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Home Grooming – We’ve All Made Mistakes.

Did you know that because of the current situation, home dog grooming is one of the top searched topics on various search sites?

People are needing to pay more attention to their dog’s coat, ears, eyes and nails more than ever before. Home grooming is more popular (and necessary ) as dog owners can’t just drop their dog off at their groomer. As a result, people will also come to realise that dog grooming is, indeed, a very skilled profession that requires not only skills when it comes to clipping, scissoring and hand stripping but also knowledge of a dog’s anatomy, behaviour and animal first aid. Us dog groomers also have fast reflexes because dogs can move really fast when they decide to and the sharp equipment, that groomers use, makes it quite dangerous.

I remember my first pair of scissors… they were small paper scissors with an excessively rounded tip – perhaps kiddie paper scissors and they were tiny and blunt as my mum and I were terrified of hurting our Miniature Schnauzer Ajo. I guess that’s where my grooming career began (even though I didn’t like it at the time and for quite sometime after).

There were a few reasons why I and my mum (as well as our dog 😂) found it very stressful:

1) We didn’t have the right equipment.

I’m talking mid / late 80’s in Slovakia. No proper hand stripping tools, scissors, shampoos or clippers. My first hand stripping tool was a special knife I bought in a pet shop and it was used for brushing angora rabbits. It was sharp and I didn’t know how to hold it properly so my thumb was always scratched and bleeding after hand stripping Ajo. 

The poor dog got scratched so many times and I won’t even mention the bald patches all over him 🙈. No wonder he never liked it and suddenly disappeared when he saw us getting the kitchen table and our equipment ready. Thank God he didn’t have as much coat as Schnauzers nowadays!!

2) We didn’t have the technique.

This was the main reason that he hated being groomed, why we hated doing it and why it was an all-day event for all three of us. Mum and I were exhausted at the end of it and Ajo wouldn’t come into the kitchen for the rest of the day. No one told me to stretch the skin, to pick only a little bit of hair up at a time or to hold it by the tip so I don’t pull out the undercoat. And in order not to scratch him… no one told me how to hold the knife correctly so that I don’t hurt myself by digging a hole into my thumb 🙄.

3) We didn’t bath our dog.

Do not bath your dog! We heard this so many times in the past and the truth was that shampoos were not as good as the ones you find these days. I remember there being only one shampoo in pet shops and it was an antiparasitic shampoo that smelled nasty like the smell of petrol or something similar. God knows what nastiness was in it! Because of this we only bathed our first dog when he rolled in something disgusting or if he had fleas.

I think that the old shampoos also stripped the coat of its oils which resulted in dry skin. Luckily, nowadays the choice is amazing ❤️. It’s still important though to do your research before buying one or if you need some advice to perhaps ask your groomer. 

4) We didn’t have any tick and flea repellents.

I don’t remember using any repellents on our first dog. I remember the flea killing shampoo, mentioned above, and that we had a flea comb which we used to keep checking the coat on a regular basis. If we found any (which wasn’t very often) we gave him a bath.

And ticks? We found these quite a lot and we’d check him after each walk in the woods. If we found a tick, we’d pull it out and flush down the toilet. We didn’t know about transmitted diseases back then and we didn’t know that fleas can be hatched in a carpet. I cringe now when thinking about it 🥴.

5) We brushed every day.

Talking about it now, our home grooming sessions seemed like one big disaster but at least we did one thing right – we brushed our dog every single day and every single evening. I or mum would sit on the floor and put a few tiny dog biscuits on our lap. While Ajo munched away, we brushed and combed him. He didn’t like it (and that’s why we had to bribe him) but he never ever turned on us and never tried to bite us – he just didn’t like it. Life would have been much easier and less stressful if we had had Calming Floral Spray back then lol.

What I’m trying to show you is that we all started somewhere and we’ve all made mistakes. At least we learn from them (we definitely should). Perhaps now that you have to groom your dog at home more often you’ll even discover a new passion or a set of new skills and maybe you’ll start thinking about a new career? Why not?

If dog grooming is something that you’re interested in check the Summit website for a suitable grooming school in your area. To be honest, I’m not sure how this will all play out but we’ll figure it all out.

Keep Calm…on This Wedding Day.

Meet Jacqui, the wedding day dog specialist.

I remember, in detail, when I met Jacqui for the first time. It was Premier Groom grooming competition in 2014 and I was launching my products when this tall, stylish, model-like woman came to enquire about calming products that she could use in her boarding kennel. She was also interested in the dog grooming training I was providing as she was looking to gain more training and perhaps become qualified too.

Over time we became friends, sharing the same interest in dogs, rural lifestyle, self-development and a similar sense of humour. I was amazed when she told me about her new business adventure called Quintessential Wedding Dogs for the first time. I remember thinking that is was such a great idea!

