Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Rockin' Rakes!

by Daryl Conner

True confession, I’m a bit of a tool junkie. I’ve been grooming for 36 years and have quite an impressive collection of grooming equipment. Some I use every single day, others I only use once in a while but am glad I have them. Rakes fall into the category of “occasional” tools. I never touch them when I am grooming a large percentage of my grooming clientele, but on some dogs they are a “must have.”

There are a variety of rakes to choose from. Miracle Coat makes one with short teeth. It works great on dogs with shorter double coats. Most other brands of rakes have longer teeth, which do an amazing job on breeds such as Australian Shepherds, or any breed with a longer, double coat. 

As spring and summer approach, and the dogs we groom are shedding out their winter coat, a rake can be your best friend.  Here is an example, last week I bathed my own dog, Bravo, an English Shepherd. He has a coat much like a border collie. After a bath and blow dry, I brushed him well with a slicker brush, then combed him from nose to tail. I was surprised that not a lot of coat was coming out, because I am certainly seeing tufts of fluff all around the house, so I know his spring shed is underway. I grabbed one of my Aaronco rakes. I have a fondness for these, they are not only beautifully made, but they are lovely to look at and hold. I started on my dogs back and was amazed to see how much loose hair was coming out. I raked the thick hair on the back of his thighs, his bushy tail and furnishings. Handfuls of dead hair were sliding out with the rake. Hair that had stayed where it was when I was combing and brushing.

If you are grooming a pet double-coated breed that has packed undercoat, try this. Wash the dog thoroughly, rinse, and apply conditioner to the coat, working it in well. While the dog is still in the tub and covered in conditioner, use a rake to break up the packed hair. It is important to use a gentle touch, because the skin is more susceptible to irritation when it is water soaked. You will be amazed at how much dead hair will rake out when it is wet and coated in conditioner. The hair can easily be disposed of in heavy clumps, which is so much nicer than having it dry and blowing around your workspace, creating a janitorial problem. Rinse well and go on to finish the groom. You will find that the dog will be much easier to dry and finish after a round of raking in the tub.

You can find rakes in a variety of prices, from around $10 up to approximately $70. The more expensive tools tend to have extremely smooth teeth and ergonomic handles, making them more effective and a delight to use.

Do you have any rakes in your toolbox? If not, this spring might be a great time to try one. A good rake can help take the dread out of shedding season.

Maintaining and Creating Show Coat

by Lisa Correia, Certified Master Groomer

With all our forced downtime, there are things that we can do now, in anticipation of dog shows resuming, to make our dogs’ coats ring ready.  This blog will be the first in a series of getting and keeping your dogs ring ready.

Coat maintenance starts with a good weekly bath.  Now is the perfect time to get the coat healthy and growing.  Even terriers that require harsh coats benefit from moisturizing shampoo and deep conditioning to restore the hair after all of the harsh chalking done to it. The key lies in choosing the right shampoo and conditioner for your coat-growing goals.  To determine the correct combination, assess your dog’s coat.  Is it fly-away and dull?  Is it frizzy with breakage? Is it shiny but lacking in length and fullness? Does it have length but no brilliance?  Here is how to solve these issues.

Coats that are fly-away and dull need some light moisturizing.  Generally, this is due to an open cuticle.  Moisturizing shampoos with their corresponding conditioners should do the trick.  These products work by adding moisture and sealing the cuticle, locking it in and adding brilliance. 

Coats that appear frizzy and have breakage need to be handled with care.  These coats will benefit the greatest from deep moisture shampoos, conditioners, and masks.  Look for products that mention the words “deep,” “intensive,” and “rich.”  These products add moisture under and around the cuticle, protecting it from daily stresses and enriching the coat for a more extended period than their simple moisturizing cousins.  Following the instructions on the label is imperative to reap the most benefits from these products.

Coats that are shiny but lack length and volume can benefit significantly from leave-in conditioners.  Conditioners with keratin, proteins, and argan oil can add resilience to the coat and prevent breakage. Dehydrated coats snap easily when stressed. Hydrated coats bend with stress, making them resistant to damage.  Conditioners with keratin will add moisture to all coat types.  Argan oil products add weight to drop coats.  If you are looking to add volume to a soft coat, look for leave-in products with proteins.

