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.
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!
Ear plucking has become a very big topic amongst dog groomers over recent years. When I first started grooming dogs in 2013, the way I was trained was to pluck and clean every ear that came on my table. No matter if the ear was clean, dirty, smelly or even if the dog fussed and fought us for it. It was going to get done! Today, things are much different. There are still groomers out there who stand by this and some groomers who say that plucking ears is bad.
Groomers who swear by plucking say that this helps prevent build up of moisture or debris that may build up in the hair and ear canal. It helps groomers be able to see the ear better to make sure there are no changes, and helps the groomer be able to clean away the wax and build up easier and get more of it.
Groomers who refuse to pluck say that plucking causes micro tearing, leaving small openings in the skin that can become dirty and cause an infection. They say it also takes away the ears ability to stop foreign material from entering the ear canal and throws off the natural environment that is needed. This can lead to an imbalance of yeast or bacteria and cause infection.
Personally, I will now only pluck ears typically if the pet parent or their veterinarian requests it. If I come across a dog who has too much ear hair that is blocking the ear canal, I will ask the pet parent if it is okay for me to remove it. If the dog starts to show signs of aggression or high levels of stress I will ask the pet parent to see a veterinarian to safely clean them out.
To do this article I did try and find articles by veterinary clinics, and they were harder to find than I was expecting. I will attach the articles I found below so you can continue your research and decide for yourself if you should pluck your dog’s ears. In general, these articles stated that plucking ears that are healthy and not overgrown causes more issues than it prevents. Like stated above, it can cause irritations in the ear canal and prevents the natural ability to stop foreign debris from entering the ear canal. However, if too much ear hair grows inside the canal this will cause a buildup of moisture and wax in the ear. This can lead to a bacterial or yeast infection. If you are concerned your dog may need their ears plucked, your veterinarian is the best person to turn to to see if your dog needs it done or not. Your veterinarian can also say if your groomer should be doing this on a regular basis.
Anxiety seems to be ever growing these days. Just like people, our pets can experience anxiety and at different amounts. They may experience anxiety in only a ew instances, or they could be pets who are anxious throughout the day and night. As a groomer, I feel I have been seeing an increase in dogs who have separation anxiety and anxiety being groomed. This seems to stem from pets who got used to their owners being home and the ones to groom them but are really struggling after their owner returns to work.
Please know, it is always a good idea to contact your veterinarian if you feel your dog has an ongoing problem with anxiety. They can help by prescribing anti-anxiety medicine or by helping you find a behaviorist or behavior consultant for canines. This is especially important if your pet’s anxiety starts to develop into aggressive behavior. Even if your pet only experiences it at certain times, like car rides, your veterinarian can help you with that! Anxiety is stressful, and we know that stress can do unseen damage on human bodies. It is the same for our pets, so we need to make sure we get them feeling better to live a happier and longer life.
Now that we understand how serious anxiety in pets can be, let us go into what anxiety looks like in dogs. Note that dogs do not need to present all these symptoms to be considered anxious but not all of these alone indicate that your pet is anxious. Again, if you are unsure please see your veterinarian.
Anxiety in a dog may appear as:
°Licking of the lips
°avoiding eye contact
°Self grooming to the point of tearing out fur/giving themselves hot spots
°Salivation and drooling
°Running away from home
There are even more that are not listed, but this list will give you a good idea on what to look for if you think your pet is anxious. Check out the resources at the bottom of the article for more information.
Now that we know what anxiety looks like, let’s go into some ways to help your pet through that anxiety.
Create a Daily Routine: Our pets thrive on routine. Keeping their feeding schedule, play time, walk time, and any other activities around the same time and in the same order will help them feel secure. Try to keep their days as consistent as possible. Cats especially like to stick to the same daily routine.
Incorporate Daily Exercise: Physical activity is a great way to help your dog lower their stress. Walks, fetch, or other physical games help your dog work off extra energy that they may be turning into anxious energy. Walking with your dog or going on runs with them may also help lower stress for you as well!
Keep them Mentally Stimulated: Mental stimulation is just as important as physical exercise and helps dogs focus on something other than whatever is making them unhappy. I wrote an article on ways to keep your pet mentally stimulated which you can find here, and includes a lot of different tips and methods.
Compression Shirts: If you have not heard of a Thundershirt for your dog, I would look into one! These are great during times like thunderstorms or fireworks. If you do not have one, or do not have the money to get one, try looking online for a video on how to wrap your pet in a blanket to help them. This gives them the feeling of being hugged and the compression may help lower their anxiety. This isn’t the best fix for all cases of anxiety, but situationally they can work very well!
