Canine Coat & Skin
A tip for newer groomers:
If you're combing or brushing on a dog's hair and you're pulling at it when you hit a snarl or matting, etc., aside from the damage you're likely doing to the hair, you're also possibly damaging every layer of the skin and also the connective tissue over the muscle which lies beneath the skin.
If you feel a "pop" or a "crack" come from the skin while you're tugging, you're pulling *way* too hard.
I saw on a message board someone mentioned this and I know they just didn't realize what they were doing, but this can be very serious and such an injury is easily avoidable.
Underneath the final layer of muscle there is an layer of tissue called the epimysium and then a thin layer of "fat", nerves and fine capillaries,etc.
Beneath that there is a very thin fascial membrane layer. Beneath that there is bone. If you're a meat eater then you know what the fascia looks like already. It lays in between each bundle of muscle and is translucent and color often giving off a prism effect when viewed under direct light. You will also see multiple layers of this type of tissue occurring around joints, ligaments and tendons in weight-bearing areas, and working as connective tissue.
When groomers tug too hard on matted ears and cause swelling of the ears, edema, or bleeding around the edges of the ears, that's exactly the same thing that happens.
In the photo below you can see just how many veins and capillaries run through that the ear leather of the dog. It's easy to see why extremities such as this bleed so badly when they are cut.
A hematoma and petechial hemorrhaging is what usually develops in the case of hearing that "pop' or 'crack" sound when you're pulling too hard with your tools. It's basically a forceful separation between the fascia and the cartilage layers of the ear which fills with fluid and blood. This is similar to a blood blister. This can happen from pulling on an ear too hard and causing breakage of the cartilage or can happen when the pet shakes its head excessively as well.
The matting around the edges of an ear will slowly pull the skin beneath it tight to where it's not receiving normal blood circulation and even nerve damage can happen.
When you cut back the matted hair, there is a sudden resurgence of blood circulation to the fine capillaries. This causes a tingling, itching or burning, which in turn will often cause the dog to shake its head.
This is when the fascia damage occurs, and when that separation between the layers of tissue is made, it fills with fluid. These hematomas or fluid filled sacks rarely will go down on their own if large enough; they usually have to have a needle aspiration done in order to remove the fluid and sometimes that has to be done repeatedly.
To help lessen the chance of developing a hematoma on a matted ear:
Warn the owner ahead of time that you have found the mats and they must be removed carefully in order to not damage the ear. Let them know that brushing them out if they're too tight is not an option. I have found with some owners if I part the hair and show them the mat, and even actually have them feel it, their buy-in comes quite easily. You may also at this time want them to sign a matted pet release form.
I recommend removing the matting of the ears first, so that you have as much time as possible with the dog in the salon to see what their response will be.
Carefully lay the ear flat in your hand and clip with a shorter blade outward towards the edge of the year in a fanning pattern so that you're working from the center of the ear outward towards the edge and never along it.
You can choose as needed to completely clip down the ear into a lamb style, or you can lift up the matted hair away from the edges of the ear and just shave around the perimeter & the underside of the ear as shown below. This will leave you with a fall of ear tassel hair that will still look pretty nice although it will be thin.
Remember to tell the owners in the case where you leave shorter hair on the ears with longer hair over the top that they must be diligent with brushing as the short hair beneath grows out in length. Shorter hair beneath longer hair in any terms of dematting will usually end up matted again as the shorter hair brushes against the longer strands and catches in it. As well, if you damage the ends of the short hair which is left behind, the damaged ends will be fragmented and very easily grab onto the hair around it; knotting it up. In most cases it is just best to get all the hair off the same length at one time.
~In other cases there can be a solid mat with free flowing hair all around it. In that case I will go to my thinner shear and take a couple of strokes through the mat at the perimeter of the ear as also shown below, and then carefully brush the rest of the ear out~
Once you've carefully clipped off the hair from the topside and the underside of the ear leather, I recommend elevating the ears up and over the back of the head and holding them there with a Happy Hoodie or something of the like that will hold them in place but not squeeze them too hard.
Elevating the ears above the level of the heart, and up over the top of the head will bring them to the highest point. This will help to slow the resurgence of blood flow and hopefully lessen the tingling.
You can also use vet wrap or other rolled guaze to achieve the same type of wrap, but with a bit more steps as shown below.
photo courtesy: https://basc.org.uk/gundogs/gundog-advice/bandaging-part-1/
Leave the ears up over the top of the head while you do whatever remaining pre-bath grooming which needs to be done. In the bath carefully remove the Happy Hoodie or wrap and be sure that you're using cool to tepid water to wash the years and do not scrub them too deeply. Remember the idea here is that you're working with irritated tissue and you don't want to exacerbate the problem.
Monitor the dog during the duration of its stay, and be sure to go over the issue with the owner when they return. I recommend showing them what you've done,explaining the precautions, and letting them know to keep an eye out at home for headshaking and scratching. I also recommend if they do find the dog scratching at their ears, that they let me know right away.
Just some insight into what happens on the skin in these situations and why it's so important not to pull too hard just in order to leave a little longer hair. Never cause harm or pain in order to save hair. :)
A long time ago I began to feel that I was different.
Be nice! LOL
But seriously, I have always been a little different in my thinking, my outlook on most things, and especially I felt different in that I could never force myself to stay at a job for very long if I wasn't happy doing it. I struggled with leaving things at the door, with doing tasks that I felt didn't have lasting result, with feeling lost in a sea of faces, and most of all with just taking my paycheck and writing the rest off.
But luckily, I eventually found grooming.
Gratefully, I have been able to do a job that I love, and for that it rarely feels like work.
When I began grooming, I noticed right away that everyone worked just a bit differently, and that was rooted deeply in their general personality traits.
I groomed over the years with many, MANY different types of people, but I learned most of all about MYSELF.
I learned what I liked, what I couldn't tolerate, my strengths and weaknesses, to challenge myself to always think outside the box, and to never fear trying something different. I learned more about myself from the dogs I groomed each day than any other aspect of my grooming experiences. How I groomed began to define a very large part of who I was as a person. And to this day, it still does.
