Category Archives: Industry News

10 Things Veterinary Professionals Want You to Know About Pet Care

By Wendy C. Fries via WebMD


1. Regular Exams are Vital

Just like you, your pet can get heart problems, develop arthritis, or have a toothache. The best way to prevent such problems or catch them early is to see your veterinarian every year.

Regular exams are “the single most important way to keep pets healthy,” says Kara M. Burns, MS, Med, LVT, president of the Academy of Veterinary Nutrition Technicians.

Annual vet visits should touch on nutrition and weight control, says Oregon veterinarian Marla J. McGeorge, DVM, as well as cover recommended vaccinations, parasite control, dental exam, and health screenings.

2. Spay and Neuter Your Pets

Eight million to 10 million pets end up in U.S. shelters every year. Some are lost, some have been abandoned, and some are homeless.

Here’s an easy way to avoid adding to that number — spay and neuter your cats and dogs. It’s a procedure that can be performed as early as six to eight weeks of age.

Spaying and neutering doesn’t just cut down on the number of unwanted pets; it has other substantial benefits for your pet. Studies show it also lowers the risk of certain cancers, Burns tells WebMD, and reduces a pet’s risk of getting lost by decreasing the tendency to roam.

3. Prevent Parasites

Fleas are the most common external parasite that can plague pets, and they can lead to irritated skin, hair loss, hot spots, and infection. Fleas can also introduce other parasites into your cat or dog. All it takes is for your pet to swallow one flea, and it can to end up with tapeworms, the most common internal parasite affecting dogs and cats.

Year-round prevention is key, says McGeorge, who suggests regular flea and intestinal parasite control, as well as heartworm prevention in endemic areas.

Because some parasite medications made for dogs can be fatal to cats, talk to your vet about keeping your precious pets worm-free, flea-free — and safe.

4. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Many dogs and cats in the U.S. are overweight or obese. And just like people, obesity in pets comes with health risks that include diabetes, arthritis, and cancer.

Overfeeding is the leading cause of obesity, says Douglas, who adds that keeping our pets trim can add years to their lives.

Because pets need far fewer calories than most of us think — as little as 185-370 a day for a small, inactive dog; just 240-350 calories daily for a 10-pound cat — talk to your vet, who can make feeding suggestions based on your pet’s age, weight, and lifestyle.

dog with stethoscope

5. Get Regular Vaccinations

For optimal health, pets need regular vaccinations against common ills, such as rabies, distemper, feline leukemia, and canine hepatitis.

How often your dog or cat needs to be immunized depends on their age, lifestyle, health, and risks, says McGeorge, so talk to your vet about the vaccinations that make sense for your pet.

6. Provide an Enriched Environment

An enriched environment is another key to the long-term health and welfare of your canine and feline friends, says C.A. Tony Buffington, DVM, PhD, a veterinary nutritionist and professor at Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center in Columbus.

Pets need mental stimulation, say the pros, which may mean daily walks for your pooch, and scratching posts, window perches, and toys for your cat. It means play time with you, which not only keeps your pet’s muscles toned and boredom at bay, it also strengthens your bond with your four-footed companions.

7. ID Microchip Your Pet

Lack of identification means as few as 14% of pets ever find their way home after getting lost. Fortunately, “microchipping allows for the pet to be reunited with its family,” no matter how far away it is when found, Burns says.

About the size of a rice grain, a microchip is inserted under the skin in less than a second. It needs no battery and can be scanned by a vet or an animal control officer in seconds.

Be sure to register the chip ID with the chip’s maker. A current registration is the vital last step in making certain your pet can always find his way home.

8. Pets Need Dental Care, Too

Just like you, your pet can suffer from gum disease, tooth loss, and tooth pain. And just like you, regular brushing and oral cleanings help keep your pet’s teeth strong and healthy.

“Dental disease is one of the most common preventable illnesses in pets,” Ohio veterinarian Vanessa Douglas tells WebMD, “yet many people never even look in their pet’s mouths.”

It’s estimated 80% of dogs and 70% cats show signs of dental disease by age three, leading to abscesses, loose teeth, and chronic pain. In addition to regular dental cleanings by your vet, “periodontal disease can be avoided by proper dental care by owners,” Douglas says. Owner care includes brushing, oral rinses, and dental treats. Your vet is a good source of information about brushing techniques, oral rinses, and dental treats.

9. Never Give Pets People Medication

Medicines made for humans can kill your pet, says Georgia veterinarian Jean Sonnenfield, DVM. As a matter of fact, in 2010 the ASPCA listed human drugs in the top 10 pet toxins.