Create a Sanctuary: This can either be a spot in your office area, a crate, your bedroom. Any place that your dog will be able to get to at any point that they need to get away. Make sure to NEVER use this space as a punishment or where you put them if they misbehaved. They need to see this kennel/spot as a place to come if they feel overwhelmed or stressed out. Make sure it is comfortable for them, if using a kennel make sure they can stand and turn around so they can make themselves comfortable. Sometimes adding an item of your clothing like an old shirt will help them.
Adding Pheromones and Calming Music: Online and in pet stores you can find calming pheromone plug-ins for dogs and cats. They put out a hormone that helps to lower your pets anxiety. Calming music is also helpful, and having these two things while working on separation anxiety can be a big help. Also if you know a stressful time is about to happen, get their sanctuary ready for them and if possible play music and use pheromones to help them stay calm.
If most of these do not work on your pet, then it is time to find a behavior consultant. You can find them for dogs and for cats, and they can work with your and your pets specific problems. They notice things you may not, and be able to help you see them too and work through the problem. They are great for helping desensitize your pet when it comes to separation anxiety, other dogs, and any other triggers your pet may have.
I hope this article is of some help to you and your anxious furry friend. I have listed below my references for this article for some continued reading!
When trying to decide what to feed our dogs, the choices are overwhelming. First you have to decide what type of diet to feed your pet, then decide the best brands and ways to feed your dog that type of food. I want to help that process just a little bit by going into some of the pros and cons of different types of food.
When I went to start this article, I was going to put it all into one article. After doing some research I decided very quickly that I needed to break it down into smaller articles to be able to have shorter posts but also give a little more information on each type of diet.
The first in my dog food series is dry food, also known as kibble.
Kibble is made using dried up ingredients that are then ground and processed into small bite size pieces for dogs. It typically includes a form of protein, vegetables, and a binder (more about these a little later). Each brand will make their kibble look different and have different ingredients. Before we break down what is inside of kibble, I want to go over a few things outside of the contents of the food itself. The pros and cons so to speak.
Kibble is the easiest for storage and has the longest shelf life, if stored properly. In an article I read (check references at the end of the article), they suggested moving your entire bag into a storage container instead of dumping the contents out of the bag into the container. Dry dog food manufacturers have developed quality bags that help keep the food fresh. Your storage container will help keep out the bugs and small critters! You can easily find these containers at pet supply stores, and online retailers as well.
Kibble is also the most cost effective form of feeding our dogs. It is relatively easy to find a brand within almost any budget (but be warned what those cost saving kibbles have inside of them). Along with the variety of budgets that it covers is a wide variety of formulas. These formulas can focus on issues like joint and gut health, or be a different style like low calorie and limited ingredients. Always be sure to be checking the ingredients to make sure that what is inside matches the claims that the package is making, more about that later on in this article.
Now for the not-so-good parts of feeding our dogs kibble. Something I addressed a few times in the last couple of paragraphs is what is actually inside the food itself. A lot of makers of these foods include unnecessary ingredients like dyes that are only included to make the kibble look more attractive to the pet parents. There have also been numerous recalls made by the FDA to various well known brands of pet food, with a range of different issues. The FDA has a list of all open warning letters against these manufacturers so you can keep up if you so choose.
There is an organization named the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), which is a group of members dedicated and committed to making sure the quality of pet food is continued to be elevated and monitored. Finding packaging with their stamp means that it has been tested to make sure it is a quality food that does not contain any harmful ingredients or chemicals. Wait, did she say chemicals? Yes, I did! There is a list of harmful chemical additives that some manufacturers use that extends the shelf life of the kibble but is horrible for the health of your pet. The references at the end include an article that has a list of these chemicals.
Another area of concern is that when it comes to advertisement of these different kibbles, manufacturers are held from little to no accountability as to what they put on their package. There are many foods in the pet industry (along with supplements and additives) that say that they will help with joint pain or anxiety, as a couple examples, but have gone through zero testing to prove these statements are actually true. The best way to tell if it will actually help the intended purpose is to look at the ingredients list. Let’s say that your dog’s food claims to help with gut health, but the list of ingredients includes ‘chicken by product meal’ as the second ingredient and you see carrageenan as the preservative. It may be time to start looking for a new brand/manufacture. Again, the list of articles at the end of this one will help you dive deeper into your knowledge of the dog food industry.
