Burrs, Coat Damage and Oral Glositis

Burr season is well underway here in Wisconsin. 

Cockleburrs have their own difficulties for groomers as well as the dogs they get stuck in. 



So do those tiny round little  stick tights. 



But THESE awful little SANDBURRS are a special kind of evil.




~Nothing like scrubbing through the coat in the tub and finding one of these with the tip of your finger.



Remember also that anytime you find burrs on a dog, I would recommend inspecting the mouth and tongue to be sure they haven’t partially ingested any or have anything irritated inside their mouth or on their tongue.  

It very commonly happens that if they do pull any off during self grooming, the barbs of these can break off in the tongue and mouth and cause blister like lesions.


Here’s an article on more information about burrs & glossitis, as well as oral inflammatory & ulcer disease:



Obviously we don’t want to be diagnosing because there are also other serious genetic diseases that can cause ulcers in the mouth similar to those exhibited from burrs. 

But it is very important if you find anything that you alert any owner at that point.


Know also that removing burrs in the coat can commonly cause breakage. 


I have found that removing burrs from the coat while it is covered with shampoo or conditioner in the tub, or simply blowing them out with a blow dryer and some coat spray containing silicones, is far more effective and less taxing on your workload, the dog’s tug tolerance, and the damaging effects to the coat.



2020 Pet Stylist Invitational!!


This year our trade show has gone fully virtual!

This learning summit offers 2 full days, 16 hours total, of educational classes on Friday, October 17, and Saturday, October 18th, and a full day of livestream grooming competitions  Monday, October 19th, judged by our industry great: Michell Evans!!

There’ll be shopping discount opportunities all weekend long to stock up on supplies before our holiday rush!

Enjoy this final opportunity of the year to invest in yourself and your business all three days for only $99!!

You can register here:https://finer-details-pet-spa.square.site/product/pet-stylist-invitational-registration/64?cs=true


Hand and Paw


Certain breeds of dogs like golden retrievers, boxers, and shepherds more commonly use their front paws throughout play & interaction.

When a dog reaches out for you before, during, or after the grooming process, that is a way of them communicating to you. 

They are seeking connection, reassurance and acknowledgement. 


Sometimes they are happy and want affirmation for how good they are. 

Sometimes they’re scared and anxious and reaching out becomes a coping mechanism.


No matter the reason, it is an incredible moment of humble vulnerability, and a chance to really connect with them. 


If you can take just a moment to stop what you’re doing and take their paw and hold it gently; maybe give it a rub or a shake and tell them in a gentle sweet voice that they are a good boy or another gesture of connection, you will strengthen your bond with that dog. 


Stronger bonds build more trust. 

More trust builds better dogs for their grooming visits.


The Role of Water In Canine Skin & Coat Health

The Role of Water In Canine Skin & Coat Health


Water is a fundamental facet of the grooming process, and yet it is commonly overlooked for its value and effectiveness to gently cleanse, exfoliate, and moisturize the skin and hair coat. Water is expressly important to the overall health and vitality of not just the inside of all living beings, but to the outside as well. Water is in its simplest form- the most natural and safest vehicle for removal of pathogens and debris from the canine coat and the best source for adding moisture to the canine skin. Without considering the role of water aside from mechanically removing shampoo and dirt from the coat, we would come up short of really understanding and utilizing our options for caring for the very foundation on which we lay our grooming skills much as a painter does upon canvas.

Water Chemistry

Contrary to popular belief, water is not pure. Unless a salon has a large filtration system in place, the water coming from the shower heads, going into shampoo and topical dilution bottles, and going onto the skin of each pet which you bathe, all contains microorganisms and trace elements. Environmental changes such as heavy rains, drought, and changes in water table tapping can all affect the makeup of water from your pipes. The pipes themselves add certain elements to the water before we even add anything else to it.

Trace elements, chemicals and microorganisms within water used during the bath are deposited on the skin and coat and can superficially permeate the skin as well. The content of your water will affect what and how the skin absorbs, and it will also affect the actual content and ability of your topicals to perform their manufactured purpose. Keep in mind that you may find that your shampoo dilution rate may change, and the outcome of the coat may change as well depending on your water chemistry. Softened water will yield most usually an optimal performance of most any shampoo or topical when compared to well or city water from a tap which may be hard or contain trace elements.

