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The Pet Doctor, Your Pet Health Matters on PetLifeRadio.comBernadine D. Cruz, DVM, host of The Pet Doctor

Bernadine D. Cruz, DVM
Veterinary Media Consultant

Grooming Your Pet

Marsh Davis

Marsh Davis

It seems as though it should be easy enough…go to your local pet store and purchase a shampoo for what ails your pet, whether it be a stinky coat, dandruff or fleas. But the choices are staggering and the labels are of little assistance. We will banish the soap scum forming rings around ingredient lists and wash away the confusion of product selection.

Bathing your pet doesn’t have to resemble either a three ring circus or involve a trip to the emergency clinic for the pet or the owner. We will learn some tricks and tips from a professional groomer that can make bath time almost play time.

Questions or comments? Email Dr. Cruz at:


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Is your pet stressed out? Does your pet need annual vaccines? Which pet is best for a child? Would you know if your dog was in pain? Pet Life Radio presents the Pet Doctor where you’ll learn everything about keeping your pet healthy and happy; from pet care, pet meds and grooming to pet food, pet insurance and dental care. This is the place to find out everything there is to know about pet wellness, whether you have a dog, cat, reptile or rabbit, you’ll find answers for your pets straight from the vets. Because your pet health matters. Please welcome your Pet Doctor host, veterinary media consultant and veterinarian Dr. Bernadine Cruz.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:         It seems as though it should be easy enough. Go to your local pet store and buy a shampoo for what ails your pet, whether it be a stinky coat, dandruff or fleas. But the choices are staggering and the labels are of little assistance. Today I will banish the soap scum forming rings around ingredient lists and wash away the confusion of product selection with my guest Marsh Davis of DVM Pharmaceuticals.  Then after we’ve chosen the right grooming products for our pets we’ll learn how to use them by speaking with Barbara Miller, a professional pet groomer from Orange County California. Bathing your pet doesn’t have to resemble either a three-ring circus or involve a trip to the emergency clinic for the pet or the owner. We’ll learn some tricks and some tips that can make bath time almost playtime.  I’m your host Dr. Bernadine Cruz you’re listening to the Pet Doctor on

Let’s talk Pets on

Welcome back to the Pet Doctor on Pet Life Radio with Dr. Bernadine Cruz. The Doctor is in and will see you now.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:         Marsh Davis, thank you so much for being with us today. I know, being a veterinarian people are coming in all the time waning to know what’s the right shampoo. Can I use a people shampoo? What makes it medicated? So there’s a lot to ask you.

Marsh Davis:  Absolutely. Well thank you very much for having me on this evening.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:  Well, first of all, are there really differences between pet skin versus human skin?                    

Marsh Davis:  Actually there is. Our pet’s skin is actually much thinner than our own and it works as an insulator for them and of course actually the barrier between them and all the chemicals and things that they come up against. The other big difference is humans have one hair per follicle where our pets have multiple hairs per follicle. So there is a big difference where a lot of dirt and debris can get trapped in between and down into the hair follicle itself.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:  When people go to the grocery store and sometimes you’re trying -- or the pet store -- and they’re trying to economize, is a people shampoo okay to use on a pet?

Marsh Davis:  Absolutely not. Actually human shampoos are made to kind of strip all the gels and mousses and sprays that we put on our hair and it’s very stripping to our pets’ hair coat. So with our dogs they really need to be using labeled shampoos, specifically for dogs or cats. There is a big difference and we really don’t want to strip the lipid layer which is actually the vehicle if we’re applying any type of topical flea control as well. So we do want to be very, very careful with what types of shampoos we use on our pets. And subsequently most people certainly ask about “Well how about baby shampoo? It’s so gentle.” And the problem with baby shampoo is it’s actually been more stripping. With babies we treat their heads for cradle cap which is a seborrhea type of or dandruff type of condition and by using that type of shampoo it can strip all the very good natural oils that our pets use as a defense on their skin and hair coats. So that too would not be an appropriate shampoo to use.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:  Well, see I used to actually recommend that myself because, before I did my homework, it was actually my hairdresser that told me that, “No! You don’t want to use baby shampoo.” They didn’t tell us this in vet school I think, or I missed that particular day. Because I thought “My goodness! If it’s safe enough to use on a baby, why can’t I use it on a dog or a cat?”

