Grooming Tips for Pet Parents

What are Tear Stains and How to Help Reduce Them on your Pets

Tear stains are those pesky brown or reddish spots that develop under your dogs’ eyes, muzzle and feet. We noticed this mostly on lighter colored dogs, but this can develop on dark colored coats too. 

What are they exactly? According to Dogtime.com, these stains are a build up of porphyrin which is a pigment that is found in tears. Now, the reason this build up occurs is typically due to a condition called Epiphora. This condition causes an excess production of tears or is the inability to drain tears correctly. 

Dogs who typically have a hard time with draining their tears are poodles and cocker spaniels due to possible genetic conditions that prevent the tear duct from developing correctly, but this can happen to many breeds. Dogs who are brachycephalic, think pugs and shih tzu, sometimes have a hard time closing their eyes all the way along with these development issues. This inability to close their eyes causes more debris and irritants to be able to come in contact with their eyes creating more tears (dogtime.com). 

There are many medical reasons why your dog is developing tear stains, but this article won’t dive too deep into these. I will provide links to the information I found at the end of this article if you would like to dig deeper! I HIGHLY recommend and encourage talking to your veterinarian. Everything that I said does not come as medical advice for your dog and I am strictly here to help you understand what may be occurring with your dog. Every dog is different, and the veterinarian field is always changing! Again, speak with your vet for better understanding. 

Besides medical issues, in my grooming experience and also listed by dogtime.com, tear stains are also created or are made worse by dyes in a dog’s food, minerals in their water, or stress. 

So what can we do about these tear stains? 

Again, the first thing I would recommend is talk to your vet. Make sure your dog does not have a yeast build up or any other medical conditions that could be causing this build up. As you can see, there are so many factors that can come into play so it’s better to be safe!

After we have seen our vet and made sure that nothing serious is going on, here are 4 things you can look into and try to see if they help reduce/eliminate these stains.

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Look into the quality of your dog’s food

A big contributor for tear stains are the dyes that are in some dog foods. I generally tell my clients to avoid foods that have different colors in them. This is just to appeal to us, the owners. Pick foods that do not start with ‘corn’ or ‘corn meal’ in their ingredients as these are just fillers and convert into sugar. No corn, no dyes!

Look into your dog’s water supply

Some of the brown colors coming out of those tear ducts may be the extra minerals that are found in tap water. For this, the solution is pretty simple! Filtered water helps to remove all that excess ‘stuff’ that you find in tap water and will hopefully help to relieve some of those stains!

Start a daily eye hygiene routine with your dog

Pet stores and some online retailers (I would try chewy.com if you can’t make it into your local pet store! I’m not affiliated in any way, they just have a great selection of products) sell wipes that you can use around the eyes to help reduce tear stains. Be careful to make sure not to get any product into the eye itself. With some dogs it will take practice and patience until they are used to having their face handled, but don’t give up and just stay calm and patient. 

When face shy dogs come into my salon or I am grooming them house call, I talk to them in a gentle soothing voice as I pet the top of their head until they calm down. I then work around the checks until they eventually let me touch around their eyes. And yes, sometimes it can take several visits and several tries until the dog trusts me enough to really clean those eyes out like their mom and dad may want. It’s all about trust building!

Keep these areas as dry as possible

If you can, keep some soft paper towels or cloths around and when you notice that there is moisture there, dry it up the best you can. The more moisture that sits there the more of a chance for yeast and other bacteria will build up which can make the stains worse. Again, just like the daily hygiene routine this can take a bit of time before your pup doesn’t make you wiping around their eyes. 

I hope that the information provided and tips given help you get rid of those pesky tear stains! Some of this information is also useful if you find some staining around the mouth and the feet as well! 

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References:

Tear Stains Under Dogs’ Eyes: What They Mean And What You Should Do About Them

https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/tear-stains/

Grooming Tips for Pet Parents

Dental Care for your Dog and Cat

Hello all Pet Parents and Guardians!

You may not have known this, but February is Pet Dental Health Month!

Dental care is coming more and more into light these days and I’m very happy to see it. It has always been an area that I feel doesn’t get talked to pet parents enough by their groomers, because maybe even groomers don’t know much about how to maintain dental health for your pet to avoid bad breath, gum disease, tooth decay and very costly vet visits to get them cleaned or even pulled if the disease/decay progresses too far. I will have information for both dogs and cats in each section! I am not sponsored by any products talked about, and please remember that I am not a vet. Please make sure your vet is checking your pet’s teeth when going in for check ups!

