Ideas for Greener Grooming

The Society of Holistic Pet Stylists

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,

The Society Of Holistic Pet Stylists.

Logo

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!

www.HolisticPetStylists.com or www.HolisticDogGroomers.com

 

 

 


Session with Chris Sertzel on GroomerTALK LIVE!

Bio pic

Hello everyone!

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!


Oatmeal

One of the most common questions that I see and hear in our canine skin & coat care
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
symptoms.
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.

Colloidal Oatmeal


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)

Clinical Properties

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)

Acknowledgment:

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
moisture.

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.



Caring For the Canine Coat

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

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.

Honey

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. 


 


Oatmeal For Pets in Your Salon

One of the most common questions that I see and hear in our canine skin & coat care 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 symptoms. 

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.

 

Colloidal Oatmeal

ColloidalOatmealFine

 

 

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)

Clinical Properties

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)

Acknowledgment: 

I thank Dr. Alessandra Pagnoni for providing her expert opinion and critical help in the organization and preparation of the manuscript above.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Chih bath

 

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-mutilation 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."  One condition that oatmeal is not suitable for are yeast infections. Since oatmeal is a grain, it is a ready food source for the yeast population on infected skin to feed upon, and could, in theory, cause more prolific yeast production.

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 moisture.

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.

 

 


A Homemade Holiday Gift Idea

This is off topic for grooming- but I wanted still to share it! This is an article by friend Rosalee de la Foret.

Make Your Own Lotion Bars for Holiday Gifts!

by Rosalee de la Forêt

Every year during the holiday season we pump out some extra HerbMentor newsletters to help you with creative herbal gift ideas, healthy and delicious food recipes and herbal medicine recipes. I’ve been thinking about these newsletters all year long and am excited to finally begin sharing them with you.

Our first newsletter is a really fun craft project. We’re giving it to you well in advance of the December holidays so you’ll have plenty of time to source the ingredients and make them yourself.

Every week I spend a couple of hours with my young friend Tova Rose. We explore the plant world together, making herbal remedies, reading stories and playing games.

Tova recently turned 10 and I wanted to give her something special for her birthday. I’d already given her every book I could find for kids involving herbs, including many coloring books. We’d already made salves and syrups.... what to do?

Finally, with the brainstorming of friends I was given a great idea. A lotion bar kit!

Lotion bars are firm bars that can be rubbed onto the skin like lotion. They are great for dry cracked skin (like the knuckles or heels). A friend told me she specifically uses them to moisturize her cuticles and fingernail beds.

Making lotion bars is fairly easy too, a lot like salves in fact, and just involves different proportions of wax to oil. I’ve since made a handful of batches and each time I’ve used slightly different ingredients. Here’s my favorite mix so far.

The lotion bars themselves are great gifts and even the giving of a lotion bar kit makes a wonderful holiday present as well.

The following recipe makes about seven one-ounce bars

To make this recipe you’ll need...

  • 3 ounces of beeswax
  • 1.5 ounces of cocoa butter
  • 1.5 ounces of shea butter
  • 3 ounces of an herbal infused oil
  • mold or tin
  • saucepan reserved for salve making
  • something to stir with (I use jumbo popsicle sticks)
  • essential oils (optional)
  • GET YOUR SUPPLIES right here at Mountain Rose Herbs

Measure out the wax and butters by weight. Begin by melting the beeswax, cocoa butter and shea butter. I use a pan exclusively for salve making for this (I got it at the thrift store for $2!). You want to heat this on as low heat as possible. Some people even use a double boiler. Stir frequently to avoid burning the wax and butters.


Once the wax and butters are melted you are going to add the oil. This is measured by volume and can be any cosmetic oil. I personally like jojoba or grape seed oil. Both of these oils are “dry” oils, meaning they absorb into the skin readily. Rose hip seed oils is also lovely. Olive oil can be used but it will have a more oily feeling to it.


To make this extra special you can infuse the oil with herbs. I chose calendula for mine. If you’ve never infused an oil before you can learn how in the Herbal Basics course on HerbMentor.com. You can also use an oil that hasn’t been infused with herbs.

When the oil is added to the melted materials the wax and butters may harden a bit.


Keep stirring with the heat on low until the mixture is completely melted. Oils will go rancid more quickly when exposed to too much heat, so limit the amount of heat on the actual oils as much as possible.

