Basic Information, Clippers, How To

Trimming Up Those Feet!

beforefoot0913-002Nothing is more satisfying than taking what I like to call “grinch” feet, and turning them into polished feet.  To accomplish this task, you need to shave the pads and trim the excess hair.  The tools I use are a pair of detachable blade clippers, such as the Andis AG+ 2-Speed Clipper, which I have done a review on, a #10 or #40 blade, in the pictures and clips below I am using a Wahl Ultimate Competition Series #40 blade, a slicker brush, and a pair of scissors, shown are Value Groom 6.5″ Curved Ball Tip Shears.  Now, some people will also use thinners, or solely use thinners.  That is personal preference; I like normal ball tip shears because they are shorter, and quicker for me, and I can still achieve a natural look.  Also, having a form of Cool Lube, a spray that helps cool off blades, is recommended.  When you are new at shaving pads, it will take you a while to do, and you need a coolant to help cool off your blades.Showcased below will be a video on how to shave pads and trim feet.

afterfoot0913-002As in the Nails, a Daunting Task… or is it? post, I explained about how to hold the leg and foot in a more natural manner that is comfortable for the dog.  You want to make sure you are not overextending the leg, and you don’t want the leg pulled straight back, you want around a 45 degree angle, close to the body.  Now, after I finish trimming or grinding the nails is when I will trim feet.  The reason for this, is because when you try trimming around the foot with longer nails, you are not going to be able to get a good looking foot, and you will keep catching your scissors on the nails, which can damage your scissors.

shavedpad0913-001Now we are going to discuss the first part, which is shaving the pads.  Whenever I have trained bathers on this task, I always have them start out with a #10 blade, so if you are just starting out with this, that is what I recommend.  For the bathers I have trained, if they decide to pursue dog grooming, they will then be trained to work with a #40 blade for the feet.  I have had some groomers stick with a #30 blade, and that is totally fine as well.  Whatever blade you end up being comfortable with using that can still remove a good amount of hair works.  Also, make sure your coolant is nearby, because like I said, if you are just starting out with this, your blade is going to get hot, and a towel to catch the excess of coolant and to wipe down the blade.  You want to be consistently checking your blade to make sure it is not hot.  I check the blade on my wrist or my cheek.  To use the coolant, I have my towel underneath, hold my clippers down, and with the clippers running, I spray the coolant, until the blade gets cold.  I then wipe the excess product off on the towel to dry off my blade.  How I like to start with shaving the pad is beginning near the two nails in the center.  I want to get the bulk of the hair off first, and lying the blade flush with the pad, I will shave from the nails to the very top of the main pad.  I use this same technique following the line of the hair with the two outside nails.  Next is shaving in between the main pad, and the four pads connecting to the nails.  You want to scoop out the hair, NEVER dig.  When you dig into the pad and foot, you will cut the skin there.  You want to use a scooping method and follow the main pad.  It is angled like a V, so you want the edge of the blade to hit the bottom corner of the V on the pad, and you want to angle the blade so where it lines up straight following the V shave.  I have a picture showcasing what I am trying to explain.  You then lightly scoop out the hair.  If you are not understanding what I mean by this, the video below showcases that.  You do that for both sides, and you are good to go!  It will take some time to perfect shaving the pads, so please do not feel discouraged.  It is nerve racking for first timers, and dogs will tend to be a little more wiggly because they can sense your nerves.  Don’t worry about perfection when you are first starting out.  Pay attention to the holding and technique, and you will improve on getting more hair out, the more you practice shaving pads.

beforefoot0913-001If you were scared about shaving pads, I know you are going to be nervous about trimming feet.  It is another daunting task, involving a really sharp object, a pair of scissors.  This is something else that I recommend you taking really slow, because it is scary trying this out.  I use a pair of ball tip curved scissors to complete this task.  The first thing I do is lift and bend the paw, and brush all of the hair around the back of the pad down, where I want the hair overlapping the back of the pad.  With the curved part of my scissors, I will trim straight across the back of the pad.  Now, pay attention to the placement of your scissors.  You want to make sure that when you trim, you are not going to be catching any part of skin or pad, you just want the hair.  I will brush down the hair one more time, then repeat trimming the hair across.  I’ll set the foot down for a second and start working on trimming the hair on the foot.  With your slicker brush, you want to brush up the hair on the foot, meaning you want to brush the opposite way the hair is laying.  You want the hair to stick up.  On the same aspect of how you want to pay attention to the placement of your scissors behind the pad, you want to do the same here and pay attention to the tip of your shears.  Using my curved shears, I follow the curve of the foot, and trim following the roundness of the foot.  When it comes to the sides of the foot, you want to do the same thing, follow the natural curve of the foot and trim, being mindful of the placement of your scissors.  My philosophy when you are just starting out, trim less, then as you get more comfortable and confident, you’ll be able to trim closer.  One other thing I like to do, after I have done a base trim of the foot, is to take my fingers in between the toes and pull up more hair, and trim the excess.  Your brush cannot get everything, so using this technique I’m able to clean up more hair.  Instead of scissors, others will use thinners or blender to trim up the hair in between the toes and of the foot for more of a natural appearance.  If you need a better understanding, the video is down below on shaving pads and trimming feet.

afterfoot0913-001Hopefully I was able to explain and showcase this process easy enough for you to understand.  Any questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to leave them in the comment section below.  I’m going to say this, because I have to say this, perform these tasks at your own risk, I am not held liable or responsible for anything that may occur at your own hands.  Till next time!

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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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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.

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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