It is in honor of the time I've spent just pondering and watching the pets I groom, of the previously unimaginable awe of a pet's unconditional love I have come to know, and of all the wonders an animal can bring to your life, that I still find myself so passionate and overflowing with joy that I find in grooming.
In honor of the lessons I have learned, of how "different" I am so happy to be, that I have worked so hard to try to encourage other groomers and animal lovers to NEVER ignore that little voice inside themselves, and to ALWAYS follow your curiousities... that I have worked to form a new and wonderful association for groomers that may have also always felt "a little different".
Of these honors, I am very grateful and happy to announce,
Our new society promises to be like nothing our industry has ever seen, a breath of fresh air, and a place for all stylists to come together to learn and share and forever change our industry through doing great things.
Together with Mary Oquendo, Barbara Bird, Daryl Connor, Lori Gulling, Sue Palmer and Melissa Jepson, we are creating an entirely new learning format and an entirely new opportunity in skill sets for the grooming industry.
Please visit our website for more information, or contact me directly with your interest!
As I wrote before, don't get bogged down in frustration or being overwhelmed by the amount of work you have to do to get a groom to look its best. Why not instead seize those opportunities and take what you know, and find a way to overcome? Remaining proactive will get you much more accomplished and help you realize that most usually, with a little creativity, anything is possible!
I wanted to share some information that can help stylists and groomers to better achieve great groom outcomes even with less than ideal upkeep or appointment rotations in the salon. Options for us to make our clients happy, and to keep our workload down while maintaining efficiency.
So, right off the bat, let's tackle how to address one of the hardest types of coat to keep up in the salon atmosphere: the Terrier coat.
Anyone who spends any time grooming dogs knows that any one breed's standard dictates the trimstyle and coat upkeep needed on their breed to bring out its truest type. But, as a steadfast rule, genetics and breed lineage determine the quality of coat and the palette of attributes we as groomers have to work with to create the best possible groom.
All of those things aside however, the final say is always left up to the wishes and the genuine ability of the pet's owner in terms of their at home upkeep and their devotion in priority, and financial ability of keeping a regular rotation of dedicated grooming visits. In no way can we as a groomer bridge that final gap that sometimes exists between what we know to be correct for the dog and its breed, versus the decisions and methods we have to mold our practices around for the client dog when factoring in the actual care the pet gets from its owner.
It is very important to take proper care of terrier skin and coat in order to keep texture, layers and color visible year round. We all know that if terriers are not kept up depending on their genetic coat growth cycles, that you end up with a lackluster, overgrown, soft coat that is not indicative of a terrier at all. Therein lies the problem; you can't cheat on terrier coats. You can't cut actively growing hair off with a clipper, right along with the dead hair sitting within the same follicle. What happens when you do that, is that you back up the follicle with dead coat and this allows less & less new coat to come in. As less new, actively growing coat doesn't have room to come in, and the dead coat isn't removed from its place in the follicle, you inevitably end up with fluffy, soft, dull, dead coated terriers.
We also know that a lot of times your terrier owners in the pet salon cannot or will not commit to a two, three or four-week regular rotation you need in order to keep coats true. So what can we do his pet groomers that is both time effective and profitable in the grooming salon atmosphere as well as helps to maintain skin and coat on these breeds that grow & shed or "turn coat over" quickly, and keep clients happy?
We need to utilize the next best options as much as we can to get the most out of the coat growth phases while providing the methods of care such hair coat still needs to look its best. Those options come in the form of clearing out all of the dead hair coat, removing built up oils and dander from the skin, flushing out the hair follicles, and then using our hands and tools in a method that mimics the handstripping that these breeds require for upkeep. All the while, doing this within a time frame that keeps us efficient. And as a final measure towards a happy groomer AND a happy client, we need to PRICE our services properly to reflect the fat that we are playing a game of catch up at every visit. This is a skill greatly unrealize by many groomers.
Take it from me, until you decide to charge more for a difficult groom, nothing will make you feel better about having a dog coming in that you know will be a mess. That is, unless you've added tools to your arsenal that help you groom easier, and seal the deal by charging more for your hard work.
Below is an Irish terrier who only comes in every 8 to 10 weeks. Yes, 8-10 weeks. Believe me, you'll see what I'm saying when you see the before photo...
Genetically, I know this terrier needs a dedicated weekly stripping rotation on average to keep the undercoat down, and the harsh guard coat in all its fast shedding glory. This means that weekly, a person should be putting in about an hour or so of solid pulling of dead secondary coat and dead and dying guard coat to keep the skin debrided, and the coat colored, tight, and tailored true to its breed.
I have found that with a lot of salon clients that cannot keep up a tight grooming rotation schedule, or those that say they don't like their dogs short and tight coated or "naked", that these methods below are able to effectively bridge the gap between reality and being a groomer that delivers.
You and I know full well that if we don't give a client what they're asking for, they're just going to get it somewhere else. Obviously we need to educate and take the time to create a repoir with each client in the best interest of the dog that were grooming, but in the end if we don't give them what they want I'll just go elsewhere to get it. That doesn't help the dog and it doesn't help your sales revenue.
At times like that I groom the dog to the best of my ability and knowledge, and I keep a smile on my face the whole time I'm discussing with clients what is that they'd like to have their dog turn out like. Knowing full well that in the end I will do what I have to do to get them what they want as well as best caring for the dogs coat within my own a professional ability, but always without losing my profit margin.
Our first job as a groomer is always to remove dead and un-needed hair and dirt so that the healthy skin and coat can shine through. We are the housekeepers of coat.
To this effect, I always tackle every coat on my terriers with rakes, carding knives, a stone, a stiff bristle brush, and my hands, before even putting them into the tub. Working the coat with its natural oils present helps you to not irritate the skin by working it, and it helps you to be less likely to accidentally break coat when doing your initial raking and carding if you're working with very long tangled coat, or still mastering your terrier skills.