When everything is melted you can add your optional essential oils.

Lastly, pour the mixture into molds or tin containers.


Not sure whether to use a mold or a container?

The plus side of molds is that you can buy these silicon molds in a variety of different shapes and sizes. Once the lotion bars have cooled it’s really easy to remove them from the mold. You could also try using muffin baking sheet (warning, I haven’t done this). I would grease the tins with coconut oil before pour the mixture into the baking sheet.

The tins offer more protection to the bar and could be carried in purses etc. If using tins make sure they have a flat side so that when the lotion bar solidifies it can easily slip out. If there is a curled lip at the rim you’ll have a hard time getting it out! If you live in a hot environment I strongly suggest using a tin for lotion bars.

When these are completely cooled you can pop them out of the mold or tin and put them to use.

Keep these in a cool place. If they get too hot they will melt again. If you are giving them as a gift - be sure to tell the recipient to keep them in a cool place.


These make great gifts! In the picture below I’ve wrapped the lotion bar in a cello bag (along with all the ingredients). (Available at Mountain Rose Herbs).


Enjoy!

~Rosalee


Herbal Vinegar Cleanser

 

by Rosalee de la Forêt

This is the month where spring officially arrives! Whether you live in a warm climate that has been experiencing spring for weeks or you are still incased with snow, as a lover of plants I know most of us are brimming with excitement for the upcoming growing season.

When I think of spring I think of hyacinths, violets, red-winged blackbirds, apple blossoms and cleaning. Yes cleaning.

I know that cleaning doesn’t hold the same excitement as pink hyacinth flowers, but the ritual of spring cleaning may be as old as spring itself. Opening the windows, cleaning under the bed and letting freshness sweep out the staleness of winter just feels good.

In our efforts to bring freshness into our homes it would be silly to attempt to accomplish this while using harsh chemical cleaning agents. Yet this is what many people do in an attempt to create a sterile home environment. I avoid walking down the cleaning aisle at the grocery store, otherwise that harsh cacophony of scents assuredly reddens my eyes and gives me a headache. No thank you!

Even “natural” cleaners you buy at the grocery store can include not-so-natural chemicals as well as cost a pretty penny.

In this HerbMentor newsletter we are going to make a 100% natural herbal cleaner that is super effective at cleaning counters, stove tops and bathroom appliances. Better yet, this cleaner will undoubtedly cost you less than $5 for a year’s supply!

Though a bit different, this recipe was inspired by the Village Herbalist series on HerbMentor.com.

Before we get to the recipe let’s learn more about our ingredients.

Vinegar

In this recipe we’ll be using distilled white vinegar. You can buy this at grocery stores and is fairly cheap at $2-4 a gallon. Vinegar could be the only cleaner you’ll ever need. It can clean practically everything from the toilet to the windows (just switch out rags in between). I don’t get caught up worrying about germs, but if that is a concern for you, white vinegar is even a natural disinfectant.

Thyme

Many of us think of thyme as simply a culinary herb, but thyme has a well-deserved place in our medicine cabinet as well. Thyme tea is fabulous for lung congestion and coughs. I’ve used it for productive coughs (to loosen and expel mucous) as well as for dry spasmodic coughs (to lessen the cough). Anti-microbial in nature, it has been used for centuries to clean wounds and kill parasitic fungi on the skin. These anti-microbial properties make it great for cleaning your house as well.

Lavender

Its lovely scent is sweet enough for linen sachets and calming enough to relieve stress. I’ll admit that the soothing smell of lavender makes cleaning all the happier. The word lavender comes from ‘to wash’ and it has been used for bathing for eons. It is also antimicrobial, making it another wonderful addition to our cleaning crew. 

To make this recipe you’ll need...

  • 1 quart of vinegar
  • 1 cup of dried thyme leaves and flowers
  • 1 cup of dried lavender flowers
  • quart jar
  • Place the dried herbs in a quart jar.

Fill the jar with vinegar.



Let this sit for 24 hours. The next day the vinegar should be a lovely red color (This red color comes from the thyme).



Strain out the vinegar well and then place it in a spray bottle.



Voila! You have your own super cheap, super effective herbal vinegar cleaner.