Moisture is excellent for building and growing all coat types. Know that one product does not have to be the only one that you ever use on your dog.  Your goal is to get your coat to optimal condition.  Once that is achieved, back off of heavily moisturizing products and maintain with an excellent ph-balanced shampoo and conditioner combination created for your dog’s particular coat type.  A good shampoo and conditioner combination will not dry out or damage the coat. The right combination adds brilliance and life. Weekly bathing will get your dog’s coat ring ready and growing beautifully.

Maintaining Nails

by: Lisa Correia, Certified Master Groomer

Keeping your dog’s nails short is an integral part of maintaining your dog for show. Long nails exert pressure on your dog’s nail bed and disturb the natural alignment of the foot. Feet then become splayed and reduce your dog’s traction. Short nails keep the dog’s feet tight and pain-free.  Cutting and filing the nails is what will create a desirable tight foot.

Nail Anatomy
Your dog’s nails are made up of three different layers.  On the outside, you have the hard outer shell; this can be black or white.  Just below that is the second layer called the inner shell.  This is the layer that you probably notice is grey and can crumble when cut, especially if the nail is allowed to grow too long.  Running through the center of the nail, just below the second layer, is what is known as the Quick.  The Quick is a blood vein that allows the nail to grow.  The longer the nail is allowed to grow, the longer the Quick gets as well.  Letting your dog’s nails get too long, increases your chances of cutting into this nail and making your pet bleed.  But don’t worry! Although it may be uncomfortable for your dog if you cut into the Quick,  they will never bleed out.  There are simple ways of stopping the bleeding as well. 

Cutting your dog’s nails
Now that you know that your dog won’t die from cutting his nails, let’s talk about how to get them done.  To start, you need a good pair of nail clippers.  Nail clippers need to be sharp to go through thick, hard nails.   Know that they will not stay sharp forever.  When the clipper cannot quickly go through the nail, or you see the nail crumble and shred, it is time to replace your nail clippers.  There are two types of nail clippers to choose from, guillotine and plier. The guillotine style has a blade that you place your dog’s nail through.  The cutting action comes from underneath the nail through the softer tissue, allowing for a quick cut.  The plier version allows you a bit more control on how to cut the nail but comes with the price of slower cutting and more pressure on the nail itself.  You want to choose the nail clipper that best fits your hand to lessen the chance of nicking the quick.  Either way, you want to cut at a 45-degree angle, away from the dog,  from the bottom of the nail to the top.  If you use the plier type nail clipper, you can go back and trim off the sharp edges on either side of the bottom of the nail. 

Filing your dog’s nails
Filing is an essential step for nail health.  Sharp edges can not only cut you; they can create wounds on your dog from their scratching themselves. Sharp nails can also damage your hardwood floors.  Filing can happen in one of two ways.  The first is with a traditional nail file.  This is a slower way of filing nails, but if your dog is patient, it is more economical.  The second way to accomplish smooth nails is to use a rotary tool, also known as a dremmel. The rotary tool quickly and easily buffs your dog’s sharp nails into a smooth and blunt edge.  The rotary tool can also take down a long nail immediately, without the hassle of breaking out the nail clippers. Diamond bits for rotary tools are professional dog groomers’ favorites.  The bits keep their edge and quickly, yet easily grind the nail to smooth perfection.  Diamond bit sets come with a large bit with a coarse grit.  The large bit is for taking down nails quickly.  The smaller bit is made with a finer grit.  This bit is best suited for buffing down any sharp edges.  Diamond bits that have a concave body allow for the perfect placement for the nails to be quickly and easily shaped.

Bleeding nails will stop!
Let’s put your mind to rest.  Your dog will not die if you expose a quick.  Depending upon your dog’s anxiety level, he may bleed quite a bit or very little.  Either way, you can get the nails to stop bleeding, and your dog will heal from the cut.  Actually, you may be doing the dog a favor by “quicking” him.  When you cut into the dog’s quick, you are causing the quick to recede.  When the Quick decreases, cutting your dog’s nails next time will be easier. 

To stop nails from bleeding, we suggest using styptic powder. When you start your nail cutting process, make sure to have your jar already open.  This lessens the anxiety of having to get the jar open when you see blood, and you can quickly address the issue. When you see the nail bleeding, quickly squeeze the base of the nail where it meets the toe, between your pointer finger and your thumb.  Take a paper towel with the other hand and dab off any excess blood.  With the same free hand, take a pinch of the powder and hold it one the end of the nail for about 15-30 seconds and then slowly release the pressure. If the nail continues to flow, repeat the process.  Generally, one application is all that is needed to stop the bleeding.