NSAIDs like ibuprofen and naproxen are the most common pet poisoning culprits, but antidepressants, decongestants, muscle relaxants, and acetaminophen are just a few of the human drugs that pose health risks to pets. Human drugs can cause kidney damage, seizures, and cardiac arrest in a dog or cat.

If you suspect your pet has consumed your medication — or anything toxic — call the 24-hour ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. Also be sure to immediately check with your vet, and if it is during evening or weekend hours when your regular veterinary clinic may be closed, check for a local 24-hour emergency veterinary clinic and take your pet there for an examination. Many metropolitan areas have these clinics.

10. Proper Restraint in a Vehicle

You buckle up for safety when you’re in the car, shouldn’t your pet? Unrestrained pets in a car are a distraction to the driver, and can put driver and pet at risk for serious injury, “or worse,” says veterinarian Douglas. To keep pets safe in transit:

  • Never allow pets to travel in the front seat, where they’re at risk of severe injury or death if the airbag deploys.
  • Don’t let dogs ride with their head out the window or untethered in the back of a truck bed. Both practices put them at risk of being thrown from the vehicle in the event of an accident.
  • To keep pets safe, confine cats to carriers, suggests Douglas, then secure the carrier with a seatbelt. For dogs, there’s the option of a special harness attached to a seat belt, or a well-secured kennel.

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How Microchipping Works:

Microchip Your Pet



Dog and cat microchipping is a simple procedure. A veterinarian simply injects a microchip for pets, about the size of a grain of rice (12mm), beneath the surface of your pet’s skin between the shoulder blades. The process is similar to a routine shot, takes only a few seconds, and your pet will not react any more than he would to a vaccination. No anesthetic is required.

A HomeAgain microchip is permanent pet ID. The microchip itself has no internal energy source, so it will last the life of your pet. It is read by passing a microchip scanner over the pet’s shoulder blades. The scanner emits a low radio frequency that provides the power necessary to transmit the microchips unique cat or dog ID code and positively identify the pet.

HomeAgain is the only dog & cat microchipping product on the market today that has the patented anti-migration feature to help ensure that the microchip will stay in place so that it may be easily located and scanned. If your pet gets lost and is taken to an animal shelter or veterinarian, they will scan the microchip to read its unique dog or cat ID code. This is the number used by HomeAgain to identify the pet and retrieve your contact information, which is used to contact you and reunite you with your pet.

Find a vet near you to get started today.


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2015: 5 Big Trends for the New Year

Written by Cherryl Reeves for

Pet Groom Blog Post

1. Pet Food
Why more consumers are paying the price for high quality

According to Packaged Facts’ latest report, Pet Food in the U.S., 11th Edition (September 2014), much of the dollar growth in the pet food market has come from converting pet owners to higher-priced foods, but this trend shows signs of hitting a ceiling in 2014.

Even so, Packaged Facts expects sales to grow at 3 to 4.5 percent rates over the 2015-2018 period, driven by an increased focus on pet health and the powerful role of the human-animal bond.

At these rates, U.S. retail sales of pet food will rise by a total of 16 percent during the forecast period (through 2018) to $33 billion, reflecting a compound annual growth rate of 3 percent.

Debbie Phillips-Donaldson, editor-in-chief at Petfood Industry magazine in Rockford, Ill., reported that mass market is where most of the growth slowdown seems to be happening, which points to the pet specialty channel as the sales-growth driver.

“Other more specific trends are that raw pet food sales, whether freeze dried, frozen or refrigerated, are growing briskly—still from a small base but strong growth in sales, and products and companies entering the market,” she said. “This growth is happening in the U.S. and abroad: Many German companies at Interzoo were launching raw or BARF (biologically appropriate raw food) products.”

Pet owners continue to move away from pet food products and ingredients from China, especially jerky treats, she added.

New developments in food processing extrusion also are creating opportunities for pet food innovation that meet demand for limited-ingredient diets, food safety and specific food labeling.

“With this new hardware, we have more control of cooking temperatures, extrusion, sanitation and food production safety,” said Curtis Strahm, director of extrusion applications at Wenger, the Americas, a food processing manufacturing plant in Sabetha, Kan. “The grain-free trend continues to grow, and we have equipment that can more precisely deliver limited-ingredient products as well as overall healthier and highly nutritious food mixtures.”

Indeed, the trend of pet owners scrutinizing food and treat labels for ingredients and their origins is on the rise, retailers reported.

