Brushing Your Pet

Brushing  Hair & Fur

Brushing your dog is one of the most important parts of maintaining your dog’s health. It keeps your dog’s hair free from mats and tangles, removes trapped particles and objects, and allows you to keep an eye on his skin which can reveal skin infections, disease and injuries. Your pet will also love the attention that you lather on him or her.

When you brush the pet’s hair, spread it apart so you can see the skin underneath. Visually check for redness, rash, cuts, blood, insect bites,  bruises and bumps. You will become familiar with it, and be able to recognize when something is different much sooner than if you do not do this on a regular basis.

It is important to brush your dog to keep his hair mat free. Mats form when you allow your dog’s hair to tangle. Mats are tight balls of hair that are hard to separate. They grow larger and larger if not removed. Mats also form tightly to the skin, making them painful over time, and restricting mobility.
Mats on the feet can splay the feet and make walking painful.  They can become smelly, harbor insects or debris, and create numerous skin problems. Mats should always be carefully removed with a mat breaking grooming tool or carefully cut out with a pair of scissors.

It also helps them to relax and creates bonding with you and your pet. Start when they are young and keep to a regular schedule but it is never too late to start. If you start on an older dog that has not had regular grooming, take your time and do a bit at a time, and make it a fun experience.

If you have a dog that needs regular grooming through a groomer then regular brushing will make that a pleasant experience as apposed to one where they have to be de-matted before they are clipped.

Regular brushing is a win-win situation.

Not All Dogs are the Same

Dogs that are double-coated breeds will have a thick undercoat which is shed out twice a year. This undercoat must be removed or it will mat. The part of the undercoat that does not mat will come out on it’s own and settle on your furniture or clothes and will leave your dog looking like a mess. The tools that you need for doing this are a rake, a Furminator, and de-shedding tools.

Terriers and wiry coated breeds have hair that is rough in texture and doesn’t shed the same way as a normal dog. Terriers normally have had their hair plucked out or stripped to keep their coat texture true to nature. The best tools for these coats are a pin brush, a stripping grooming tool, and a flea comb. A flea comb has tightly set teeth, and it will grab dead hairs and pull them out as you comb
Silky coated breeds like Yorkshire terriers and Maltese have hair, not fur. It will continue to grow and grow and it has a very silky texture. These dogs need pin brushes and combs to keep the hair tangle free and in top condition.
For shorter coated breeds like retrievers, slicker brushes and Furminator de-shedding tools work very well, as do grooming gloves.

When to Brush Your Dog

Dogs should be introduced to brushing when they are young puppies so it becomes part of their routine. Even very short haired dogs should be brushed as it is beneficial to the skin.
It is probably smart to let them have their bathroom and exercise time before the brushing so they can work off some of their excess energy.

With puppies start with light brushing and reinforce with something positively,  such as a treat, toy, playtime, or show of affection. If they really balk at it, try to focus on the treat, while stroking lightly with the brush. Use a soft or pin brush at first, even if it is not the correct brush because it is soft and gentle and feels good to them. The better the first experience is, the more they will come to enjoy it later on. The first few sessions should only last a few minutes as to not create a negative experience.

In the next few blogs I will describe the various types of brushes and how to use them on the different coat types.


    Burrs Burrs Burrs


Burrs Burrs Burrs

These can be a nightmare when they get tangled in your pet’s hair. They should be removed as quickly as possible so they do not burrow into the skin, and cause infection. The green ones are softer, while the brown ones are drier, and much more pricklier. It is also easier to remove the green ones, as they are more flexible.


Shaving off the coat is not the only way to get them out of the hair. It may be necessary if there are hundreds of them, but there other ways they can be removed easily and painlessly. It may take a little time, but can be well worth the effort.

Make sure you wear gloves, and preferably something that the burrs will not stick to. Something made of nylon or a plastic garbage bag with holes’ cut out for neck and arms will work.

DO NOT BATHE THE PET BEFORE HAND, as this will only make the burrs swell, and they will be tighter in the hair than they already are.

Tools needed:

  • Two or more combs, one wide spaced, one with closer spaced teeth
  • Conditioner
  • Pliers
  • Shampoo for bath after

Brushes only serve to drive the burrs in further, and can also break the tiny points off the drier burrs,  causing itching, and perhaps infection. Conditioners will help the burrs slide out. Pliers will break the spines of the burrs helping to release the grip on the hair, and finally the combs lets you work them out easily.

Procedure to Remove Burrs

1) Squeeze the burrs with the pliers to break up (be careful where they are close to the skin). Start on the outside of the burr and work your way to the skin.
2) Apply conditioner to a dry dirty coat (do not bathe Yet). If you do not plan on bathing, then skip the conditioner. It is used only to make combing easier. Apply only to the area around, and on the burrs as you can use it in the final bath.
3) Comb out the burrs, start with the wide tooth comb, then use the closer spaced one once the majority of them are removed. Start at the outer edge and move toward the skin or you will end up with more tangles. Keep combing until all they are all removed.
4) Bathe as you normally would.

Keep an eye out for a while afterwards,  in case some of the little “pickies” have remained behind. These could cause itchiness and infection.

