Monday, December 7, 2009

Second Hand Smoke & Pets

I want to share some insight I've learned as a pet groomer. I can always tell if the dog or cat I'm clipping and bathing has an owner that smokes - I can smell it on the animal! (No, this cutie was smoke-free!)

I found an article at
that says: "
A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that dogs in smoking households had a 60 percent greater risk of lung cancer; a different study published in the same journal showed that long-nosed dogs, such as collies or greyhounds, were twice as likely to develop nasal cancer if they lived with smokers.

And in yet another study, vets from Tufts University found that cats whose owners smoked were three times as likely to develop lymphoma, the most common feline cancer."

My husband smoked for 50 years and finally used the nicotine patch from his VA doctor to quit. All because his granddaughter asked him to please stop smoking for his health (her father-in-law developed cancer and died from his smoking habit)

So, if a smoker who owns pets needs a GOOD reason to quit, think of your beloved dog or cat!

Enough said.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Lhasa Apso Cutie!

The small breeds like the Lhasa Apso pictured here are my favorite to clip because they are just so darn cute when done! Some owners request a shave down (leaving about 1/8" of hair) and others like it longer with a 1/2" Puppy Cut. Most ask for the Teddy Bear head look. The muzzle can be clipped shorter if the dog needs it. Only show dogs keep the body hair long.

They are high maintenance - needing to be groomed about every 4 - 6 wks. The hair around their eyes grows quickly and creates problems if not kept short. This breed, like many small ones who grow hair quickly, often develop matting issues. So comb them and keep their grooming appointments on a regular basis for their comfort.

To learn more about the breed, visit

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Winter Care for Horses

With snow already hitting the ground in the northeast and out west, this is a timely article by my friend Ann Swinker, PhD, Extension Equine Specialist, from the Penn State University, State College. (I slightly edited it to fit) The horse above is my half-Arab gelding, Sonny. He's semi-retired in central NJ at Apple Brook Farm. He's looking good for 30 yrs old! Thanks Beth!!

Winter Care for Horses

About the worst thing for a horse during the winter months is ice that covers the watering trough or water bucket. Mature horses need about 10 gallons of water a day. Excessively cold water will decrease the horses’ consumption of water. Ideally, water should be maintained at a temperature of 40 degrees F. When the horse drinks less water, feed intake will decrease resulting in less energy being available to maintain body temperature and body weight during the cold months. Reduced feed and water intake could lead to colic and an impacted intestinal tract in the horse.

Heated waterers are one way to assure your horse an ample supply of drinking water. If electric water heaters are used, the water tank should be checked every day to insure that the heater is not shorting out and shocking the horse, which would prevent the horse from drinking.

SHELTER: The horse has two natural defenses against cold, a long hair coat and a layer of fat beneath the skin. The long winter hair coat serves as insulation by reducing the loss of body heat and provides the first line of defense against the cold. Its insulating value is lost when the horse becomes wet and/or is covered with mud. This is why it is important to provide a dry sheltered area in cold, wet weather and regular grooming. In damp weather, be alert for rain rot and other skin problems. If unchecked, rain rot can result in hair loss and irritation to the horse

While horses need shelter from cold winds, rain and snow, it is not necessary to keep them in a closed barn throughout the winter. Horses kept outdoors in the winter with access to a run-in shed that opens away from the normal wind patterns, will generally have fewer respiratory disease problems than horses kept in poorly ventilated, heated barns. With a three-sided shed, the horse can take shelter during a rain or snowstorm and its insulating hair remains dry and fluffed. Horses maintained in an enclosed barn should be exercised regularly, to maintain muscling and health.

Show horses with hair coats that are artificially short should not be turned outside in bitter winter cold without protection of a blanket or windbreak. If you do have a show horse that is housed in a barn during most of the winter, the barn should be adequately ventilated in order to reduce the risk of respiratory disease. Even in cold weather horses frequently prefer to be outdoors. The horse, when given the opportunity, will acclimate to cold temperatures without much difficulty.