“Years ago, terms like byproducts and fillers weren’t something that pet parents talked about, but now a food brand’s mission statement against these less-nutritive types of ingredients are key tenets to their success,” said Joshua Roth, vice president of Pet Pantry Warehouse, a store with five locations in Connecticut and New York.

2. Pet Tech
Sales of wearable tech are set to explode

Wearable Technologies for Animals 2015-2025, a report from IDTechEx, a market research firm in Cambridge, England, projects that the market for wearable tech for pets will explode—sector sales are expected to reach $2.6 billion by 2025.

According to the findings, wearable tech for animals of all sorts—dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, livestock and endangered species—will be the next big thing for monitoring security, behavior, medical diagnosis and treatment.

Davide Rossi, founder of Kansas City, Mo.-based FitBark, which makes a wireless activity and behavior tracker that attaches to a pet’s collar, said the trend for pet wearables mirrors the human market for such devices.

“People also want to know as much as possible about their pets, and there’s added convenience of having a tracker and mobile app that allows veterinarians to sync up to a pet’s health and behavior data,” Rossi said, adding that it cuts down on the Q&A during vet checkups.

Another hot trend is the demand for greater accountability from dog walkers, sitters and daycare providers.

Doug Simon, former owner of a dog walking service and currently the founder of Chicago-based Pet Check Technology—a company that offers a GPS tracking mobile app that maps a dog walk—said people want to know for sure that their pet has been picked up and returned home, and that their dog was walked for the entire time that they paid for.

“Clients also receive an email with details, including a walk route, notes like how a dog is doing or if a pet parent needs to stock up on food,” he said. “Walkers can even add photos. I’m seeing so many new dog-walking and pet-sitting companies opening, and they all feel that they need to add a GPS tracker to their service as demand from clients escalates. Requests are also on the rise for trackers for cats.”

Other must-have apps include pet social media platforms, iCams, the ASPCA’s Petoxins (an app that lists all types of plants that are poisonous to dogs), and Foursquare’s app that organizes all the dog runs, pet stores, grooming facilities and more in a pet owner’s city or neighborhood.

3. Live Pet Sales and Legislation
It’s a make-or-break year for live animal sales

The jury is still out on whether or not retailers will be able to continue selling puppies, kittens, aquatics and reptiles. However, the pet industry is upping its game in raising awareness and fighting bans against in-store livestock sales.

“PIJAC is fighting for a future where pet stores continue to be one of many providers for purchasing pets,” said Rebekah Milford, director of marketing and communications for the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council in Washington.

“We believe in a future that allows consumers to choose the best pet for their family. Education is an essential part of how we want to engage on the issue of pet sale bans. Banning animal sales in stores does nothing to stop unscrupulous breeders but can cause consumers to visit underground breeders or find other venues to purchase the pets that their family desires.”

Uncle Bill’s Pet Centers, a retailer with locations in central and northern Indiana, has been selling all types of pets for more than 25 years. Leilani Zindler, store manager, said that education is key, as is only using quality, trustworthy breeders.

“There are so many great breeders who have high-quality standards in animal husbandry,” said Zindler. “That’s the message more should be receiving and understanding.”

According to a recent poll taken by the American Pet Products Association, more people seem to be receiving the message: Four in five (81 percent) U.S. adults say banning dog sales entirely at pet stores will not stop puppy mills.

Steve King, president of the Pet Industry Distributors Association (PIDA) in Abingdon, Md., said all major pet associations have united with PIJAC to take a stand against legislative bans on pet sales in stores.

“The trend is to stop letting animal rights activists control the message,” said King. “What we need to do a better job of is raising awareness that there is a big difference between respectable commercial breeders and disreputable puppy mills.”

With almost 50 U.S. cities now enforcing bans, and an injunction prohibiting Phoenix from enforcing its law until a case initiated by Phoenix-based pet store Puppies ’N Love is further evaluated, the future of bans is uncertain.

“PIJAC hopes that common sense can prevail on the issue of pet sale bans, but we hope that other cities will wait to see how the Phoenix case plays out before trying to adopt similar bans,” said Milford. “If more cities try to adopt pet sale bans, PIJAC will continue to be on the frontlines fighting for the rights of consumers, commercial breeders, pet lovers and those who could be potentially economically impacted by such a ban.”

4. Walking, Training, Grooming & More Services
From grooming to dog walking, more people are launching pet service businesses

American Pet Professionals, a Babylon, N.Y.-based networking group dedicated to the pet industry and founded by Nancy Hassel, has experienced increased membership this year and expects the trend to continue.

“The pet service industry is attracting more people who want to be trainers and groomers, or they’re opening dog walking and pet sitting companies,” said Hassel.