It should be mentioned that with regard to cleaning and sanitizing both your shampoo dilution bottles, mixing bottles and your entire shampoo or hydro-dilution system, that the importance of proper sanitizing is paramount. Anaerobic and aerobic bacteria grows both in diluted shampoo as it sits, and on the inside of all bottles, hoses and fittings through which water and shampoo passes. Shampoo, conditioner and other liquid topicals are a feedstock for secondary bacteria to utilize. Once water is added to any bottled shampoo or liquid concentrate, the product’s storage and shelf life becomes quite short-(breaking the seal may also shorten shelf life, but not as directly as when water is added). These bacteria can quickly and aggressively populate the surface of such areas and grow into various molds, fungus and secondary bacteria colonies as well. This petrie dish environment is where skin infections like furunculosis begin.

Thereby, with diligent attention to cleanliness, we can avoid this possibility, get the most from our products, and have the best result upon the canine coat.

Water Temperature

The temperature of water will not only affect the comfort of a pet, but it will also affect the skin’s absorption and moisturizing ability.
As well, it is simple sense that warmer water used in the shampooing process (using warm water to dilute your shampoo for application upon the coat) helps to beef up the cleansing ability of your surfactant formula by helping to liquefy congealed sebum build up and oil based dirt on the hair shaft and skin.
One should utilize a variety of temperature settings for any given pet client per their needs, but overall, the bathing water for a pet with no open sores or medical issues should always be tepid-warm. Water that is too hot is severely irritating and drying to the skin, and will cause heat stress reaction in most pets (listlessness, swaying, unsteadiness and drowsy expression). With the bath water being the most warm, the subsequent rinses should be progressively cooler in temperature. Meaning that the rinse after your shampoo should be cooler than the water used to wet the coat or apply your shampoo, and the water used to rinse conditioners from the coat should be the coolest. Water that feels warm enough upon your skin for you to bath in is far too warm for a canine. Water that is quite warm should never be applied to open, irritated or aggravated skin as it will be painful and likely worsen the symptoms due to damaged or sensitized epidermal nerve endings.

With reference to changing the water temperature while treating skin symptoms, the reason for this is that different temperatures possess different abilities or benefits upon the skin.

This temperature change process is to use warmth to both dilate or open the follicles or pores, and increase circulation and plump up the skin; thereby more easily releasing lodged sebum and oil based dirt on the skin and hair shaft surface. Warm water also helps swell and lift built up dead skin cells of the stratum corneum and aids dead hair up and out from the dilated follicle cup, and to help lift the hair cuticle depending solely on topical pH levels.

To use cool temperature upon the skin is to help constrict blood vessels and capillaries and tighten the skin, to seal moisture within the skin, and to help seal active ingredients upon hair shaft as well. Cooler water being used as your final rinse also calms epidermal nerve endings which can help alleviate generalized itching. Also, cooler water helps to congeal skin oil and set the topical coat conditioners upon the skin.

29017398-AC0F-4075-911E-BFE2DFD6FE44Ofuro bath

Soaks and Wraps

When doing soaks to soften layers of buildup, it is best to do these soaks warm- depending on the pet’s needs and age (older or ill dogs as well as pregnant or nursing females should not be allowed to have an elevated core temperature) so that the pet does not become chilled. When applying an oil treatment, it is also recommended to use a very warm rinse to keep the skin open before applying the oil and a warm towel wrap for maximum absorption.

Always stay tub-side and monitor the pet during the duration of any soak or wrap to be sure that they remain alert and do not slip or injure themselves just as you would during the bath.


Pressure and Flow

Since within many coat types the hair grows at an oblique or slanting angle to the skin, we should note that the direction of the water flow, coupled with the amount of pressure of that flow against the skin, can alter the lay of the coat and apply pressure to the arrector pili muscle and phylosebacous unit in general. One should rinse water through the coat in the direction that you wish for the coat to lay and in fact this will help you with training and setting the lay of coat. Drop coated dogs can be rinsed with the lay of coat even though they typically have a more lax arrector pili reaction. Furnished dogs can be rinsed with the growth of coat on the jacket, and against the coat growth on the furnishings. Stand up coats can be rinsed against the growth of coat. For double coated dogs, rinsing with the growth of coat but using an elevated water pressure will help to lift up and out dead packed coat if the skin beneath is healthy.