After working thoroughly through the coat in these stages below, the dog goes into the bath and receives a good benzoyl peroxide to or other follicular flushing shampoo. I do not use clarifying shampoo is in the salon on these coats as they are most usually overdrying and will put the skin into overdrive to create an abundance of oils in order to rehydrate. This can cause excesive oiliness at their next visit. I do not use terrier or texturizing shampoos which deposit a sealant on the coat that increases texture. Texturizing shampoos left on the coat for any length of time will most definitely cause breakage. As well I do not apply heavy cream conditioners on most any of my terriers with exception sometimes to long furnishings. Instead I opt for a light spray on conditioner put onto the coat as a final step just to add light moisture but nothing that will attract dirt.
This is our terrier; in all her fluffy glory- ready for her initial coat removal before her bath.
First I use my coat rakes to rake through the coat in multiple steps. I begin with my coarse rake going over the entire dog to pull out the last layer of dead, long hair- working in layers- including the furnishings; but working carefully on the legs with any coat removal tool that has sharp tines. Next I move to my fine rake and repeat the thorough going over of the dog from the neck all along the jacket area. I do not fine rake the leg furnishings or the chest or side coat of any terrier as that would be asking for breakage.
After that I move to my carding knives. I start with my coarse carding knife and then move to my fine carding knife, working in each step completely through the coat of the dog with exception to the head and leg furnishings.
I work with a flat knife, or laying the knife flat gainst the skin at all times. I never turn my wrist or fingers as that will stand the knive on its teeth and most usually abrade the skin and/or break coat.
Finally, I work through the entire coat- including the furnishings and beard- with a final brushing with either a stiff bristle brush or palm pad, or a very soft flexible style slicker such as Les Poochs or my newest favorite tool- the ActiVet brush pictured below and available from Groomer's Helper.
This final cycle of fine brushing pulls a little more oils up & out of the skin and gets the last it of hair ready to exit the coat.
Lastly, I do my handstripping work to pull out coat that needs a little direct attention to get out.
The head and leg furnishings I also always pull my hand, because you'll find with breakage of finer hairs that these areas and that since these hairs grow and then shed the fastest, that they also lose their texture and color the fastest, as well as flatwork areas of coat (areas where the hair naturally grows in shorter & must be kept tighter such as the head, cheeks, throat and butterfly or inner thigh areas).
After a complete cycle of raking followed by a complete cycle of carding knives, I go through the jacket coat and roll it loosely between my fingers pulling out only the longest and most ready to shed hairs within the coat. You can use powder for this step, but it is not necessary.
After the jacket pull, I quickly pull the head & beard hair down as needed by hand including as much of the ear hair as they will allow. It is important regardless of whether or not you're leaving more coat on your pet terrier than what he should by breed standard have, to at least nail the head profile on these dogs so that they still look like a terrier in the end.
After all of the dead coat is removed, we have a dog that's pulled pretty well down.
Next its into the tub, and a then a thorough HV drying with the growth of coat to set the lay of coat. Setting the lay of coat with your dryer will help create a tighter profile in the end. You cannot allow a dog to kennel dry in order to help *marcelle* or keep natural wave to the coat, but I have found that with these pet dogs actively drying the coat helps to remove every bit of dead hair and is incremental as a part to keeping the coats free of dead coat for a longer grooming rotation.
After the HV drying, I work through the coat again in the same stages repeated over the entire dog, which goes much faster as most all of the hair is already out.
From there I do the clippering portion of the groom to tighten everything up. I use a skip tooth blade of my desired length depending on what the owner has asked for. With this dog I chose a #4S (Skip) tooth blade. With this blade I skim loosely over the coat to tighten everything and make sure that there are no moth-eaten (uneveness caused by areas of blown coat) areas in the coat to the best of my ability. After the clipper work on the jacket and neck area of the dog, and doing the sani areas and feet tight with my clipper.
Terriers are diggers and tight feet will always help with mess!
From there, I tidy up and finish the headpiece on the dog and hand pull anything needed on the leg furnishings and the tail in the sensitive areas. I also will flat re-clipper the throat latch mark outs and the butterfly area on the back of the dog as well as the inner ear of the dog nice and tight and the flu needs to be cleaned up as well.
If a client says that they want their dog "fluffy", and some do- I will help reintroduce some curl to the coat as a final step. To do this, I apply a light leave in or terrier coat conditioning spray and lightly dampen the jacket & neck coat with a spritz of distilled water. Then I softly squeeze the coat throughout the length of the dog. This is a technique known as marcelling for breeds like Kerryblue Terriers. It's purpose for pet grooming is to reintroduce the soft curls and a separation to the coat that the owners find appealing to keeping them curly and soft looking. (And yes, some terrier people want a fluffy cuddly looking dog just as much as some Poodle owners are adamant of not having a "poodly-looking" Poodle). From there they go into the crate to finish under a low setting fan to get them completely dry or to air dry depending on their length of visit.
This is the end result, and another reminder photo of what we started out with!
Here are several other terriers who also get the same method of care!
Below is a simple chart showing the growth stages of the canine double coat; one with a dense guard coat to undercoat ratio.
This is a handy chart to have on hand when relating to clients the importance of keeping up their double coated breed. It diagrams how a coat works either for or against the dog's well being and comfort.
Be sure to listen and call in for my LIVE session for PetGroomer.com's GroomerTALK!
This session will be on August 12th, 7PM EST.
Please call in with any questions you can come up with about things like skin and coat issues, offering supportive and spa type services, questions about competition grooming, or anything you can think of that might help you out! Its sure to be a fun and interesting broadcast!
This is Oliver- a Bichon and Lhasa mix- Ollie has a drop coat with just enuf soft undercoat beneath long coarse guard coat that he matts up very easily with pretty dense cottony matts.