Now, there is also some controversy on whether or not dry kibble helps with cleaning teeth. I have written another article where I cover this topic and I personally believe that it does not help with dental care, unless you are getting kibble specifically made to help with their teeth. Plaque and tartar will still build up, so make sure you have a good dental routine for your dog. Check out my article about dental health for some great tips to care for your dog’s teeth!
Now that you are armed with the general knowledge about dry dog food, you may still be a bit confused. Mostly as I kept saying ‘check the ingredients list’ but you don’t really know what you’re supposed to be looking for or maybe even what you are looking at. Personally, when I am choosing my dog’s food I look firstly at the top 5 ingredients of the food. The reason being is that dog food ingredients are listed by weight, so this tells me what the main composition of the food is made of. Secondly, I look for that list of harmful preservatives to make sure they do not appear on the list.
When looking at the top 5 ingredients in your dog’s food the first ingredient you will typically see is some form of meat: Chicken, beef, etc. Keep in mind one thing, this meat is weighed before the dehydration process. Meaning all that moisture is still in the meat. The main ingredient adds an aroma for the pet, but is mostly a selling point to pet parents. However, some dogs do have a preference for how their kibble smells so it is still something to keep in mind! The second ingredient is when you will start to see the word ‘meal’. Meal is basically what is left after the protein has been dehydrated and ground down. Because pet food ingredients are listed by weight, Meals are important! I like to see a combination of vegetable and protein meals, to help keep the diet more balanced. I mentioned this above, but stay away from ‘by-product meals’. This is made up of the parts of the animals and plants that are not quality enough to make it into the ‘meal’. This includes all the parts of the process that are put to the side that are deemed ‘unworthy’, so to speak. These act as fillers to the kibble, and simply save the manufacturers money.
One ingredient I did not touch on is corn. During my research I came across a ton of articles and they all seemed to go back and forth as to whether or not corn is bad or good. I leave this one to you, the reader, to decide. Many articles at the end that are listed go into their opinions of corn, and I hope they help you decide if it is something you wish to be in your pet’s diet or not.
If you’ve made it to the end of this, I hope that you have learned a good deal about your dog’s food. To most dog owner’s, myself included, kibble is a staple part of their diet. My parting words to you, are to consider additives to your dog’s diet. Many dogs love vegetables, and there are lots of healthy additives to put on top of their bowls. Each brand lists the amount of protein, vitamins and minerals in each bag. However, these are actually ranged and not always spot on. Adding vegetables to your dog’s diet helps add a little variety to their palate while also ensuring they are receiving natural forms of their vitamins and minerals. Ask your vet for a list of dog safe vegetables, or if they have a reference to a trust source.
Spring is right around the corner, and for those of us in the colder states we may be starting to feel the first signs of the new season right around the corner. The snow is melting, the days start to be above freezing and we occasionally get that beautiful day above 50 F. As great as that all is, this is also the time that the fleas (and other bugs) start to stir. In Michigan, I have seen that our ‘flea season’ (fleas can be a problem year round for pets, the season just indicates when they are most active) is typically between April thru November. So let’s prepare our pets to make sure that fleas are a non-issue this season! If fleas are already a problem, stick around because I’ll go over how to get rid of them if they are already on your dog and in your home.
I am going to say, I am not well versed in natural ways to prevent fleas. Because of that, I am not going to cover that topic here. I do not want to spread information that I am just not well knowledgeable in, but I implore you to speak with your veterinarian before adopting any sort of new flea treatments for your pets: natural or medications.
Let’s go over how to Prevent Your Dog from Getting Fleas
My first recommendation would be a flea preventative. You can get these prescribed by your veterinarian or over the counter at most pet stores. Not all flea preventatives are created equal! In my years in grooming salons I have found that brands that are cheaper have a tendency to cause a chemical burn and reactions on dogs’ skins. Your vet will have a preferred brand that they like to work with and I would always go with that brand. Even if you find it more expensive than what you would like to pay, your veterinarian will know that brand and how it acts better than any other and can help you just in case your pet does have a reaction to them.
For my dog, we used K9 Advantix II, which is a spot ontreatment, and it seemed to work great for us! Spot on treatments work by applying a small dose of liquid medication on your dog where they won’t be able to disturb it: typically in between their shoulder blades. This medication then starts to be absorbed into the skin and will spread to the rest of the body, killing the fleas that may be living on your dog and being able to do so typically for about a month. If the fleas were able to lay eggs before dying, once the eggs hatch they will also die once they start to bite. Keep this in mind if you swore you got rid of the fleas and a few days later more show up, they will not be able to lay new eggs and they will most likely stop appearing.