Marsh Davis:  Right. And you would actually think that. But it is made to do something totally different on the babies than what we would want to use on our pets.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:  I no longer recommend it. When we’re talking about general skin conditions on dogs and cats if you have a normal coat, is it okay to purchase most things at a pet store or is it going to be better to buy something from a veterinarian? I know when I sell something the cost is probably a little bit higher than what you’re going to find at Wal-Mart because I just can’t compete price wise.

Marsh Davis:  And you can’t compete. But I’ll tell you, most of the veterinary labeled shampoos are made to be extremely moisturizing and conditioning.  They’re made by companies that follow the good manufacturing principles and have very good ingredients in them. And when you consider it doesn’t really take more than one or two ounces to bathe your pet and say, if you buy that bottle, you’re only talking a dollar or two a bath and that’s really very economical. But it’s all on how you use the shampoo. Instead of using half a bottle it really doesn’t take that much to bathe them.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:  So all the bubbles all over the place is more for show and not for actual goodness on the coat?

Marsh Davis:      Correct. Correct. There are some just simple techniques to make your shampoo go a lot further. I recommend applying the shampoo to a washcloth and starting around your pet’s face first, being careful not to get the shampoo into the eyes, and then cover the rest of the body using the washcloth. And it will do just for the pet as it does for us: it’ll exfoliate the dead skin cells and help lift the dirt off. That way you’re not wasting nearly as much shampoo. If the dog has a very long-haired coat you can go to the Dollar Store and just buy cotton gloves and apply the shampoo to your cotton gloves and then use your hands working it deep into the thick hair coat. Again, that’s a great way to apply it evenly and using much less shampoo.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:  That is sneaky! I like that. Probably a lot of people are wondering, however, “Well, the wolves out in the wild, they never take a bath. Why do I need to give my dog a bath?  And if I never gave my cat a bath – and I’ve never given my own cats baths -- they’d probably prefer it.” So, why do we really, on a normal pet, need to give it a bath?

Marsh Davis:  One, we’re extremely lucky that cats are self-groomers so they, in turn, keep themselves usually very clean. But with our dogs they are exposed to so many different things in our environment now, especially because our pets used to live outside in the dog house. I don’t know about you, but my dogs live in my house and they secrete sebum, which is like oil, and all the different things that they come in contact with: dust and pollen and all the chemicals on the roads and the salts we put on the sidewalks and all. They get all of that on them. If your dog or my dogs are on the sofa or sleeping in the bed with me I definitely want to keep them cleaner and it’s a preventative as well. If we can prevent really bad skin problems, keep these irritants off them we won’t have nearly as many problems as we get older.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:  Speaking of skin irritations and problems. I’ll see a dog or a cat that’s having a skin problem. “What are you using? Oh, I’m using a medicated shampoo.” You talked a little bit about ingredients beforehand. What are some of the ingredients? Let’s break it down one by one. So for instance, if you were to have a dog with just general itchies, one of the most common reasons being a dog that has inhaled allergies – [? adapies ?], a fancy term -- what would be a shampoo ingredient that you would want to look for?

Marsh Davis:      I’d first want to look for an ingredient like oatmeal which is a natural soothing, so it’s going to help really reduce the inflammation topically on the skin.  That would be one ingredient that I would look for. I would also look for a second ingredient called pramoxine hydrochloride. Pramoxine hydrochloride is a topical anesthetic which will actually soothe and calm down the skin.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:         How about if I had a dog with dandruff? Just kind of flakey dry skin.