We use this exclusively in our house to clean the stove, countertops, kitchen sink, toilet, windows, etc. It cuts through grease and leaves a pleasant scent. If desired you could even add some essential oils to the vinegar as well.

Enjoy!


Boosting the Revenue of your Salon (Without Grooming More Pets)

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 *Don't let anything stand in your way!!*

 

Years ago I faced a decision.  I needed to either scale back on my volume of daily grooming, or I had to hang up my clippers all together.  Faced with that final decision, I felt hanging on to my love of grooming at all costs was put into a more realistic light.  I needed to really change the face of my business and dedicate my skills to not just the grooming that I loved, but dedicate myself to re-facing my business or I would have to give up all of it, and I wasn’t willing to do that.  With that decision, I sat down and wrote out a new business plan. A new plan with new goals, and a new time frame. Only, there was a twist; the time frame actually had to be shorter than my previous business plan in order to keep moving forward.  In essence, because I could only groom dogs of a certain size and had to get back on track from an extended absence, I actually had more to do, in less time. With that hurdle and a determination to figure out a way over it, I decided that the best thing for my business and my frame of mind was to re-face my current business.  I started by giving my salon a facelift.  I made many changes to the design of the salon and added some new equipment and marketed the salon aggressively in all of the local media that I could.  I also got out and pounded the pavement and met with and talked with many people in all the neighboring towns in effort to get my salon name as well as my personal figure out there.  Once my phone started ringing with a frenzy of new clients and new earning opportunities, I knew the light at the end of the tunnel was fast approaching.  This gave even more steam to how quickly I could move ahead in my plan and that gave me renewed belief in the possibility of earning more from my current business without having to relocate or hire additional staff in order to make more revenue.  So, from my business plan and what I saw as best for my business and my own fulfillment in my work, here are some of the additional services that I have implemented into my salon and spa and that have all have been tremendously well received.  For those things that I cannot cover myself, I have a network of area sources to refer clients to.

 

Boutique or specialty retail items- if you don’t want the extra work of adding full line retail, or want to but lack the space, consider specialty retail. Be it at home grooming supplies (one of the most lucrative sections you can have in a salon), gourmet and healthy treats, nutritional and vitamin/mineral supplements, flea & tick care, quality collars & leashes, breed specific gifts, or seasonal supplies & gifts; give it a try.  If you are strong in recommending the products you decide to carry, and you are carrying things that you know many owners could use or will need, then offering these things seems obvious.

Expanding Your Business- Do you have a knack for baking? Do you have an eye with the camera?  Do you organize one heck of a party?  Then why not appease your inner need and show your strengths and utilize them to grow your business?  Add pet photography, or gourmet treats, or host play dates or pet birthday parties as a service at your salon.  You can add to your business and offer more revenue sources all under the same roof. 

Branding Your Business- I took my passion for supportive care and encompassing grooming and created my own line of skin & coat care products for dogs, Canine Spa Therapies.  These are products that address skin & coat care issues that I saw so commonly in my own salon, and they offer all natural topicals for overall better health and enjoyment of a pet during a grooming session.  So, I saw a need for something to address the care I couldn’t give, and I created tools to help bridge that gap.  In that way, I offered care that no other salon in my area was offering.  There is no better way to specialize in a service than to offer supplies and products that carry your own name and business credo behind them. No one will be able to get them anywhere else. And with creative and dedicated marketing, the products you believe in will be what your clients reach for when they care for their pet.  Sell what you use and use what you sell.  It does take time and money to brand your business, so do not enter into it lightly. Do your research and get the education you need to do it the right way.

Skin & coat care- think of all the problematic health issues we see every day. At many times, our grooming provides pet owners with a complete superficial exam more so than an average wellness check at a vet visit. Not that Vets aren’t thorough, but we cover every inch of that dog or cat’s skin and coat and we see things like teeth, ears, eyes, glands, and nails.  Sometimes we notice blood in urine, or worms and parasites, or lameness. Not to mention all of the issues we see like suspect warts, lumps and bumps and sores. All of these things could be referred to a Vet, and some of them that Vet could in turn refer to us for supportive care.  We should never diagnose or treat, but we can alert every owner and offer guidance to get the pet help. We should never overstep our scope of care or practice with regard to legal repercussion, but we have a duty to be sure that our clients’ needs and well being are addressed if at all possible. We also could have thorough education for ourselves to help give relief to the pet.  We are offering professional services and there is no better way to raise your level or professionalism than to educate yourself.  We should never be afraid to not speak up when we see something.  We should speak carefully when we do alert clients, but if we let it fall through the cracks, no one gives a voice to the pet who cannot speak up for themselves.  Also, some owners may decline to follow through with care, but at least we can offer relief to the pet at its visit and have them leave feeling relaxed and refreshed.