Food Choice: There is a huge, detrimental, myth out there that feeding your pet dry kibble is going to hello scrape the plaque of their teeth. I hate to tell you this, but it’s the same thing as thinking that consuming pretzels and chips are going to do the same for us. Most dry kibble is filled with starch and fillers like corn which add to the growth of bacteria. Now, there is some kibble out there that is created to help with dental care but from what I’ve read most veterinarians recommended focusing on feeding a combination of high quality dry and wet pet food. The better quality food you feed, the less fillers and additives that will coat your dog’s teeth and they will be a much healthier pet! 

Treats: Although our pets’ food is not going to help their teeth, there are plenty of treats that do focus on this! These treats are hard, and shaped to help scrape off plaque. Some popular brands are Dentastix by Purina, Greenies and Whimzee, with most brands selling a variation for cats and dogs. I trust you to read up on what brand works best for you and you pet! And please read the feeding instructions to make sure you are not giving your pet too many treats! 

Toys: There are lots of toys designed to keep our pets teeth looking good! Both dog and cat toys exist and often are a hard but malleable runner with small spikes to clean their teeth. For dogs, rope toys are also great as they can act like floss in a sense. I’ll throw in hard bones and antlers here for dogs, and I have recently read that some cats do enjoy chewing on sticks that would help too! Pet safe bones and sticks of course! 

Toothbrush/Toothpaste: Now, I’m not sure why but it feels most pet parents just don’t seem to think daily brushing with a toothbrush and paste is possible. But you can make it a part of your nightly routine! Now, when beginning to get your pet used to having their teeth brushed I would avoid using mint flavors. I can only speak from personal experience but most dogs react the best to peanut butter flavored toothpaste! This seems like it wouldn’t really help the smell so much, but having that bacteria cleaned out will really help! Although I do not groom cats, I would still avoid mint. Try chicken or seafood flavored! If your pet just will not let you use a toothbrush at first, try using a dental finger brush. They slide right over your finger and are a soft rubber with soft bristles. Pet toothpaste is safe for pets to consume so no need to worry about them swallowing their toothpaste!

Dental Gel/Water Additives/Fresh Breath Sprays: Starting with what I feel is the most important item in this section, dental gel. I love gels myself, as it helps loosen plaque build up and kills germs and bacteria. Most gels will tell you to wait 30 minutes before they can eat or drink (which are the same instructions for most human mouth washes!). I really feel this is great to pair with toothbrushing since it can be hard to get every area of a pet’s mouth! Water additives are another area, and what is great is now they have additives that not alone focus on your pet’s dental health but can also help with skin and coat, digestion, and other areas. Always consult your vet if you have any questions about what would help your pet with their specific needs! And please read those instructions to know how much and how often to add these to your pet’s water. Lastly, the spray. These sprays help keep your pet’s breath minty fresh while also killing bacteria. Just a spray or two is all you need! When I use this on dogs (sorry cat owners, I’ll update this when I try this with my cat), I usually try and go for the sides of the mouth instead of straight on. You will avoid a lot of accidental sprays in your dog’s nose that way!

I’m sure there are some specific toys and products that I missed in this list, but I hope this helps you take better care of your pet’s teeth! A personal goal that I am going to start doing this February for my kitty is to pick 2 different methods ex. New dental toy along with dental gel. I hope to keep her teeth healthy right alongside you all! Always feel free to reach out with questions, but again any medical questions or specific to your dogs teeth will have to be answered by a veterinarian.

Grooming Tips for Pet Parents

How to Help your Dog Get Used to Nail Trimming

As a groomer, the number one issue I come across is a dog who does not like their feet touched. This can range from simple pulling to full on aggression and fear. 

I have met quite a few pet owners and groomers alike who say “dogs just don’t like their feet touched”. I want to tell you that this is a myth! Any dog at any age can get used to having their paws touched and nails done. 

Getting your dog’s nails trimmed at the groomer or vets office does not have to be an anxiety ridden, bad experience. Most of the dogs I groom generally don’t mind having their nails done and their experience in the salon is much better because of it! 