I washed him with ShowSeason’s Soothe shampoo at a 3:1 dilution rate. You can choose your favorite gentle shampoo that is not clarifying or stripping to do the cleansing work any time the dog’s skin and coat needs cleaning but is in danger of over-drying. If the dog has dry or flakey skin, you may want to go with either an oatmeal shampoo (except in the case of allergies where oatmeal can aggravate this and actually feed yeast cultures on the dog’s skin), or another alpha-hydroxy shampoo to bubble up and off dead skin cells and stale skin oil build up. Whenever there is excess dirt or oil or skin irritation, always try to rinse thru the coat with a good tepid water rinse to break up those oils and open the skin pores prior to the cleansing of both the skin and hair coat. Water which is too warm can be uncomfortable or irritate already upset skin as in the case of hot spots and allergies. You can use a tepid to cooler rinse water if there is any question of unhealthy or irritated skin, but if the skin looks good and the hair coat just needs some work, a warmer rinse will loosen packed undercoat, lift up dead skin cellular matter, break up built up skin oils, and open the skin pores to let go of dead hair partially submerged within the hair follicle which the coat will be healthier without.
Water is often overlooked as both the most gentle and most safe means of exfoliation and of moisturizing. However, as with us, prolonged exposure to water can actually over-dry the skin, so I personally never rinse during any cycle of the bath for more than 2-3 minutes, so the skin is wet for no longer than 10 minutes unless I am addressing a certain skin issue which requires an active soak.
After a thorough hand wash, I used a warmer rinse to remove all the shampoo from the coat, and squeezed the water from the coat. Next here I used ShowSeason’s Hypo Conditioner (cream consistency) at full strength. You can use any thicker cream consistency moisturizer of your choice, but you want something that works well for drop coats without causing long term coat buildup. After a while, some lower quality conditioners will actually build up on the coat and can attract dirt and cause waxiness, limpness and lackluster color. If you are seeing limp or scraggly coat after grooming, try a clarifying shampoo to first strip off any wax build up. I worked this by hand from the skin surface to the tips of all of the coat and then left this on for 5 minutes while Ollie was wrapped in a very warm wet towel to keep the skin and hair follicles open for moisture absorption and help fill in the gaps in the hair shaft structure of any damaged coat. I then followed this moisture wrap- similar to a hot oil treatment- with a long cool rinse to close the skin and hair follicles and help seal in moisture. Once towel dried, I applied a liberal amount of DeTangle spray to the areas where he was most tightly matted. I then HVed on low until he was completely dried before doing any brushing.
Combing and brushing of wet hair- especially in order to dematt- is often the culprit of causing more matting as it mechanically stretches each hair shaft at a time when it is wet and there for at its lowest tensile strength. This stretching usually causes the shaft to crack and splinter and twist similar to a spring. This in turn causes the fragmented shaft to snag on other hairs around it. This helps to create friction- a major element of a matt, and also since a damaged hair shaft holds dirt- another ingredient in most matts, this makes this a great recipe for tangles- which is a common building block of any matt. Then what was left I combed out. This was the outcome.
No severe breakage, and amazingly soft, supple, glossy coat. Pink and healthy plump skin with no more flakes, and a happy, unstressed, beautiful pup.
classes are surrounding the topic of grooming dogs which enter the salon with itchy, dry
or pink colored skin due to allergies. It can be seasonal or contact allergies, but these
dogs repeatedly come in with uncomfortable skin, and lackluster and unhealthy coat.
We have to remember that we can do all the best we can on the outside of these dogs, but
what is causing these symptoms is continuing to well deep inside the pet. In these cases,
it is ever so important to try to take the time to educate your pet client owners about
allergies, symptoms that you see and possible causes. Most of all, try to recommend
them to a vet who specializes in systemic and supportive care practices that really get to
the root of the problem. Without a good vet in place and pet owners who will work with,
your only method of providing relief for the pet is to use your tools and supplies in your
salon that you know will provide the pet the most benefit, some relief, and the least
amount of stress during their visits. Sometimes we can only know that we are doing the
best we can for the pet and giving some relief even if it visits again with the same
There are natural and simple ingredients and products that you as a groomer or stylist can
easily have on hand to help provide relief and create a beautiful groom for your clients at
each visit and to lessen a pet’s symptoms and provide some relief-even if only for a short
time. Having these on hand will enable you to give some genuine physical comfort to the
pet and to well clean the “canvas” on which you will lay your finished groom.
One of the most simple, whole, and safe products you can have in your bathing rooms is
Colloidal oatmeal, is also known by its Genus Species name, Avena sativa L.. What
colloidal oatmeal does is to help smooth and comfort itchy, scratchy, and dry skin. These
same effects can be given to your pet clients as well as it does for us humans.
Following is an in depth excerpt of work from Alessandra Panoni of the clinical
properties, uses & benefits or colloidal oatmeal. Beyond this, continues my article on
using colloidal oatmeal in our salons.
Oatmeal has been used for centuries as a soothing agent to relieve itch and irritation
associated with various xerotic dermatoses. In 1945, a ready to use colloidal oatmeal,
produced by finely grinding the oat and boiling it to extract the colloidal material,
became available. Today, colloidal oatmeal is available in various dosage forms from
powders for the bath to shampoos, shaving gels, and moisturizing creams. Currently, the
use of colloidal oatmeal as a skin protectant is regulated by the US Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) according to the Over-The-Counter Final Monograph for Skin
Protectant Drug Products issued in June 2003. Its preparation is also standardized by
the United States Pharmacopeia.
The many clinical properties of colloidal oatmeal derive from its chemical polymorphism.
The high concentration in starches and [beta]-glucan is responsible for the protective
and water-holding functions of oat. The presence of different types of phenols confers
antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. Some of the oat phenols are also strong
ultraviolet absorbers. The cleansing activity of oat is mostly due to saponins. Its many
functional properties make colloidal oatmeal a cleanser, moisturizer, buffer, as well as a
soothing and protective anti-inflammatory agent.
History of Oatmeal
Enzymes, such as lipase, lipoxygenase, and superoxide dismutase, have also been found
in oats. (23,24) Because oat grains are rich in lipids with a high content in unsaturated
fatty acids, they contain various compounds with antioxidant activity to protect the lipids
from oxidation. (25) This activity is mostly derived by the presence of phenolic esters.