Cutting your dog’s nails may seem like a daunting task, but it is a necessary one to keep your dog healthy, pain-free, and show ready.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Choosing Combs

by Daryl Conner

Browsing a catalog of types and styles of combs to choose from can be mind boggling. Some have handles, some have wide spines, some have thin spines, and some have coating on them. They may be made from a variety of metals, and then there are all the different varieties when it comes to the spacing of the teeth. How is a groomer to know which is best?  Here are some things to consider.
  • Style- Combination style combs are the most popular grooming combs and have either coarse and medium teeth or medium and fine teeth, set into a spine. These come in a variety of sizes, differing in spine length as well as the length of the teeth. Shorter teeth are better suited to short haired pets, and longer teeth are best for longer coats, such as double coated breeds or those poodles, bichons, etc., which are kept in long styles.
  • Teeth spacing- Wide spacing and long teeth will be best when you are working on dogs such as a Keeshond or a Collie, with dense undercoat and long topcoat. Shorter, more closely spaced teeth are ideal for shorter coats with less undercoat, like a Labrador retriever, and many mixed breeds. Though many popular combs are made with combination teeth (ie, coarse/med) it is possible to buy combs with all coarsely spaced or all medium spaced teeth if this is what you desire.
  • Spine grip- You will find that some combs have squared spines, and others have round. Some companies make very wide spines out of wood, plastic or metal, which are intended to offer a larger, more ergonomic grip. Experiment to see which type feels best in your hand.
  • Handle combs- Some combs come with metal, plastic or wooden handles making up about half of the comb, the remainder featuring spine and teeth. Some groomers find these to be more comfortable to grip. Since the span of actual comb is smaller, you will cover less coat area while you work than you would using a longer comb.
  • Material and finish- Quality combs may be made of a variety of materials such as steel, brass or aluminum. Many will be nickel chrome coated to protect the tool from rust and give a very smooth finish. Others will have a static reducing coating applied to cover the metal. Ideally the teeth will be polished and have rounded tips, so they do not scrape the skin or damage the hair shaft with rough edges.
  • Finishing combs- Finishing Combs have finer teeth, spaced closely together to separate and fluff hair rather than help with shed control or detangling. A good finishing comb can really bring your grooming up to the next level.
  • Staggered or double row teeth- Some combs have double rows of teeth, and some have staggered teeth. These are designed to aid in dematting, removing loose undercoat and working through very dense coats. Some combs have staggered shorter/longer teeth. These are useful on short, dense coats, and are wonderful on cats.

No one comb will be ideal for every pet. Most groomers find it best to have a variety of combs in their toolbox. For starters, consider these three types.
  • A long toothed, coarse or coarse and medium spaced comb will be excellent to help you remove loose coat and find tangles your brush missed when working on double coated breeds, drop coats kept in full coat, or dogs such as poodles and bichons with long hair. Some people call this a “rough in” comb.
  • A medium/fine comb with moderate length teeth is a good basic comb that can be used on most breeds.
  • A fine finishing comb to separate every last hair and make the dog look its fluffy, finished best is also important.

Combs vary in price from under $10 to over $100. It is a good investment to spend more on a quality comb, because it will last for years and the superior construction will be kindest to coats. Unpolished or marred teeth can cause damage to the hair shaft, resulting in increased tangling.

There is no “one size fits all,” comb. Try adding some new types and styles of these inexpensive but indispensable tools to your tack box and see how they make your work easier and your end results better than ever.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Protein Rotation

by: Nature's Logic, Guest Contributor
At Nature’s Logic, your pet’s health is our number one concern. The exceptional quality and variety in Nature’s Logic foods allows you to feed your pet as they were intended. We keep repeating the importance of feeding a species-appropriate diet. Feeding your dog or cat a variety of meat sources is “species-appropriate.”  Let’s look at how protein rotation is a healthy practice. 
Dogs and cats in the wild ate what they could catch, which changed often during the year. Animals couldn’t depend on their bowls being full each morning and evening, with treats in between. Dogs and cats naturally ate many types of meats. Their systems and genetics evolved to thrive on this variety, and their diets today should reflect that variety. 
An easy way to provide variety for your pet is to change the protein source regularly, say from chicken, to duck, and then to beef. Remember that in the wild, dogs and cats ate what they could catch, so one day it might be rabbit, a pheasant the next, and the remains of a moose carcass the day after. You don’t need to change foods every day with your pet – once a month is generally where I have owners start. Another approach is to change protein sources with each new bag of food. This is not an exact science. Feeding variety is what’s important.
You can also vary your pet’s diet by feeding food in multiple forms, including canned, raw, freeze-dried, and dry. Each type of food has its strong and weak points. Rotating proteins and food forms does even more to provide variety and complete, species-appropriate (there’s that term again) nutrition.

