How To

Nails, the Daunting Task… or is it?

whitetoes0906-002One of the biggest obstacles when starting out either grooming professionally, or trying to maintain your dog at home, is trimming nails.  It can be a daunting and scary task, because no one wants to make the dog bleed.  However, once you get the hang of it, trimming and grinding nails ends up being a piece of cake.  If the dog is really well behaved, I can trim the nails on all four paws in under a minute, no exaggeration.

whitetoes0906-001When a dog has white nails, it feels a lot easier, because for the most part, you can easily recognize the quick, the blood vessel that resides in the nail.  Your goal is to trim as close to the quick as possible without injuring the blood vessel, causing it to bleed.  In the video I am correlating with this post, you will see me use a grinder or dremel.  I prefer this method just because I can get closer to the quick and smooth out the nail so that it isn’t sharp.  However, I am going to be talking about trimming, because that is the easiest way to ease into nail trimming.

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Safari Nail Triimer, image from Amazon; https://www.amazon.com/Safar…

First, you want to find a good, sharp pair of nail trimmers.  Right now, I have been using the Safari brand nail trimmers for Small/Medium dogs, which can be purchased on Amazon, Ryan’s, and other pet supply stores.  Image is shown on the side.  I do NOT recommend ANY Guillotine style nail trimmer, EVER.  The reason for this is because you have to put the dogs nail through a hole in the tool, then you squeeze the tool which then trims off that nail guillotine style.  Why do I not recommend this?  You can trim off a lot more than you intended to, causing serious damage to the dogs nail.  Dogs feet are constantly moving and twitching.  It is immensely rare for a dog to hold perfectly still like a statue.  I have had someone come to me, because they tried trimming their dogs nails at home with a Guillotine trimmer, and cut the nail down to the foot, leaving a small nub, because the dog moved when trimming.  When a nail is cut that short, and you cannot stop the bleeding with Styptic powder (I’ll explain what this is in a moment), the dog needs to be taken to the vet and the quick cauterized to stop the bleeding.  That can be a traumatic experience for the pet.  Sometimes, experiences of that type of nature, can cause dogs to be extremely fearful and aggressive when their feet are being handled.  One bad experience can “ruin” a dog for its nails, unfortunately.

stypticpowder0906-002The second item would be Styptic Powder.  Styptic powder is a type of cauterizing agent in powder for, that if you slightly quick the dogs nail, you put a small amount on, and hold for about 15 to 20 seconds.  This usually stops the bleeding,  Fair warning, do not open this product after it has been shook around.  You don’t need to shake this product around to use it, but if it drops on the floor, give it a few minutes to settle because the cloud of powder that emerges is very potent, and will more than likely make you cough.  Also, this product stains.  I would recommend putting a towel down below where you are trimming your dogs nails, so that way if you do accidentally quick the dog, the styptic powder falls on the towel.  It stains your fingers, floors, clothes, and it does not want to come out.  If you do not have styptic powder, and you are at home, some cornstarch or flour will suffice, just use the same method of placing a little product on the bleeding quick and hold for 15 to 20 seconds to stop the bleeding.  If you slightly quick the dog, it can be upsetting, but quicking a dog lightly stings almost like a hang nail for us, and a majority of the time, dogs don’t make any sound or movement that you quicked them.  Your goal is not to quick them, but things do happen.  Some dogs have immensely long quicks, and sometimes you feel you can trim more, but sadly cannot.