NUTRITION: Cold weather is a real stress as the horse generates enough heat to provide body warmth during the coldest of weather. A horse's nutritive needs will be higher when it is minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit, than it will be when the temperatures are around 50 degrees.

Vitamin, mineral and protein requirements will still depend upon the horse’s age and physiological status. The horse should be fed according to body condition. Thin horses should be fed some supplemental grain in addition to good quality hay to assure enough energy to produce warmth, while a fat horse will require little or no increase from their fall diet. Most mature horses that are idle and in good flesh can survive the winter quite well on good quality hay and ample clean water.

Horses will generally consume 1 to 1 ½ pounds of hay per 100 pounds of body weight and if needed ½ to 1½ pounds of grain per 100 lbs of body weight. If a horse is not maintaining good body condition or is performing some work, grain should be added to the diet. If you must supplement your hay with grain, one of the safest of grains to feed is oats. However, corn contains twice as much energy as an equal volume of oats therefore a small amount of corn added to the diet will increase the energy supply. Contrary to popular belief corn does not produce heat; it produces energy that can later be converted to heat. It is the digestion of the hay that quickly produces the heat. However, for the thin horse, corn will provide the energy needed to keep the horse in good body condition and provides the energy needed for work.

Do not overfeed. Overfeeding can cause too much weight gain during the winter, and lead to laminitis and other health problems in the spring.

Vitamin and mineral requirements are a year-round concern. All horses should have access to trace mineralized salt to meet their electrolyte and trace mineral needs. Adequate levels of vitamins are present in sufficient amounts in good quality horse feed, especially in well-preserved green hay. However, if the hay appears brown, weathered and the hay quality is questionable, additional vitamin supplementation may be needed. A commercial vitamin mineral supplement can be used to provide what is missing from the hay.

FINAL NOTES: One important aspect of care that often is neglected is hoof care. Even though you are not regularly riding the horse, the hooves still grow during the winter months. In addition, the horse is traveling on uneven, frozen ground that can crack and break feet. Have the shoes removed and the hooves trimmed before turning the horse out for winter, and have the feet trimmed on a regular basis. This insures that when spring arrives, the horse will have sound hooves that will be capable of holding a shoe. Also, be on the alert for the presence of lice and mites. Parasites, both internal and external, can be heavily implicated by winter.

The important thing is—do not just turn horses out and forget about them. Every day at every feeding, horses should receive at least a visual examination.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Lion Cuts for Cats

This is Blacky. He's a short haired cat who I give a Lion Cut to on a monthly basis. He and his buddy, Trouble (who's a long hair calico), have this done so that the family doesn't have to find new homes for them.

The mom and four young daughters all have allergies to the cat dander. But by shaving the two cats and bathing them once a month, the family has no allergy symptoms!

Both cats took a few times to become accustom to the van and the procedure, but now they are very cooperative.

The Lion Cut has the cat looking like a lion when finished, hence the name. Blacky has shorter hair so the "mane" and tip of tail are not as full as a cat with long hair.

I shave with a #10 in reverse to get as short as possible on these cats, but will also use a #7.

Most cats need a cone-like collar to prevent them from biting me, but cats like Blacky who are just scared not mean, less is better. I'll put the collar on during bathing and drying so the water and warm air don't get on his face.

I'll trim cat's nails and then wrap the paws with vet wrap, which makes them calmer - the "bundling effect." The booties stay on during washing and drying, unless I know that cat won't scratch me.
I have work gloves handy in case a cat goes into panic mode and shakes all my protections off. I've learned to have a towel handy as well - for covering the cat's face, which calms him immediately, and for accidents on table when the dryer makes them scared and they relieve themselves.
Most cats don't care for the bath but I've heard some join their owners in the shower! It becomes a health issue if a cat, especially a long haired one, is unable to keep himself groomed. Even if the cat does not receive a Lion Cut, I'll shave a sanitary clip on his behind. Also, I'll shave belly mats if any.
Flea baths are also another reason I'll have a cat as a client.
I don't recommend an owner bathing and clipping their own cat - the cat may act up more with the owner than with me in "my territory."