Marsh Davis:      The flakey dry skin you’d want a shampoo that’s going to help exfoliate the dead skin cells but also slow down the mitosis of those skin cells.  The normal skin, it takes 21 days to turn it over but with the dandruff it’s accelerating to five to seven days. So you would need ingredients such as salicylic acid and sulfur. Those are two very good ingredients that help with exfoliating the dead skin and really slowing down that cell mitosis, that dandruff.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:         Now salicylic acid is another name for aspirin, isn’t it? Is it okay to use that shampoo on a cat since cats are sensitive to aspirin?

Marsh Davis:      It actually is very fine to use on cats as well.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:         All right. Let’s go for another one. How about that oily, stinky, disgusting coat?

Marsh Davis:      The stinky dog syndrome!

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:      Oftentimes that dog walks through the door, that I can smell just as it’s walking through the door from the back room. That really oily, stinky dog. What can a person use on that really rancid-smelling dog?

Marsh Davis:      And that’s a good question because we run across so many dogs like that. The reason why they smell is that they’re secreting sebum, which is an oil, and it’s basically going rancid on their skin. And that’s not a normal smell. Most people think, “Oh it’s a dog. He should smell that way.” But they really don’t. Actually you’re looking for a tar shampoo. Tars are extremely good for stripping the stinky oils off of the dog without stripping the lipid layer, so they’re still going to be very good to use. The one thing that you want to be cautious about is tars contain phenol and phenol is toxic to cats. So you never want to use a tar shampoo on a cat.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:         Good to know. Because oftentimes you can have that stinky little kitty too. So we’ve gotten rid of the itchy dog, and the dandruff dog and the oily and the flaking kid. The ingredient list that are listed as being medicated. So you’re going through these various lists right now. These medications are supposed to do what? Does it really make a difference as to what kind of ingredient’s in there?

Marsh Davis:  Actually, it does because we’re really looking at different things. Anything from the seborrhea sicca or the dry, flakey dog to the oily, greasy. And then the whole other area is malassazia which is yeast and that’s a very, very big problem on dogs.  And they get a bit of a yeasty odor and kind of a waxy build up on the skin. And so ingredients are very important. What you would want to look for for that yeasty animal would be a chlorhexidine and miconazole combination. That combination has been proven to be the very best for multiple use for pets with yeast and bacterial infections. And that combination is the top-selling veterinary labeled shampoo in the United States.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:         I know a lot of dogs will get yeast infections and those seem to be the dogs that have inhaled allergies. They’re chewing on their paws, they’re chewing on their armpits, their little groins. Oftentimes they’ll have light colored fur everywhere else but really brown on their skin and that brown is from the saliva turning colors as it mixes with oxygen. So for these dogs, these anti-fungal shampoos, can you use people anti-fungal products?

Marsh Davis:      Actually the veterinary-labeled ones are better and also, what’s interesting is, we felt so much that saliva was causing the problem but what happens is yeast proliferates where there’s moisture. So the more moisture in these areas, the more yeast, and then the more itching. So if they come in and their feet are itching and they start licking it, the saliva changes but also the malassezia continues to build up, or the yeast builds up, on the hair coat and changes the color as well. So you might be surprised that by treating for the yeast and reducing the inflammation, reducing the yeast, you can actually reduce some of the staining. We actually have a product that has been very successful for reducing the staining around the eyes because the eyes, you get that tearing and that tearing the moisture keeps proliferating more and more yeast…

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:         You think of those little white poodles with the brown eyes.

Marsh Davis:      Exactly.                            

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:         What’s the name of the product, Marsh?

Marsh Davis:      It’s called, they’re called Melaseb Pledgets and it’s like a Stridex pad type of product but it has the miconazole and chlorhexidine in it. You have to be careful not to get it in the eyes but by doing it on a daily basis 75% of that staining can be removed. It’s an amazing product. The problem is that the animal is that breed of the dog, they’re probably always going to tear up. So it’s something that you would have to maintain for them. You know, once or twice a week from then on. But I have many, many breeders of like bull dogs for the show ring that have had extremely good success with this product.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:         I live in an area where we have a senior community called Leisure World, Laguna Woods, and they do a lot of spraying of the grass and of the environment to make sure that there aren’t…they use a lot of herbicides and pesticides out there and people are always bringing their pets in saying they’re licking their feet because the area’s being sprayed so much. I really think that it’s inhaled products versus a topical but what can somebody use on those little paws if they think that it’s going to be a contact type of an allergy or reaction?

