Don’t Skip the Conditioner

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Shannon Moore, NCMG  |  Director of Grooming and Education, Espree Animal Products

Is it really necessary to prolong the bathing experience by using a conditioner when you are bathing your dog?  Spending an extra one to three minutes in the bathtub can drastically improve the condition of the pet’s skin and coat. Bathing removes some essential oils leaving the skin and coat more vulnerable to dehydration.  Shampoos are designed to remove unwanted dirt and debris from the skin and coat.  Then, there are solution oriented shampoos that are specifically designed to treat an issue.  If you do not seal the hair shaft with a conditioner after the bath, the hair shaft remains open where residue can enter and hydration can escape.  Conditioning the coat will seal the cuticle, which in turn, will help restore hydration, moisture, and elasticity. Conditioners are designed to provide the delicate balance of maintaining healthy skin and coat while the skin naturally replaces the healthy oils that were temporarily depleted during the bathing process.

Different types of conditioners work best on different types of coats.  Drop coated dogs such as Yorkies, Shih Tzu, and Lhasa Apsos need conditioners that are loaded with silk proteins. This type of conditioner is designed to help build a strong, healthy, shiny, and more manageable coat. Dogs that have normal skin and coat to a mildly dry coat, such as labs, pugs, short haired mixed breeds, etc., should use a lightweight conditioner to help replace the oils that were removed during the bathing process. This will help revitalize the skin and coat.  This will make coats smoother and healthier, while providing extreme hydration to the skin.  Pets that have dry skin and coat, matted coats, and even undercoats should turn to a more intense conditioner to help restore hydration.  Dry coats will become incredibly moisturized without becoming limp or lifeless while leaving the coat weightless.  For those pets who suffer from irritated skin, conditioners that are rich in antioxidants are a great choice.  An antioxidant rich conditioner will soothe the skin while simultaneously helping to protect the skin from free radicals which can cause damage if ignored.

Regardless of the type of coat you are working with, it is important take a few extra minutes and condition the coat. Reducing static electricity while improving manageability, removing any left-over residue, and temporarily replacing the healthy oils in the coat are just to name a few reasons you shouldn’t skip the conditioner!

The Naked Truth

sphynxShannon Moore, NCMG  |  Espree Animal Products, Director of Grooming and Education

Hairless pets are rapidly gaining popularity. Do hairless dogs and cats really need grooming?  The answer may just surprise you. From Xolo’s to Cresties and Sphynx to Bambinos, hairless pets need grooming too.  In some instances, hairless breeds require more attention in terms of maintenance than their coated friends.  Don’t be surprised if a hairless pet walks into your salon for a bath.  The most common issue you will here is that the hairless friend is oily.  How do you get rid of the oil problem?  It is similar to coated breeds that shed.  You cannot stop shedding as it is a natural process.  The same goes with oil production, but you can keep it under control with consistent, routine maintenance.

Frequency of visits to the salon, at home maintenance, exfoliating the skin, and controlling oil production are just a few things you will need to help educate your client.  The hairless pet population does not have a natural way of keeping the oil on the skin in balance, which can lead to skin problems.  Once again, we go back to proper product selection to help provide that balance for their sensitive skin.

Hairless pets normally have sensitive skin, so select a shampoo that does not contain harsh surfactants.  Hypo – allergenic shampoo is a good choice.  It is also important to exfoliate the skin on these naked pets.  Choosing a Dead Sea Mineral Mudbath is a great way to gently exfoliate the skin while also helping to absorb oil.  Though you are trying to remove the oil, it is important to keep the skin hydrated.  Be careful not to bathe naked pets too frequently.  There is a fine line between over doing and not doing enough.  Every pet is different so part of determining a routine will be trial and error.  A good place to start is a bath every 2 weeks and go from there.  It is also common for these naked pets to produce more ear wax and some will even develop oil accumulation around the base of their toenails.  At an absolute minimum, weekly ear cleaning and cleaning at the base of the nails might be necessary.

The Art of Bathing

schnauzer-bathShannon Moore, NCMG  |  Espree Animal Products, Director of Grooming and Education

People sometimes think I am crazy when I say there is an art to bathing a dog.  How hard can it be? You wet the dog down, shampoo, and rinse.  Aaahhh… but there is so much more to it than that!  First, you have to evaluate the dog’s skin and coat.  Is it dry, oily, damaged, or healthy? Does the coat have split ends?  Is the skin and coat in need of extreme hydration? Those are just a few to mention.  Then, you need to choose the products that will help replenish the skin and coat to return it back to a neutral state.  There are so many choices on the market these days, how will you ever choose? Look at the ingredients on the bottle and determine if those ingredients will provide a solution for the dog that you are working with.  If you are not sure, do not hesitate to call the manufacturer and ask questions.  Nobody knows their product better than those who created it.