(25,26) The oat plant at various growth stages has been found to contain a large number
of phenolic compounds including all major classes: benzoic and cinnamic acids,
quinones, flavones, flavonols, chalcones, flavanones, anthocyanidines, and
aminophenolics. (25) The most important antioxidant phenols in oat flour are the
glyceryl esters of hydroxycinnamic, ferulic, p-coumaric, and caffeic acids. (27)
Oats also contain flavonoids (phenolic structure) with strong absorption of ultraviolet A
(UVA) in the 320 to 370 nm range. (25) Other phenolic esters, called avenacins
(structurally belonging to saponins), have also been isolated. (25) These have a large
lipophilic region and a short chain of sugar residues, which interact with nonlipid
components. Because of this structure saponins have a soap-like action. (28) Lastly, oats
contain a variety of minerals and vitamins. (29) Among these, vitamin E, present mostly
as [alpha]-tocopherol, is the most clinically relevant. (23,27)
Because of its chemical polymorphism, colloidal oatmeal presents many functional and
dermatological clinical properties such as cleansing, buffering, moisturizing, protecting,
soothing, anti-irritant, and antioxidant. As a skin protectant, colloidal oatmeal is
regulated by the FDA as an over the counter drug, and can be included in tub baths at a
minimum concentration of 0.007% if alone, or at a minimum concentration of 0.003%
when combined with mineral oil (30%-35%). (15) The monograph defines a skin
protectant as a "drug product that temporarily protects injured or exposed skin or
mucous membrane surfaces from harmful or annoying stimuli, and may help provide
relief to such surfaces." (15)
Other types of phenols in oat are responsible for different functional properties. In fact,
the oat flavonoids are strong UVA-screens, (25) and the avenacins have potent antifungal
activity as well as a soap-like function. (25,28)
Tocopherols (vitamin E) have anti-inflammatory and antiphotodamage activities. They
have been found to prevent or reduce UV-mediated damage in the skin and to inhibit the
biosynthesis of prostaglandin [E.sub.2]. (38)
The anti-inflammatory properties of oat have been substantiated in several
investigations. A study using extracts of Avena sativa showed strong inhibition of
prostaglandin biosynthesis in vitro. (39) Another in vitro investigation found that the oat
extract decreased mobilization of arachidonic acid from phospholipids, suggesting value
for ameliorating inflammatory skin disorders. (40)
A recent investigation in burn patients demonstrated the soothing benefit of a
shower/bath oil containing 5% colloidal oatmeal in liquid paraffin. The results showed
that the group using colloidal oatmeal had a significant reduction in itch compared to the
New technology in the formulation of oatmeal products has allowed more cosmetically
appealing topicals for improved moisturization, cleansing, and shaving, and new
products are constantly being developed to address different skin types, skin conditions,
and age groups. (8)
I thank Dr. Alessandra Pagnoni for providing her expert opinion and critical help in the
organization and preparation of the manuscript above.
How Does Colloidal Oatmeal Work?
Colloidal oatmeal is simply oats ground into an extremely fine powder. When added to
bathwater, it creates a milky dispersion that prevents the oatmeal from settling rapidly. So
the oatmeal stays in the water and doesn't just sink to the bottom of the bath. When you
get into the tub, the colloidal oatmeal feels silky, as it coats, moisturizes, softens, and
protects your skin.
What Conditions Are Helped By Colloidal Oatmeal?
Colloidal oatmeal works great to help relieve dry, psoriasis, skin patches (Eczema), acne,
bug bites, sunburns, and other minor skin irritations. It also helps relieve chicken pox,
poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac, and other itching and scratching rashes. These
rashes also work twofold with the central nervous system as they continue to create-to
keep it simple-an itch signal to the nerves and then on to the brain-from within the skin
tissue. Regardless of how aggressively it is scratched on the surface, it is still telling the
brain that there is something there that continues to not feel right. This subsequent
scratching can be the source of much more than simple itching. Self mutiliation response
to relieve allergy itching often causes both secondary skin infections, a cycle of hair and
skin loss, sores, and general anxiety and even depression in a pet. Imagine being trapped
in your body for weeks, months or even years and always feeling itchy and
uncomfortable. To me, it would be maddening! Remember that these pets likely are not
“themselves”-they could be skittish, reactive, aggressive and just plainly unhappy at their
visits. Here is your chance to start a positive change for them, even if it is only a few
hours of normality and relief following their groom. What good things we can do if we
choose to try. Since colloidal oatmeal has an anti-itch property that helps reduce the
“need to itch,” soaking in the bath brings soothing comfort to those infected. When your
skin is itchy and irritated, its pH level may be higher. Colloidal oatmeal helps bring the
pH back to normal levels, taming the "need to itch."
Checking in a pet who may have allergies
It is important to address your concerns straight away with the pet owner. Both to
possibly help create a change back home while they are in your care at the salon, and to
avoid possibly having any issue blamed to your hands. Help the owner to leave your
salon with an idea of what services you plan for their pet, and WHY. Care for the pet as
best you can during their visit, and repeat that care every time you see them.
If the pet is extremely matted where you cannot get the skin and coat clean, you may
need to first remove some or all of the coat as a rough in clip. However, if avoidable, I
will always try to get them into a cool bath straight away and wait for grooming work
until the coat is clean and the skin has a little of its moisture and elasticity back. If your
grooming clients have skin that is mildly inflamed, reddened by irritation, is coated in
dander and oily or tacky residue, colloidal oatmeal can help soothe their skin as well.
Here is the method that I prefer to use in the salon for clients, it takes an extra 10 minutes
for prep time and allowing the pet to soak, but it still gives genuine help in a short time so
it is well worth having as a tool for relief.
Providing a Colloidal Oatmeal Soak
Rinse the pet for 2 to 5 minutes with cool to luke-warm water. Light water pressure and
heavy water flow is beneficial. You do not want to water spray or to mechanically rub
the skin too hard when it is aggravated for obvious reasons.