Marsh Davis:  They’re saying that a lot of these things are being absorbed in through the pads and can cause problems. And by doing…one of the things that we recommend is like a chlorhexidine and water wash. Like a foot bath that they can walk them in. Or they can use like a towelette that has the same type of product in. What they want to do is after the animal comes in from being outside on that grass or in that area, is wiping those paws down and trying to get any of those chemicals off of their body. Of course, bathing on a little bit more of a routine basis because it’s not always the paws, it could be that they’re rolling or playing or getting it all their bodies.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:         You had mentioned earlier on about shampoos and flea control, these topical flea products like Front Line and Advantage. Is there a shampoo to avoid? Part one. Part two: is there a better time to apply it? Before, right after a bath, a couple days after?  Does it make a difference?

Marsh Davis:      It does make a difference. There are certain products that are made to be compatible with flea-control and usually those are soap-free. Our company makes four different shampoos that are compatible with flea control. They can be bathed, nice and clean, and then those products, the Front Line or Advantage, can be applied the same day as soon as they’re dry. Many of the shampoos over-the-counter that you can buy at pet stores or human shampoos actually will strip the lipid layer and that lipid layer is the vehicle for applying these products in one spot, the vehicle for having them cover the entire body. So you really do want to watch out and make sure that you’re using a soap-free shampoo, for one. And if you’re leery of bathing them first, you would need to wait three days before you bathe your pet again, after applying the flea control.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:         Marsh, you’d also mentioned dry skin and this lipid layer that allows the flea product to move all over. But I just know that, especially this time of year, my skin is horribly dry and since you were saying that a dog and a cat’s skin is much finer than ours because of their hair coat to protect them. Are there -- I can put on body lotion all day long and hand lotion to keep my hands under control. What can a person do for their pet that has dry skin or seems to be reacting to the lack of humidity in the air?

Marsh Davis:      That’s a very good question and I’ll tell you a couple things. One, they need to be careful when they are bathing their pets that they don’t use too warm of water. They forget that our pet’s body temperature is higher than ours and they have their coats on. So cooler water is going to be safer for the pet. That will be less drying. Also there are some topical products that you can put on, what we call humectants and emollients, that can be sprayed on or mixed with water and have a pour on. Our company makes HyLyts Spray-On and then also HyLyts crème rinse which are moisturizing and conditioning. The other thing this time of year that’s extremely helpful are giving pets products orally that can help with the skin. Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids are extremely…

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:         Those are fish oils, aren’t they?

Marsh Davis:      They are fish oils, correct. Omega-6 is 100% skin and coat conditioning so omega-6 fatty acids really help with the skin and hair coat. So they’ll be extremely helpful this time of year. If you can find one that’s a 5-1 ratio, omega-6 to omega-3, the omega-3’s are anti-inflammatory so they will help with the mild itching that is frequently known with the dry skin as well. We make a product called Derm Caps which is one of the top products in the country for skin and hair coat conditioning.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:         It sounds like I should take that. See if it’ll help my dry skin. And I do have to admit the HyLyts Spray, I have taken some home from the office myself and used it on myself and it feels so good and I haven’t started barking like a dog yet. So yes.

Marsh Davis:      As you know, I’ve used our HyLyts shampoo for 15 years and I haven’t started either. That’s the interesting thing: we can use our pets’ shampoos much better than they can use human shampoos.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:         Marsh, so tell these people that are listening if they have questions about what shampoos they should use, is there a place they can go on the Internet to learn a little bit more about your products?

Marsh Davis:      Absolutely. They can go to…the website is, that’s our parent company and then just click onto DVM Pharmaceuticals and that will take them to where they can click on all the different shampoos that are available.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:         Well, Marsh Davis of DVM Pharmaceuticals, thank you so much for helping us choose which shampoos. Please stay tuned. We’re going to be listening to Barbara Miller right after this. She’ll be telling us, now we know what shampoos to use, she’ll be giving us some tips on how to use that shampoo on that cat and dog that really doesn’t want to get a bath. Stay tuned. We’ll be right back.

