Category Archives: grooming

What are the effects of COVID-19 on pet stores?

To say these times is ‘unprecedented’ is an understatement. Never in the history of retailing has such an event occurred. There have been events similar, say the Great Recession, but the scale of the COVID-19 pandemic is at a scale never seen before.

Of the primary concern, especially early into the outbreak, were questions over the availability of pet food. Given that there were severe shortages of paper products, staple food, and cleaning supplies in grocery stores, it was logical to question if the same scarcity would be seen in the pet department and pet retailers.

Fortunately, this hasn’t materialized. Manufacturers such as Purina were quick to send out emails notifying pet owners that the supply would remain steady. A quick glance in the pet food aisle of major grocery retailers shows this is true. Even walking the aisles of Pet Supplies Plus, the shelves appear at the usual stock levels.

Curb-Side Pickup Gains Momentum

With quarantine and social distancing orders put into place quickly, retailers were quick to adopt curb-side pickup options for customers. When walking the aisles no longer became feasible due to staffing issues or local regulations, call ahead and online or mobile ordering with curb-side options were quickly put into place across many chains. It is best to call your local pet store to see what contact-free options they are offering.

Online Ordering Increases Dramatically

Several big chains have been offering ‘to your doorstep’ delivery of pet essentials for several years. Pet owners have continually increased the rate at which they order pet supplies on line for home delivery. Staying home, and away from large gatherings is proving to be an effective measure to combat the spread. This has caused even the smallest pet stores to consider moving online if they currently are not. The Wall Street Journal notes on March 15 ” The retailers that are likely to fare better as Americans adjust to the current outbreak are those that invested in online logistics or have the ability to serve shoppers safely if the illness becomes widespread”. I found this interesting product, it’s a clever play on a human treat: Barkaron, a macaron for dogs!

Subscription Boxes Become The Ticket

For years, pet owners have relied on BarkBox and Chewy for a constant supply of new and exciting toys and treats. New entrants into this space include Pet Plate which is a fresh direct-to-consumer pet food subscription which was featured on Shark Tank. Giving people the ability to continue to provide food, toys, and treats during the time when it is safer inside, could revive the subscription box industry. The downside is that you may not know what fun is coming in the box each month, but isn’t that half the fun?

Veterinary Telehealth Increasingly An Option

With restrictions placed on veterinary offices, and pet owners less likely to venture out, just like Teladoc and MDLive offer health advice to humans, so too do Ask.Vet, VetNOW, and DVM360 offer ways to consult a live veterinarian. Royal Canin was offering free access for a limited time to assist pet owners.

To access the service, pet owners can connect at royalcanin.com/us/coronavirus-and-pets or can text chatnow to 67076. Pet owners will be able to ask any health-related questions ranging from ‘My dog has a wound. How do I know if it is infected?’ to ‘My cat is vomiting, is this an emergency?’

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/royal-canin-to-offer-free-247-virtual-vet-chat-to-all-pet-owners-301053875.html

Grooming At Home Becomes An Option

Pet owners are now taking matters into their own hands, literally, as they began to groom pets at home. Several Instagram feeds featured cutely disastrous first attempts at grooming. A word of caution, though. Sharp objects in untrained hands can be dangerous to your pet! Grooming supplies are readily available on Amazon and other retailers. Wahl Corporation has posted videos to YouTube with techniques and methods to keep you and your pet safe, and your pet looking great!

Check out the Barkbath Dual Use which doubles as a portable grooming system and a deep cleaning appliance for carpets.

The effects of the pandemic are only beginning to show. This could be the start of permanent changes in everyone’s lives. From shopping to grooming to healthcare, there will be a ‘new normal’ for it all. Stay safe.

Questions and Answers About the Seresto Collar for Dogs

Every dog in his house has worn a Seresto collar. They are an easy, and maintenance-free way to prevent fleas and ticks. Here are answers to some of the most common questions about Seresto collars for dogs.

  • How tight should I fasten the Seresto collar around my dogs neck?

According to the product manual, the Seresto collar should be tightened firmly enough so that the loose end of the collar pulls through the clasp at the end, and you should be able to fit two fingers between the collar and neck.

  • Can I bathe my dog while they are wearing a Seresto collar?

Yes. The Seresto collar is designed to be worn during bathing and still achieve 8 months of prevention. However, the efficacy of the collar will be reduced when dogs are shampoo-bathed or go swimming more than once a month.

  • Are the chemicals in the Seresto collar safe to use around the house?

The pesticides used in the Seresto collar are safe to use in the household. Special precautions should be taken when the collar is used in the same household as children. Do not allow small children to play with the collar or reflectors. Avoid contact with eyes, skin, and clothing. Wash hands with soap and water after fitting the collar. The collar must not be used on animals other than dogs. Scratching or mild coat loss may occur after a new application of a collar.

  • What pesticides are found in the Seresto collar?

The active ingredients in the Seresto collar are Flumthrin, and Imidacloprid. Read more at this blog post about these ingredients and those found in other flea and tick collars.

  • Must I attach the reflectors to the Seresto collar?

No, it is not mandatory to attach the reflectors to the Seresto collar. Attaching them to the Seresto collar will help increase visibility at night if you dog goes outside. To ensure safety, they must be installed according to the package insert.