“What’s interesting is a lot of the new members in our group are older folks who are embarking on second, or even third, careers.

We’re seeing the millennials are more focused on creating new products and marketing them in various pet sectors.”

Hassel said the dog-walking trend has gone from a simple setup to more like a big business.

“They’re hiring teams, creating websites with logos and blogs, using social media, adding GPS tracking technology, promoting their first aid qualifications, and are bonded and insured,” Hassel said. “Best of all, they’re holding themselves to very high professional standards.”

When Hassel attended the 2014 Association of Professional Dog Trainers conference in Hartford, Conn., she said it was clear that the field of dog training has grown significantly in the past couple of years by the sheer numbers of new professional trainers in attendance.

Indeed, the U.S. Department of Labor projects that the employment of animal care and service workers, and specifically animal trainers, is projected to grow by 15 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations.

Dog grooming, both in a salon and via mobile units, also is a service attracting more sales and groomers, said Jorge Bendersky, celebrity groomer and consultant at Planet Jorge in New York.

“As cities become more dog friendly and dogs are more involved than ever in their owners’ social lives, grooming is no longer just about keeping dogs clean,” said Bendersky. “Pet grooming has become a regular spa treatment that can be compared with the services that were previously just available to lucky humans, bringing home grooming to the top of the list of ‘premium’ services.”

Bendersky added that mobile grooming units are growing rapidly in areas where driving around and parking doesn’t present a problem.

“Time is money,” he said. “Circling around for parking is not the best scenario.”

For those groomers who make home visits, the low overhead cost of doing business is a big positive, Bendersky added. “Home groomers can easily make six figures a year with an overhead of only a backpack full of grooming tools,” he said. “No rent, no maintenance, no loans needed. The performance quality and light weight of the new generation of grooming tools, added to a smart selection of concentrated products, make it possible to carry all you need for a full day of work.”

5. Economy
At last! This is the year business will pick up again

According to Kiplinger’s most recent economic outlook, “healthy third-quarter growth of 3.5 percent plus an upward revision of second-quarter growth confirm that economic momentum is back on track. In the fourth quarter and into 2015, growth should continue at a 3 percent rate. Consumer confidence has been gaining strongly. Hiring is on the rise, job openings are at a near record level, and spending on consumer services, such as recreation, is likely to strengthen as incomes rise.”

There’s more good news for retailers and their business-related expenses.

“With rising employment overall, and a dramatic drop in fuel prices, the economic outlook is quite good, as people will have more disposable income,” PIDA’s King said.

Also, retailers and other pet businesses staffed with fewer than 50 employees are exempt from the Affordable Care Act, he added.

Owners also are continuing to pamper their “fur kids.” Case in point: Looking at the overall pet industry, Packaged Facts’ 2014-2015 report found that pet humanization is the biggest factor driving sales growth.

Greg Markiewicz, the manager of Tatnuck Pets, a store in Worcester, Mass., said he sees the economy looking up just by the sharp increase in customers requesting and buying high-end foods, treats and more for their pets.

“Pets are being treated just like precious children,” he said. American Pet Professionals’ Hassel suggested that retailers might consider offering a dog walking and pet sitting service, given the popularity of this thriving business sector.

Bendersky is optimistic for the grooming industry in 2015.

“As pets become more involved with their owners’ social activities, the grooming industry will only move forward. Premium services and high-quality products are turning the grooming industry into the pet beauty industry.”

King reminded retailers that they will do best if their sales come from both brick-and-mortar and online. “The percent of sales made online continue to grow,” he said. “So make sure your website is transactional and mobilized for success.”

Hot Industry Trend: Spa Services for Pets

By Alissa Wolf

The pet grooming industry has witnessed a dramatic increase in luxury services for pets in recent years. What’s truly interesting is that people are willing to spend small fortunes on such services for pets as reiki , holistic massage , facials and other high-end treatments that in the past were reserved for humans.

The American Pet Products Association reports that people spent $3.36 billion on pet grooming and boarding services in 2009, which is expected to increase exponentially in the future. What’s even more interesting is that people are willing to spend a pay and a leg on luxury services for pets in the midst of the worst economic climate since the Depression. I spoke with some leading industry professionals to get the inside scoop on why such services for pets are increasing.