Please have a seat in the waiting room. The Doctor will be with you shortly, right after these messages.

Let’s Talk Pets on

Welcome back to The Pet Doctor on Pet Life Radio with Dr. Bernadine Cruz. The Doctor is in and will see you now.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:         We’re speaking right now with Barbara Miller. She is a professional dog and cat groomer from Orange County California and why anyone would want to put themselves in the situation you do, Barbara, of having these dogs stand there, getting groomed and trimmed and most kitties would rather kill you than be given a bath. You are a saint because you end up the day with a smile and your pets always look wonderful when they leave your shop.  When somebody’s looking for a groomer and they can’t all come to Orange County to find you how do you find yourself a good groomer?

Barbara Miller:      My suggestion to find a good groomer would be to check with your veterinarian, ask your neighbors. If you see people walking on the street or in parks with well-groomed dogs, stop them and ask them where they go. Once you get a couple of referrals I would strongly suggest that you stop by the grooming shop before you make the appointment and just be alert to all the sights, smells and attitudes that you have there. And you’ll eventually find the right groomer.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:         So what is a good groomer? What should you expect this person to do, to ask?

Barbara Miller:      At your very first visit you should be asked to complete some basic information about your pet, on a card or a form. And you should then be asked to detail how you would like your pet to look after the grooming. The person who receives your dog will most likely ask you some questions as well. I always try to ask people, in terms of length, do you want half off of what’s there now? Because sometimes people’s perception of inches varies greatly. You should always ask for permission to clip the coat significantly shorter than the owner originally wished and this might be accomplished during a phone call after your pet has been bathed and dried. I’ve found that sometimes we don’t see all of the undercoat and matting that sometimes becomes visible after the drying process. And I just call the owner and explain to them what we need to be doing and 99% of the time we get the okay to do it. I think that without calling and without asking and surprising the owner when they come to pick up the pet is asking for trouble.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:         I have that sometimes where we’ve had a pet for instance, under anesthesia, I’m doing a particular procedure in the practice, and they say, “well, just trim it down a little bit, get rid of some of the little mats” So I think I’m just getting rid of the mats and they come in to pick up a pet that’s minus lots of fur and they get really unhappy. The only good thing about a bad haircut for yourself or for your pet is thankfully it grows back again but in the meantime, yes, you’re right. They’re really not very happy with the way the animal looks.

Barbara Miller:      Exactly. My motto is you can always take it off but you can’t put it back on.           

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:      There’s been a lot of times I’ve had my hair cut and I look up after reading the magazine that I have, going, “Oh, I think I should have been paying attention. Yes.” When you take that pet in for a grooming, what are some of the basics? We know he’s going to get a bath but what else is going to be done to that pet when it’s there under a groomer’s care?

Barbara Miller:      Their ears should be cleaned well and I’m not talking about a deep cleaning but the exterior inside of the ear should be cleaned well. The anal glands should be expressed, if necessary, and their nails should be clipped. The dog should be blown dry and should be brushed very well, particularly a long-coated dog. When we do a bath we also do what we call a sanitary clip which simply involves clipping the private areas so that the dog doesn’t eliminate on itself when it goes to the bathroom. If you want the dog to have a haircut, that is also accomplished. But a basic bath are those first initial items that I mentioned and then the hair cut is on top of that.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:      Sanitary clips are great ideas especially for dogs or cats with little fuzzy buns because things tend to get stuck back there sometimes since they don’t use toilet paper. So, good idea: that little sanitary clip.  I know there are times when I have a pet that’s under my care that needs a particular medicated shampoo. We were just talking earlier to Marsh Davis of DVM Pharmaceuticals and talking about all the various types of medicated shampoos. Now if one of my clients brings a pet to you, for instance, and has their bottle of shampoo, will you use it?