  • Is the Seresto collar a choking hazard for my dog?

When fitted according to the instructions in the packaging insert, the Seresto collar is safe to leave on your dog. It features a ‘break away’ design that will loosen the collar if it becomes entangled.

  • Are the active ingredients in the Seresto collar different from other brands?

Manufacturers of several brands of flea and tick collars use a combination of several pesticides. Find out which brands use a mix of which chemicals by reading this article.

  • Where is the best place to buy a Seresto collar for my dog?

Seresto collars are available at most major pet stores and are often in a large display. Amazon keeps Seresto collars in-stock year round, and you can elect to add them to a subscription so new collars will automatically ship when it is time to replace it.

  • What size Seresto collar should I buy for my dog?

Seresto collars are available in two sizes; for large and small dogs. Dogs under 18 pounds should wear the Small size, and dogs 18 pounds and over should wear the Large size Seresto collar.

  • What company manufactures the Seresto collar?

BayerDVM is the veterinary-focus subsidiary of pharmaceutical manufacture Bayer Health that produces the Seresto collar.

Fresh Wave Lavender Odor Removing Packs in a basket with an assortment of essential dog supplies

Scare Away ‘Dog Smell’ With This Lavender Sachet

I am a huge fan of FreshWave. They make a complete line of all-natural home odor control products (air fresheners, vacuum beads, pet shampoo), and today in the grocery store I saw their new Lavender scent Odor Removing Packs.

All natural products are important to me as I like to minimize the amount of chemicals in the house, especially around the dogs.

FreshWave has a unique blend of  natural extracts of lime, pine needle, aniseed, clove, and cedarwood, they combine to achieve their signature odor removal.

 

Lavender Oil has long been used as an aromatherapy technique to soothe anxious dogs, and reduce their anxiety. I was intrigued to see it in a sachet that is easy to manage, is long-lasting (up to 60 days!) and from a brand that I regularly trust. I use their Pet Shampoo regularly, and pay full retail price for the products that I show here.

Fresh Wave Lavender Odor Removing Packs in a basket with an assortment of essential dog supplies

FreshWave Lavender Odor Removing Packs have a ‘natural’ home in our basket of dog supplies.

As soon as I arrived home from the store, I opened the packages, smelled how pure the scent of the oil is, and found a home for them in the ‘dog basket’. This basket is in the Family Room where we spend most of our time in the evening, and where the dogs spend their days while we are at work. The packaging says the sachet is designed for small rooms, but this is more of a medium sized, so I expect the scent to more more diluted than designed. That being said, the scent is pleasant, understated, and fresh. It doesn’t ‘hit you’ when you walk into the room, but you know that the room smells good.

Since one of our dogs is a shih tzu, known for being loud alert dogs, I am hoping that the mild lavender will keep him calm and relaxed. Please note that I won’t be placing the sachets in the same space as the dogs, or applying the oils directly to them. This article from Chargin Falls Veterinary Center and Pet Clinic has great advise about how to properly use essential oils around pets.

The packaging says that the only ingredient is “plant oils”, so you certainly can’t get any more simple or natural than that!

According to the Fresh Wave website, they have been making all-natural odor-removing products for over 20 years. While they source their oils from around the world, all their products are manufactured in Rising Sun, Indiana.

Speaking of lavender, I came across this blog post from Barking Botanicals what shows 6 Ways To Use Lavender In The Car To Calm Your Dog. They have some unique suggestions such as making a vehicle spray, buying a portable essential oil diffuser, and treating your dogs collar.

 

Effective Treatments For Dog Ear Infections

While the title of this post isn’t that appealing, ear infections are common for many floppy-ear dog breeds such as shih tzu, poodle, pit bull, cocker spaniel, and Shar Pei.

Infections generally fall into two categories; bacterial, or yeast. WebMD says the main contributing factors of ear infections are: ear mites, excessive hair, moisture or wax, foreign bodies, allergies, and hypothyroidism. Not adequately drying or airing out ears after swimming, or exploring overgrown areas outdoors can expose your dog to the contributing causes of ear infections.

Infected ears can be uncomfortable for your dog, both because of the irritation in their ear canal, but also excessive scratching can cause cuts and increase the redness, as they attempt to scratch the itch away.

From time to time I have had to treat ear infections in my dog at home and found the following to be helpful to treat both kinds. When the non-prescription products don’t work after a few days, then a trip to the vet is necessary. I have found that often my grocery store pharmacy can order pet prescriptions. If you know you have a prescription coming your way from the vet, it is helpful to call the grocery store pharmacy to check their pricing to ensure you don’t overpay at the vet. If your pet prescription requires refills, you might as well save a stop and get them at the same time as your prescriptions (if any), or your groceries!

The five medications I have at home to treat my dogs ear infections are:

Prescription Non-Prescription
Otibiotic Vet’s Best Ear Relief Dry
Otomax VetOrganics EcoEars
Virbac Epi-Otic

Effective medications for treating dog ear infections

 

Otibiotic is made by VetUS (Henry Schein Animal Health) and comes in a 15g tube, with instructions to administer 5 drops in the ear each day, for 14 days. The ingredients are gentamicin sulphate, betamethasone valerate, and clotrimazole and they are mixed in a mineral oil paste. It controls bacteria and fungus, and is an anti-inflammatory. It has the same active ingredients and proportion of ingredients as Otomax, however it is less expensive.

