Groomers Lindsee Lee Amsden (above) of Boynton Beach and Janaina Martins (below right) of Boca Raton are professionals when it comes to taking care of your pets’ coats. ‘There is definitely an art and a science to it,’ Amsden says. Photos provided
I’ve always had dogs with easy-to-maintain double coats or wiry coats. My at-home grooming and bathing requirements were accomplished easily and quickly. Then a few years ago, we rescued Emma, a poodle-Chihuahua mix, who sports a challenging silky, wavy coat and has a propensity for gooey eye boogers.
As I quickly learned, despite her being all of 9 pounds, Emma really needs regular “spaw day” sessions performed by a professional pet groomer. She also counts on me to step up my at-home brushing and bathing regimens between those appointments.
And I’m fine with that.
As a master pet first-aid/CPR instructor, I recognize that a dog’s skin is the largest organ. Neglected coats can become oily, dry, matted or sport nicks, scrapes and even painful hot spots that can take a toll on the other organs as well as the body’s respiratory and circulatory systems.
But I realized that I have a lot to learn and share with pet parents. That’s why I reached out to a pair of top professional pet groomers in Palm Beach County for tips and advice.
Lindsee Lee Amsden shares her Boynton Beach home with Cooper, her chow chow mix, and Harley, her tortoiseshell-colored cat. This professional pet groomer travels a lot up and down the Florida coast as director of education at two grooming schools: Pet’s Playground Grooming School in Pompano Beach and Woof Gang Academy of Grooming in Ocoee. She is also a competitive pet groomer in shows.
Her colleague Janaina Martins shares her home in Boca Raton with her well-groomed Pomeranian named Ciara. Martins divides her grooming time at Woof Gang as well as at the Mod Dog Salon in Boca Raton.
“When it comes to pet grooming, there is definitely an art and a science to it,” says Amsden.
Adds Martins, “I am always going to seminars, watching pet grooming videos and whatever I can to expand my knowledge so I can bring out the best in dogs over various breeds and to teach my clients about maintaining their dogs’ coats.”
Martins and Amsden share these pet grooming do’s and don’ts:
• Do get in the habit of looking, smelling and touching your dog from the tip of the head to the end of the tail at least once a week.
“We groomers are often the first to notice a cut or an infection on a dog, especially one with a thick or double coat,” says Martins.
• Do look and sniff inside the ears.
“Your dog’s ears should not smell like dirty socks or look red,” says Martins. “These can be possible signs of an infection that requires veterinary care.”
If your dog, especially one who may have herding-breed genes, comes inside from a romp in the backyard, look carefully inside the ear canals.
“If you see what looks like coffee grounds, it may be ear mites or it may be just dirt that entered when your dog was rolling in the dirt in your backyard,” says Amsden.
• Don’t reach for the scissors to cut out a mat on your dog’s coat.
“Always think safety first,” says Martins. “If your dog suddenly wiggles, you could accidentally cut the skin or nip an ear.”
• Don’t try to cut away the dirty glob on your dog’s face.
Amsden says, “The safest way to deal with eye boogers is to wipe them with a damp cloth or unscented baby wipes and then use a flea comb with tiny metal teeth to gently comb away the goo. Never use scissors, especially near your dog’s eyes.”
• Do recognize that dogs come in a variety of coats with different grooming needs. Coats may be silky, drop, hairless, double, combo, single, short, medium and much more, so consult your pet groomer about which brush and comb will work best on your dog.
“The best are metal combs and slicker brushes with metal teeth,” says Amsden. “If you have a longhaired dog, get a long-pin slicker brush. Got a shorthaired dog? Use a short-pin slicker brush.”
Silky, wavy coats, like the one my Emma sports, require more brushing and bathing than the wiry coat Kona has.
“Silky coats tend to soak up the oils off your hands when you pet them and odors when they come in contact with other animals. These coats can smell really nasty if not bathed enough,” says Amsden. “Wiry coats found in terriers like Kona are designed to be coarse and be slightly water resistant. Wiry coats tend to repel that dirt, that water, that muck on them when the terrier is digging to catch a weasel or a rat and therefore, do not need shampoos as often as dogs with silky coats.”
• Don’t rinse your dog’s head when he is looking up.
“You risk getting water in his ears,” says Martins. “Always put cotton balls inside his ears before a bath and always rinse with his head looking down so water will not get into his ears.”
• Do let your dog gleefully do a full body shake after a bath and before you attempt to towel him dry.
“Dogs love to shake, so let them,” says Amsden. “It makes the bath more welcoming to them and they are far more effective in getting water off their coats than we are with towels. Make it fun. I tell my dog, Cooper, ‘You’re a self-drying dog. You go, buddy!’”
Amsden’s final tip to pet parents: Recognize that dogs are very good at smelling our emotional state.
“If you’re nervous, your dog will be nervous,” says Amsden. “If you are calm, your dog will tend to be calm. Dogs can smell your stress level. Strive to be calm and upbeat, especially when you bring your dog into a grooming salon. We as groomers want to make the grooming experience pleasant and safe for your dog.”
Arden Moore is an author, speaker and master certified pet first-aid instructor. She hosts a radio show, Arden Moore’s Four Legged Life (www.fourleggedlife.com), and the popular Oh Behave! podcast on PetLifeRadio.com. Learn more by visiting www.ardenmoore.com.