Massage Therapy, Aromatherapy and Hydrotherapy- once you get your formal certification and education under your belt, the possibilities are endless. I once was the travelling canine sports medicine therapist for a German Shepherd Schutzhund team, and I got to travel all over, including overseas, by caring for their animals.  Not only can you add this to your existing business, if you ever cannot groom or want to change your career focus, this field is a wonderful one. It is very rewarding and genuinely gratifying work, and yes, a lucrative one as well. 

Breed fun days- book all dogs of the same breed and have a meet & greet for the owners and a play day for the dogs. Offer seasonal treats and promo gifts that spotlight the breed.  Offer add on services in the salon that are easy to do and can be offered at a discount or special price to promote the day’s events for owners.

Day Spa stays & Weekend Spa ReTreats- If you have the staff, or the time to do it yourself, and the space, look at adding day care and integrate that with client grooming visits.  Many clients enjoy knowing their pet is at the spa getting pampered and in safe hands while they are at work or running errands.  Look at offering your grooming clientele whose dogs you are familiar with that extended stay option when they are leaving on vacation.  Not only will you have them in for grooming while they are gone, so their pet is not put on the waiting list- they won’t come in late for grooming and a matted mess from not being kept up, but you’ll also have added revenue from having them stay with you.  No one will vacation more happily than when they know their pet is doing the same thing.  Much can be done for “boarding” pets, without having to have a complete boarding facility.  Be sure to have all of your bases covered for the best of care while they stay, be sure that your own pets are safe, and everyone is current on vaccines and interacts well with each other, and you’ll likely find through word of mouth that this service grows quickly.  

Host a Grand Re-Opening- reinvent your business in the light that you want it to proceed in and then host a special day and advertise it actively.   Whether it is a new coat of paint, a new set of services, or a total revamp and build out, be excited about it!  Focus your energy into moving forward on a new path and in a new frame of mind, and you’ll see yourself & your business rewarded. 

 

Remember that your business will grow in the avenues that you pursue. You can do it most of all by just your frame of mind.  Deciding to turn your business around or to start new from the ground up takes great resolve and dedication, and if your outlook doesn’t match your business plan, neither can succeed. 

~To learn more about the full line of Canine Spa Therapies skin & coat care products, visit www.ShowSeasonGrooming.com.


Moisture Wrap Treatments

I have been offering Moisture Wrap services at my salon for about 3 months, now, as well do I try to use specialty products and tools on dogs that I know need the extra help. And I see just what we all see for dogs every day. Oily/flaky Cockers and other Sporting breeds, hot spots, cobblestoning, OC chewing and licking, interdigital cysts, sebaceous cysts, dry & sparse coats, you name it.  Most of these owners have been working with their vets for sometimes years with some or minimal relief. I truly feel that Vets do all they can to try to figure out and end these symptoms, but there are more pieces to the puzzle that must be recognized by the other caretakers for the dog as well in order to sometimes break through and finally get results. And, we are all caretakers of the overall health of our clients, right?! Therein enters the consideration of holistic care and how important it is in seeing the big picture and achieving a higher standard of living and quality of life.
This dog that served as a case study is an American Cocker, with some food allergies, and typical combination coat, some ear infections, hot spots, hair loss & itching/licking- the works. She is now 5 years old, and not aging well due to these underlying health issues.
I began grooming her about 9 months ago. I talked on the very first visit with her Mom- who is incredibly open minded and considerate of my experience, about all of the symptoms she has exhibited. We talked about her food and treats, her Vet care, her typical behaviors, the home environment (carpeting, smokers, age of the home, outside play areas, EVERYTHING!). All of the questions that I thought an Allergist would ask a person. I wrote all of this info down, as I have for the rest of the handful of these special clients- and I really looked at it... tried to find the things that clicked or stood out...
So, I started this dog out on a monthly visit. She got a certain shampoo every time- no deviations. She got no colognes, no spray on coat conditioners (antisats, speed driers, detanglers, etc.) She got a moisture wrap treatment and an aromatherapy treatment (heavy cream conditioner infused with TeaTree, applied & set for 10 minutes under a warm, wet towel). She had no changes to her food or treats (she is being fed Nutro, which she always has- so no "ah-has"), except that the owner added a daily ration of this Fido-Vite supplement, and I waited to see what happened. And low & behold, she started having no flakes, then the red stained lick spots subsided, then the shine and texture and density of the coat came back. And finally, the elasticity and pliability of the skin itself returned- and ever her breath, ears and foot pads smelled far better. So, I began to see, in steps, how this dog's health was returning and how happy both the dog seemed and the owners were with these changes.
Now she is so much better. She still goes in for exams a little more often than some, but because the owner really wants the best for this dog (and she worries some, too!), and the Vets wanted feedback as well. I wish that I would have taken pics of her the first visit so I could SHOW you the differences. I promise for those who are interested I will do this with the next poor dog that comes in!
So, in close- I am not plugging any products as different things work for different dogs, I only want to say that I know we all do the best we can for out clients. I know we love out jobs or we wouldn't be doing them! But, if you have the time and the interest in learning more, there is PROOF that holistic and encompassing care works for those clients wiling to do their part.