Otomax is made by Merk Animal Health and was the original prescribed product we had received to treat both the bacterial and fungal ear infection. It contains gentamicin sulphate, betamethasone valerate, and clotrimazole, and is mixed with a mineral oil paste to aid in application.

Epi-Otic made by Virbac is a clear rinse that helps remove cellular debris and wax from the ears and contains an anti-irritant. The active ingredients are diethylene glycol monoethyl ether, salicylic acid, and chloroxylenol. It is applied by filling the ear, massaging for 60-90 seconds, then allowing the dog to shake out the excess. After that, a cotton swab should be used to wipe out the remaining, along with any debris or wax that has been loosened. Any following medication should be applied after the Epi-Otic has dried.

EcoEars is a natural product made by VetOrganics in the USA. The ingredients are: deionized water, witch hazel extract, denatured grain alcohol, vegetable glycerin, polysorbate 20 (food grade), boric acid, tea tree oil, ionic silver solution, organic mullein leaf extract, rosemary extract, and fingerroot extract. It is a clear liquid that can be administered directly in to the ear, or for squirmy dogs, a cotton ball can be soaked and the liquid squeezed into the ear.

The VetOrganics website goes into further detail to describe how each of the ingredients work to clear up the infection. I have found that it works well as a maintenance product. The label recommends using it twice per day for 10 days, or longer as necessary; weekly as a maintenance product. I found that the prescription medications show a visible improvement in the appearance of ear cleanliness and smell within hours of applying them.

Finally, Vet’s Best Ear Relief Dry is another natural formula made in the USA (Texas, to be exact) and contains Calendula, Clove Oil, Aloe Vera, Chamomie, Tea Tree Oil, Silica and Echinacea. It too is a white paste that dries to a powder which helps absorb moisture which can cause bacterial and yeast growth. The recommended application is to squeeze into the ear canal and let dry. This should be used before and after bathing or swimming, and can be used regularly as a maintenance product. I find this especially useful after baths because I know there is often water remaining inside Dexter’s floppy ears.

Some of the product links above are affiliate links to the product pages on Amazon.

Top 5 Reasons I Groom My Dog At Home

I used to go to the big box groomer every six weeks to have Dexter washed, cut, and nails clipped, but after some research online, watching some videos, and buying some inexpensive things from Amazon, I was able to successfully start grooming him at home.

Home grooming isn’t “hard” but it does require some preparation and precision. When I first started, I was glad that he didn’t have to go to school like a child, or his friends would make fun of him. It was bad. Over the last year that I have been doing this, my technique has improved, I am able to follow the same grooming process, and the result is a dog who is presentable in public.

Getting to the place where I decided to start grooming my shih tzu at home wasn’t quick. At first I didn’t think I could. I thought that dog grooming was best left up to the people at the pet store. After a while, though, I realized that they didn’t have any fancy equipment that I couldn’t build or buy, and the only thing I needed to invest was time rather than money.

Top Five Reasons I Chose to Groom My Dog At Home Are:

  1. Reduces Stress On My Dog
  2. Be In Control of the Process
  3. Reduced Investment of Time for Me
  4. Cost
  5. Learning A New Skill

Reducing Stress on On My Dog – The biggest motivator for me to look into grooming at home was the stress I could see in Dexter when he returned home. He would run around the house to get caught up on all the smells, then he would pass out from exhaustion. He is a shih-tzu/terrier mix; a high-energy alert dog. He needs to know about every noise that happens, and has big enough burst of energy to continually bark or chase whatever he alerts to, real or imagined. I knew that spending most of a day at the grooming salon was keeping him on edge the entire time. There were so many dogs, people, and sounds that he couldn’t relax.

Be In Control of the Process – While I trust the grooming salon and the pet store completely, my dog is almost like a child to me. He is a member of the family and I want to ensure that I do the best I can to place him in situations where he will be well taken care of. I was fully confident leaving him with them, and had done so for several years, but even then you hear of stories on the news where something happens to a dog in their care. The rational part of my brain says that these stories are the exception, and there are thousands of successful grooming sessions for every one mistake, but I knew that I could eliminate even that small chance by taking over this responsibility.

Also, I can control the how he looks at the end. Rather than describing the look I want to the groomer then leaving it to them, then potentially having to stay later to have them fix any issues, By doing it myself I could cut his fur to the length I desired the first time. If his tail wasn’t coming out correctly, or his face was too long, I could fix it on the spot as I went. I could control which shampoo was used, I could control the length of the grooming session, I could control the environment, I could control the final look. I wouldn’t have a problem going back to a groomer, but I also like being able to pick and decide each step of the way as well.

Reducing My Investment of Time – The pet store grooming salon is about a 15 minute drive from my house. Not only would I have to drive there and back once to get Dexter to them, but also there and back again to pick him up. Give the amount of time it takes for them to complete the wash & groom process, and the comparative amount of time it takes me to do errands in that same area, it involved a lot of driving. Literally, I would spend an hour of the day just driving to and from the groomer. On top of that, I would be tied to my phone waiting for their call that he was ready. He could be ready at 4pm, he could be ready at 6pm depending on a lot of factors (drop off time, the number of other dogs, etc…). I might be in the middle of a project at that time. I could be just not in the mood to go back out for him; the timing was just unpredictable. In the time it took me to drive to drop him off and pick him up, plus the uncertainty of when he would be done, I would rather schedule my own time and invest an hour to an hour and a half to do it myself.