Follow the long cool rinse with a gentle cleansing shampoo. Some may find that a gentle
shampoo does not adequately break up excess skin dander or oils to be effective in their
removal, so it may be necessary to step up to a clarifying shampoo if there is excess
debris on the coat. Always remember that gentler is better, but we also want to be
effective in our results to make a difference for the pet owner and the pet. If the skin is
not built up too badly, step back down to a gentle formula shampoo, and bathe at least
twice. Be careful about manually scrubbing too hard, let the water and products work for
you, and follow this bath with another cool rinse for 2 to 3 minutes to help seal in
After the bath, you can now get your oatmeal soak ready for the pet. You can keep the
pet in the tub, or remove them, towel dry lightly, kennel, and keep them warm while you
mix the soak.
Add 2 Tablespoons of colloidal oatmeal powder to a luke-warm bath of up to 5 gallons of
water (a very warm bath will irritate the skin), the heavier the mix, the only change will
be that you must be more thorough in rinsing. You can either cup up & pour the tepid
water over the pet’s back and neck, or allow them to soak supervised in a bath deep
enough to cover them up to their neck. The dilution ratio for the oatmeal should be listed
in the product’s label, but in the effect that it is not, a good rule of thumb is to mix 2
Tablespoons into 5 gallons of warmer water. You want this soak to be warm, but not hot
and not so cold that they may chill. Be sure they are supplied with an anti-slip matt in the
bottom of the tub, and never leave them unattended. Add your pet client, and let them
soak for 5 to 7 minutes. You can pour the tepid or cool water over the pets back and neck,
or allow them to soak supervised in a bath deep enough to cover them up to their neck.
Again, be sure they are supplied with an anti-slip matt in the bottom of the tub, and never
leave them unattended. Be sure not to get the colloidal rinse into the pet’s eyes.
Allowing the ear leathers to soak in this solution is a great help for inflamed ears as well.
After a soak rinse them again for a minute or two with cooler water, towel dry by softly
squeezing the water from the coat, and either kennel or hand dry as needed. If the pet has
needed a clarifying or deeper shampoo, you will want to apply a diluted cream rinse or
conditioner to their coat to be sure the skin is given added moisture. We never want to
over condition the coat, but we do not want to leave it at all stripped as well. *Remember
with conditioners, less is more, and slathering on a heavy cream or oils will only cause
coat build up and keep the skin from regenerating and cleansing itself as it was designed
to do. In the case of all pets with abnormal skin, we are seeking to normalize the skin,
help the skin to create its own healthy flora, and then to stop subsequent treatment in the
salon once that is achieved. Meaning that you may not need to treat the skin in this
manner at the next visit, or that you may need to alter your care as the skin’s healing and
normalization continues. We want to bridge the gap in the pet’s normal skin condition
and then let the body step up to continue that normality on its own if possible.
After the rinse, it is normal for both your hands and the pet to feel very silky and smooth.
This is the oatmeal doing what it was designed to do; lightly coat the skin, seal in
moisture, and providing elasticity back to the skin & hair. Since colloidal oatmeal also
pulls out the annoying irritants that are on the skin’s surface, and even superficially in the
skin’s upper cellular layers, your pet will be feeling better in no time.
This treatment will help as soon as it is applied for most every pet, but must be repeated
every two to seven days either with you or at home if this is what the pet owner wants to
rely on for relief. Using colloidal oatmeal is a very gentle and non-invasive remedy to
topical irritation and itching, but simply will not end allergic responses unless it is used as
part of a care regimen that helps end the allergen(s) inclusion in the pet’s daily life.
Remember that an oatmeal bath is a remedy, NOT a solution to an underlying issue
which may be at the root of the itchiness or odors. Again, always work with your pet
owners and their vet to be sure your pet’s health need are addressed and fulfilled.
The last decade has seen the grooming, boarding and pet retail industry well into an upward trend towards providing a better client experience and customer service in every aspect of our businesses. The grooming side of our businesses have seen a turn towards a more lush & relaxing spa atmosphere and spa type services that offer what I term, “encompassing grooming”- or added services in addition to the staple grooming for our clients. In all, these raised expectations and individual endeavors have brought with them a sense of much needed professionalism from ourselves and our business fronts like never before.
These changes have brought with them not only the chance at higher revenues, but the opportunity to reinvent ourselves and our salons and shops. Whether we are mobile, home based, strip-mall, freestanding or corporate located, the advantages that total client care brings to our table in terms of profitability, personal growth potential, and business sustainability and growth- cannot be ignored. Our businesses’ adaptability is singularly designated by us- the owners. Our potential for personal education and professional growth is just as singularly important to achieve longevity. Not to mention that overcoming individual challenges and making and meeting goals are the cornerstone of inner happiness and sense of pride.
So, with that outlook on furthering our education and professional skills as groomers, I have added many supportive services for my clients from my salon & spa; and I have had much positive response and a great sense of accomplishment from those changes. In what I feel is deeply rooted in the needs of our pet clients- to address and help care for- not just ears, nails, baths & haircuts- but the overall quality of life of our clients, and their interactive roles as part of their human families, these services came into focus. I believe many other groomers who yearn for broadening their horizons, your inner voice will not be ignored, and it can be greatly rewarded. From that need, I comprised skin & coat care services, supportive & alternative services, and networking abilities for the services that I could not provide. Thereby assuring that my business could be a greater source of the care options for my clients’ pets. Of course, grooming is always the cornerstone of my salon, and most any salon in our industry, but we can add the services I will describe in this series of articles without any substantial change to our existing business in terms of monetary investment or build out. These changes come from educating one’s self, and being open minded to the fact that we can make MORE money and groom fewer dogs, and still leave work each day less stressed, and more rewarded.
For this series of supportive care & spa type services, the first installment of these articles will cover adding sugar scrubs and will cover the what and why of offering this service.