Now that we got the tools out of the way, let’s talk about holding the foot and trimming the nails.  You want to find a position that is comfortable for you as well as the dog.  You also want to be careful of the placement of the dogs limbs.  You want to be holding the dogs feet and legs in natural positions.  If a dog is kicking or fighting to get out of your grasp, and this dog is known for being really good at getting their nails done, then you are probably pulling their legs into an unnatural position, causing discomfort.  I like to have my dogs about hip level on me on a table, so that way I can reach my arm over and under them to grasp which ever leg I need.  I tend to lift the leg and bend it straight back at around a 45 degree angle, I don’t want the foot and leg completely perpendicular to leg naturally.

blacknails0906-002Now it is time for the trimming part.  While holding the foot firmly but still comfortably for you and the dog, you want to take your trimmers and lightly tip the nail.  You want to just trim a little bit off at a time.  If the dog has white nails, you are looking for the pink quick amongst the white.  It is always better to trim a little bit off at a time, then to go in all Wyatt Earp.  If the dog has black nails, you are looking for the black dot inside the white part of the nail.  See the picture on the side. I know it is a little hard to see, but right at the tip of where the arrow is pointing is the black dot amongst the white part of the nail.  That is the quick.  At the bottom, I will have a video showcasing myself grinding Xandria’s nails, and showing you the quick.

Like I said previously, just trim the nail a little bit at a time.  It is going to take some time getting use to holding the feet, holding the trimmer, figuring out how much pressure and grip you can use.  It can take anywhere from 1 to 3 months for new bathers to get fully comfortable with trimming nails, because it can be scary and intimidating.  However, with enough practice and confidence, you’ll be able to get to a point of trimming dogs nails in under a minute.  The frequency of how often a dogs nails need to be trimmed honestly depends on the dog.  I can do my own girls once a month, and their nails are still nice and short.  If a dog has really long quicks, I would recommend once every two weeks to help expose the quick, meaning you trimmed down to the quick without making the dog bleed, and to help the quick recede.  The process of getting a quick to recede also varies on the dog.  Sometimes it takes only a few months, sometimes longer.  I would recommend every 2 to 4 weeks for nails to be trimmed on dogs.  The longer pet parents or you wait to trim the dogs nails, the higher chances of the quick growing with the nail, and more chances of injury, such as getting caught on objects, and either breaking a nail or completely ripping out the nail, which I have seen both.  If you are a pet parent, and this still seems a bit daunting for you, most grooming facilities either offer walk in services for nail trims, or appointments for nail trims.  Either way, call the facility and ask about any paperwork you might need to bring, and any policies they have.

Well, I hope all of this was helpful.  With enough time and practice anyone can become a pro at trimming nails.  Some dogs will be more difficult than others, and if it is your own dog, they can sense when you are nervous about trimming their nails, and I guarantee you they will use that to their advantage.  Worse case scenario, you will need to take your dog to a groomer, or have the nails done by the vet.  One more tidbit of information, some vets offer nail trimming that can be painful to the dog, but on very rare occasions it is necessary.  What some vets offer to do is trim the dogs nails all the way down to a nub, and cauterize the nail.  The dog is sedated for this procedure, but imagine someone taking 3/4 of your nail and removing it.  Your nails will be extremely sore, and painful.  Then imagine type and doing everyday tasks with your nails.  It will hurt.  That is how it feels to dogs to have this procedure done, because they have to walk on their feet.  However, like I said, it is extremely rare, but really only done when truly necessary.  Usually when a dogs nails are so long, and even trimming them regularly the quick is not receding, and the dogs nails are becoming injured.  This is also possible for dogs who are extremely aggressive over having their nails done, so that way they don’t have to get their nails done often.  I never recommend this procedure unless I feel the procedure would greatly benefit the dog.  Always, always, always consult with your vet in regards to this procedure.

Okay, well, this was an extremely long post, but I wanted to try and get as much information as possible on this subject.  If there are any questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to leave them in the comment section down below and I will try to get back to you as quickly as I can.  Till next time!

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Let's Talk

Over-bathing

Zues0802Over-bathing is a topic that I unfortunately deal with frequently.  New pet parents especially, but I have had pet parents who have had their pets for years, and this problem still arises.  The argument I hear is that their dog stinks, they get too dirty, they like their pet super fluffy, or they just don’t know that they are causing more harm than good for their pet.  Now, there are some pets that need to get bathed frequently because they are prescribed a shampoo from their veterinarian with specific instructions to bathe frequently.  This post is not about that.