Cost – Cost is certainly a factor in any decision. Looking at prices around me, some of the national chains pricing ranges from $29 – $131 for a bath and cut. Exact pricing depends on the size and breed, but even a small, easy to groom dog requiring grooming every 6 weeks would need eight sessions per year at $30, so the yearly cost would be $240. I will list below what I use. Most of them are one-time expenses, and they add up to less that $250, so there is an immediate savings. Granted, some of what you are paying for is the training and experience the groomers have, but with enough practice I feel confident that grooming your dog of any breed at home is attainable.

Learning a New Skill – Last, I am a curious person by nature. I like to know how things work and I like to build my skill level wherever possible. Taking up the challenge to learn about dog grooming was something that fascinated me, and that I took with and ran. Do I feel like I would want to do this for other people’s dogs? No. Would I ever consider leaving my job and doing this full-time? No. What I do have, though, is the satisfaction of not knowing anything about this, and becoming okay at it. And continually improving!

Below I will list the supplies I use when grooming my dog at home. Following that I will link to some videos from Wahl that demonstrate how you can groom many dog breeds yourself.

Bath:
FreshWave Dog Shampoo
AquaPaw – hand-held pet shower
Soggy Doggy Towel
Andis hair dryer (use the Low setting)

Grooming:
My DIY Grooming Table
Scissor set from Amazon
Wahl Pro-Series Pet Clippers – Read my review here

(The Wahl set comes with a pair of scissors and a plastic comb, but both are of okay quality. I opted to buy a separate set of scissors because it included stainless steel scissors, and a stainless steel comb)

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Dexter with his FreshWave shampoo and the AquaPaw connected to the shower.

These videos from Wahl are clearly from decades past, but the techniques they demonstrate are time-tested.

 

This is the video the designer of the AquaPaw produced when it was first introduced to demonstrate its use.

Dog Toys (And More!) Made In The USA

Last article featured mostly dog treats and food Made In America, but this time In this we look at some durable toys and durable products that your dog will love.

Not only will these products improve the lives of your puppy, but when you buy American, you support our domestic economy. Keeping money here helps create and maintain jobs in our communities. It helps fund schools and has a ripple effect because the money you spend to buy the product is spent again in a community close to home; by the men and women building and creating the things your dog loves. Not only will these products give your dog a warm heart, but yours too!

Planet Dog Orbee-Tuff BallsThese ultra-durable balls are made of non-toxic, 100% recyclable materials right here in the USA. The company even offers a guarantee if your dog destroys it. I can say that after several years of owning one of these, that it takes a lot of abuse and still looks brand new. It has an incredible bounce to it too, so it will keep your pup really engaged while playing. Check out some of their holiday themed balls as well!

American Mutt – American Mutt has a wide assortment of products all Made in America. They are one of the few companies I have seen that makes a dog bed 100% in the USA. Check out their CoreBlu bed which is Waterproof, Fungal-proof, and has an incredible 5 Year Warranty! With that commitment, you know the company and employees put care and attention into what they make. There are several styles of bed to choose from, including a bolster bed that is raised off the floor!

SaltSox – Protect your pups paws from summer heat, dirty sidewalks, hot sand and much more. The built-in heat barrier reflects radiant surface heat and the breathable mesh fabric allows for natural cooling. Perfect for when the temperatures soar! Check out their versions for temperatures both hot (LavaSox) and cold (SaltSox). Both varieties are made in Chicago, IL! The bottom of the sock even has a grippy sole to improve traction indoors and out. This is the perfect gift for dog lovers who live in cities, or the suburbs where regular walking on pavement and snow can cause injury.

AquaComb – This innovative tool is made in Sarasota, Florida. It connects to a hose (garden or otherwise) and the patent-pending fingers direct water beneath even the thickest of dog coats to help deep clean dirt and dander. The fingers come in two lengths for short and longer coats, so there is one that is perfect for your pet. It comes in four models as well, made specifically for dogs, made for grooming horses, and models for cleaning pool and spa filters. This product is great for 4-H clubs and others who spend lots of time washing dogs, grooming horses or ponies.

AquaPaw, Soggy Doggy Towel & Fresh Wave Make For Easy Bath Time

Bathing dogs has never been fun. Two challenges are the mess that is created with water, and cleaning the entire dog. Using a combination of the AquaPaw and Soggy Doggy Towel makes for a super-easy bath time. Fresh Wave shampoo makes a wonderful all-natural ‘Made In The USA’ pet shampoo which leaves them with a shiny coat and subtle natural smell.

AquaPaw was started as a project on Kickstarter and they ave shipped their initial production run. I purchased mine full-price and just received it yesterday. I liked the idea of being in control of the water, and I think the massaging ‘fingers’ on the device make rinsing and lathering in dense fur very easy.

The unit comes shipped in this clamshell packaging that is heat-sealed in six place. I used scissors to clip away the sealed portions, and was able to easily open it.

For some background, the AquaPaw straps around the palm of your hand like a glove, and has a shower head type of opening embedded in the glove with a valve, so you can push the valve to start the shower of water – all with one hand.