Another flea preventative is oral medication. From what I have read, these medications can work in a variety of ways depending on what brand you decide to go with. They use either hormone growth regulators possibly alongside insecticide (which is what is used to kill the adult fleas in spot on treatments), which targets the eggs of the fleas by preventing the eggs to hatch and molt. However, a lot of brands do not have insecticide in them and oral medications are often paired with spot on treatments to make sure all bases of flea prevention are covered! Speak to your vet if you would like an oral medication that has both growth hormone disruptors and insecticide.
Collars are a very popular option, but reviews and opinions on them vary especially in the animal care world. In my opinion, I do not recommend flea collars. Although there are some brands out there that work by slowly being soaked in by the glands on the skin, others only protect that specific area of the dog. In my salon days, I have seen many times where a dog came in with a flea collar on and we still found fleas on the dog; they just migrated to the belly or the base of the tail. I would use this method alongside one of the two mentioned above if you do want to use a flea collar. Please also be careful with the brand you pick, as stated above for spot on treatments these collars can also create burns and skin irritations and some brands seem to have these issues more than others. Speak within your veterinarian on what flea collars they would recommend for your dog.
What if Your Dog Already Has Fleas? Let’s go over that Now
First, start with picking one of the first two options above. Getting that preventative started will help to make sure the fleas have no home to go to if new fleas find their way onto your dog again. Fleas can hop on your dog from any place, even walking across a parking lot if they just happened to have jumped off any other animal right before you walked by. It truly can happen that quickly.
Let’s also make sure we do not over medicate our dogs. A lot of people will want to give them a flea bath and then put preventative on and I suggest extreme caution. Giving a bath is fine, but using a highly medicated and toxic shampoo then putting even more medicine on them with a spot on or giving it to them orally can possibly cause a reaction because of all the toxins.
For baths, I personally like to use a tea tree shampoo. It will help relieve that itching that they have been feeling, and is also said to be a natural flea killer. Saying that, DO NOT apply tea tree oil to your dog! It is extremely hard to dilute properly so purchasing a well known tea tree dog formulated shampoo is the safest option, as if not diluted properly could make your dog very sick! I used the brand Espree while working in a salon and it smells wonderful and the dogs really seemed to enjoy it. At home in a pinch I have used dawn dish soap, but it can really damage their coat so be careful.
*Groomer tip: Don’t wet your dog before putting the soap on. Lather the soap super thick all over, avoiding the eyes and ear canals and let them soak for a good 10 minutes. This will help your dog’s skin feel better and also help drown/kill the fleas that are on there, and I find the element of surprise (no water) catches the most fleas without them jumping off! Make sure to focus on the areas where the fleas will want to hide: belly, base of tail and the armpits!
If you have no access to a bath and you find some fleas, there are sprays that are also sold at pet stores but I have personally never used them. Please read all the instructions before using any of the above products on your dog!
Once we have the fleas off your dog and have a flea preventative on them, you may need to focus on how bad the infestation is in your home. With your dog on a preventative, the fleas should slowly start to fade away, however, if the infestation was really bad you may need to take further steps to make sure they are completely gone. At most pet stores you can find foggers which contain a high amount of toxins and chemicals that spread through the house and will kill most if not all the fleas. You need to be very careful to read all instructions on the package to keep all of your belongings safe during this process, as again these foggers are highly toxic. Another solution to consider is using a flea treatment in your yard. This will help, as other animals like squirrels and rabbits also carry fleas.
If you are unsure on how to proceed with ridding your home and yard of these pests, I would recommend contacting an exterminator. They will be able to guide you in the right direction!
Being mid-January here in Michigan, snow and freezing cold temperatures are all around us. This doesn’t stop dogs from needing to exercise and burn energy! There are also dogs who are built for the cold who may not even want to come inside.
We all know that their fur protects them from the cold, and there are plenty of sweaters and coats to help them as well. But what about their paws? Their paws are what touches the snow and ice that covers the ground. Humans also put out salt and other products that could hurt the pads on your dog’s paws.
So what can we do to help our dogs enjoy winter? There are a few and very simple ways that we can do protect their paws against the harsh winter elements!