If there are hundreds of them, then you may want to have the pet shaved. You will have to decide what is easier on BOTH of you.
“Beggar’s Lice”,  is a smaller type burr that will stick to almost anything. They are however much easier to remove. For these you can use a fine-toothed comb and conditioner. It does not matter as much if you wet these ones, so you can do it in the bath or pre bath. Follow the procedure as above except using the fine tooth comb. Work from the outside in toward the skin.
If your dog is always out in wild, it may be best not to shave the foot pad or ears totally down to the skin. The hair will actually catch and prevent the burr from going into the skin, and thereby causing infection. About a quarter, inch should be good.  Always check their feet if you think they may have come into contact with these, and remove before they become a major problem. This especially applies to hunting dogs. It is easy to do at this point, before the problem becomes compounded.

A serious hazard for field dogs, or any dogs in the field, are the hard seed-bearing structures of some kinds of grasses, often called “Foxtails.” These structures have sharp points at one end, and microscopic barbs, so that they easily move in the direction of the point, but not the other way. They “work in,” but they don’t “work out.” They can become imbedded in the hair, especially the paws and ears, and in nostrils, eyes and even genetalia. As they work their way in, they cause infection, and if not treated can sometimes be fatal. Image
If you know there are Foxtails in your area, then extra vigilance is needed. Regular brushing and combing will usually remove them but if they have become embedded, and started to infect the pet, then you will most likely have to visit your vet, as they may require specialized care.

Hopefully, this little article will help you to deal with burrs and stay on top of an issue that could become a major problem for your pet down the road.

Cat Grooming “Hannibal Lecter”

Cat grooming had not been given an especially high ranking on my list when I first started out.  I had always assumed that cats were quite capable of taking care of themselves and having watched many groom themselves for hours at a time, convinced me of this. I have since discovered that some cats do need extra help, especially those with long hair and heavy undercoats.


In a recent appointment, I was asked to shave down two beautiful “Ragdoll” cats. Dad described them to me as follows: one is very calm and sociable. The other is rather frantic and not friendly, even to  him. He assured me that they had both been groomed before on several occasions with no problems.

Dad had locked the “unfriendly one”  into the bathroom before I got there so he would be able to find him quickly. I could hear his loud meowing and wailing when I arrived. “Not a good sign” I said to myself as I went in.

As I set up my equipment in the kitchen,  this beautiful cat strolled in  and started rubbing against my leg and wanting affection. Dad came in and said “I see you have met the friendly one.” He then told me that he wanted to do the other one first as he was the most matted. At that point, I had wished that he had not put the cat in the bathroom as it was surely agitating him, and I was not looking forward to working on an unhappy cat.




I was beginning to get apprehensive,  and was kicking myself for wearing a tank top and shorts, which left all my skin exposed for sharp claws. When I was ready, Dad, who is a big guy of about 6’2″ and 200 plus pounds went to get the cat.

It was like something out of the old “Tasmanian Devil” cartoon. First, there was a loud series of four letters words, then cat-sounds that were a cross between a wild dog and a mountain lion. The cat had been held against Dad’s stomach area in a tight grip, when suddenly it went up his chest, circling behind his head, and crawling down his back. For some reason, Dad reached behind him and caught him by his tail to which the cat responded by going back to his stomach area and using it as a launch pad to his hiding area under the couch. It was then that we all saw the color red.

Poor Dad, he had several evil scratches and blood oozing out from about ten different spots.

“I guess he didn’t like being locked there” He said.

“What was your first clue?” I said to myself as I dug some band-aids and first-aid supplies out of my kit.

We groomed the friendly cat without incident, who turned out looking beautiful and decided to leave “Hannibal Lecter” for another day.

It was a perfect example of how changeable cat’s personalities can be. Even though cats are a part of our lives, they still exist by their own rules.

Cats! Does anyone really understand them?

I had never heard of a “Ragdoll” type cat prior to this but they sure are beautiful. These looked like Siamese cats,  with big blue eyes and the beige and brown coloring on long hair. The “friendly one” had a beautiful personality.

When Pets Pass On

When I started this blog a few weeks ago, I wanted to tell some of the funny things that happen while working as an (In House) pet-groomer. I will still be doing that but this month took on a more decidedly somber tone as several pets of friends and family members passed away.

I don’t like to dwell on the negative but life has its own way of deciding what our experiences will be sometimes. We all go through it at some point if we have a little creature that we love so I thought I would write about the latest episode. Hopefully, things will return to normal soon.

Hanging up the phone I could feel a sense of dread surrounding me, squeezing me tightly and making it hard to breath. A friend had called asking me to take her and her beloved pet on their final journey to the Veterinarian’s. “Midnight” had finally reached the end of the line, and it was time to relieve him of his suffering.

I don’t know why,  but it seems as if these things happen in clusters, and this month has seen more than its share of pets passing on. It’s a sad time for the families and others who loved them, and the hurt can run as deep as it does for a family member.

While it is a sorrowful time it is also a time for reflection, appreciation, gratitude, and sharing. It has been said many times that one cannot feel hurt, pain and sorrow, unless we have first felt the love that goes with it.