The contents of the package include, the AquaPaw handheld unit, a shower head extension, a quick-connect coupler, and some plumbers tape.

I was impressed by the quality of the construction. Clearly, a lot of effort had gone into the design of the unit. The connections seemed sturdy, and – while the actual open/close valve is buried in the unit – it sounded and felt sturdy as I tested it before installation.

Installation was very easy and required only one tool, a set of pliers, to loosen and re-tighten the shower head. Everything else you need is included in the package. From start-to-finish, the installation took 5 minutes, if I’m being generous. The illustrated directions were easy to follow and I was successful the first attempt. The thread of the plumbing that my shower head attaches to is slightly askew from the threading on the AquaPaw so the quick-connect coupler comes out the top of the extension, rather than below it. It is more of an aesthetic thing for me, and is completely outside the control of the designers, but it is a subtle observation.

The instructions also show you how to connect it to a garden hose if you desire.

I don’t need a high-pressure stream of water, so it turned the water supply to about 50%, checked the temperature, and activated the shower lever. The extension has a slider to indicate if the water should go to the AquaPaw unit, or the shower head. Sliding the indicator to expose the blue end causes the water to go to the hand unit, while exposing the black end sends the water to the shower.

The extension is plastic and easy to use; it feels sturdy. It does lower the shower head a bit, but not by much.

 

Overall, this product is well-designed, well-constructed, and makes easy work of the worst parts of bathing a dog.

When the wash and rinse is done, the Soggy Doggy Towel takes over and using this innovative pocketed chenille towel makes quick work of drying your pooch. Even before Dexter was out of the tub today, I could see his coat was already drying. Ordinarily I would bring out the hair dryer and finish drying him that way, but I brought him outside in the sun, finished up with the towel, and he was quickly dried.

My favorite shampoo for dogs is Fresh Wave. It has a nice, natural scent, and is safe for their coat. It isn’t a gel, more of a thick liquid (like the consistency of cough syrup), and doesn’t get too sudsy. I didn’t need to use a lot of shampoo to get Dexter clean, and having a lower amount of lather made it easy to control around his face.

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The Soggy Doggy Towel Makes Bath Time A Breeze

First of all, you are probably wondering, what is the Soggy Doggy towel? It is essentially a 33″ by 14″ shammy made from chenille.

The two unique attributes of this towel are it’s shape and it’s construction.

An overview of the Soggy Doggy Towel showing hand pockets

An overview of the Soggy Doggy Towel showing hand pockets

The Soggy Doggy towel features two hand pockets to make drying easy

The Soggy Doggy towel features two hand pockets to make drying easy

The Soggy Doggy towel has built-in pockets on either end for your hands. This allows you to control the towel more accurately. I was able to guide the towel down Dexter’s legs and reach all the way under his belly. This allows the towel to absorb more water than a standard bath towel.

The second interesting feature are the hundreds of little nubs that increase the surface area of the towel which allows it to absorb more water. The packaging claims it can “hold up to 7 times it’s weight in water”. After using this towel, I believe that!

Opening the Soggy Doggy Towel

I ordered this towel from Amazon but they are available at several retailers. It arrives in two days. The packaging want amazing but it did the job; a plastic bag with a fold-over cardboard hang strip. It had all the use and care instructions printed on it.

Soggy Doggy Towel information tag

Soggy Doggy Towel information tag

Soggy Doggy Towel information tag

Soggy Doggy Towel information tag

Soggy Doggy Information tag

I don’t have a dedicated pet sink or tub so my dogs get bathed in the bathtub. It’s a confined space which means I often get wet as they shake. The towel is light and easy to add to my collection of things.

I currently use Tropiclean to suds up, and a little plastic storage container to rinse. I have a five dollar hair dryer just for dog drying. The towel is a nice addition because it doesn’t mean I need to use a bath towel as well.

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A soggy doggy ready for his Soggy Doggy Towel

Dexter was just groomed so his fur isn’t that long. Typically he would have a for length of four inches but he was much shorter this bath. After the usual wet/lather/rinse routine, it was time to try out the towel.

It was very easy to use. My adult hands had lots of extra room in the pockets. As I mentioned earlier, the towel is easy to control as you move it over the dog. I would hold Dexter’s belly in with hand and rum my other hand down his opposite leg. The towel let me fully circle his leg which maximized drying.

I can’t speak for him, but I bet he enjoyed the massage of hundreds of little towel ‘fingers’.

Almost dry after a few rubs using the Soggy Doggy towel

The amount of water removed from this dog is amazing. While I mentioned he had fairly sorry hair this bath, even before he left the tub he had mostly dried. It took only there it four minutes with the hair dryer to finish the job and fluff him up!

When finished, I hung the towel to dry. I hang most of my clothes to dry (no sense using the drier when Mother Nature will do it for free, without the shrinking), and the towel doesn’t take up much space on the rack; less than a standard towel.

The washing and drying instructions are as follows:

Machine wash cold
Wash separately
Do not bleach
Dry low
Do not dry clean
Do not iron

This towel is great for baths, but here in the Northeast we get rain often, and snow in the winter and I have no doubt that this towel will be useful during those times as well.