Some people may think they look silly, but I find them the best protection for your furry friend in the snow! They will prevent any ice and snow from gathering between their toes, and keep those melting products away. It may take your dog time to get used to them, so I would just slowly work your way to using them. Start the process in the summer/fall so that when winter comes around your dog will be comfortable wearing them! Start as slow as your dog needs, introducing them and giving rewards for each step of the process. I will have a page of references with a website that goes into detail how to help your dog get used to their new boots!
*Paw Balms/Petroleum Jelly-Based Products
These products help keep a protective layer over their feet to help keep a barrier between the paw pads and snow. They also help keep their paws nice and hydrated, as we all know dry skin is an issue in the winter! There are dog specific paw balms, which make sure the ingredients are safe for dogs and which is what I typically use. A few websites I found suggested petroleum jelly-based products like Vasoline but I personally have not tried that with my own dog.
*Keep a Towel Handy
When coming inside, make sure to wipe down their feet and their bodies to make sure they are nice and dry. Get in between their toes to make sure nothing is hiding in there. If salt or ice melting products are stuck in their toes it could cause irritations to happen. There are paw moisturizers that you can put on after they come inside as well to help with paw health and can be used year round!
*Keep Walks Short
I understand that some breeds out there like the husky, malamute, saint bernard etc do not want to be inside during this time. For other dogs, keep your walks short. There may also be indoor agility courses you can take your dog to to help burn out some energy! If your dog seems to be getting restless, I would recommend getting a couple interactive toys that are like puzzles to help them keep busy while the days are shorter and they may not be able to get outside like they can during the warmer months.
I hope this article helps those in colder climates help care for their dogs better while we still get through these next few months! Stay warm!
Hello pet parents! In this article I want to go over the different avenues that groomers may choose to go down in their grooming career. Most people know of grooming salons, and places like Petco and PetSmart that offer grooming inside of their stores but this article will go over the different places you may be able to find a dog groomer that works best for you and your dog!
Here is a list of all the avenues of grooming that a dog groomer may take! I will break down each to the best of my knowledge with their pros and cons. There may be even more avenues out there and I will update this article if I find them!
Avenues of Dog Grooming:
*Corporate grooming salons
*Private grooming salons
Corporate Grooming Salon
I owe my grooming career to a corporate salon! These places hire those who are wanting to become dog groomers as bathers, and then send them to their grooming programs to teach them how to groom. These places are very convenient for pet parents as they can get all of their pet’s needs taken care of in one place. They also allow you to stick with the same groomer if you please or see whomever has an availability first. Some cons are that because they are typically high volume stores they may not be a good fit for dogs who are dog aggressive, have anxiety, or other health problems that need to be monitored by the entire groom. You will find the prices typically in the middle of most private salons as these companies do a pretty good job surveying prices in areas and adjusting to them.
Private Grooming Salons
These salons are owned by individuals who are either groomers themselves or employ groomers to work for them. They are hired typically from corporate groomers looking for a change, out of grooming school or even training them at their facilities. They typically have great atmospheres and because you are there solely for grooming these groomers do not have the added stress of getting you to add on products or services and can solely focus on the groom. There is also less foot traffic and may be less stressful for your pet and private salons may be able to work a little better with pets who have special needs or are seniors. They will be priced similar to corporate salons, but depending on the location and experience of the staff you could pay more at a corporate salon. These groomers may also specialize in certain grooming techniques and styles, and will charge for those accordingly.
I would like to start off saying, not every veterinarian office offers grooming services. These places are good for dogs who may need some medical assistance like infections, or severe matting. It is also a good option for those who want their dogs to be around familiar faces, and if anything does go wrong during the grooming session (accidents do happen), they will be able to take care of them immediately. Salons will also refer dogs who may need to be sedated due to aggression or extreme anxiety while the pet parent works with a dog trainer or behavior specialist. Because they typically deal with more difficult dogs or will use medications/additional staff to help they may charge more a corporate or private grooming salon but will be honest in stating that I’m not entirely sure about grooming prices at veterinarian offices.
At Home/Private Residence
These groomers work right out of their own homes! They convert either an outdoor patio, garage, basement, or even a shed into a mini grooming salon. Some may use cages but typically they do not work with more than a couple dogs at a time. These groomers create a relaxing, cozy environment for their dogs. They have the ability to use their own tools and products and can specialize in whatever specialty they like. These groomers keep overhead very low and can typically charge less than a grooming salon or other avenues of grooming but that will depend on what grooming service you are looking for, the experience of the groomer and condition of the coat.