1. No one food is fully balanced and nutritionally complete. Eating the same food every day for weeks, months or years can lead to a nutritional deficiency. Beef has a different nutrient makeup than turkey. Rabbit and chicken are different still, as are vegetables and fruits. Each of these foods are rich sources of some nutrients, lacking in others. By eating a variety of these foods, the body gets a full complement of proteins, amino acids, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.  

2. Eating the same food, even your favorite food, every day, every meal for long periods gets boring. Many pet owners complain that their pet has become a finicky eater – most often these pets have been fed the same food for months or years!  Often, their appetites improve with the addition of new foods. Imagine trying to feed your family the same food every day…

3. A more serious result of eating the same food is that the body can develop a sensitivity to that one protein, say chicken or beef. This can cause upset stomachs, gas, and other health problems. Rotating protein sources regularly can avoid this problem.

4. Beneficial intestinal bacteria help process/digest the foods that are fed.  If only a few foods are ever fed, this limited bacterial population can only process those foods, so when new foods are introduced, digestive upsets often occur – they aren’t ready for them.  What would happen if you only did pushups for exercise? You would have strong arms (fronts) and upper back. But what happens when you have to run up the stairs? Your legs and heart have not been kept in shape by pushups alone.  Repeating a variety of exercises ensures the body can handle most physical challenges. This works for the digestive tract, too. Feeding a varied diet exposes the GI flora to a wider range of foods, expanding its ability to process more foods efficiently.  Animals eating a varied diet are less likely to experience digestive upsets when new foods are introduced.

If your pet has been on the same food for months or years, it is best to make food changes gradually, allowing their digestive systems time to adjust.  Once your pet is used to a wider variety of foods, these food changes can take place faster.
Say your dog eats 2 cups of a chicken-based dry food, and you want to introduce a beef-based dry food.  Look to make this change over 10-15 days.
If your dog experiences any digestive upsets during this changeover (diarrhea, vomiting, decreased appetite, increased drinking or urination, gas, etc.), stop the new food and just feed the old food for 5-7 days.  Once the symptoms resolve, restart the process with even less of the new food (say 1/4 or 1/8th cup of the new food for the first 3-5 days). If symptoms occur at any time during the changeover, go back to the last combination  of old and new food that your dog handled well. Especially when getting started, don’t be afraid to feed the new combinations for 2, 3 or more days longer than listed. Remember your pet is adjusting to this new food, and it can take some time.
A final recommendation is regular use of an oral probiotic. Remember that we are expanding the population of beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract. Probiotics boost the number of “good bacteria, improve digestion, and support immune function.
Congratulations! You are now ready to introduce variety in your pet’s diet. There is no set time table for switching foods – make it work for your schedule. I recommend switching protein sources every 6-8 weeks, or when finishing a bag of food.  Buying a new bag of food 7-10 days before the current bag runs out gives enough time to mix the two foods, making a smooth transition. Nature’s Logic makes protein rotation easy, with 9 varieties of dry, 8 varieties of canned, and 5 varieties of raw frozen foods.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Advice for Using Whitening Shampoos

by Daryl Conner

One of the biggest challenges in canine coat care is keeping white hair looking its best. White hair lacks any pigment in its makeup and is translucent. Our eyes perceive the “color” white because of the way light refracts off the hair shafts.

White hair by its very nature is often more porous than hair that contains pigment, and this causes it to absorb stains from the surrounding environment and begin to look dingy, gray, or most often, yellow. Thankfully, there are products to the rescue. Quality whitening shampoos work their magic in one of the following ways:

1. Removing stains from the coat- Some whitening shampoos contain special enzymes that work to remove stains caused by dirt and debris from the hair shaft. These enzymes actually digest protein deposits from the animal’s coat. When the stain is removed, the natural beauty of the white coat shines through.

2. Optical enhancers- The blue color found in almost all whitening shampoos is not there by accident. Most whitening shampoo formulas rely on some form of blue pigment in the product to help cover up any yellowing in the hair shaft and convert it to the blue spectrum of colors. By adding a hint of blue, the light reflected is perceived by human eyes as being white.