Reflecting on that loss, and all it has meant to us, we will bring an understanding that will allow us to go on without our beloved.

It is healthy for us to mourn and grieve for our pets that have passed on. After a period of time, we can then move forward remembering the love, happiness and joy that they brought to us, and us to them.

Good-by to all the little pets that have passed on this month, and thank you for having enriched the lives of those who shared their’s with you.

The Shepherd’s Bath

Bath Time for a Shepherd

We often see our pets in one regard, while others see them in a completely different complexion. This shepherd proved to be one of those cases.

It was late spring when I got a request to bath a German Shepherd, who was in the process of blowing her coat and had got herself into some rather unpleasant substance that needed to be removed.

As  a rural dog,  her job was to keep watch over the farm animals and to let the family know of arrivals. Mom had told me that she was not a real “people” dog and preferred to keep her distance, and she could also be quite intimidating to new people.  It could prove somewhat difficult to get her to agree to a bath, but she must have one, or she would not be allowed back into the house. Mom agreed to help although she was limited because of arthritis in her back.

Approaching the house, I heard a dog barking from within, I supposed that they must have had two dogs. Arriving at the front door and there is a beautiful German Shepherd, wagging her tail for all she was worth, barking happily,  and dancing all about. This must be another dog as she certainly did not fit the description given to me earlier on.

Answering the door, Mom steps out with the dog who suddenly jumps up on me and is licking my face. Mom Introduces me to the bath dog, and all my preconceived apprehension disappears as I am getting my own dog bath.

An absolute angel to work with, even rolling over on her back so  her underside could be done easily.  Mom never had to help, which she was quite grateful for. Brushing and stripping her coat was done with complete co- operation, and it was easy to see that she truly loved it.   The toenails were clipped without any hesitation, and she was bathed until she looked absolutely gorgeous. An incredible transformation and she smelled wonderful too.

I asked Mom about her later  and all she had to say was “ Well. She never acts like that when I want to do something to her.”  It’s amazing how pets can show their different personalities, that often we did not know they even had.

Praying for Nipper

Today I am writing about a subject most of us want to avoid and that is the possibility of having our pets pass on.

My sister has two little “Chorkies”, crosses between a Chihuahua and a Yorkie, both who are about a year and half old. One is a female named Penny, and the other is a male named Nipper.

Chorkie dogs

We don't want our picture taken

Yesterday, Nipper fell very sick with what everyone thought was some kind of flue. Sadly, this is not the case, he actually has the deadly Pavo virus and the vet doubts that he will make it.

So far the other dog has not shown any similar effects but she will be watched closely as well.

The whole family is devastated and now playing the waiting game to see if treatment will work.

I feel incredibly sad too. Sad that something so good and loved has to be so ill and suffer, and  sad that they are hurting and there is little they can do.

As animal lovers we all know what they mean to us and how much they are a part of our lives. Some folks think that animal lovers spend too much time on their animals and not enough on humans. I have found the opposite to be true. Those who love animals are more often those who care more about people as well. They have the capacity to love more than just themselves.

My sister, her hubby, and her kids are all animal lovers having had cats, guinea pigs, hamsters, fish, and dogs all their lives. Any animal in their care has always been well taken care of and well loved as have the variety of people who have passed through their home.

Part Chihauhau and Yorkie

Nipper after a groom

Please God, give little Nipper the strength to pull through this.

The Maltese – Tease

Maltese (Tease)

This little guy was as cute as a button but had a severely matted coat and had to be clipped right down.

He was only a little wisp of a thing and I thought “well that should take me about 20 minutes” for the initial clip.

I slid him into the grooming loop and soon discovered that he was not going to be one of the co-operative ones. Next, I tried to get him to stand but he wanted to sit. So I decided to let him sit while I worked on his face. No, he now wanted to stand and dance around. I now had to place a chain from the front of his head to the grooming post which he quite quickly managed to snap right off. I couldn’t believe he actually broke the clip right off. Where did he get the strength to break that?

I tried reasoning with him but to no avail and he was just too dam cute to get upset at. Twenty minutes later and I still haven’t really done anything to him yet. I’ll just have to show him who’s the boss. It’s time for the sling.
Once he’s in there I slowly raise it about an inch above the table level and he is now my captive subject. At least I can get to do his legs, tail, chest and head.

I notice that all of a sudden I am not getting any resistance from him and I look at him and he is sound to sleep. Then I panicked, is he asleep or is something wrong with him? I remove him from the sling and he springs back to life with even more energy after his power-nap. I feel like kicking myself for having disturbed him. At least those parts were finished.

The back and the under-body should have been the easiest part but each cut had to be set up with the use of a helping hand. After the last cut was done and Mom came in to get him he was so good, sitting there and looking so cute and totally behaving himself.

He really was a sweetheart though, no growling, biting or nipping, just super squirmy and playful. He sure gave me a workout though, I was totally exhausted at the end of it.

I am a good boy for Mom

In House Pet Grooming

Experiences and stories relating to grooming people’s pets in their own homes. Also, offerings of little pieces of advice that I’ve picked up around the campfire. Including pictures of some of the groomies.