According to Wendy Booth, certification coordinator for the National Dog Groomers Association of America, one reason for this trend is because pet groomers are finally getting the recognition they long lacked.”We’re at the bottom of the scale, along with kennel workers,” said the Colorado-based groomer. “But after being in this industry for 30 years, I can now say that what’s been happening in the profession is fabulous. Professionalism is being built in the industry. We have all sorts of things, like Blueberry Facials , that were not heard of even 10 years ago. In this down economy, this is shocking.” Another reason for this trend may have to do with the aging baby boomer population; these folks generally have more disposable income. Plus, their kids are grown and on their own.”Animals have become people’s children,” Booth said. “As we get into the empty nest syndrome, we want a Fifi or a Foofoo. We’re out there spending money on them.”

At Chateau Poochie , the ultra swank pet resort and spa in Pompano Beach, Fla., dogs (and cats) get treated to the most luxurious spa and other services in surroundings most people never experience. “I only hire the most top-notch groomers,” said Chateau Poochie owner Amy Jo Birkenes. “I’m proud to say we are the slowest groomers; we have hand-scissor experts. It’s like a person going to a fabulous hairstylist.”

At the Pet Spa at Harrods in London that caters to “V.I.P.s” (Very Important Pets), pet parents can expect to shell out 295 British pounds (the equivalent to 472 American dollars) for a deluxe pet day spa experience that might include a “peticure” (complete with the latest fashion nail color), a soothing bubble bath, massage, reiki and more.

Birkenes believes that people justify spending lots of money on their pets in a recession because they often go without lots of luxuries. “When people do without, we feel good about doing nice things for our pets,” she said. “Many of us treat our pets better than some family members. Pets often are our best friends.” People are also more isolated, due to the proliferation of the Internet.

“In this social networking world we live in, if you’re not talking to your computer, you’re talking to your dog,” Birkenes said. Plus, pets tend to be more appreciative of the nice things their human parents do for them. “When dogs come out of the grooming salons, they’re so happy that they literally dance around,” Birkenes pointed out. “I’ve actually seen dogs admire themselves in the mirror.”

In addition to the high-fashion haircuts, “peticures” and other luxury services, such treatments as reiki, holistic massage, aromatherapy and other such New Agey modalities for pets are gaining popularity. “People will spend more money on these kinds of services than they will on traditional grooming,” said my friend, Mark Hills, who’s in the grooming supply business. “It’s amazing.” Pet industry experts attribute the growing popularity of holistic services for pets to the fact that many humans themselves are benefiting from these treatments. Even traditional veterinarians are increasingly adding such complementary treatments to their practices.

Why are people willing to spend tons of money on such services for pets, especially in a deep recession ? My guess is because pets are the only beings on earth who offer us humans unconditional loyalty, respect and love. That is priceless.

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Hot Industry Trends – Where to Expect the Highest Business Growth


According to industry trends analyses and prognostications, the pet business will continue to boom unabated in the future.

Here are some areas in which business growth is expected to really accelerate.

Natural Pet Products

Natural products in general are gaining wide-spread popularity because people have become more conscious about improving and sustaining the health of the planet, and are increasingly leery of the potential toxicity of synthetic chemicals and other harmful materials.

In addition to a desire to decrease their pets’ carbon paw prints, pet parents are increasingly opting to purchase natural products in an effort to maintain and/or improve the health and well-being of their beloved companion animals.

The current top-selling natural pet products are:

Specialty Pet Services Propel Pet Business Growth

The American Pet Products Association (APPA) predicts that spending in this arena will increase from $510 billion for 2013 to $750 billion by 2015. The demand for high end pet grooming services is expected to continue to be particularly brisk.

Other pet services that are increasing in popularity are:

Another pet enterprise that is gaining a lot of popularity is the self-serve dog wash.

In addition to offering ease and convenience for pet owners, this concept offers many unique retail opportunities.

To a lesser degree, unique niche services such as yoga for dogs and pet psychic communicators are in-demand industry trends.

In and of themselves, these services are not huge. But they do offer great potential as promotional services to increase a pet business’s visibility and ability to attract more store traffic.

Other really hot pet industry trends are:

Mobile pet grooming. This service involves the use of specially equipped vehicles that travel to pet owners’ homes; the groomers perform a full range of services right outside the customer’s door.

This is a very in-demand service because it’s convenient for the customer, it reduces potential stress on the pets and it’s a godsend for home-bound older people, whose numbers are increasing due to the dense baby boomer population.

On the downside, initial start-up costs for such an enterprise are hefty. But those in a position to make an investment in this are virtually guaranteed high business growth dividends.

Pet-friendly travel: This is another high business growth concept that’s being adopted by an increasing number of those in the vacation and hospitality industries.

As more and more people regard their pets as beloved family members, they are opting to take them along on vacations. Moreover, people are more mobile, and may have to travel long distances to relocate for jobs, retirement or other purposes.

