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February 2021

Dental Care For Pet Professionals

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I consider one of the most important aspects of a nose to tail assessment during check in for each pet is noting the condition of the pet’s teeth. Mind you, I do not just willy nilly open up a pets mouth. I exercise caution and approach with care as any pet may pose a bite risk.

As a groomer, why should you care about that pet’s teeth?

Three reasons that immediately come to mind are: an awareness of possible behavioral problems, establishing authority and compassion with your clients, and increasing your bottom line.

  • Awareness of Behavioral Problems.


Think about how you feel when you have a toothache. Now imagine a pet living in that pain and then you touch their face to trim. This pet is going to protect him or herself and will pose a bite risk. As groomers, we need a heads up so that we may plan accordingly. Since smaller dogs are more prone to periodontal disease, it accounts for that higher percentage of smaller dogs that are apt to bite when their face is handled during grooming.

  • Establishing Authority and Compassion


Many owners simply do not understand that poor oral health is directly linked to liver, kidney, heart and lung disease. That’s because bacteria from food remains enters the bloodstream through bleeding gums and travels throughout the body. Over time, it weakens the immune system impacting those organs. By educating clients on the importance of good dental hygiene they may be able to increase the life of their beloved pet. Many veterinary professionals estimate that increase in life expectancy can be as high as three to five years. And don’t forget to mention the savings in veterinarian bills if the pet is healthier.

Keep in mind that it may not be negligence on the part of the owner. This owner may not be aware of the consequences. Educate this client, do not ridicule or demean them. Show compassion in your approach.

  • Increase Your Bottom Line


This is twofold. Longevity as in an extra three to five years grooming this pet, as well and in retail sales. Most dental products are fairly small and do not take up much room even if you have limited retail space. Financially is it does not make sense to spend time talking about products and then sending your client to a retailer who then makes the sale.

Opening Up A Dialogue With A Client

During the nose to tail assessment is a good time to talk to your client regarding the signs of periodontal disease.

Signs a groomer may notice include:

  • Flinching or pulling away from you
  • Quivering lips
  • Growling, snapping, or hissing
  • Red, swollen, or bleeding gums
  • Tartar
  • Visible root or bulge of crown of tooth
  • Open sores on face, jaw, or mouth
  • Ulcers in mouth
  • Bad breath

If you notice any of the above, ask the owner if they notice their pet is rubbing their face on the carpet, floor, or furniture. Does the pet seem to have difficulty eating, exhibits a loss of appetite, or begs more for the owner’s softer food? Is the pet sleeping more?

All of these signs point to periodontal disease.

What Is Periodontal Disease?


Periodontal disease develops over time in a series of stages when the build up of food particles and bacteria forms plaque along the gum line. Plaque is the milky white film, which develops on teeth everyday.

If plaque is not removed it combines with minerals in saliva to form tartar. Tartar is also called calculus. It only takes three to five days to change from plaque to tartar. Calculus irritates gum tissue and leads to gingivitis. Inflammation caused by gingivitis will work its way down the root canal, causing the tooth to loosen. Gingivitis will separate the gums from the teeth and form pockets that will harbor abscesses that lead to bone loss.


The stages of periodontal disease are:

  • Stage 0. As it suggests there is zero periodontal issues.
  • Stage 1. There is slight build up of tartar and reddened gums.
  • Stage 2. Tartar is thicker and gums are swollen. On x-ray, it would show slight bone loss. The gums will bleed if probed.
  • Stage 3. Moderate build up of tartar and gums are receding. X-ray will show increasing bone loss.
  • Stage 4. Tartar may encapsulate the teeth with deep pockets of gum loss, as well as loose teeth and risk of abscesses.

How Can We Help Our Clients?


Let’s start with easy.


  • Good quality dental treats that do not contain hidden sugars such as beet pulp, molasses, and fructose. The treat acts as friction to help remove plaque. I personally use raw bones, as well as chicken feet and necks. While I feel it is the superior method, not everyone is comfortable with raw bones.
  • Dental toys either have raised nubs or strings. The nubs massage the gums, loosen plaque, and strengthen the muscles in the jaw. The string toys act as floss. Even if you have nothing more than a reception counter to act as retail, these toys do not take up a lot of space.
  • There are several brands of water additives that make it very easy for an owner to adhere to a dental plan for their pets. All they need to do is add it to their pet’s water bowl.