After you have decided which products will provide solutions to meet the dog’s needs, then the fun begins.  It is quite fascinating to be able to witness the transformation  of bringing a coat back to healthy by simply paying attention to your product selection and making an educated decision on how to use the products.  It is so much more than just a bath!  You get to make the dog not only look better, but feel better too!

I am “old school”, and believe that every dog should have 2 baths.  The first bath is to get rid of the dirt and debris, and help return the skin and coat back to a neutral state.  If you can do this, the second bath is more of a solution oriented bath. So if your dog has chewing and itching, this is the bath to help provide relief by selecting something like an Avocado Oil Shampoo.  If your dog needs more volume or needs to repair coat, this is the bath to use a Keratin Oil Shampoo.  Maybe your dog has a dull and lifeless coat, then choose Argan Oil Shampoo to provide intense hydration and bring it back to life.  All of these shampoos are solution oriented, so it is very useful to figure out wat you need to do to restore that healthy, luminous skin and coat.

After the 2 baths, I almost always condition the coat.  This allows the coat to lock in the hydration and provide the necessary moisture to keep the skin and coat healthy.  There are instances that I do not condition.  For example, if the dog is extremely oily, I will not condition.  Cost and time are never a factor in whether or not I condition the coat.  This is the time that I have to make an enormous difference with how the dog is going to look and feel.

The bath, in my opinion, is just as important as beautiful finish work when grooming a dog.  If you don’t get the dog clean and try to maintain healthy skin and coat, it doesn’t matter how artistic you are with your scissors and clipper work.  The client will notice the cleanliness of their pet before anything else.  And besides, we want the dog to look and feel its best, and that starts with a great bath!

Howl-O-Ween!

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Shannon Moore, NCMG  |  Espree Animal Products, Director of Grooming and Education

It’s that time of year again, for putting together your costume and going door to door Trick or Treating with all of the ghosts and goblins. This can be a fun, but stressful event for your four legged friend.  If your pooch is going to tag along with you and the kids to show off his costume, remember to keep him on a leash.  With so much activity going on, the increased traffic in the neighborhood, and all of the wonderful costumes, your pup could be a little uneasy.  Always keep him close to your side and make sure his collar and leash are secure to prevent any mishaps from occurring.  The last thing you want to do is spend Halloween at the emergency vet.

Some caring pet parents might feel like taking their pooch out in the neighborhood is too much stress for them and their loyal friend.  Since the Trick or Treaters will be ringing your doorbell all night long, it is a good idea to take precautions so your dog won’t dart out the front door.  Even if this is not normal behavior for your pet, this can be a stressful night with all of the activity.  Keeping your pet in his favorite place without having access to the front door might be a safe option.

Whatever you decide, prepare in advance for your pet so when all of the festivities begin, your pup is already taken care of.  And when it is all said and done, and the Trick or Treating comes to an end, make sure your pup doesn’t devour the left over candy.  Chocolate is off limits to our four legged friends.  Happy Howl – O – Ween!

Selecting a Trim to Meet Your Pet’s Lifestyle and Personality

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Sarah Drouin, NCMG  |  Pet Tech CPR Certified  |  The Plush Pooch  |  Delaware/Pa (484)464-2025

Do you have a summer groom and a winter groom for your pet?  I have new clients that come in and request that summer or winter “do” all of the time.  In my professional opinion, I think it is best to select a trim that suits you and your pup’s lifestyle and needs best.  Keeping more hair isn’t always the best thing to do in the winter if you can’t keep up with it.  If the coat becomes matted at the skin, your dog will not be able to get proper air circulation to help stay warm and all kinds of skin issues could come up as well.  I know, I know, the logic is that it is colder and you want your pet to stay warmer.  Your intentions are great, but can you keep up with the extra work? However, most of these pooches that get haircuts do not need to keep more or less hair depending on the weather, because they do not regulate temperature the same way humans do.

It is all about keeping the coat separated and divided so the skin can breathe in order to regulate body temperature.  What keeps them comfortable is a coat length that you can manage, a trim that is easy for your pooch to be himself, and one that allows his adorable personality to shine.  What I mean by that is, if he is a true “rough and tumbler” kind of pooch, then maybe a shorter style is more suitable for him.  If your pup prefers to stay inside and never get his precious paws damp on a rainy day, then maybe leaving a bit more coat is a better choice.  After all, he wouldn’t be caught dead outside on a rainy day.  The style you choose really should depend on lifestyle and personality.