The pressure of the water can be both abrasive and damaging to irritated skin and brittle coat if set too high. One should use less pressure and higher volume of water when rinsing through the coat. Squeezing the hair with the shower spray held closely to the coat is safest, with minimal aggressive rubbing since hair is most vulnerable when it is wet and elastic. As well, pressure that is set too high will not only irritate the skin, but could also press pathogens more deeply into the hair follicle causing possible reactions.


In close, remember that water is an effective and incredibly gentle tool for canine skin and coat health and helping to ease the mechanical facet of the grooming process. Let water pressure and flow be one of the tools you have at your disposal to more easily do your job and optimize skin & coat health.

Face Sensitive Dogs


About dogs who turn their head and press their face into the clipper as you come up to trim their facial hair:

They are not trying to be difficult.

This is very much a coping mechanism. 

It is a way for them to be anticipatory of what your next move or requirement is of them and to accommodate you.❤️

This likely causes them a bit of overwhelm due to sensory overload.

Take a second and think about that large buzzing tool coming straight at their eyes and pressing against their face. 

Try it on yourself!😉

They are doing the best they can to try to do what you want and get through something that’s making them nervous or uncomfortable.

Please do not get angry at them.

Instead, perhaps take just a mindful moment of compassion and consider coming at this from a different angle literally. It will likely help them cope a lot better and keep you both safe.

Thank you.

COVID Adapted Salons


Just in case this might help a fellow Groomer.

I am currently open for business and working with strict state mandates in place in order to be functioning. I’m only one week in but I have taken note of a lot of things I’ve encountered and I thought it might help fellow groomers out to have a heads up as they begin to re-open for themselves.

-Hopefully mentioning these things will give you a heads up towards preparation, or a sense of knowing you aren’t alone when something either really weird or super annoying happens.



Before you open:

🗣Do not re-open simply on a verbal agreement with a local administrator. You need to have these things in writing with no exception.

💸Double check to make sure that your business liability insurance *policy holder* (not just your agent!) will insure you with everything that’s going on even if you’ve been given clearance to reopen with your county.

💎Update your salon voicemail to include pertinent info about your current operating hours and procedures. 

Keep it upbeat!

🧿Be sure to update your Facebook business page or your website with any updated current mandates you have in place.

📞Never before has having a receptionist been more important than now, if you are able to do it.

🩺Make contact with your nearest referring veterinarian to make sure that they are open regular hours for you to utilize in event of an injury.

📍Set operating protocols around your mandates that best suit your business, you and your staff. Expect to explain those to your clients if you expect their support in return.

🎉If you are a member, approach your local chamber of commerce to see if they are willing to spotlight your business in light of honoring the community’s overall safety while providing a vital service.

🧹Spend some time cleaning everything thoroughly ahead of when you open. It’ll help you get your arms around day-to-day tasks without forgetting anything, and it’ll give you peace of mind knowing that you’re prepared and ready to get going.

💳Be sure and contact your credit card processing company if you are taking credit cards and not requiring a signature on site. Whether a client disputes your charge or not, you do not want your direct deposits stalled while they sort things out because suddenly you have a bunch of non-signature receipts coming through on your account.

🧼If you are going to the store anyway be sure at every visit you try to grab something for surface sanitizing. Things like vinyl gloves, surface disinfectants and hand sanitizer if you can find it. You do not want to run out of these things or have to try to make them “stretch”.

🎁Visit your large scale grooming vendors for larger quantities of broad-spectrum sanitizer to help give you peace of mind.

🧮Creating a morning, midday and evening or closing cleaning routine is not a bad thing even if you have had your salon for a very long time. They will still going to be additional things that you don’t want to possibly overlook.


Once you reopen:

💕Be there for your clients. Don’t be taken aback if they ask how you are protecting yourself towards contact with a virus to help give them peace of mind that they are also safe.