Soggy Doggy also makes several variations of a doormat, a slop mat for under food bowls, big and fluffy beds, and a humorously titled “Slobber Swabber” which is essentially a shammy on a stick. Check them all out on the Soggy Doggy website: https://www.soggydoggydoormat.com

First Impressions Of The 14-Piece Wahl Pro-Series Pet Clippers

I recently have thought about doing some more of my own pet grooming to save the money and time I spend bringing Dexter to the big box groomer. I figured I would give grooming a try to see if I could do it at home. I even built a grooming table!

With that, I needed clippers to complete the experience. Wow. Searching Amazon for clippers is overwhelming! There are so many brands and price ranges to choose from. I knew that the clippers would be an investment. I was going to spend over $50 or so to have him groomed, so I knew the clippers I purchased would start in that range. If I groom him once, I break even. If I groom him twice, I’m saving money. I also wanted clippers that would last, that were designed for animal fur, and had good reviews.

My Clipper Purchase “Must-Haves”:

  • Investment-grade
  • Reliable
  • Designed for animal fur
  • Good reviews

Clipper Purchase “Nice To Have”:

  • Made In The USA
  • Cordless

I spent several hours reading reviews on various clippers and had it narrowed down to a pair by ConAir or Wahl. I found a chart at the bottom of the page that showed Lhasa Apso/Shih Tzu under the column of the Wahl 9590-210 Corded/Cordless clippers. The model number of the unit shipped to me was 8552, but the picture and the specifications matched exactly to the listing.

dog_grooming_graphic

At the $50 mark they were close to where I expected price-wise, from a very reputable company with a long track record making clippers, designed for animals, AND as a bonus, were Made in the USA. The fine print says they are made in the USA from domestic and imported parts. I’m inclined to think that most of the parts are imported and the kits and/or clippers are assembled here, though I don’t have confirmation either way about the parts origin.

The clippers have over 1200 reviews on Amazon, and four stars, so I think I found my clippers.

I liked the fact that they came as a kit. I had originally put a comb and scissors in my shopping cart but when I realized the kit came with both of those, I removed them. As it appears, I could start grooming right away when they arrived.

This set fit all the requirements, I bought them, and two days later they showed up. Amazon Prime shipping is great.

I made this video of the unboxing when the package arrived.

The Kit includes these pieces:

  • clippers
  • charging cord
  • hook and loop cord wrap
  • blade guard (attach the the blades while in storage)
  • #1 – 1/8″ (3mm) blade comb (red)
  • #2 – 1/4″ (6mm) blade comb (purple)
  • #3 – 3/8″ (10mm) blade comb (blue)
  • #4 – 1/2″ (13mm) blade comb (orange)
  • 5ml vial of blade oil
  • cleaning brush
  • 6″ scissors (total length – 2 3/4″ blade length)
  • 7″ plastic finishing comb
  • rigid storage case
  • instructional DVD
  • also included is an instructional manual

14-piece Wahl Pro-Series Pet Clipper Kit contents

14-piece Wahl Pro-Series Pet Clipper Kit contents

When I had the clippers in-hand I was able to get a better look at the quality of the product. The star in this kit is the clippers, and they stand out clearly. The construction is solid and they feel study. The body doesn’t feel ergonomically designed, but the clippers are comfortable to hold for the entire grooming session. The dimentions are approximately six inches tall, 1.5 inches deep, and two inches across. They weigh 8.3 ounces.

Preparation of the clippers was simple. They came fully assembled and the only two steps were to charge the clippers for 24 hours before use (by plugging in the included power adapter) and applying a few drops of the included clipper oil between the blades.

While charging, there is not a status light or progress indicator to tell you what state the clippers are in (charging or ready), or how fully charged the battery is. I put the clippers on to charge at 10am the morning before I used them, and unplugged the unit at 10am the following day. The clippers do not have a charging cradle to hold the clippers during charging (the cord goes directly from the wall into the unit). The manual says you will get a minimum of 30 minutes of full-speed clipping from a full charge. During my hour-long session using the clippers I did not notice the blades slowing down or becoming less powerful.

Cleaning the blades after clipping was equally simple. Simply hold the clippers with your thumb pushing the blades away from the top of the unit and press the blades into your other hand. The blades are held solidly onto the unit by a friction fit so no screws or tools are necessary to remove them. Using the included brush, sweep away the sticky fur bits. The small bristles do a great job getting into the tight nooks in the blades. Replace the blade guard and wipe the outside of the unit with a damp cloth.

Removing the blades for cleaning

Press thumb forward on the Wahl 8552 Pro-Series Pet Clipper blades to remove for cleaning

The clippers can be used either cordless or, if the battery drains, you can safely operate the unit by plugging it into the wall. Dexter weighs less than 30 pounds and the amount of time spent clipping him was short, so I can’t comment on the performance while plugged in. The manual does say “Should you need to use the clipper in corded mode when the battery is fully discharged, it is best to charge clipper in “OFF” position for several minutes before use. During use, you may notice a decrease in blade speed. This is perfectly normal. The clipper will still perform adequately in corded mode with a fully discharged battery”.

Speaking of batteries, the rechargeable battery in this unit is user-replaceable. Wahl provides instructions in the manual. The manual states that the battery should last between three to five years before replacement is necessary. The illustration in the manual shows two-AA sized batteries, but I haven’t opened the unit to see a model number or other specifics. There is a local battery dealer in the area and they are usually able to match whatever specifications I need; you may have one locally too.