Moderate effort.

  • Chlorohexidine wipes. These wipes are treated with a solution of chlorohexidine that kills bacteria. The owner rubs the teeth with the wipe several times a week.
  • Dental gels. The gel is rubbed on by the owner or applied with a system such as Plaq Clnz on the gum line three-four times a week.

Maximum effort.


  • Daily tooth brushing. Caution the owner to use pet toothpaste. Human toothpaste contains detergents and fluoride that may cause gastric upset if swallowed by the pet.


There may be instances in which the periodontal disease is too advanced for the owner to rectify on their own. I direct such clients to a veterinarian professional of their choice to discuss available options for their pet.

Educating your clients on the importance of developing and maintaining a pet dental program benefits the pet owner with a pet that lives a longer, healthier life. And at the end of the day, isn’t that why we do what we do? I know I’ll appreciate that extra quality time with my clients.

Mary is a business, wellness, and safety strategist who specializes in the pet industry. She has contributed to the professional pet industry as a consultant, speaker, writer, and progressive leader.

You can contact Mary by dropping a message or email her at


4 Steps To Solve Your Business Problems

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There are as many ways to run a business as there are business owners. While any business has specific things that need to done, how we accomplish that can vary widely. Here are my 4 steps to solve any problem that arises in my business.

The first, of course, is to identify said problem.

  1. Problem

When I first opened Pawsitively Pretty Mobile Grooming in 2002 I knew I needed a way to keep my financials easily. I already had plenty to do running a new business and didn’t want to spend a lot of time doing “math.”

  1. Generate Alternatives

There will always be several ways to approach any given problem. I identified three option that might work for me. I could:

  1. Hire a bookkeeper.
  2. Suck it up and do it myself.
  3. Use bookkeeping software.
  1. Select And Implement


First option was to hire a bookkeeper. The problem was I didn’t know any bookkeepers or how to choose a good one. Then came the article in the paper about a bookkeeper that was arrested for stealing and that stopped me from investigating this option any further.

I really didn’t want to do option 2. It would be a cheapest option. All I would need is a bookkeeping record book that was easily sourced at a Staples or Office Depot.

The third option intrigued me. Software that all I had to do was input some numbers and it would do the rest for me. Sold. Not all that expensive either.

So, I went with option and 3.

  1. Re-evaluate

Let’s remember that this was 2002. It turned out that this software was not much more than a glorified excel sheet. I was spending more time inputting and setting up fields than I was on phone calls. (Keep in mind there were no texting at this time and wasn’t knowledgeable enough to know how to pre-weed clients out with a simple voicemail message. And I spent a lot of time on phone calls.) To this day, I avoid doing anything with excel.

You are never stuck with a “solution” that doesn’t work for you.

I grudgingly went with option number 2 and bought a record book. Turns out it wasn’t a lot of work, except that I didn’t really like to do it. However, I had a good handle on my finances. I knew exactly what was coming in and going out.

Re-evaluating isn’t just a one and done. New technology is always emerging and several years later, I decided to give software a try again. Did my research and settled on a program. It worked well for me until they added new features that changed the way the reports were delivered and for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how to use it anymore unless I hired them for a tutorial.

Back to re-evaluating. I went back to the paper book while I research hiring a bookkeeper.

The point being, what works for other businesses may not work for you. Re-evaluate your needs on a regular basis to make sure they are still in line with what works for you.

Mary is a business, wellness, and safety strategist who specializes in the pet industry. She has contributed to the professional pet industry as a consultant, speaker, writer, and progressive leader. If you are looking for your business to thrive instead of surviving, set up a free Am I A Good Fit For Your Business consultation, visit

Or drop me a message or email her at

4 Reasons And Solutions For Procrastination

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4 Reasons And Solutions For Procrastination

Does this sound familiar?  You know you need to get something specifically done. You’ve even put it on your to do list. And there it sits.