The most you should be bathing your pet is once a month, and no more.  Again, unless instructed by your vet otherwise.  When you over-bathe your pet, you are stripping all of the natural oils and bacteria from their skin, which can cause dry skin or skin irritation in the form of hot spots.  They tend to itch more, and another adverse affect of over-bathing is it can get to a point where their body is overproducing oils, because their skins balance is out of wack.  This causes them to have a greasy coat and irritated skin, along with a distinct odor, which then it becomes necessary to bathe them more frequently with a vet recommended shampoo.  Over-bathing takes away the pets natural barrier and defense against skin conditions and natural elements.

I will say this, there are some breed books that discuss show grooming, for example the Saluki, and they instruct to bathe the Saluki every couple of days, to once a week.  I have not researched further as to why that is needed and what the logic behind that is, but this post is going for more of the family pet, who is not involved in show grooming.

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Paw Choice Waterless Shampoo Click Here to go to Amazon page to purchase. Image downloaded from the Amazon page.

Now, some recommendations I have are use dog wipes in between if your pet gets dirty, or a bit stinky.  Rubbing them down with the dog wipe, then brushing out their coat, helps get rid of dirt.  Also, giving your dog a quick spritz of a doggy cologne helps alleviate the odor.  There are a wide range of scents available on the market, from bakery good scents to floral and fruity.  Most major pet chains and smaller pet shops carry these, as well as online shops such as Amazon.  If you have a dog who is extremely sensitive to shampoos and fragrances, just look for a hypo-allergenic dog wipe.  Waterless shampoos can also be a great alternative, especially with dogs who might have accidents stick to their rear end.  I do not recommend using anything made for a human to be used on dogs, including baby products.  Dogs have a different pH balance than humans, and you can seriously cause damage to a dogs skin.

Well, I hope that was a little food for thought.  Any questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to leave them in the comment section down below.  Till next time!

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Review

Review: Lambert Kay Fresh ‘n Clean Oatmeal ‘n Baking Soda Shampoo

freshncleanoatmealshampoo001-0901The Lambert Kay Fresh ‘n Clean Oatmeal ‘n Baking Soda Shampoo is a shampoo that I have been using for YEARS, and have a strong loyalty to.  We are going to go over some of the pros and cons of this product, the ingredient deck list, some of the claims of this product, as well as the price and where to purchase this product.  Also, from my research Lambert Kay is NOT a cruelty-free brand.  Meaning, they either test their ingredients or the final products on animals.  Also, from 6 different sites, the ratings of this product was over 4.5 stars out of 5.

Referencing my bottle, which is the Gallon Professional Size, it claims that this formula “combines the soothing aid of natural colloidal oatmeal, the deodorizing power of baking soda, and the hydrating benefits of Vitamin E and Aloe for dogs with sensitive, itchy, or irritated skin.  Wheat protein strengthens, repairs, and protects the coat.”  Basically, it is great for dogs with dry and itchy coats.  It also claims that the Tropical Breeze Scent lasts up to 2 weeks.  Now, for me, the shampoo does not have a “Tropical Breeze Scent.”  It reminds me more of a fresh laundry scent, and other people that I have spoke to about this product agree.