Nail trimming is a very important part of the grooming process. Overgrown nails can splinter and break, which is painful especially if it opens the vein in the nails known as the quick. Overgrown nails also make it difficult for your dog to walk, their toes and knuckles bending in ways they weren’t meant to do for extended periods at a time. This can lead to inflammation and discomfort, and sometimes even arthritis. 

Here are some ways to get your dog used to those nail trims! This is broken down first to puppies then next to adults, as adults typically need a bit more training to get used to the nail trim but please know that they can definitely get used to it! Both tips use nail clippers and your pups favorite treats!

Above all, be safe. If your dog is showing signs of aggression or extreme fear, contact a local behaviorist to work together as your dog may need a tailored plan specific plan. 

Puppies: 

*Start by playing with your puppy’s paws and giving treats when they let you hold them. Work the toes and all the pads, putting pressure on the nails too!

*If your puppy starts to pull away, that’s okay. Let them go and resume the training when they have settled down. Do not force them. 

*Once your puppy is used to you touching their paws (this could take a few sessions), show the puppy the clippers and give them a treat. 

*Touch the clippers to their paws, praising them when they do not pull away. Also be mindful of the curious puppy! They may try and mouth the clippers, make sure to stop praising if this happens. We want them relaxed when the clippers touch their feet!

*Gently clip off the tip of the nails to start. Again, if your puppy becomes startled or pulls away let them go. Do not scold them for pulling, but give lots of praise when they let you clip their toes!

Puppy training, if done early, should be fun and relatively quick as long as it is done in a positive manner! 

But say you have an adult dog that is already adverse to having their paws touched and nails clipped. It will take longer than with a puppy in most cases, but it can be done!

Adults:

*Start when you and your dog are relaxing together, touch their shoulder gently with light pressure. 

*Work your way down to their legs to their paws. If your dog starts to pull, stop and let them relax again. Also withhold treats and praise until you resume. Continue to do this until you can get all the way down to the paw. Use soothing, long tones when praising as you pet and give treats. 

*When you get to the paw, start working each toe and putting pressure on them. Put pressure on the toenails themselves. Again, if your dog pulls or begins to stress out let them relax before trying again. Before moving on to the next step your dog should be completely relaxed when you touch their legs and feet. Remember to praise your dog when they give you their paw or let you hold it! 

*Next, time to get them used to the nail clippers! Don’t worry, you still won’t be clipping those nails for a while. 

*Pull out the clippers, show your pup and give them a treat. Remember to be happy when you pick those clippers out! Pretty quickly your dog will associate you pulling those nail clippers out with a treat. This step can also be done first, and is sometimes encouraged to do first as this typically goes faster and will help you stay motivated with training! 

*Time to put these together. Sitting relaxed with your dog on the floor, hold your dogs paw in one hand and hold the clippers in another. Slowly bring the clippers towards your dog’s paw while playing with the other and giving praise if they stay relaxed. Also be sure to open and close your clippers as well so they get used to the noise. Let your dog pull away if they start to get restless, and resume later when they have settled down. 

*Continue this until you can touch the clippers to your dogs nails and they are completely comfortable with them. You want to be able to touch the clippers to each nail and your dog be calm. Now is when you can attempt the nail trim! 

*Trim just the tip of the nail, keeping at a 45 degree angle as to make sure you do not expose the quick. Also, don’t expect to get all paws done on one sitting. 

**A key tip is to also keep your dog’s anatomy in mind! They will fight you a lot less if you are not pulling their legs out in ways that may be uncomfortable. You may not even realize you’re doing this! I recommend going on Google, Pinterest or other search engines to find pictures of dog anatomy and a close up picture of a dogs’ nail. This will give you a better idea of how you can help them stay comfortable and about how far you can trim on your dog’s nails. 

**Beware dull nail clippers! Either have nail clippers sharpened or replaced when dull. Using dull tools makes it harder for you and more uncomfortable for the dog due to the extra pressure needed for trimming. 

And there you have it! Don’t feel bad in the slightest if nail trimming just makes you too nervous, that’s where your local groomer can help! Just getting your dog up to that step will help your dog enjoy the groomers much more! They may also be able to grind/file the nails, helping to keep them smooth instead of sharp after they are cut. Taking your dog in once a month will keep your dogs nails at a healthy and manageable length.

Please feel free to reach out via comment or email with any questions you may have about this or other pet grooming related topics!