There are several industries that need clients to come visit them so they can get the experience they need to work unsupervised: dental hygienist, massage therapists, and dog groomers! Although there are not many grooming schools, if you take your dog there, they will be in good hands! Every dog is looked over before leaving by an instructor before leaving and students are encouraged to ask questions. No, your groom may not be perfect but your pet will be in good hands, you will be helping students, and will be saving money too!
Sometimes, traveling to the groomer can be a bit of a hassle. You may have a crazy schedule, work from home while watching the kids, your dog may get motion sickness or you just love the idea of someone coming to you so you can stay home and relax. This is where the mobile groomer comes in! They typically have a large van they groom out of, or a trailer that they pull behind their vehicle. They will either come to your door to grab your pup or you can walk to them but they will perform the entire groom one on one at the curb of your house! These groomers are on the luxury price end of grooming, from what I have seen they are typically the most expensive, but the cage free environment and no travel makes this avenue a lot less stressful for pets! These groomers can also offer specialized grooms and typically have years of experience in the field.
The last on the list, but certainly not least, is the house call groomer. That’s me! House call groomers take things a step further than mobile groomers and will set up right inside your home. They bring a table and all of their tools and only need your bathtub or sink to wash your dog in. This avenue is really good for dogs who need someone to work with them due to health conditions or behavioral problems. This is also good for senior dogs who just need comfort grooming at the end of their lives and do not do so well with the loud sounds and hustle and bustle of a grooming salon (mobile is also good for this as well). House call groomers also are on the more expensive end. They have to carry all of their tools and typically have a very physically taxing job of working on the ground or wherever the pet is the most comfortable. That is not to say the other avenues are not physically taxing, they are!
I hope you enjoyed this list of the different areas you will find groomers! All of this stems from my experience in the grooming world, and I do apologize if there is some information that may not pertain to your area like it does mine. Please know pricing and practices do vary by location so please look more into each avenue before deciding on a dog groomer. I absolutely love all my groomers out there in any avenue that they chose to take because it gives you, the pet parent, so many avenues to choose from and be able to see what works best for you and your pooch!
Dog parks, normally when I think about dog parks I visualize large green pastures with high fences with dogs running around off leash playing with each other while their pet parents socialize and relax. Is that what you envision as well? I’ll be honest in saying that I have personally never seen a dog park in real life and only in movies. So in order to write this article, I did quite a bit of research to find out what REAL dog parks are like, are they safe and what you should do to prepare for your visit to the dog park, or if you should even visit a dog park at all. After this article there will be a page of references, I highly recommend you read them as they contain lots of amazing information that I was not able to dive into during this article.
Firstly, I would like to go over the benefits of dog parks. Dog parks can be great places for dogs to get off leash and burn some energy, especially in big cities and places where local governments may have put restrictions on dogs and where they are not allowed to be. It creates a space for the dog parent and dog to bond and be outside and get some fresh air, and is a great way for the pet parent to get in some exercise too!
Deciding if the Dog Park is Right for You and Your Dog
*The Park’s Structure
One of the very first things you can do to make sure your dog will be safe at the dog park is to check out the park itself first. You’ll want a dog park that has high fences and plenty of spaces for dogs to separate from each other in case one needs a break. You don’t want another dog to be able to charge at another and tackle them, even in play, and the other dog does not have an option to hide if they are not interested in playing with that dog or that way. Take note to see if dogs are conjuring around the openings of the park and how big the entrances are. If dogs seem to loiter around this spot, it could possibly start some anxiety with your dog being bombarded with new dogs and scents all at once especially by dogs who are hyper and may not read body language signs from other dogs, but we will go over that in detail after.
Is it located next to a busy road? Do you feel secure with the park’s entrance that it could stop your dog or other dogs from running outside of the park? Do they have benches, clean up areas or communal watering areas for dogs? Be careful about letting your dog drink from communal areas as they could spread unwanted germs and illnesses from dog to dog.
*The behaviors of your dog and other dogs
The other area of mention is to watch how your dog is with other dogs, even before going to the dog park. Just like humans, not every dog is interested in every other dog and they may not get along with every other dog. Once a dog hits mature age, they may have less drive to meet new dogs or to play with others (and just like humans, there may be some who simply cannot get enough of other people and dogs).