So far, as you’ll all agree, weddings and any other events have not been very fortunate this year and that every single aspect of our lives has been affected. The thing is, is that we need to carry on and we need to support each other. There’s always something to be grateful for and something to look forward to like perhaps your or your friend’s wedding next year or perhaps in a couple of years? To be honest, I didn’t know that weddings are planned so far in advance lol!

I had a brief chat with Jacqui and this is what she had to say…

I’m interested in knowing why you started this business and what the impulse was that brought it on?

I started the business because I love dogs and I love weddings – they’re two of my favourite things! It seemed like a fun thing to do in addition to my existing business as a dog groomer and a boarding kennel owner. The impulse was when my daughter, Rachael, got married and wanted her dog Spencer to be the ring bearer. Spencer did a brilliant job and was a perfect Hound of Honour. It was then that I thought it would be a great business idea as lots of couples want their dog to be a part of the day, even if just for a few photos. Imagine having a wedding dog specialist to take all the stress off?

When did you start?

I started the business just over two years ago and it’s proved popular with many couples.

What was the first wedding you did?

The first wedding I did was with a handsome Cockerpoo called George. He looked very smart in his bow tie and was loved by all.

What is involved?

My role as a wedding day dog specialist is to make sure that the couple can enjoy their dog on their special day without a worry. How it works depends on what the couple’s expectations are for the dog but this is all discussed in our first consultation. I get to meet the dog then too and assess any behavioral challenges. 


I offer a Bronze, Silver or Gold package which can include dog grooming before the wedding, transportation and overnight boarding plus dog chaperoning duty at the wedding. It’s so much fun to see the guests greeting the dog on the day and to see the wedding couple pose for photos with their dog. I also help attract the dog’s attention for the photographer with a squeaky toy and as an added extra I make a little video of the wedding dog’s day too. 

How do you make sure the dogs behave?

It’s important to make sure that the dog is relaxed and happy and that’s why I use Vita Canis products before, during and after the wedding. I spray Calming Floral Spray in the car on the way to the wedding so that both the dog and I can benefit from the relaxing scent – this way we always arrive calm and collected. I also take all the usual bribes in my bag such as liver cake treats (these are a must for getting the dog’s attention) which I make myself. Poo bags and a water bowl are essentials plus a secure lead with a harness or collar.


It’s about finding the right balance and not allowing the dog to upstage anybody but to be included when the time is right. Sometimes, we go walking around the wedding venue and come back when it’s photo time. It’s also knowing when it’s time to leave and let the party continue. This is when man’s best friend and I make a safe exit and I take care of my charge until the next day. A few drops of Vita Canis Comfort Blend on the dog’s bed at night helps him to settle but after an exciting day and an evening meal, he’s usually ready for bed.

Where can people find more details about your unique business?

Details of my packages are available on my website www.quintessentialweddingdaydogs.co.uk and you can find us on FB & Instagram @QuintessentialWeddingDayDogs too.

Would you consider gifting a nice gift card from Jacqui so that your friend can have his/her dog/dogs at the wedding with no hassle, stress and worries?

Email Jacqui for more details info@qqltd.co.uk if this sounds like a good idea!

Clip or Not to Clip?

Should we clip a dog when the weather is hot?

Have you ever asked yourself: Should I have my dog clipped when the weather is hot? And the logical answer would be yes. If we help our dogs to get rid of their “winter accessories” they will feel better in this warm weather. We too get rid of our thick winter coats when it gets warmer…
However, the coat of an animal has many more functions than just keeping the animal warm. It also protects the skin and the whole body from all the effects of the weather: cold, wind, heat and sun radiation.
Simply said – if we remove a dog’s coat, he/she will be hotter than if we leave the coat.

Why?

The cover of the dog’s body is its coat, which is composed of individual hairs. The stronger hair we call guard hair; the finer, shorter hair is called the undercoat. The hair, the coat, acts as a protection against trauma, UV radiation, external weather conditions and various chemicals. Dependent on the attacks of the external environment, over time the ends of the hair tend to become damaged and collapse. The coat is replaced by the normal recovery process called moulting. Moulting allows the hair to stay in good condition. The cycle of moulting is affected by many factors including hormonal activity, length of daylight, heat, radiation, stress, and genetics. It is more pronounced in autumn and spring. Serious illness, stress and pregnancy can also cause a dramatic, total but temporary change of hair.

Temperature & conductivity.

Most mammals try to keep an average skin temperature of about 29 degrees Celsius. The sun can warm the hair up to 66 degrees Celsius!
Very important in this case is conductivity. This is the speed taken for the temperature of the skin to equal the temperature of the surface of the coat. The lower the conductivity, the longer the skin stays cool. If the coat is long, for example, 15 cm, the conductivity will be 10.8, and the dog’s skin will remain cool for a long time, but if the same hair is cut to 2.5 cm, the conductivity will be 65 and the skin will be heated very quickly. And if the same hair is clipped to 3mm, the conductivity will be 520! The temperature of the skin will instantly be the same as the ambient temperature.