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Teeth Brushing, Ear & Eye Cleaning

To keep the tarter build-up down, brush your dogs teeth regularly. I find that the gloves or thimble type brushes (built in on the tip) are easier to use than a human toothbrush.

A tarter control pet toothpaste can be added to the brush tip and let the dog sniff and lick it to see that it won't hurt him, like the big dog above.

Then, rub the front teeth first with the brush and paste. Most dog toothpaste is flavored so they like the taste. This allows you to gently wedge your brush tipped finger to his back teeth.
For poodles and other small breeds with hair inside the ear, pluck out that hair with an ear powder first.
Use a cotton pad (found in the cosmetic section of a pharmacy) for large ears and a Q-tip for smaller breeds. Squirt a small amount of dog ear cleaner (or half & half mixture of vinegar and alcohol) on the cotton and wipe gently, using a separate pad for each ear. Be careful not to go in too deep, especially with a Q-tip. If a dark residue shows on the pad, use more pads or swabs until clean.
When gunk accumulates in your dog's eyes, use a cotton pad with an eye solution for dogs. Wipe using a separate pad on each eye as not to transfer an infection if there is one.

Some dogs tear more often than others, and a tell-tale sign is a discoloring of the hair under the eyes. Dogs such as the Shih Tzu have hair that grows wild around their eyes, creating a mess when their eyes tear. This area needs to be cut clean first to avoid the build up and so you can see their pretty eyes!

You can find pet care products at your local pet store or here's an online site that offers natural pet care products:

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Furminate Your Dog & Cat

The Aussie Pet Mobile (who I groom for) offers a Furminator service for dogs and cats. It's great for both long-haired pets and short-haired ones alike. Maya (above) is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel that I furminate every two weeks. Because she is done regularly, she doesn't have as much hair wash/brush off as a Labrador that is done once a year.

Aussie's Furminator process is 3-Steps: a shampoo that is massaged in for 10 min, a thick rinse solution that stays on for 10 min and then the dog is rinsed well and turbo dried. The final step is the brushing with the furminator combs that have teeth like a #40 blade. This process removes the dead hair, tufts left over from the winter coat and loose undercoat.

A big dog will take me 90 min while a dog Maya's size will be about an hour - the drying time takes longer for those with thick or long hair.

Furminating will not only make your dog shinier, cooler and happier, but also keep your home cleaner with much less dog hair!
For info on Aussie Pet Mobile, a self-contained grooming service that comes to your home or business:

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Keeping Horse and Dogs Cool in the Summer!

The Dog Days of Summer...swimming, boating, fishing...just give me air conditioning!

Your pets feel the heat too so here are some tips.


1. DON'T give ice cubes in your dogs water! Violent muscle spasms in their stomach can happen which causes bloating - and a trip to the vet. Room temp water should always be available.

2. NO need to shave the whole body of your terrier, Lab or Golden. I have many requests and must do as my customer wants, but it really is not helping to keep the dog cool. Furminating is the best, and I'll cover that procedure in another blog. (Although some dogs have a medical reason to be shaved) When we lived in Texas with 100 degree daily temp, I shaved my terrier often. Here in Florida, I asked the vet and he said dogs keep cool two ways - by panting (as most people know) and via his belly. So now I just give him a wide sanitary clip (they are usually bald around their privates anyway - nature knows best) shaving up to his front legs including under his armpits. He loves to lay his belly in water to cool down, as seen in the photo above.

3. DO let them have fun with water. I have a customer with two wonderful Goldens that he plays with in summer by turning on the water hose! Swimming in a pool or pond are great as well - in Florida we have to watch out for the gators though!


1. DO hose them down, especially if showing signs of heat discomfort - lethargic and colicy. No need to bathe them with shampoo - save that for shows or once a month. Detergents will dry out the skin. But hosing them down daily during a hot spell will relieve them and cause no bad effects. In fact, for horses not accustom to a bath, a hot day is a perfect time to train them to accept it! Eventually, they'll love it. Many horses will wade in ponds etc. or play in their outdoor water tubs - so make sure they stay clean and full to drink.