If your dog is showing signs like: yawning a lot, panting, becoming suddenly startled, possessive of toys or food then maybe the dog park is not for you. Also be conscious if your dog is overly hyper and plays rough. Not every dog is going to want to play with your dog, especially if they are very hyper! Keep an eye on your dog and other dogs, if they start giving signs that they are becoming uncomfortable around your dog, or your dog is uncomfortable around another dog, you will need to be able to remove yourself and your dog until both have calmed down.
Preparing to go to the Park!
After doing some research, checking out your local park and determining if your dog plays well with others then it is time to get ready to go to the park! Leashes and collars are not the only items you will need to go to the park. Disposable bags for accidents are a must, along with bringing a dish and water for your dog to drink from when they get thirsty. There are lots of cool portable water carriers for dogs that you can find online or at your local pet retailer.
Aside from physical items, I highly recommend that your dog is fully up to date all their vaccinations before visiting the park. If you wonder how long you should wait, your vet can tell you that information. They will also be able to tell you what vaccinations they believe your dog should have if you plan on visiting dog parks.
So What if the Dog Park isn’t for You and Your Pup?
As I stated before, dog parks are not for every pair of pet parents and dogs. But there are still plenty of cool activities that you can do with your dog that don’t involve them having to socialize with tons of other dogs. Consider joining a sport with them like agility or frisbee! There are also events called Barn Hunt which you can find more about at the American Kennel Club’s website.
I hope this article helped you in deciding if dog parks are right for you and your dog, and if they are not I truly hope you look into those fun activities listed just above! They will help give your pet and you some amazing bonding experiences.
Welcoming a new puppy into your home is super exciting! Having a dog in your life can help reduce stress and loneliness along with helping you stay more active as you walk and play with your dog.
But dog ownership is a huge undertaking that should not be taken lightly. In my years as a dog groomer I have had numerous encounters with new pet parents who are overwhelmed with just how much work taking care of a puppy is, and in some situations the pet parent ended up giving their dog to another family.
So with this article I am hoping to help you prepare for your new puppy so help the transition be as smooth as possible and to also help you decide if dog ownership is right for you.
Sit down with your family and discuss the following:
Depending on how many people are in your family, you should have a serious sit down discussion about the amount of effort each family member wants to put in. If you are single, that is even more to consider.
First thing I think someone should consider is the amount of time and resources owning a dog takes, especially a puppy. It’s recommended that the new owner take a few days off to help the puppy get situated, is this possible for you? When you first get your puppy you will also be at the vet quite often with shots, tests for heart worms and other things. This requires a lot of time and finances. When it is time to get your puppy spayed or neutered, your puppy could take up to 10 days to heal. Someone will need to be with them the full 10 days to make sure they are healing up properly and all after care instructions are followed. So this will require either getting help from outside places like a family member or friend or the family inside the house take turns.
Other time and care considerations will be exercise, training, and grooming. These will all depend on the breed you get and the dog as an individual. Training will begin not long after the puppy arrives and will take a team effort. Make sure everyone is on the same team when it comes to who will take what roles. Sometimes it helps to establish who will take care of the grooming, who feeds and waters the dog, and so on and so forth. There is no such thing as too much preparation! Again, if you are solo then consider that you will have to do all these things by yourself. Your work schedule will have to be accommodating for all of these things.
A final piece of consideration to getting a new puppy is the breed of puppy you get. Breeds like Huskies or Malamutes are not recommended breeds for first time dog owners. They need several hours of exercise a day, along with major grooming needs. If you are considering a poodle mix of some sort (think doodle), keep in mind you never know how your dog will look in the end. They have massive grooming needs and you will be at a groomer typically every 4-6 weeks.
If you are not sure of what breed of dog to get, akc.org has a quiz that you can take, and they ask you about the different aspects of your life to help you find the best fit for you! They also have a list of reputable AKC certified breeders if that is the route you want to take. Also look at local rescues, there are many breed specific rescues as well!
Now that we have done some serious planning and research and have found our perfect breed and breeder/rescue, let’s get to the fun part. Buying all the things your puppy will need when they get to your home!
Items to have before your puppy arrives home
I came across a couple of websites that gave wonderful lists of items to have when welcoming your new puppy, and like always I will have all my references at the end of the article!
High Quality Puppy Food and High Quality Treats
Water and Food Bowl
Variety of Toys
A Sturdy Leash and Collar
Stain and Odor Remover
Other items that may not be necessary depending on living and training situations but I do recommend also having baby gates and puppy pads.
