Ideas for Greener Grooming

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.).

Canine Spa Beauty Recipes

With all of the great new green, organic, and natural spa type products available, there are still a few simple recipes that you can prepare yourself with totally natural ingredients and no hidden additives!  These additions to your salon menu as a la cart services or as part of a spa upgrade package will use minimal time and create maximum profit all while you are benefiting your clients by offering special touches that they can't get anywhere else!
Gorgeous Nails! 
Do you have clients that want care for their dog's nails but want to avoid nail polish?  Give your canine clients a natural buff instead!  Using a nail brush (human type), clean the dog's feet and nails with a combination of white vinegar and baking soda.  Remember to clean well into the pads and clefts of the foot to remove any odor (dogs do carry a certain scent in the glands of their feet!).  Rinse, pat dry, and trim the dog's nails and file the tips round and soft.  Buff the surface of the nails with a fine nail buffer (human type).  Mix a few tablespoons of olive oil with the contents of a vitamin E capsule.  Rub the mixture into the nails and wipe away any excess.  Now finish this treatment with a final sweep with the nail buffer to create a nice shine. 
--You can finish this package with a clear coat of nail polish for a high gloss, but be sure that the client wants this addition.
Arrange the tools for this service in a pretty bowl, with a sprig of flowering silk plant tucked inside, a softly rolled up washcloth and other items to make it visually appealing.  Display it on your counter for referring to and allowing your clients to view it.  Often they will ask about the display, and having tools that are used by us for our hands and nails makes it identifiable to them.
Natural Ear Cleaner
1 part white or apple cider vinegar
2 parts water
It is that simple!

Natural Paw Balm
1 part beeswax
1 part olive oil or avocado oil
1 pinch borax
Purchase cosmetic grade beeswax and follow the manufacturer's instructions for melting (this is often sold at craft stores for making homemade lip balm).  Once the wax is melted, slowly add the olive oil or other edible oil, mix this until it is of a whipped consistency and add the pinch of borax.  Remember that the dog will lick its feet after the balm is applied, so all of the ingredients must be edible and of current non-spoilage date.  Store the balm in an airtight container to avoid spoilage or discoloration.  Just a few smudges of this on each pad will go a long way.  Rub it is well, and be sure not to make a mess of the hair around the pads.  Remember, too, that there is nothing that says you can't package this in a pretty jar with a nice personalized label, and offer it as part of a gift basket, or as part of a spa retail display!
Easing Motion Sickness from a Car Ride
Bofore travelling with your dog, feed them a small handful of bland saltine crackers.
Also, you can stick a few sprigs of fresh peppermint in the airvents of the dash and turn the air on to circulate the aroma.  This has helped me many times with my dogs and with client dogs that get pick up and delivery services!
Quickly Easing Anxiety
If you work in a salon and want to help certain clients that have overwhelming separation anxiety, or if you own a dog that experiences severe thunderphobia or vet phobia, keep on hand a bottle of Bach'sRescue Remedy.  This is a mixture that contains Star of Bethlehem, Cherry Plums, Clematis, Rock Rose, and Impatiens, and it is a tried and true favorite of mine for quickly calming panicked pets.
Oily Coat Rinse
To treat oily, flaky coat naturally, mix:
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar (30ml)
or lemon juice
1 quart warm water
Crack in a raw egg (do not allow them to lick this mixture!)
Add 1 Tablespoon olive oil
Mix well to beat softly the egg and mix ingredients,
Pour this mixture over the dog's coat, massage it in well,
Rinse very well- until water runs clear
Towel dry and dry as usual

Holism, Naturalism, Inclusive Care...




The following is an excerpt from an article by Suzan Walter, President of the American Holistic Health Association. It provides a quick introduction to the two main definitions of the term holistic as it is used in today's society. Are you confused about the meaning of holistic? Have you ever been discussing holistic health and discovered that the other person was defining holistic in a totally different way than you? This is not surprising, since there are no accepted standard definitions for holistic, holistic health, or holistic medicine. Most usage falls within two common definitions:

  • Holistic as a whole made up of interdependent parts. You are most likely to hear these parts referred to as 1) the mind/ body connection, 2) mind/ body/ spirit, or 3) physical/ mental/ emotional/ spiritual aspects. When this meaning is applied to illness, it is called holistic medicine and includes a number of factors, such as 1) dealing with the root cause of an illness, 2) increasing patient involvement, and 3) considering both conventional (allopathic) and complementary (alternative) therapies.

  • Holistic as a synonym for alternative therapies. By this definition, "going holistic" means turning away from any conventional medical options and using alternative treatment exclusively. This meaning mainly relates to illness situations, and sometimes is used for controversial therapies. 

The previous article was sent to me by another pet stylist as interested in caring for her clients as I am.  And we are not alone, more and more of today's grooming professionals are realizing that as petstylists, we have an important role to fill as part of the extended family of pet caregivers.
More groomers are taking aim at putting themselves in the position to nurture professional relationships with their clients by offering care that always needed that attention, but was often left out because of the hectic or busy environment of the grooming salon.  Part of this progressive change is taking shape because more and more groomers are realizing that working smarter is not working harder.  The physicality of grooming needs to be offset in some way to provide longevity for petstylists and their careers.  These new opportunities are surfacing in many ways as part of the upward industry trend towards more spa type salons and services, more slow paced and well planned grooming salon procedures, client educational classes, nutrition counceling, the use of more natural products and an opening of the door to professional courtesy and interaction with veterinarians.
I have always felt that there is a lot of good that can be done for our clients by offering them as natural and inclusive care as we can during their visits and by remembering that we are part of a larger picture- a very important part.  Educating pet owners as much as possible during their visits for grooming about issues we see with their pet has never had anything to do with trends or making profit, but what it does have at its core is compassion and a sense of the bigger picture.  Gaining knowledge to help treat the minor issues that arise only ensures patronage from clients and your business future.  What is does stimulate is a better professional relationship with your clients, more consideration of your ability and professional care, and gained confidence of self when we know that because we care about the animals we treat, we are better to care for them. 
Be it personality or training concerns, nutrition and how it benefits and affects health and longevity, skin and coat, signals or symptoms that we find during grooming that may have a medical issue behind them, all of these things that we encounter any given day while at work, are opportunities for us to go above and beyond and support the life quality of our pet clients and their families.
This comprehensive care benefits us as we realize that we can also do such good for ourselves by challenging our current knowledge and considering the fact that we have a chance every day to make a difference and start positive change.  Learning more ourselves starts a chain reaction of learning, sharing and possible change.  And even if the care we give goes no further than to the immediate pet that we care for, there still is no real loss there, as we are the only ones deciding whether or not to give that care. 
I say give the extra time, give the extra knowledge, and by all means give that part of yourself that wants to consider those things outside of the average or the norm.  The rewards are immense, and the return comes in ways that are meaningful- not so much as profit, but pride and progression.

Greener Grooming

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.  These trends have played toward a more boutique style sales shop that carries specialty and higher end pet and gift products. The grooming side of our businesses have seen a turn towards a more lush & relaxing spa atmosphere and spa type 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 bring 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 what can we do- individually, to change the services that we offer and the overall care and sales experience that we offer our clients?  What can we do to make the most of our interaction with our clients and their pets?  And how can we accomplish this by making from drastic makeovers of our salons to minor, or simple yet effective changes to our current businesses?

These answers begin with us. They begin with our knowledge of our businesses’ fiscal history versus its ability and untapped potential.  And the answers lie in our ability and desire to broaden our scope of knowledge and what we can put forth to make an investment in ourselves for unlimited return.