Back in 2003, I made a 700-mile move to take a job in North Carolina. As I was traveling with my two cats, Daisy and Amanda, I was obliged to spend nights in pet-friendly accommodations along the way., an information resource and directory for those who travel with companion animals, was a godsend. At that time, it was also one of only a few such resources. But there are now tons of these types of enterprises.

An increasing number of diverse hotels, motels and inns, including New York’s posh Carlton Hotel and the Showboat Casino in Atlantic City now welcome pets.

That’s a very smart move for those who wish to facilitate business growth, and it’s sure to remain a red-hot industry trend for a long time to come.

Pet health insurance: Although available in the country for a good 30 years, sales of pet policies have only begun to accelerate in recent times.

This popular industry trend is expected to proliferate dramatically and subsequently offer enhanced potential for pet business growth due to a number of factors.

For one, as previously mentioned, people increasingly regard their pets as beloved family members; pets (like people) are living longer, requiring more complex and extended medical care; and advances in veterinary technology have resulted in more costly pet medical care.

This industry trend presents such a huge potential for business growth that corporate behemoth Nestle Purina even got on the bandwagon by launching a pet insurance subsidiary in 2008.
Indeed, pet parents spent $13 billion on vet bills in 2010, which the APPA predicts will increase to more than $14 billion in 2011.

Although this is an extremely complex business, getting on this bandwagon is a very smart business move for those who have the inclination.

Pet Industry Trends of the Future

These are just some examples of products, services and concepts that offer great potential for business growth.

Considering that American pet parents are expected to spend more than $53.33 billion on their companion animals in 2012, and is expected to climb to $55.53 billion for 2013, the sky’s the limit for those who have a good head for business, and genuine love of critters.

For more pet industry statistical data, please see article APPA Releases U.S. Pet Owners Survey for 2013-2014.

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Asian Fusion Style Grooming

By Groomers Online

Asian fusion style grooming is a new trend that is lighting up the grooming industry here in the UK. Championed by Pamela Carmicheal Hogg, Asian fusion style grooming techniques take traditional methods and breed standard trims from the UK and combine them with the dynamic, adventurous and sometimes quirky grooming trends currently emerging from Japan, Korea and Taiwan.

Pure Asian grooming styles, especially those originating from Japan can tend to be a little extreme for our British tastes, but they are very creative, and an excellent challenge of skill and technique. However, by fusing this innovative style of grooming with our more traditional techniques, UK groomers can offer owners something a little different, with more fun and less of the restrictions that breed standard clips can hold.

What is Typical in Asian Fusion Style Grooming?

This style of grooming is generally suited to small and Toy dog breeds, ideally with long or woolly coats. Typical characteristics include:

  • Short, round faces and muzzles
  • Round ears set high on the head
  • Pronounced and/or rounded tails
  • Rounded, volumised trousers and leg furnishings
  • Frequent adornments such as ribbons
  • A nod to multi-layered cutting and creative colour work
  • The most important emphasis with Asian fusion style grooming, however, is on cute yet manageable styles that owners want. The popular teddy bear cut is a great example of this, find our guide on completing this type of clip here:

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“What do you mean, ‘he’s matted’!?”


Here’s the scene. You walk into a grooming salon for the first time with your small-breed dog in tow, both of you uncertain of how this process goes. You knew, vaguely, that some people had their dogs groomed professionally, but up until now, you’ve never been one of their number. You may bathe your pet occasionally, or maybe even religiously, and last night you grabbed the scissors and attempted to clean up the face a bit so the groomer wouldn’t think you were a bad mommy. For some reason, despite your determined chopping, your dog’s eyes didn’t become any more visible (but the top of the head was suddenly choppy and uneven, and you aren’t sure why you trimmed his chin, but too late now).

The groomer steps up, introduces herself with a smile on her face, but her calculating gaze never leaves your dog, who walks face-first into the counter, turns around, and does the same thing with the wall.

With a kind but practiced smile on her face, the groomer says, “You’re aware we will be shaving him, right?”. You blink several times, stunned, and stammer, “well, no, I just wanted a trim! Because he can’t see. I dont want him shaved!”

After much discussion, signing of paperwork (an actual document called a matted pet release!) You leave, unhappy and less than certain of what just happened.

When you return, nothing can prepare you for the sad, skinny hairless thing that is handed over to you. Gentle advice about brushing at home and regular grooming go over your head, and as you stare at your dog you wonder just why it came to this. You pay a much higher bill than you expected, and go home wondering what the point of grooming is if your pet comes home like THIS.