The skin is the
largest organ of the body, and keeping it cleansed, moisturized and healthy
assures that it can perform the task it was designed to do- to protect the body
and maintain a level of defense against environmental pathogens. After all, the pets’ skin & coat are the
canvas on which we do our work, and without healthy skin & ample coat, we
cannot achieve a quality groom or style.
So, in line with keeping things simple and using the products and ingredients that have offered relief and benefits for hundreds of years , I chose to implement many herbals and whole, raw ingredients to address the pet skin & coat issues that I saw many times over in my salon.
The first simple and whole ingredient is:
Sugar is a simple, edible, crystalline carbohydrate. Sugar comes in many different forms, however, all types have a sweet flavor. The main types of sugar are sucrose, lactose and fructose. Common table sugar is typically sucrose which is extracted from cane or beets. Sugars can go through multiple refining processes, such as our white table sugar, or be kept at a more complex & whole state such as with raw and some brown sugars.
Another form of sugar is honey- one with complex additional micronutrients & minerals.
Honey is composed of sugars like glucose and fructose and minerals like magnesium, potassium, calcium, sodium chlorine, sulphur, iron and phosphate. Honey also contains vitamins B1, B2, C, B6, B5 and B3 all of which change according to the qualities of the nectar and pollen taken in by the bees in the area from which it is collected. Bees use the pollen from local plants and eventually it ends up in your honey. This is why using locally grown or harvested honey topically on skin of a dog exhibiting skin allergies can be beneficial. It can help the pet’s immune response to local or area allergens and can actually help build a better tolerance for the pet. Besides the above, copper, iodine, and zinc exist in it in small quantities. Several kinds of hormones are also present in honey.
What positive properties does honey lend to the skin?
The micronutrients in honey are water soluble. Meaning that they readily dissolve in water and can be carried by water to disperse them onto and superficially into the skin layers. Water-soluble minerals will absorb sublingually and, through cell osmosis, be transported throughout the body if the particle size of the mineral small enough. You not only get the mineral into the body (absorption), but you also accomplish cell assimilation, which is the key to fully utilizing the benefits of mineral nutrients.
Honey also has the ability to attract water- so it lends itself as a moisturizer in its most simple & pure form.
Honey is also a natural antiseptic. Medical journals cite more than 600 cases in which honey was employed to treat wounds. Honey contains antimicrobial agents, which prevents infections by killing the bacteria in and around wounds. Many types of bacteria can’t survive in honey, so wounds heal faster, swelling eases, and tissue can grow back which can be applicable with issues such as hot spots, severe eczema or atopic dermatitis.
It is important to mention that while we cannot treat the dog’s problems from within, but we can give relief and provide positive change to skin & coat within the timeframe that the dog visits us in the salon. We can also provide complimentary relief and help support turning around a pet’s quality of life from ongoing medical issues by educating the owner, networking & referring
What properties does sugar lend to the skin?
Sugars have the ability to Mechanically Exfoliate.
The most obvious benefit of using a sugar scrub comes in the form of exfoliation.
Mechanical exfoliation means how the sugar or other abrasive product or ingredient acts upon the skin surface in a direct manner resulting from coming in contact with it, hence creating a change in the skin’s layers. The granulated particles of sugar- whether coarse or finely graded in the sugar body scrub serve as tiny scrubbing beads that slough off dead surface skin cells and smooth over rough patches of skin. More coarse sugars such as raw will have a much more aggressive exfoliating ability due to their granule or crystal size. Whereas refined white sugar or fine brown sugar will have a softer exfoliating action on the skin. The sugar beads glide over the dried and dead layers of skin cells, removing them- to reveal the soft, fresh skin cells underneath.
Applying the scrub in gentle circular motions, will result in removing as much of the dead skin cells as possible while also helping to unclog skin pores. Pet skin follicles can become clogged or impacted with dirt, dead hair, saebum & waxeous oils that cause the follicle to become constricted & therefor unable to cleanse itself and maintain the healthy flora environment within & on the skin’s dermal layers. Follicular clogging also cause the skin difficulty in its hair shed & growth phases.
Follicular occlusions can result in many secondary skin symptoms such as oily or waxy coat, hot spots, acne, lackluster & patchy coat production, and also creates a breeding ground for yeasts & secondary bacteria to actively grow and create even more serious infections.
In my opinion, I have on hand both types of sugar scrubs and will use finer grades for smooth coated dogs or on skin which is tender. I will use the raw sugar scrubs on heavily coated dogs and oily/greasy dogs to get the most benefit from this sugar’s sloughing ability.
The sugar scrub we use for bathing dogs and addressing their skin issues should be applied by hand damp and freshly cleaned skin for best exfoliation results. You can also add it to your diluted shampoo mix and use it immediately to help aid in exfoliation, but remember that applying any scrub should always be done to a pet’s clean skin so as to not rub open the skin to its fresh cellular layer and then possibly introduce dirt particles in the coat to that freshly opened skin.
The scientific name for coconut is Cocos nucifera. Coconut is highly nutritious and rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It is classified as a "functional food" because it provides many health benefits beyond its nutritional content. Coconut oil is of special interest because it possesses healing properties far beyond that of any other dietary oil and is extensively used in traditional medicine among Asian and Pacific populations. Pacific Islanders consider coconut oil to be the cure for all illness. The coconut palm is so highly valued by them as both a source of food and medicine that it is called "The Tree of Life." Only recently has modern medical science unlocked the secrets to coconut's amazing healing powers. n traditional medicine around the world coconut is used to treat a wide variety of health problems including the following: abscesses, asthma, baldness, bronchitis, bruises, burns, colds, constipation, cough, dropsy, dysentery, earache, fever, flu, gingivitis, gonorrhea, irregular or painful menstruation, jaundice, kidney stones, lice, malnutrition, nausea, rash, scabies, scurvy, skin infections, sore throat, swelling, syphilis, toothache, tuberculosis, tumors, typhoid, ulcers, upset stomach, weakness, and wounds. Published studies in medical journals show that coconut, in one form or another may provide a wide range of health benefits. Some of these are summarized below with regard to how they might help us to better care for skin and coat in our grooming salons:
- Kills viruses that cause influenza, herpes, measles, hepatitis C, SARS, AIDS, & other illnesses.