Two of the other essential parts of the kit are the scissors and the finishing comb.

These pieces are adequate, at best. The scissors were sharp and felt good on my fingers but the quality felt very low. I would use them again but they will be one of the pieces I replace. There are so many scissors to choose from, including all-steel construction and specialty lengths and finishes that are both more durable and higher quality than these.

The next addition to my grooming supply chest are finishing scissors to give a softer edge to groomed fur than the harsh, straight edge that flat scissors use. Additionally, you can add curved scissors to help shape contours especially around the face.

Equally disappointing was the comb. Yes, it is required if you don’t have any grooming supplies at home already, but the included comb is very thin and didn’t stand up to mild fur resistance before bending. I didn’t end up using the comb at all, preferring to use one of my own instead.

The four blade guards are molded to help you cut to a defined length. They are very sturdy and fit solidly onto the blades. I tried to do some shaping around Dexter’s “armpit” and shoulder without the guards and accidentally sheared off patches of fur, leaving some bare spots. The guards are strongly recommended even for experienced groomers so you maintain a consistent length all around the coat, and in my case, the guards served to protect Dexter against unsightly and potentially dangerous cuts from my untrained hand.

The DVD is divided into six sections:

  • Introduction
  • Clipper Maintenance
  • Dog Preparation
  • Tips and Techniques
  • Pet Trims
  • Poodle Pet Trim

The Pet Trim section goes through the technique for all types of dogs, as well as techniques for grooming specific breeds including poodles, Schnauzer, Terriers (Airedale, Irish, Lakeland, Welsh and Wire Fox), and Spaniels (Cockers and Setters). The paper manual included also covers grooming other types of animals including beef cattle and horses.

The Pet Trims section of the DVD (and many more) are on the WahlHomeProducts YouTube channel in this playlist. The videos are somewhat dated, but the techniques are still applicable today. There are also several user-created videos on trimming specific breeds available on YouTube by doing a simple search.

Wahl Pet Trim DVD Screenshot - Grooming A ShihTzu

Wahl Pet Trim DVD Screenshot – Grooming A ShihTzu

In my opinion, the most valuable part of the manual is the section entitled “Wahl’s Guide to Foolproof Animal Clipping“. With any other product, I would have expected basic maintenance and care instructions in the manual, Wahl goes beyond the basics to give you the knowledge how to use your new clippers right away.

The basic steps in Foolproof Animal Clipping are:

  1. Brush the dogs coat.
  2. Bathe the dog. Brush and hair dry after bath to remove tangles.
  3. Acclimate your dog to the clippers.
  4. Follow the illustrated instructions to clip the various regions of the dog.
  5. Blend the short and long sections of dog fur.
  6. Final Clipping. Apply desired cosmetics and finishes (bow, bandanna, etc…)
  7. Clean the clippers.

Wahl has a mail-in service where they will sharpen your blades. There is a voucher printed in the manual for you to complete and return with the blades. They charge a nominal fee (as of Aug 6, 17 that is $6.95 and includes return shipping) and you can order different sets of blades on the same voucher.

This a link to the A4 sized manual, but it is not identical to the one included in the kit.

Overall, I am a huge fan of these clippers. They feel great, the kit included everything I needed to get started grooming my dog. The ancillary products (the scissors, comb, and case) are of decent quality and they serve their purpose, but I will be upgrading them in the future. I was pleasantly surprised by the completeness of the manual. I believe that Wahl has set me up for success with this product and this kit.

Dog grooming table header

I Built A DIY Grooming Table For Small Dogs, And You Can Too! Here’s How

This month I have been looking back and how much it costs to maintain Dexter. He is a great dog, and there is nothing I wouldn’t do for him.

Being a Shih Tzu/Terrier, he requires regular grooming which ends up being the most expensive part of his upkeep. Approximately every six weeks I take him to the big box store for his appointment. This routine there include: a bath, brushing, a cut, nails clipped, teeth brushed, and ears cleaned and plucked. Its quite a process for him, and for me. The people who work there are great, and they always ensure he comes back looking wonderful, but it takes a toll on him. He is in an unfamiliar environment, there are strange dogs coming and going. His breed is ‘alert dog’, so he is constantly on point listening and watching; which makes him come home stressed.

To solve two concerns at once, I though I would try home grooming, first, to save some money, but secondly, to keep him in his own environment, with his pack.

I don’t really have a good place in my house to groom him. Neither the dining room table, the living room coffee table, nor ‘the floor’, seemed like an appropriate place to take scissors to him.

I wasn’t sure where to start, so I did some searching for pre-built tables on Amazon. There are a lot out there! So many features including shelves, non-slip pads, height adjustments, folding or not, the size of the table portion, and how heavy-duty the parts are. It was overwhelming. Also, I don’t need more things in my house. Having a table sitting in the garage or the basement that I will use once every six weeks is a waste of space. Plus, they started around $80.00. At that rate, adding about $50.00 for the cost of clippers, I would need to groom him four times to recoup the cost. I haven’t groomed him once, so I don’t know if I want to commit to four (or more) times!