What IS a Mat?

A mat is a tangle gone wrong, a single upstart of a hair that wrapped itself around a neighbor, who in turn grabbed another and another. For curly and drop-coated breeds (bichons, malteses, poodles, shin tzus, lhasas, cockers), shedding hairs die and instead of falling onto your favorite sweater, they are caught by neighboring hairs. These hairs will rarely dislodge themselves, and require the assistance of a brush AND comb to remove them. If left to their own devices, mats will spread, forming a network, then a solid mass of dead hair that can eventually cover the entire body.

For double-coated breeds (pomeranians, chows, huskies, heavy shedders), the hair will die in patterns, forming oddly-colored tufts around the hind quarters, shoulders, belly, scruff, and chest. These tufts will turn to clumps. They tend to LOOK worse than the first type of dogs, but almost invariably, their coats will brush out easier and with less damage (or shaving) required (assuming they tolerate brushing).

What’s the Big Deal?

Matted fur is not just a cosmetic offense, but an uncomfortable, often painful sensation that makes simple tasks like walking or turning the head nearly impossible. A matted pet becomes susceptible to all sorts of unsavory infections and diseases. Like people, a dog’s skin needs air to survive and be healthy. Mats restrict air and sunlight from touching the skin, which in severe cases can cause the skin to mildew and decompose. If water is introduced to the mix, we’re talking damp skin inside of a solid fur sweater, with little opportunity to dry.

The blood’s circulation to the legs and ears can be cut off (imagine feeling like your foot is asleep every moment of the day!) And the skin can die because of it. Perhaps the grossest of all is the fact that where there are mats, there are unseen mysteries.

Festering wounds are common, along with armies of fleas and ticks. Even maggots have been found. In the pawpads, sharp thorns, rocks, and “foxtails” often get tangled in toe hair, which causes the hair to form hard mats, meaning every step is like having a hard, sharp rock in your shoe. Sadly, many dogs get used to the constant sharp pains and learn to “live with it”.

But I Bathe Him All the Time!

Ah, but do you use a good shampoo, conditioner, and dry him thoroughly, before brushing his entire body til it’s smooth? No? Do you usually just shampoo him haphazardly, rinse as well as you can, then wrestle with a towel before he escapes to roll around and around on the carpet til he’s dry?

Like your hair, fur that is not cleaned, conditioned, dried off at least some of the way, and brushed out will become tangled. And what is a mat? A tangle gone wrong. When water is introduced to tight mats, they soak it up like a sponge, and dry tighter than ever.

Okay, Okay, You’ve Scared Me. WHY Must You Shave Him? Can’t You Just Take Half Off?

When a pet’s coat has formed a solid mass, shaving is the only humane option. A blade must be safely wedged UNDER the matting, against the skin, and when the coat is solid, there is no way to save some of it. Even when the pet is not yet solid all over but has many solid areas (chest, collar area, belly, hips, legs, tail, ears), for the sake of an even coat, it is best to just start over and let it all grow back the same length.

Sometimes a coat is in bad shape, but could still feasibly be brushed out without causing pain to the pet. Some experienced groomers will attempt this, however be prepared to be charged FAR more than you would for a shave down, understand you may need to spread the dematting over several days, and be aware that if you yourself have never (or rarely) brushed out your pet THOROUGHLY, chances are his tolerance level for brushing will be non-existent. In my opinion, no good groomer will risk stressing the dog, injuring it, or being bitten herself to save a coat that you yourself have not made the effort to maintain. Forcing an inexperienced pet to sit through even the most gentle, careful dematting is risking your pet being conditioned to believe that the groomer’s is a noisy, stressful place where his hair is pulled for hours on end, his legs, feet, face, and tail are handled in ways he’s not used to, and for all he knows, there’s no guarantee he’ll ever see his owner again. This pet will likely never trust a groomer or a brush again.

Fine. Shave Him. How Can I Avoid This in the Future?