⁉️Don’t be surprised if they ask you specifically about articles they have seen online where pets have contracted COVID, and how you are handling that to help keep their pets safe. Spend time talking to them and investing in their trust.

✅If you don’t already do reminder calls the night before, now is a great time to start. Spend a few minutes explaining to your clients your new procedures ahead of time so that they are best prepared to follow through when they arrive while keeping everything running smoothly.

🚫Do not bend rules for certain clients while expecting others to dutifully comply.

💰If you are allowed to accept cash payments in your county, I recommend not giving change back- but asking for correct amounts at drop off time.

🦠Create a hot bag or some type of sanitation process for every type of payment you take in from your clients, especially cash. Be sure to sanitize cards before returning them to your clients and keep your payment terminal wiped down and clean.

🔏If you decide to take new clients at this time be sure and spend time on the phone filling out client cards/creating files with their pertinent contact information ahead of time. 

⚖️If you accept checks from your new clients, be sure you have a clear line of contact in the event of a bad check writing.

💅🏻I’m personally not doing any à la carte nail trims or services at this time with the exception of only a few. With new procedures currently in place such services disrupt the steady flow of things. Give yourself time to get your head around streamlining your routine before introducing any type of low revenue or short interruptive services.

🧑🏼‍🦲Most every owner is going to ask for a clip length shorter than last time. People are trying to think ahead financially and they’re still unsure if closure statuses might change in the near future. 

🙇🏼‍♀️Don’t be offended if people don’t want to pre-book for the same reason. Most people are not comfortable discussing their financial situations or fears. Now’s the perfect time for empathy.

💰 On the other hand, tips also seem to be at an all-time high right now. Your clients appreciate you risking your livelihood in order to care for them. It makes people in a difficult time feel better when they can show support toward someone else. ☔️But try to squirrel away as much of those extra tips as you possibly can because we don’t quite know where things could go from one week to the next.

🆘Don’t expect to do just as many dogs as you were before and still have everything come and go on time. If you decide *not to do less dogs during this transition then you may want to give your clients a longer turnaround time- and explain to them that it’s due to foot traffic and additional cleaning requirements. 

🚧Be ready for a random, unannounced and thorough visit from your health department and to have to be front and center to answer questions from them. Do not expect them to know anything about grooming whatsoever.😄

⚔️Be ready to have a few people in your community who disagree with your reopening. But think about how scary this is for some people.

 🐒Dogs will predominately be either extremely exited, overstimulated and happy, or very quiet and timid. Mostly quiet and timid, it seems.

🧭Some clients will still have a hard time grasping being on time. You are going to have to be firm with setting boundaries about them needing to arrive in a timely manner, or wait in their vehicle curbside until you can come out and gather them up. You’ll likely also have to talk to some about not lingering at your door or knocking on your windows. 

🎲Owners who consistently brought their dogs in off leash before will still probably try to do it now. Be sure to have plenty of slip leads on hand. My opinion is that off leash is never a good idea. If you feel the same, this is a perfect time to set it firmly in stone that this needs to stop for everyone’s safety.

 💃🏼Have some fun through your day. Anytime you can find a reason to giggle, throw yourself at it with great gusto. The more we can laugh and appreciate the moment and opportunity we have in front of us right now, the better.


🍀🌺Good luck to everyone. 

🏋🏻‍♀️This is terrain we have never traversed. 🧗🏼But we can get through it and learn a few valuable lessons along the way!

Understanding Types of Hair


Did you know?

Curly, wavy and straight hair not only

L👀K different, but that they’re also MADE differently?


The curls in the hair are formed by the inner hair structures changing in size and shape.


The hair cuticle itself is more thin on the outward side of a curl, and sticker on the inward side of the curl coil.


Beneath the cuticle lies the cortex. 


Within the cortex are varying sized bundles of cellular material. On the outward side curve of a curl, these bundles are larger. 

On the inward coil of a curl, these bundles are smaller. 

This pulls the hair fiber into kinks throughout the entire length of the hair.


Why is understanding this important? 


Because as we manipulate the hair with our tools and methods, it’s important to remember that any time we work across curly or wavy hair, any place where there is a change in the shape, there is also a change in the structure which makes that hair succeptible to breakage if we pull too hard on that area. 


