Proper Grooming Techniques and Examination Skills for the Professional




No matter what else may be adversely affecting the skin/coat, such as allergies, infections, harsh environment, or parasites, the problem will be worse in a dog that is only barely meeting its nutrient requirements. And skin/coat problems are always less severe and occur less often in well nourished pets. Dogs (and cats) are primarily meat eaters. They will act, feel and look their best if fed a diet whose first ingredient listed on the pet food label is MEAT, POULTRY or FISH. Diets that are based on grains such as corn will not properly nourish dogs (or cats).


Always recommend to the customer that they seek a veterinarian's advice if you suspect a pet may have a nutritional deficiency. And here's a hint... emphasize the words "may have". If you don't, I guaranteed you that the veterinarian will hear your client say "The groomer says that Fritzie has a nutritional deficiency" and you will erroneously be accused of making a medical diagnosis. So be sure the customer understands that you are making an observation and merely suggesting a veterinarian examine the animal


The entire field of pet health nutrition is now only beginning to recognize the value and function of meat-based (poultry, beef, lamb, fish) diets. Many well known brands of dog and cat foods that have been around for years and whose foundation (the first listed ingredient on the label) is a grain such as corn, wheat, barley, or rice simply do not provide the health enhancing nutrients that meat-based diets provide. As a professional groomer your suggestions to the pet owner carries remarkable credibility. It is your obligation on behalf of the pet and as a pet health care professional to become familiar with high quality diets.


Always note on your client chart what the pet is being fed. If you detect a less than optimum skin/coat condition, be sure to discuss with the owner your concerns about the pets nutritional status. You might even suggest some nutrition counseling with a local veterinarian who has a genuine interest in nutrition. Remember ... if a pet doesn't look well, it probably doesn't feel well.


Grooming Hazards




Oh, brother! Now you've really done it! While cutting that tiny mat behind the ear or trying an awkward underneath, backhand, reverse scissor cut you slice a neat little crescent shaped incision into the pet's skin.


If you're lucky, it won't bleed. But you should try to close the cut temporarily with surgical glue until the veterinarian can examine it. Put a drop into the wound, pinch the skin back to its normal position and hold it for three seconds.


If there seems to be a significant bleeding problem, and even tiny cuts along the pinna margins are notorious for splashing crimson all over -- direct pressure to the cut will halt the flow as long as you keep up the pressure.


Be sure to call the owner to explain what happened right away. Don't wait until they come for pick-up to inform them. You may have just performed a grooming at no charge if you want to keep them as clients. You should offer to pay for the veterinary bill, too.


Clipper Burns & Abrasions


Every successful and competent groomer on occasion has had an experience where a few days after grooming a dog it develops an extremely itchy, moist, scabby area that drives the dog and the owner crazy. These skin sores are often called Hot Spots. Also called Moist Eczema, hot spots occur due to trauma to the skin surface, either from a clipper blade scratch or from contact with a hot blade.


Hot spots can result from inadequate rinsing, too. If any shampoo is not rinsed away completely and remains in contact with the skin for an extended period of time, a local skin infection can result. The solution: Rinse thoroughly and dry the entire skin and coat before sending the dog home!


A true "clipper burn" is a skin lesion that can occur due to a hot clipper blade contacting the skin. The most common site for this problem is along the cheekbone and on the cheek. Hot Spots (moist eczema) requires repeated cleansing and often oral antibiotics to hasten its resolution. Be especially careful with the clippers around the cheeks; it's possible the sharp points on the blades are creating tiny scratches that become irritated or infected, then the dog scratches the area compounding the skin trauma and shortly after that you get a call from the owner!


And don't be discouraged if you loose a client because of "clipper burns." Whoever they take the dog to next has had their share too! You won't know when it happens, but you'll find out a few days later. As in any worthwhile endeavor, the fruits of your hard work will be recognized by customer satisfaction. You will have lots of repeat customers! And they will tell their friends.


Your success will result in no small measure from your professional and knowledgeable assessment of the mental and physical and nutritional well-being of the pets entrusted to your care. Be observant, take good notes, and don't be reluctant to advise your clients about proper pet health care.