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The moisture wrap method:
Mix up 1 cup or so (for medium sized dogs) of any lotion consistency cream DOG conditioner. I happen to be using

Davis

Moisture Treatment at this time- but any heavy duty conditioner with a low or no scent will work. The reason for the low or no scent is just if you want to add essential oils- which I would recommend- so there is no conflict with the different scents or perfumes.
Mix this cream conditioner with about 1 tsp. of my chosen essential oil. For this dog, and for most any dog with severe skin inflammation (but NO open sores), a high yeast count or obvious soured skin oil (causing that yeasty, loamy smell) I choose straight melaleuca or Tea Tree oil. The healing, antibacterial, sloughing and cleansing properties of this oil is amazing- but they must be administered with caution of their strength! Just be sure to do an allergy test spot on yourself before using any certain oils as well as the dog- a dab (don't rub) on the inside of the ear leather & wait for 10 minutes-look for a round red area at the application spot before you go ahead & apply.
I mix this well with the conditioner and apply it to the dog after it has been bathed & rinsed (cool water if the dog has irritated skin). This is rubbed well in up to the dog's cheeks and over the ears. Then I run a thick towel under quite warm water, squeeze it out & wrap it over the dog & tie it at the cheek so it covers the entire dog. I let this sit for 10 minutes and then rinse well. Now- I would recommend this NOT be done on a very old dog who may not tolerate the warmth of the towel well- as the warmth will cause slightly raised blood pressure, and therefore all over increased circulation to the skin.
The idea with the moisture wrap is to treat the skin irritation while the skin's pores are open after they have been cleared from as much buildup as possible, apply a topical that then seals in this added moisture and it will be significantly utilized. So, the conditioner provides the moisture sealant and the essentials provide whichever qualities they offer. There are MANY different oils one could use, I just like the Tea Tree best for its antibacterial compounds- but it must be used with caution and not over long periods of time as it is caustic in its cleansing ability.  I want to mention that any topical skin care or treatments will produce results over time, but once you get relief of the symptoms, it is important to not continue the same regimen as the skin will be signaled to shed and slough itself at treatment time, and if there is improvement in the dog's condition, this could begin a non-productive cycle. So, only use these treatments until you get results, and then discontinue.
I then style as usual, but use no added topical sprays during drying and brushing. If you are gentle with the comb & brush, the moisture introduced from the cream conditioner will make the coat more elastic, supple and resistant to brush damage.

 

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 I choose Tea Tree for this treatment because of its healing, antibacterial and antifungal properties.  But if the essence doesn’t agree with you, and the skin symptoms are not severe, there are some wonderful aromatic blends like Chamomile and Vanilla, Lavender & Eucalyptus, Lemongrass & Comfry, Citrus & Sage.  The only ones to stay away from are strong menthols and Spices- like Cinnamon and Spearmint- unless they are very diluted or blended with a dampening essence (Vanilla is a good one) to lessen their strength both for the dog & yourself- then they are usable also.

Have fun, use your head, and do great things!