Then I looked online to see if there are instructions for building your own table. Yes! There are a few good sites with materials required and instructions, but I didn’t want to invest a ton of money into the table. I have never groomed a dog before. Based on the videos I watched, it doesn’t seem too hard, but those could be famous last words. Since I didn’t know if I am going to make this an ongoing thing, I wanted to build a sturdy but inexpensive grooming table that wouldn’t take up much room.

Dexter is about 28 pounds. He is a relatively small dog. He usually fits in the “Medium” category for a walking harness, leash, size of toys, etc… so I knew the table didn’t have to be overly large. Looking at the sizes available on Amazon, and the size of the anti-slip pad I was planning on using, I knew the table would have to be about 24″x36″. I plotted the size of the dog and the table on graphing paper and the fit looked about right.

I realized I had a small, portable workbench in the basement, it is a Black & Decker Workmate “Project Center”. That got my mind going, it has a solid 24″ x 24″ foot print, holes in the surface on the top (I could bolt a larger board to the top as a tabletop), and figure out something for the grooming arm. Using the board bolted to the top would allow me to remove the grooming surface between projects, and re-attach it when necessary. I also wouldn’t need to buy legs, saving on the expense. Voila! A plan was in place!

I needed to come up with the material list of what I would need from the hardware store. I’m a huge fan of Lowe’s. I know whatever I could dream up, they could help me make.

Tools I used to build my small dog grooming table

Tools I used to build my small dog grooming table

Materials I used:

Tools required:

  • saw (I chose a reciprocating saw)
  • drill with 1/4″ bit
  • utility knife
  • crescent wrench for the nuts
  • pen or pencil

Other purchases:

All told, my shopping trip to Lowe’s cost about $30.00 (wood, bolts, and rubber). The rest of the supplies I had at home.

The grooming arm from Amazon cost about $19.00 for a grand out-of-pocket total of $49.00.

One note about the grooming arm. I found instructions here (Youtube video) which I would have eagerly attempted, but when the author started demonstrating drilling holes in the conduit, and using a vice, I knew I didn’t have the setup to do this at my home. Any cost savings of building the arm myself would be lost in purchasing the necessary equipment. While I can understand the value of having a well-stocked shop, it wasn’t what I was trying to accomplish with this.

A note about the plywood. There were several types of wood to choose from. I obviously wanted something sturdy so I went with 1/2 inch oak. It was about $5.00 more expensive than the pine, but it felt much stronger, and I wanted to ensure

The actual construction took less than an hour.

Step One: Cut one foot off the length of the board.

Step Two: Drill the holes used to attach the board to the work bench.

Mark the holes where the tabletop will be joined to the work bench

Mark the holes where the tabletop will be joined to the work bench

Turn over the board and the work bench. Center the workbench on the board and use the pencil to trace around four of the pre-drilled holes in the work bench, marking where the holes will be drilled in the work surface. Drill the holes.

I made sure the board was centered to keep the weight over the legs; improving stability.

IMG_20170729_112345

Centering the work bench on the inverted tabletop

Step Three: Set everything right side up, and cut the truck box mat to fit the grooming surface. The square feet of the mat were enough, but the dimensions didn’t match nicely with the board, so I had to cut two large pieces, and configure two smaller pieces to go at the end. After all the pieces dry fit nicely, apply the spray adhesive to the board and press the mat onto the board within 15 seconds for a solid bond.

Dry fit the anti-slip pieces before gluing them down

Dry fit the anti-slip pieces before gluing them down

My goal was to keep true to the 36″ length. If my grooming goes well, I may upgrade to a real mat designed for grooming; they are designed for 36″ or 48″ lengths. You could opt to cut off the last few inches so you don’t have mis-matched pieces at the end.

Step Four: Feed the bolts up through the bottom of the board and use the utility knife to score the mat; allowing the bolt to pass through. Remove the bolt and insert it from the top (through the mat, the board, the workbench), then add the washer and tighten the nut. Repeat for the remaining holes.

Make sure the bolts are fastened securely

Make sure the bolts are fastened securely

Step Five: Attach the grooming arm. This one bolts on nicely. You can extend the top section to give more height, or remove it and insert the short end into the vertical part to get more coverage across the table. I have done so in this example.

Clamp the grooming arm securely to the work surface. The knob allows you to remove the pole or adjust the height

Clamp the grooming arm securely to the work surface. The knob allows you to remove the pole or adjust the height

Step Six: Add some weight. I put Dexter up on the table and it was sturdy, he wasn’t going to tip it over; but I decided to add some weight across the base to lower the center of gravity, and add some stability. Using the scrap material from Step One, I placed it across the horizontal braces and added the landscaping brick. Another option would be to add something heavier – I had a 40 bag of soil that I could have placed in stead but based on my situation I feel the brick is more than enough.

IMG_20170729_114627

In summary, this table meets my objectives:

  • It doesn’t take up too much room; I can remove the surface and use the workbench between grooming sessions.
  • It was inexpensive. As I mentioned earlier the supplies and arm came in around $49.00. I will also need to buy some clippers, but more on that in another post. Your final cost will depend on what supplies you have at home. The biggest supply expense was the board (which may be readily available to you), and the grooming arm can be built for about $10.00 in conduit (if you have the tools necessary to assemble it).
  • It is safe; the work surface is solid, the base is sturdy and reinforced with the landscaping brick.