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March 2009

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.


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


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.



 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!


Yucca schidigera is a medicinal plant native to Mexico. According to folk medicine, yucca extracts have anti-arthritic and ant-inflammatory effects. The plant contains several physiologically active phytochemicals. It is a rich source of steroidal saponins.

Saponins have diverse biological effects, including anti-protozoal activity. Protozoal diseases in which part of the life cycle occurs in the gastrointestinal tract respond to the anti-protozoal activity of the saponins in Yucca.

Yucca powder and yucca extract are used as animal feed additives. Beneficial effects in livestock and poultry production include: increased growth rate and improved feed conversion efficiency, reduction in atmospheric ammonia in confinement animal and poultry facilities, anti-protozoal and nematocidal activity, modification of ruminal microbe populations, inhibition of Gram-positive bacteria, reductions in stillbirths in swine, and anti-arthritic activity in horses and dogs.

Yucca products have GRAS status, so are FDA-approved for use in humans.

Yucca saponins are as effective as the drug metronidazole in killing tropozoites of Giardia lamblia in the intestine (McAllister TA, Annett CB, Cockwill CL, Olson ME, Yang Y, Cheeke PR: Studies on the use of Yucca schidigera to control giardiasis. Vet Parasit 2001, 97:85-99.).