Dogs must be brushed regularly, to improve the circulation of air between the skin and the dog’s coat.

Double-coated breeds should never be clipped.

Their coat features as an excellent insulation for both heat and frost. Air is a natural insulator, and the air “trapped” between the hair is really effective to maintain the body temperature in equilibrium. Breeds with these types of coat must be regularly brushed, especially in the spring season, when the undercoat is quickly released. This dead mass of hair can interfere with the circulation of air between the skin and the dog’s coat.

Dogs don’t sweat like we do.

An important fact to realise is that dogs are not cooled by sweating like humans or horses. The coat does not stop/prevent a dog’s thermoregulation. Dogs are cooled with intense panting, and they sweat only on their paws.

What about black dogs?

It is true that black or dark colours attract sunlight more than light colours, however, the trimming of such a coat does not eliminate this fact. Black remains black, and we also risk sunburn or even skin cancer by clipping it. The skin of the dog has only 6-10 layers; therefore, it is more prone to sunburn than human skin with its 16-20 layers.**

Unless there are skin issues (e.g. hot spot, skin infection, surgery), or the coat is solid matted… dog’s coat should not be clipped off.

For a dog’s well-being we do best when we brush and comb him/her on a regular basis.

As a dog groomer I can’t stress this enough the importance of regular and thorough brushing and combing. Especially when it comes to breeds like Shih-tzu, Llasa Apso, Poodle, Bichon and also popular “low maintenance” crossbreeds like a Cockerpoo, Poochon, Labradoodle and other doodles and poodle crosses.
It’s common knowledge that dogs with a coat like the poodle don’t moult… Well, they do still lose the dead hair, however you won’t find these on your carpet or sofa, they stay in the coat. These curly and wavy hairs easily tangle with the other hairs. And if they are not removed, they cause matting. Then the coat gets matted, the air can’t move freely within the coat and fulfil its function as a natural insulator. And in the end, if the coat becomes very matted the only humane and discomfort-free option for your dog is to clip it off. 

Have a look here at some coat types, how much they shed and how much work you need to put in to keep the coat healthy. I’ll try my best to consider you all 😊

Are you coping with the brushing?

Love, Jitka xx

** Silvia Antalikova and MVDr. M.Stourac, CSc., Pes pritel cloveka, August 2017

Skin and Its Itches.

Many factors are responsible for itchy skin in dogs.

Skin, the largest organ of the human (and a dog’s) body, is truly fascinating and has many functions. Have you ever had the thought that it holds everything together so that all our content doesn’t ‘spill out’? It also protects us from other mechanical, bacterial and chemical dangers.

The skin has two layers – the epidermis on the top and the dermis underneath the epidermis. When we apply anything onto our (or our dog’s) skin we are applying onto the epidermis.

Sensitive skin.

Over the years of grooming dogs, I’ve noticed the increasing number of dogs with sensitive skin and skin prone to allergic reactions. Sensitive skin is linked not only to the disrupted barrier function of the skin but also to environmental and psychological stress. Thinking about it, I’ve realised that I scratch my back when I’m stressed. If I don’t stop myself consciously it goes on and on and on and my skin eventually becomes irritated, red, even sore.

Have you noticed that dogs do the same sometimes? When stressed, they start scratching or nibbling their paws. My Rosie, when upset (because in her opinion I hadn’t given her enough treats) starts scratching her armpit. Martha, on the other hand, starts nibbling her feet when she hears the farmer’s dog outside and I don’t let her out to chase it next to the fence. Have you noticed this behaviour with your dog?

Itchy skin.

Itch (or pruritis) can be caused by many different factors. It can be histamine related, like an insect bite or an allergic reaction or non-histamine related like dry or sensitive skin, scars, pregnancy and the side effect of some medications. In dogs, it can be full anal glands. They not only rub their bum on the floor when the glands are full but they can also nibble the base of their tail or back legs. Back in Slovakia, Blondie, one of my Hovawart girls, used to scratch her ears when her glands were full. Isn’t it fascinating how everything is connected?

What helps itchy skin?

Itchy skin can be caused by many factors.

Several clinical studies have shown that no matter what’s causing the itch that peppermint oil or menthol is helpful. This is why Skin Relief works in so many cases for itchy skin in dogs (and humans). Peppermint relieves any kind of skin irritation or itching and its local anaesthetic action is significant. German chamomile essential oil in Skin Relief is one of the most popular oils used for skin inflammation. Find out here why I added geranium essential oil to improve Skin Relief. https://www.vitacanis.co.uk/geranium-is-magical/

Skin Relief helps break the frustrating circle of itching and scratching thanks to this synergetic blend of essential oils, calendula oil and hydrosols. Even my 91-year-old dad started using it after reading some feedback from Jenni Owen.