Let’s dive deeper into each of these items:
Your puppy’s crate will be a safe place for them to go to feel secure and to sleep. It will take time for your puppy to be used to their crate and there are lots of articles, videos and podcasts out there to help you with that process. Another note is you do not need to have a large crate! Your puppy’s crate needs to be big enough for them to stand up and turn around but nothing more. If your puppy is going to be a larger breed, consider getting a large cage with dividers. They allow you to have an appropriate size without having to keep upgrading and spending money on cages.
High Quality Food and Treats
Nutrition is so important for your puppy to grow up healthy and strong. I personally advise getting your puppy’s food from a pet store and avoid major chains that don’t specialize in pets. When I look for new food for my pets, I always look at the ingredients list. When it comes to pet food, they list the ingredients by weight. Avoid any foods where the first ingredient is corn or corn meal. These are filler ingredients that don’t do anything for your pet nutrition wise. I look at the first 5 ingredients to make sure they are healthy options.
Please note, if you see “meal” at the end of a food that’s okay! When you see “chicken meal” or “beef meal” that simply means that the food has been dehydrated and the moisture taken out. No water weight, all nutrition and protein!
Water Food and Bowl
This one is pretty simple. Make sure the bowl walls are not too high so your puppy isn’t struggling. Or, the opposite. My last dog was a Saint Bernard, so my family needed to invest in a set of water and food bowls that were lifted up to her, even at a very young age. It is very important especially with large breeds to prevent bloat or other digestive issues with any breed of dog to have the appropriate height bowls.
Variety of Toys
Toys are going to help keep your puppy entertained and help burn that puppy energy. When purchasing toys, pick a variety. You never know what your individual puppy will find the most fun. Do they like squeaky toys? Frisbees? Rope toys? There are so many to pick from. Toys are also helpful when it comes to puppy biting, when your puppy nips you, give them a toy instead! Also grab a few for teething, as your puppy will go through teething just like a human infant does. Having something like a soft rubber toy (you can typically find the puppy specific ones in softer colors in the pet stores) will help soothe their gums.
Note, I would advise getting some sort of chest or container to keep the toys in. Changing out the toys daily helps keep things mentally stimulating and they won’t get bored which can happen if they have access to all of their toys all of the time. It will also help your home stay cleaner!
Sturdy Leash and Collar
It’s going to be so tempting to buy all the cute collars that have the plastic buckle but those plastic buckles will wear over time and eventually will no longer hold, and they typically give when you need them to hold the most. I personally love the collars that have a metal belt type buckle on them. Nylon is great because it’s easily washed, and a leather collar is really sturdy and can also be wiped down easily.
When picking your leash, pick one that is about 6-8 feet long. Retractable leashes are hard to use when training your puppy and most dog trainers do not recommend them. They can also break if your dog lunges and pulls on the leash hard enough. Same as the collar, a sturdy nylon or leather leash will last you some time.
Make sure to pick the appropriate weight and thickness. A leash for a Shih Tzu or chihuahua will be much smaller and thinner than a leash for a Labrador Retriever.
Make sure to always have I.D. Tags on your puppy! Since they are so new to your home, if they accidentally run away they won’t know where to run back to. Talk to your vet about microchipping as well, as tags can fall off and are not a 100% way of getting your puppy back. Microchipping also helps if the unfortunate event happens that your puppy is taken, a vet will be able to scan the chip and see your information registered.
Again, a pretty straight forward item. With the cage, make sure it isn’t too big so they can snuggle up and stay secure. I would put a bed where you would like your puppy to rest as well if you do not plan to let them on the couch or your own bed. Look for ones that are easily cleanable, as puppies have accidents. I also advise not purchasing expensive beds for your puppy until they grow out of the chewing phase. I’ve personally lost many dog beds during this time!
Stain and Odor Remover
As mentioned before, puppies have accidents. Having a good stain and odor remover is important, because you want to make sure no odor is left behind. Not only for your own home, but once they smell the spots they pee they tend to go in the same spots again.
I hope this list and in depth dive to getting a puppy helps you and your family welcome the new bundle of fur! I want to end this article with an extra stress on thinking of training, grooming and veterinary care. Currently this article is being written October 2021, and animal professionals are currently overflowing with the rise of dog ownership due to the coronavirus. Depending on the times you get your puppy, sometimes contacting professionals weeks and months in advance is required. My grooming salon is typically booked weeks out, veterinarians booked out even longer. Do research and find each of these professionals that you want to work with either right when your puppy comes home or before, so when the time comes you won’t be stressed trying to find someone who can take your dog on short notice.