3. Shine enhancers-The perception of white is all about light. Adding products that produce shine to a shampoo that reduces stains and enhances white is like putting frosting on the cake!

Shampoos designed to whiten a dog’s coat can be irritating to eyes. Use extra caution when using a whitening product around the facial area. Should shampoo enter the eye, flush the eye with a gentle stream of cool water for several minutes. If the eye becomes irritated even after rinsing, seeking Veterinary attention is recommended. Whitening shampoos can also be drying to the coat and are not recommended for very frequent use. Overuse of shampoo’s heavy in blue pigment can, over time, cause a white coat to look dingy. For best results, keep a white coat clean with a basic, mild shampoo, and use a whitening shampoo when needed.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Cherrybrook DCM Update & Recommendations

An Ongoing Look at DCM and our Recommendations
regarding the recent FDA DCM Update:
As promised, we are continuing to dig into the recent FDA update on the possible connection of certain diets to a rise in the incidences of DCM.

To recap, the FDA DCM update provided some quantitative data that helped bring perspective to the issue. Although the update answered some questions, and perhaps allayed some of our fears and misconceptions, many questions remain unanswered. In the weeks since the update it seems that everyone with an opinion has offered one. We have heard from the pet food companies, veterinarians, the media, social media groups, neighbors, family members, friends at the dog park, etc.
Many large breeds are known to have genetic predispositions to DCM. Our team at Cherrybrook, as experienced pet owners and breeders, have experienced the pain of untimely loss from DCM.

DCM is not new, it existed long before grain-free foods.

We are all concerned that the rates of DCM appear to be rising, but it is important to point out the FDA investigation has found no causal link between grain free diets and DCM, we are encouraged that the food companies, veterinarians and the FDA are working together in the spirit of collaboration. Hopefully this will lead to actionable solutions.

We go to great lengths to ensure that the foods we carry are healthy options for all pets, including our own. We believe that most grain, particularly corn, wheat and soy are not appropriate sources of nutrition for a carnivore.

Many years ago, we decided to remove foods containing corn, wheat and soy from our shelves and began offering grain free and raw options.

Grain free and raw diets are helpful in alleviating food sensitivities which cause digestive issues and hot spots. In addition, grain free and raw diets are beneficial in mitigating and combating a host of chronic health conditions and diseases including obesity, diabetes, kidney disease and cancer. We all understand that these health conditions are sharply on the rise. We have seen health conditions improve when pets are fed grain free diets.

While grain free diets are helpful to many pets, they are not a solution for every pet. Though we do not carry foods containing corn, wheat or soy; we do have many grain inclusive foods available on our shelves. The grain foods we carry contain wholesome grains such as oatmeal, tapioca, millet, rice, brown rice, quinoa and other whole grains. Many of the brands we carry offer both grain inclusive and grain free options.
When we looked closely at each of the DCM cases in the FDA Investigation, we observed that many of the formulas fell into the Limited Ingredient or single animal protein diets. This brings us to our first recommendation: rotate the formulas you feed your dog. This will allow your dog to have access to a broader amino acid profile from different animal proteins, and animal-based proteins provide the best source of amino acids and taurine.

Rotating formulas, including rotating proteins, is particularly important if you are feeding a limited ingredient diet.

Pack some amino acid power into your dog’s day by incorporating freeze dried organs like duck heart, chicken liver or mussels as a treat. Organ meat provides a rich source of taurine.

This may be the right time to consider raw. We have several raw frozen and freeze-dried food options available in our stores. These foods contain the highest percentage of animal-based protein and are an excellent source of nutrition for your pet. If you don’t want to make a full transition to raw food, you can supplement your pet’s diet with a raw or freeze-dried patty added to their current diet.

If your vet has recommended, or you think you would be more comfortable on a grain-based diet, we encourage you to come in and talk to us. Once again, there is no “one-size fits all” solution. We have a large selection of both grain and grain free options and additional resources available in our store to help you make the best choice for you and your pet.

Link to the FDA June 26, 2019 Update

For your convenience, we’ve compiled a directory of responses from our brands on this issue. Find your brand below to learn more:









As we dig deeper into the FDA update, Cherrybrook will be providing more information in the coming days and weeks. We will continue to update you with any developments, via our Facebook page and weekly emails. Our Store team members are always available to help answer your questions regarding pet food choices.