The shape of the hair follicle itself is different from a straight hair to a wavy hair or a curly hair. 

As well, the emerging hair grows out of the skin at varying angles depending on whether it is straight wavy or curly.


The angle at which the are emerges from the follicle is what produces our oblique or tight coated dogs, our combination coats, and our upright or curly coats.


For instance, on the jacket areas of our terriers and sporting dogs, why do many of these breeds get sticky-outies across the shoulder layback?

Because within the skin in that area, the hair grows upward in a whorl, and is surrounded by hair growing from the follicle at a downward angle.

When you pull your carding or stripping knives across these areas, it is easy to accidentally grab hold of the hairs growing at a different angle and cut or break them. 

As they grow out, they stick out!


Think about how we apply our air dryers and tools to these varying types of coats in order to manipulate them towards the best finish product! 


If you understand that all of these things are going on right beneath our noses and just outside our view every day, on every dog, you can better see how to apply your skills.

If you understand how canine skin and coat works, it is easier to achieve a beautiful groom and maintain optimal health of canine skin and coat on every client in your salon!😉

Do This, Don’t Do That!




As an educator I’m not going tell you, you can’t shave double coated dogs. I’m also not going to tell you you can’t wash them with dish soap. I won’t tell you you can’t clip a terrier instead of hand stripping them. Nor will I tell you your can’t pluck a dog’s ears or express their anal glands. I certainly won’t be telling you that you can’t bleach a dog’s hair, either. And finally, I won’t tell you to buy certain products as if that’s the only thing by which you achieve an end result. 


But what I will tell you as a passionately objective educator who believes in quality education without falling back on anecdotal advice or product recommendations portrayed as medical logic. 


Are the scientific and substantiated facts behind what happens when you do each of these things and leave you free as a professional to *make up your own mind* from there about what you choose to do at work each day.


Because I also believe in free choice. I believe in curiosity towards unique method. And I believe in learning a little something from every groomer I meet in any one of my classes.


I look forward to seeing new faces and lifting up fellow groomers as they invest in themselves at my upcoming classes this fall. My November class in St. Louis, MO area has only 5 seats still available.


If you’d also like to invest in yourself and your career, join a class and become a CCE. 🐾🌺



Become A Certified Canine Esthetician





Do you want to learn more about the science of canine skin and coat? 


Do you want to understand how your topical products and tools really work on hair? 


Do you want to address the skin issues you see on pets and help their overall health?


Are you tired of reading conflicting information online or wasting your money on expensive products you just end up not using? 


Are you tired of feeling like you can’t tell fact from fiction but still wanting to learn more?


Do you feel like cutting hair all day leaves you wanting to really be doing more for your clients?


🌺Then I ask you to invest in YOURSELF.


I urge you attend this professional certification course and gain the foundational information that you need to broaden your skill set, grow your entire grooming business, and help take better care of your pet clients overall.


📚Give yourself the gift of education and you will grow your knowledge, grow your skills, and grow your business🔐



This is a $250, 10+ hour, two day certifying course- and it awards you your formal certificate on site as well as membership to a private online CCE group, one on one support with your instructor, and a guidebook to support you in your work every day.



Groomers Are Professional Athletes


Listening to the “Hey, Joe!” Podcast this morning hosted by Paragon pet Grooming School-

This one talked about the variety of ways we physically and emotionally tax our bodies. 

Dr. Matt spoke specifically about lifting dogs. 

....Which got me thinking about how much weight we left with our bodies on average as a groomer....


Here’s a mathematical equation to break it down and quite an eye-opening result!



8 groom dogs total- 5 small breed and 3 medium breed dogs each day=


5 dogs @ 15lbs= 75 lbs each day


3 dogs @40lbs= 120 lbs each day


195lbs lifted each day


X 5 days a week in your work week


975 lbs lifted in a work week

X 250 days a year (at 50 weeks)


That’s a whopping 243,750 pounds lifted in a 5 day, 8 dog each day work week- even with an additional 2 solid weeks vacation off each year (and how many of us either only take 8 small or medium dogs every day, or work more than 5 days a week— or EVER take a 2 week vacation?!) 


That number again: 

243,750 pounds, friends.