Short trims and personality clips can still be neat and stylish.  And, it is always a great idea to do a maintenance bath in between grooming appointments. Communicating with your pet stylist about what you like and how often you plan on bringing them into the salon will help determine the best type of trim that suits your pup and your family.  After all, whether it is that “just stepped out of the show ring” trim or a “short and sassy” trim, you always want you pooch looking their best!

October is National Pet Wellness Month!

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October is National Pet Wellness Month and a great time to remind us how we can help our pets live longer, healthier and happier lives!

Although there are many suggestions that you can include in your pets wellness plan, Here are our top 5!

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1.     Schedule a veterinary check-up: Having a regular check-up can help minimize chances of diseases by getting routine vaccinations, checking dental hygiene and ears allow your vet to look for any signs of potential health problems.

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2.     Spay/Neuter: If you spay/neuter your pet, they are less susceptible to many diseases and illnesses!

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3.     Check your pet’s skin: Checking your pet’s skin regularly for dry spots, irritations, rashes, and insect bites. Doing this will help ensure that your pet doesn’t contract a serious skin disease.

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4.     Consider your pet’s diet & exercise routine: Pet obesity can lead to extensive health problems as your pet ages, make sure you know how much activity your pet needs!

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5.     Make sure your home is safe for your pet: whether you have a new pet or have had pets for years, pet-proofing is important! Many everyday objects (medicines, food, pesticides, and some plants) that can prove poisonous to our pets.

Grooming with Balance, Symmetry, and Style

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Shannon Moore, NCMG  |  Director of Grooming and Education, Espree Animal Products, Grapevine, TX

What exactly does this mean in the wonderful world of dog grooming and showing dogs? In both worlds, I have had the privilege to see many beautiful and fancy dogs of all varieties, sizes, and breeds.  The trims on many breeds are getting quite fancy, and even straying away from the breed standard.  Let’s face it, hair in the right places can camouflage even the worst faults.  In the dog show world, judges are being forewarned to “look beyond the hair” and to put their hands on the dog and feel for the fault.  However, in the grooming world, if we can camouflage a serious fault and make the dog look more structurally correct, our clients love it! And we should do just that!

However, even when we are camouflaging a fault (like a bad front or rear), the trim should still exemplify some balance and symmetry.  In order to achieve balance and symmetry, every hair does not have to be the same length, and the front and the back do not have to be identical.  However, the front portion of the dog and the rear portion of the dog need to balance each other out. Don’t be afraid to step back and take a look at the dog.   Is it too top heavy? Does it have so much hair on the front half compared to the back half?  Does it look like the dog is going to fall forward because it has so much hair? It is always a good idea to stand back and take a good hard look on every dog that you groom.  Can the dog move without the front and back legs touching? Develop an eye for these little things and train your eye to understand balance.  Maybe even snap a picture of the profile with your phone.  Even if you are not doing a show trim, which most of the time you won’t be, use the same set of guidelines and rules for pet trims.  Just because you “only groom pets”, doesn’t mean that you can’t make little changes leaving more hair in some places than in others to hide a fault. Try to groom the dog to breed standard but much shorter so it is easier to maintain.  After all, you are an artist! Take a few extra minutes and make the dog look fantastic.  This will set you apart from other pet stylist in your area.  This will help you drive repeat business and get referrals.  Stepping up your grooming a notch and continue to strive to improve and learn.  That’s what it is all about. Happy grooming!

Hair, Hair, It’s Everywhere!

dog-furShannon Moore, NCMG  |  Director of Grooming and Education, Espree Animal Products, Grapevine, TX

As a professional pet stylist, we always hear, “I bought a short haired dog or cat because I don’t want to deal with hair all over my house!” Well, surprise, surprise, short haired dogs shed! De-shedding and Shed – Less Treatments, as well as water additives to stop shedding, and special tools to help the consumer de-shed their dog have made their way into the market to be the miracle product to stop shedding.

Shedding is a natural process that dogs and cats go through in order to keep their skin and coat healthy, and in good condition.  This is a process that you cannot, and do not want to stop. It is important to do these treatments in order for your dog to stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter.  You always want to be able to separate and divide the coat being able to easily get down to the skin throughout the entire coat.