- Kills fungi and yeasts that cause candidiasis, ringworm, athlete's foot, thrush, diaper rash, & other infections.
- Expels or kills tapeworms, lice, giardia, & other parasites.
- Reduces inflammation.
- Supports tissue healing & repair.
- Supports & aids immune system function.
- Helps prevent periodontal disease & tooth decay.
- Functions as a protective antioxidant.
- Helps to protect the body from harmful free radicals that promote premature aging & degenerative disease.
- Supports thyroid function.
- Applied topically helps to form a chemical barrier on the skin to ward of infection.
- Reduces symptoms associated the psoriasis, eczema, & dermatitis.
- Supports the natural chemical balance of the skin.
- Softens skin and helps relieve dryness & flaking.
- Prevents wrinkles, sagging skin, & age spots.
- Promotes healthy looking hair & complexion.
- Coconut oil has both antibacterial & anti-microbial (contains: Lauric Acid & Capric Acid) agents within its structure.
- Provides protection from damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
- Helps control dandruff.
- Has no harmful or discomforting side effects.
- Is completely non-toxic to humans & pets.
Coconut oil has long been reveled concerning canines when it comes to nutrition and overall health and longevity. There are many, many benefits to including coconut oil in your own diet and as a source of better overall health. It is recommended to suggest adding coconut oil to a dog’s diet, and this can be further researched and suggested along with those reasons to your pet clients in the salon for better pet health overall.
While coconut possesses many health benefits due to its fiber and nutritional content, it's the oil that makes it a truly remarkable food and medicine. Coconut oil is an edible oil extracted from the kernel or meat of matured coconuts harvested from the coconut palm. Coconut oil is usually divided into two main kinds – refined (RBD) oil and virgin oil. RBD coconut oil is oil derived from copra (the dried-out coconut core) and is lower in quality than virgin oil. In the contrary, virgin oil is simply unrefined oil. It is derived straight from the coconut nucleus. This form of coconut oil making is the most non artificial form and no synthetic filtering is used.
What Coconut offers to the skin and hair?
Moisture Retaining Capacity: Coconut Oil has high moisture retaining capacity, since it is not broken down easily nor evaporated, being very stable. It does not let moisture escape thus keeping hair moistened and soft. This prevents breakage of hair. Coconut Oil is a far better conditioner for hair than any synthetic one available in the market.
Vitamin-E: Almost every aptly educated person knows the importance of vitamin-E for skin and hair. It keeps scalp and skin healthy and hair rejuvenated.
Lauric & Capric Acids: Provide anti-microbial action and seek to help normalize the skin.
Anti-Dandruff: The various fatty acids present in Coconut Oil serve as very good anti dandruff agents and are way better than any anti dandruff shampoo. A regular application can help you get rid of dandruff forever.
Stimulates Hair Growth: By thinly and evenly coating the skin and hair shaft, this oil helps to seal in adequate moisture needed to optimize the healthy skin and follicle flora, and to protect the individual hair shaft as well.
Studies have shown that virgin coconut oil actually penetrates the hair shaft. It does this on both damaged and undamaged hair, both as a pre-wash and post-wash product. Because "Coconut oil, being a triglyceride of lauric acid (principal fatty acid), has a high affinity for hair proteins and, because of its low molecular weight and straight linear chain, is able to penetrate inside the hair shaft." Studies have also shown that using coconut oil on hair prevented combing damage.
Coconut oil has a very low melting point (the temperature at which a solid turns into a liquid. It is equal to the freezing point as well), lending it well to easily being added to a variety of shampoo mixes as well as various care methods for the skin which can be easily done by a pet groomer in the salon.
Different uses depending on the mix and formulas
One should read labels on the products being research when buying. Some products made for hair care specifically will be parted with petrolatum in order to “stretch” the actual level of coconut oil within the product. The more pure coconut oil a product contains, the more it likely will cost and the better it is for you dietary and cosmetically. This can usually be noticed first by the consistency of the oil within the tub or jar. The more pure coconut oil is, the more slightly solid or caked, and opaquely white in color it will be. While it will still easily scoop from the jar, it melts readily against the warmth of the hands and does not leave a sticky residue behind once rubbed in. One can use oil parted with petrolatum, but it will likely require more dubious bathing to remove all extra product. One must use virgin coconut oil for the skin and hair, not the not the refined, bleached, and deodorized coconut oil that is usually sold in the cooking section of the supermarket.
This is a photo of more desirable oil for both feeding and skin care.
How to apply it to dogs in the salon
This oil can be added to a shampoo of your choice, but it most easily, for dilution purposes due to the varying dilutions and formulations of shampoos, for beginners, be added as a simple step ahead of the bath.
- warm virgin coconut oil first if it is solid, by placing the bottle in a pot of warm water. If you don't want to heat the whole jar, take some out and put it in a safe container for use in the salon (BPH free plastic only if using plastic), then place that in warm to hot water. Do not use the microwave as that is not good for the oil- it causes breakdown of the beneficial ingredients.
- you can add some essential oils if you like, depending on your particular needs.
- apply enough so that the hair is completely covered-can be from head to tail, especially upon any areas which are symptomatic, but not so much that it is dripping.
- put pet in a warm towel- either wet or dry and allow developing for 7-10 minutes.
- Follow with a warm rinse thru of water to help wet the coat, and then apply a shampoo of your choice and finish bathing as usual. Condition the coat as needed.
It’s that simple! Three extra steps, and approximately 15 extra minutes to begin the healing and bring the terrific qualities of this oil to your salon and your clients!
For further study of this wonderful and versatile oil, visit any number of reputable online sites or read the book: Coconut Oil Benefits: Your Hair, Skincare, Weight loss, Aid To Digestion, Immune System, Fights Infections And Heart Disease Benefits [NOOK Book] by Dr. Doris Patton