But it’s on the list. That’s a good first step. Right?

It’s only a good first step if there is a step 2. Let’s delve into some reasons why it’s not moving off of your to do list.

You can’t because you’re missing something. Maybe it’s a skill, a tool, a pretty notebook, a huge chunk of time to complete in one sitting, or whatever reason you’re telling yourself. If you start it now, it won’t be perfect. So that closet will remain a mess, because you only have time to do one shelf, or you haven’t had a chance to go buy some color coordinating storage containers.

 You won’t write that book because you don’t have a dedicated space to work in.  Or you want to take that writing workshop first before you put any words down on paper. Otherwise, it might suck.

Perfection is a dream killer, it doesn’t exist.  Getting it started and worrying about fixing any flaws can come later. Most problems don’t surface until your midway through anyway. Perfection is an excuse for inaction.

Acknowledge that the task may not be perfect. Every time you find a reason not to start, write down that reason on a piece of paper.

Reframe it instead. I can’t organize my closet because I don’t have the right storage containers becomes “How can I organize my closet without new storage options” or What can I organize until I get the new storage options.”

  1. Fear The Outcome.


You don’t think you have what it takes. Either you’re telling yourself this or people in your life are trying to “protect” you from the pain of failure. Either way, you need to stop listening to the negativity. Doing these tasks become stressful and don’t feel good. So instead, you do things that do feel better: play a game, grab a snack, watch some TV, clean the toilet. Anything becomes better than moving towards that goal.

Acknowledge the fear. Make two columns. First is the worse fear and second is the best that could happen.

That book you want to write:

  • Worse fear may be someone will laugh at you. The book is terrible, they wasted their money buying it.
  • Best cast scenario is that it becomes a best seller and Netflix wants to make a series on it.

You get to focus on which of these scenarios will be your truth. A good support network will help you overcome your doubts. Seek out those who inspire.

  1. Don’t Know Where To Begin


The task is huge and you don’t even know what your first step is. It’s overwhelming. Start by breaking it down into smaller chunks. There’s a couple of ways to do this, but creating an outline is key. For me, I work backwards. I start with the end goal. 

My end goal is to eat an omelet. Working backwards allows me to plan the exact step that needs to happen beforehand.

Eat omelet ➡️ grab second clean fork ➡️ using spatula put omelet on plate ➡️ stir egg mixture with spatula until done ➡️ add egg mixture to fry pan ➡️  add butter to fry pan and let it melt ➡️ put fry pan on stove burner ➡️ turn on stove burner to desired setting ➡️ mix eggs and milk in bowl with clean fork➡️ gather fry pan, spatula, plate, and  2 forks ➡️ gather 3 eggs and ¼ cup of milk ➡️ decide to make omelet.

Now I have a clear plan with precise instructions that I can add a step at a time to my to do list.  If I don’t have something, then I need to get it before I can proceed with the next step. In some cases, everything needs to be in order first, and in other circumstances, you can gather as you go.

And maybe in the middle of a plan, I decide to add something in. With a plan, I would know where the best place is to do that.

Some people work better planning forward.  Which is exact the same steps I outlined above, except people planning forward start with the decision. Either way, you create an outline with bite-sized (LOL) steps.

  1. Lack Of Motivation


This can be because it really isn’t important to you. In which case, ditch it. It doesn’t serve any purpose to continually move a task from one to do list to another.  If this important to you, then set deadlines and schedule tasks into your planner. Don’t have a planner, then get one. There are thousands to choose from and dozens at your local office supply store. Head over, go to the planner aisle, chose one at random, pay for it, go home, and schedule a time and date every week to work on it.

You can also set deadlines. By this date, you will have so and so accomplished.

Don’t let procrastination kill your dreams. A little planning will help to  make those dreams come true instead.


Mary is a business, wellness, and safety strategist who specializes in the pet industry. She has contributed to the professional pet industry as a consultant, speaker, writer, and progressive leader.

You can contact Mary by dropping a message or email her at