Vita Canis works on itchy skin. My mums suffers from sever back, neck and toe itchiness. It can drive one wild…well as wild as an 89 year old clan go but seriously it causes a severe level of discomfort. We have tried every “ usual “ remedy on the market. We have been using Skin Relief and Soothing Antiseptic Spray on her back and the Vita Canis Hand Butter on her feet for three days now and the itchiness has stopped. Deep joy in this Derby household. We will carry on for another week and give an update and I am certain we will become regular users. I love the hand butter and have been using on my severely cracked heels…. thank you Vita Canis.”

And if you are not sure why your dog is scratching check these 5 possible reasons why https://www.vitacanis.co.uk/5-top-possible-reasons-your-dog-is-itchy/

Keep safe!

Jitka xx

Insect Repellents: Why to Avoid Commercial Ones.

When I decided to develop insect, flea and tick repelling products I wanted them to be safe. But not only for our dogs and us but also for the environment. Commercial repellents are containing synthetic ingredients that repel insect, fleas, and/or ticks. However many of them have been linked to skin irritation, negative respiratory effects and rashes. As well as having a negative effect on bees, fish, birds and the environment in general.

So, what can you actually find in commercial insect repellents and how does it affect the environment?

Fipronil

Fipronil is a broad use insecticide that controls ants, beetles, cockroaches, fleas, ticks, termites and other insects.

Direct, short-term contact with skin can result in slight skin irritation.

Fipronil is also toxic to fish and creatures in the water without backbones (invertebrates) such as shrimp and water fleas. It’s highly toxic to sea and freshwater fish and highly toxic to sea and freshwater invertebrates. Other studies find out, fipronil is highly toxic to some birds. This insecticide you can find in Frontline Spot on.

Imidacloprid

Imidacloprid is an insecticide that is made to mimic nicotine. Nicotine can be naturally found in many plants, including tobacco and is toxic to insects. In some cases pet owners developed skin irritation after applying flea control products containing imidacloprid to their pets. Animals have also sometimes vomited or drooled a lot after oral exposure to imidacloprid. If animals swallow enough imidacloprid they may have trouble walking, develop tremors and can seem overly tired. Sometimes animals have skin reactions to pet products containing this insecticide too.

Also imidacloprid is very toxic to honeybees and other beneficial insects. And it can last for months or years in the soil. One advantage is that imidacloprid is only a flea product.

Methoprene

Methoprene is available in over 500 pesticide products and it’s an insect growth regulator that prevents insects from reproducing. It is moderately toxic to some fish, but highly toxic to freshwater invertebrates. And also slightly toxic to crustaceans such as shrimp and crayfish. It appears to be low in toxicity to adult bees, although bee larvae may be more sensitive. And it is relatively non-toxic to birds.

Frontline Plus contains methoprene.

DEET

Deet is an insect repellent that is used in products to prevent bites from insects such as mosquitoes, biting flies, fleas and small flying insects. Scientists don’t know exactly how DEET works on all insects. Insects that’s have been exposed to DEET aren’t able to locate a person or animal because they cannot detect them.

People that have left DEET products on their skin for extended periods of time have experienced irritation, a rash and swelling. Tests proved that DEET toxic at extremely high levels to fish and insects that live in the water.

Have you or your dog had a reaction to a commercial insect repellent?

Ref: https://www.animeddirect.co.uk/advice/5-key-facts-active-ingredients-flea-treatments/

What People Say...

When we got home from the hospital with our new arrival it was clear that Perri, one of our miniature poodles, maternal instincts kicked in and went into overdrive. She was immediately acting like a mother separated from her pups and just wanted to care for the ‘naked puppy’. She has a history of being so motherly, even to the point that she has produced milk for puppies that aren’t hers even before she had a litter and has mothered every type of animal she could. She was panting, pacing and unable to relax for long at all. She could whine for England!

We tried other herbal remedies we had at hand for a previous anxious dog and nothing worked at all. She stopped eating and stressed herself into overheating too. Her stress was starting to impact the other dogs and she just couldn’t unwind. No matter if we worked off her energy with a walk and she wasn’t even interested in her usual mind games or call games. We also couldn’t offer long-lasting treats and chews too often as they gave her an upset stomach.

As soon as the Calming Floral Spray arrived I gave the bed a spritz and put some on her coat and the change was instant. She just got on her bed and fell asleep. She stopped panting and barely whines now, started eating again and she only does a bit of whining if the baby cries. We have now been able to positively reinforce her calm behaviour. I honestly can’t recommend this enough to people.
Natalie Griffiths