By purchasing a brush and comb recommended by your groomer. Maybe not that day, as he won’t need it, but in a few weeks as he starts to look plush again. If the groomer’s recommendations are too pricey, write down the type of tools (slicker brush, metal greyhound comb) and look on… they are ridiculously well-priced.
When you brush, dont just brush his back. Starting at the back leg (either one, i prefer the right) and brush the foot, the ankle, the leg, then the hip, with the grain of the hair. Then the back, side, belly, shoulder. Now, front foot, leg, and all around, keeping a firm grip. Then the chest, under belly (watch out for genitals, and have the groomer shave.Between the rear legs and lower tummy). Now do the other front leg, and follow the same process back down to the opposite rear leg you started with. now run the comb over every inch and if you can comb all the way to the skin with no catch, you can move on to the tail and ears and face.
On the face, you can hook your fingers trough your pet’s collar from underneath (under his chin) or you can gently but firmly grasp his chin hair while you brush around the top of his head and his cheeks. You hold him this way to keep him facing you and to keep him still, which protects his eyes from those bristles. Many puppies and i.experienced dogs dislike being held this way, but it is the safest way and the most effective. Your groomer will thank you, because this is how we hold them while we use sharp scissors and close-cutting clipped blades around their eyes and face. Lots of gentle soothing and NOT GIVING IN will eventually make your dog submit… but this may take weeks of daily practice. Stick with it!

He Wont Let Me Brush Him/He Cries Like It Hurts/He BITES Me!

Practice and take it slow. Dont brush his entire body out, do a foot before breakfast and give a special treat he never gets any other time. Do the leg half an hour later, more treats and praise. Spread it out over a day. Be patient! Consistency is key! My Silky was a holy terror for brushing when i got him at 6 months, and while he’s still not perfect, he is safe to groom!

I Dont Have Time For All That/He’s an Outside Dog Anyway/He STILL Wont Let Me Brush Him!

Opt for a shorter, manageable length every 4 months and keep your appointments. If you want him to be long, about 1.5 inches and up, be prepared to pay someone else to brush and maintain that length once a week-once a month, and LISTEN to your groomer’s recommendations regarding appointment frequency.if she says every two weeks, dont wait 6 weeks and cry when he’s shaved down again. This is YOUR DOG, your responsibility, and if you must have him in a certain style, you must be prepared to do the work and keep appointments. We’re groomers… not miracle workers, and your pet is not the only one we must complete in a timely manner.


If your pet has EVER bit, injured, or attacked YOU or ANYONE ELSE (including other dogs!) it is YOUR OBLIGATION to let the groomer know. If he is known to be sensitive for his feet, nails, face, tail, TELL US. Though reporting dog bites/attacks is uncommon in grooming salons, a bad bite on a nerve could mean the end of a groomer’s career, and a bite to the face could change her appearance forever, not to mention require multiple surgeries. Though rare, owners can and do get reported and even sued when an uninformed groomer sustains a life-changing injury that could have been prevented. We wont turn your dog away, we’ll just use caution.

(note: Shih Tzu portrayed is a once-a-year client. After peeling his coat off, freeing his cheeks from the mats that kept his face from turning side to side, and having a bather assist in holding him while I clipped nails and handled very sore feet, I was less than pleased. It’s one thing if the dog is bad for grooming, it’s another if the only thing he fights for are the painful areas. I informed the owner of the severity of his condition, the discomfort and daily pain he lived with, and advised that she have him groomed AT LEAST twice a year. She nodded, laughed it off, and will probably not be seen for another year.)

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Grooming to Save Lives

It is a sad, but well known truth that animal shelters are overcrowded with dogs and cats looking for homes. Otherwise healthy animals often have to be euthanized in order to make room for more coming in. Fortunately, animal shelters are increasingly getting assistance from volunteers and grooming students whose work can often lead these animals to permanent homes.

Grooming students from Fayetteville Technical Community College in North Carolina get the opportunity to learn and help animals in need by working on adoptable dogs at the Cumberland County Animal Shelter. Dogs who have been bathed and groomed look healthier and have a better chance at finding a permanent home. Students have the added benefit of working on many different breeds of dogs.

At Haven Humane Society, three women volunteer simply out of the kindness of their hearts. A simple bath can make a huge difference to a shelter dog, as they are not usually given regular human contact. Grooming also keeps these animals healthy and comfortable because they are often brought in with matted hair, fleas and ticks, or sharp stickers from the outdoors. Perhaps one of the most difficult things about volunteering at a shelter is seeing animals who were subjected to abuse. The volunteers had worked on a small dog who had been shot with a pellet gun and despite this, the dog was calm and patient. It was assumed that he was used as a target because of the arrow painted on his head.

Despite the difficult nature of this job, these students and volunteers are happy to make a difference. A wonderful way to give back is to volunteer your services at a local shelter. Sometimes, a bath and a grooming is all an animal needs for a chance at a new life.

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ComfortGroom’s New Blog!

Hi Grooming World! Welcome to ComfortGroom’s new blog!

We are proud to introduce our new grooming blog! Now, you can stay up to date with the latest ComfortGroom news, updates, and promotions. In addition, we will also blog on any industry related news and updates.

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