Now let’s go over the ingredient deck list.  On the bottle it lists the ingredients as purified water as the first ingredient.  Next we have Natural Derived Cleansing Agents, which include Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulfate, Cocamide MEA, and Cocamidopropyl Betaine.  Now if you read last weeks First Impressions post, which I will like here if you have not, we have already discussed both Cocamide MEA and Cocamidopropyl Betaine.  Both of those ingredients are derived from Coconut Oil, and stir up quite a bit of controversy.  Without having to repeat what I stated in my First Impressions post, there has been evidence linking these ingredients to cancer during animal testing, you can read more about that here. “Sodium laureth sulfate, an accepted contraction of sodium lauryl ether sulfate, is an anionic detergent and surfactant found in many personal care products. SLES is an inexpensive and very effective foaming agent,” (Wikipedia).  It has been deemed safe by the United States as well as Australia, and from my reading and understanding, can be a mild skin irritant.  Following that we have a thickening agent of Sodium Chloride, aka salt.  Next is fragrance.  Yep, just fragrance.  From multiple different sites, when a product just have “fragrance” listed on the bottom, it is usually a compound of many ingredients, and they do not have to specify what ingredients they used to make the fragrance.  Oatmeal Extract is used as an anti-irritant, and then Sodium Bicarbonate, or Baking Soda, is used as a deodorizer.  Soothing agents such as Vitamin E and Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice follow, then Coloring Agents, Emulsifier, Natural pH Adjuster of Citric Acid, Coat Strengthener of Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, and lastly Preservative.  A slight cause of concern is the preservative ingredient.  Some preservatives contain a form of formaldehyde, which is very common in not only dog shampoos but human shampoos as well.  Again, with everything, do your own research and form your own conclusion on whether or not you would use this shampoo on your own pet or clients pets.

Now onto my thoughts.  As stated previously, the smell reminds me more of a fresh laundry scent rather than a tropical breeze scent, and it is potent.  If you or your dog is sensitive to strong fragrances, I would not recommend this product.  However, like the claims state, the scent lingers, helping your dog smell fresher, longer.  Now, I don’t agree up to 2 weeks, but my girls smell fresh for about 3 to 4 days after their bath.  The shampoo is opaque in color, and more of a runny formula, more viscous, but not watery.  It still has some thickness to the product, but is easy to work into the coat without dissipating.  Once on a wet coat, it lathers and foams beautifully, being able to work over the entire coat with ease.  Rinsing off the product, I have found no issues of residual product, the coat feels squeaky clean, but not greasy or heavy.  After drying, the scent is not as potent as the product in the bottle, but still strong.  Using just the shampoo, the coat feels clean, smells great, and soft.  The heavy fragrance to this product is really only my main cause for concern, or weariness for my dogs.  I have been able to use this shampoo on dogs with dry, itchy skin with no skin reactions or irritations, but I would not feel comfortable using this shampoo on dogs with sensitive skin.  Overall, I thoroughly enjoy this product, and have continually purchased this product throughout the years, and would recommend this product as long as you and your pet are fine with strong fragrances, and your pet does not have sensitive skin.  This shampoo is used at the grooming facility I work at, and it is a shampoo I need to order in large quantities and often, so hopefully that all says something about the product.

Lastly, we are going to go over the price points and locations to purchase.  Now, living up here in Seattle, I have been able to find it in a pet shop called Pet Pros for around $11, and I have also seen it in PetCo.  If you need to buy a large quantity of it, say you work at a grooming facility of some sorts, I would stick with more of a wholesaler type of shop such as Ryan’s or PetEdge.  I found some gallon sizes offered on Amazon, and I would NOT recommend purchasing those sizes from there.  They ranged around $50-$60 the last time I checked, when you can get a gallon around $36 on PetEdge and Ryans.

Ryan’s Pet Supplies

PetEdge

Chewy.com

PetCo

Amazon

I will mention, that if you are concerned about the fragrance, I would find a pet shop that carries the product in store in order to smell it.  If you end up liking the fragrance, purchase the product, and if it ends up not working out, it is easier to return the product.  Well, I hope this review was insightful and informative.  Any questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to leave them in the comment section down below.  Till next time!

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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.

brushingtechniques0830-001
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.

miraclecoatbrush0802
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.

furminatorMedDogLongHair
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.

safaridemattingcomb
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.

marscoatking
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.

zoomgroom
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!

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Let's Talk, Matting

Matting: The Tangled Truth

matting0802
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!

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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.

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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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