Remember, when you select these very popular products, you will not stop the shedding process.  However, you will accelerate the process to help move the natural shedding process along a little faster.  What does that mean exactly? It means that for a short period of time your pet is going to shed more before the shedding slows down.  I always recommend doing a Shed-Less Treatment with your professional pet stylist, rather than at home.  The skilled stylist will do multiple things to get rid of the excess hair, such as carding the coat to remove loose hair, then a shed treatment to accelerate the shedding process.  These treatments always work well in a salon setting because your groomer can use a force dryer to blow out excess coat in order to achieve optimal results.  Then, they may choose to card the coat again to get any stray hair that is ready to come out.  By the time your pup is ready to come home, the bulk of the hair has been removed and you can enjoy a clean, happy pet, and a less hairy house. Be prepared to pay a little more for this service as it does take more time than a basic bath and brush out.

But I brushed him…

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Sarah Drouin, NCMG  |  The Plush Pooch  |  www.theplushpooch.com
NCMG | Award winning Stylist | Certified Pet Tech CPR

“But I brushed him…” “Why do you have to shave him?!”  As professional groomers we hear this a lot. From my personal prospective I really like giving personality trims to my clients. However, sometimes that just isn’t possible. Now I know all to well, clients don’t quite understand why it doesn’t look ‘tangled/matted’. Sometimes it’s disguised. Sometimes, clients just don’t understand at all. That’s okay, I don’t understand what my hair stylist is talking about when she discusses toners with her colleague.

How do we make a better understanding? Well, educating the client is key. Let me explain, when matts form it’s the hair getting tangled. As time passes the matts/tangles become more impacted and tighter. Do me a favor, pinch lightly your forearm skin & hold it for ten seconds. Was that uncomfortable? Now just imagine what that might feel like all over your skin, & when you walk or move your arms imagine the increase in discomfort you would have. This is what matts are like.  This can cause irritation, discomfort, lack of blood flow, and blood vessels can pop when they are released from the skin.

Professional groomers take extra time and caution when removing matts. We must make sure to safely remove that tight impacted coat from the skin. This may be one reason why your groomer charges more in this instance.

If this happens, and you want to prevent matts from forming again, talk with your groomer.

I offer free brushing/combing lessons to my clients. I don’t mind taking a few minutes out of my day to help the client understand how to properly brush the dog. Now, you might be thinking… “How hard can it be to brush a dog?” Well, us professionals started somewhere, in fact  the same place you might be now. Most of us started as bathers/groomer assistants. We had to learn until we got it correct. Most people brush the top coat and don’t realize they are missing it by the skin. Keep in mind, fluffy might not let you brush him, especially his face. Again, I help my clients deal with that. Speak with your groomer, groomers speak with your clients. Open the lines of communication and you will be on the road to success.

Pictures below show solid Matts on each ear. One is the side that you the client sees, the other is what the groomers sees after clipping off.

The Christmas Gift That Keeps on Giving

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Shannon Moore, NCMG  |  Director of Grooming and Education of Espree

With the Holidays quickly approaching, many people are starting to think about that special present to give to their children, spouse, or significant other.  That image of everyone sitting around the tree, and your child opens up a big box, when out jumps a fluffy, adorable puppy with a big bow around its neck is simply priceless.  But, let’s stop and think about this.

When a puppy or kitten go to their forever homes, it is a stressful time in their life.  In order to make a peaceful and healthy transition, the house needs to be puppy proofed for starters.  Little things like making sure they do not have any access to electrical cords is very important.  When the new family member starts to explore their surroundings, you don’t want to entice them with chewing on a cord. Unless they can be monitored closely, they should be kept in a safe place like the kitchen, laundry room, large bathroom, or a crate.   Their food should remain the same as what they were eating when they were at the breeder until a smooth transition can take place too. These are just a few suggestions for your puppy to transition smoothly.

Now imagine the hustle and bustle at Christmas time!  The beautiful tree is up, and of course you want to turn on those pretty lights.  Tinsel is hanging all over the tree, which could potentially send your pup to the emergency vet clinic if he gets into it.  Now you are cooking up a storm in the kitchen.  The puppy acts like a vacuum cleaner so you better not drop any scraps on the floor.  Then you have all of your friends and family coming over to celebrate.  Do you really think it is a good time for your puppy to transition into their new home this time of year?

If you purchased the puppy for your children, it is likely you will be the one taking care of it with football games, dance recitals, and then off to college.  But what if you purchased it for your significant other, and they were completely surprised? At the time, the puppy seemed like a great gift, but eventually the novelty will wear off.  The commitment to get up in the middle of the night to potty train is tough.  But the financial commitment with supplies, vet visits, trips to the groomer and boarding kennel is far greater.  So before you try to put the puppy or kitten under the tree as a gift, just remember, a Christmas puppy or kitten is the gift that keeps on giving.