2. DO keep them groomed, as rolling in mud or dust may make them feel good at the time, but cause problems later (dirt bumps, allergies etc) and after lots of rain, rain rot fungus may form. Clipping isn't necessary although show horses are clipped to keep their temperature down.

3. DO keep fresh water available - and not water that has been heated outside all day. Change it when feeding the evening meal.

4. DO provide shade. A lean-to or large trees is fine for pastured horses. If stalls are available, fans are a nice option. Ideally, offer both and let the horses choose. Fans (installed safely outside the stall bars or above their heads) also keep the pesky flies away. Many stables keep horses inside during summer days and out at night, switching to winter days outside and inside at night.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Fixing Matted Dogs

"Truffle" - before and after!

Matting is a problem with long haired dogs like the Shih Tzu, Truffle, above. Some are even worse!

Although the show dogs may be left with the hair long, most owners opt for a "Puppy Clip/Cut" for ease of care. The long hair requires daily combing to avoid the matting.

I have to shave them with a #10 blade if heavily matted. This sweet girl had some body hair that I saved with a #3 3/4 blade for the 1/2" look. But the belly and legs needed the #10.
I also had to shave the head and beard of Truffle due to the old food stuck to it! Most owners of this breed like a short beard with the ears the same length or a little longer. The top of the head may be 1/2" or longer, usually longer than the body.
Truffle's tail just needed a little trim and a combing with some tangle free rinse. The nails were long and curled, but she was very good about clipping them. Some Shih Tzus have dew claws and one of my regular customer's dog had ones on the hind feet too. So be careful when clipping that you don't hit the dew claws!
Speaking of paws, on the top I used the #10 and also underneath. Then, after most of the hair was off, I shampooed, rinsed & dried the dog. Then I go over with the clippers again since the clean hair makes it easier to even up, and I use the #40 blade under the paws.
The whole process takes 90 minutes or more, so be patient. Some dogs are behaved, but others may be nervous or scared, and be fidgety. I give lots of TLC and cuddling!
FMI on this breed, visit

Monday, June 22, 2009

Nail Care for Dogs & Cats

I'll start with trimming nails because it is the subject that I receive the most questions.

Yes, dogs and cats need their nails trimmed - just like humans and horses. All toenails grow and if left untrimmed they can have problems such as curling as in the photo above. This can make it difficult for animals to walk.
I suggest calling a professional - called a blacksmith or farrier - for a horse, but owners can do their cat or dog as long as they have the proper equipment and knowledge. And as long as the dog/cat is agreeable!
Pedicure devices sand down the nail or you can find nail clippers for pets. It really depends on what your pet prefers. I've found that small pets are often scared of my noisy electric sander called a drummel. So a small clipper works best and I'll file the rough edges with an emory board. Larger dogs seem fine with the drummel, but if they are worried about feel or noise, I'll use a larger clipper.
BEWARE OF THEIR BLOOD LINE! If the nails are light colored, it is easy to see the blood line and just file or cut above it. Nothing makes a dog hate to have its nails done if the blood line is hit and the dog feels pain. If the nails are dark, go slowly just taking off a little nail at a time. Just because the nail has curled doesn't mean that is where you should cut.
One way to tell the correct length is to have the dog stand on a flat, hard surface. The nails should be just above, or barely touching, the surface.
For cats, just clip the pointy tips.
How often? Some dogs require clipping every month, while others are fine for two to three months.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Stay tuned for grooming tips for your pet! I'll share secrets of the trade while keeping your dog, cat or horse looking their best.

I've been a professional horsewoman for 40 years, a groom for international equine competitors for 20 years and now a groomer with Aussie Pet Mobile since last November. I travel around St. Petersburg, Florida and the Gulf Coast resorts as well as south Tampa in my mobile pet van and loving it!

Above is a client named Tucker - before & after!