Barbara Miller:      Absolutely we will use it. We’re happy to use it and we’ll return what’s left to the client when the dog is picked up. It has been my experience occasionally, actually more than occasionally, when the dog comes in very, very dirty and we’re asked to use the medicated shampoo it doesn’t get the dog as clean as we would like. So what I’ve developed and discovered is that if we use a nice -- we have a hypo-allergenic, tearless shampoo that we can get the dog very clean with and then we use the medicated shampoo after we’ve rinsed the dog from the first shampoo, we use the medicated prescribed shampoo and we let that sit for up to ten minutes, which is how it does its job. And then we rinse that off. So the dog essentially is getting two baths; one to get it clean and one to get the skin feeling better.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:         That’s exactly what Marsh was saying that for instance, our own hair products, for instance, the reason you don’t want to use it on a dog is that we’re more concerned with getting product off of our hair. We want that long flowing coat, if you have long hair or just that really nice texture to the hair; where in particular the pet’s problem typically is the skin and not so much the hair. So I like your idea of giving the cleansing shampoo first, get everything off the coat so it’s really nice and then treat the skin with a medicated shampoo. When a groomer has had your pet all day and you come to pick it up, should I just say “How much is the bill?” and walk out the door or are there some other things that the groomer should tell an owner?

Barbara Miller:      In our shop if we find anything unusual with the pet we make notes and we do advise the owner. And that can include possibly infected ears. It can include the presence of a lump or a bump that the owner may or may not know about. Many times I’ve mentioned or shown an owner something when they come to pick up the dog and they don’t know, they didn’t know and they take the dog to the vet and it turns out the dog might even have to have surgery. But something we should be responsible to tell the owner. We also will inform them of any unusual discharge or the presence of a tick or a flea infestation. We’re not veterinarians but we certainly can encourage a pet owner to have the pet checked by their veterinarian if we see something that looks out of whack.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:         So a good groomer can really be part of your pet’s health team, having the owner who maybe by not bathing the pet didn’t feel a particular bump or lump. Or if all of a sudden you’re thinking ‘Ah, it’s holding its same weight because it’s big and fluffy” and now that you’ve been grooming it for instance, the same groomer for years and you go, “yeah. It looks like its lost weight.” You can bring those things to an owner’s attention. So I think that’s great.

Barbara Miller:      Absolutely. And it’s important also to remember that the best owner doesn’t always find every lump and bump. But a groomer might. About a year ago we found an unusual looking lump in the eye corner of a little Schnauzer. And that’s someplace that isn’t really…you don’t cut that area. But when you’re grooming that area and you’re trying to clean it up with clippers, we noticed it and sent the dog off to the owner with the vet involvement and the dog wound up having some surgery and it’s fine today.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:      Oftentimes, trying to get an appointment with a good groomer, you may have to book a month or so in advance. And finally my day comes that I get to take the dog into the groomer but it’s just not feeling up to par. What’s your feeling about hell or high water, so to speak, take the pet into the groomer because I have the appointment.

Barbara Miller:      No, I would much rather that the owner cancel the appointment and take the dog to the veterinarian. We don’t know what’s wrong with the dog. It may be limping. It may be lethargic. It may be vomiting or may be doing something else. But we would much rather know that we’re grooming a dog that is healthy and is free of any medical issues. Many times the grooming process is at least a three or four hour affair and if a dog isn’t feeling well it’s not right to put them through it. It’s better to take it to the vet.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:         It can be a little bit stressful, I’m sure. Speaking of stress, here you have a pet…I’m amazed at what groomers can do. I look, for instance, at like a little Miniature Schnauzer that has these cute little haircuts and the face is trimmed and the eyebrows are trimmed. And I know, in my hands, if I were to try to do this at home to any animal I would chop something off and it would be horrid. How do you get a pet used to standing there and trimming its fur?  What’s the best age to start this?  What can people do to make sure their pet is going to be good at the groomers?

Barbara Miller:      The very best age to start a pet to be groomed is right after the last series of puppy shots. Usually there’s a series of, I believe, three or four, is that correct?

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:      Correct. Sometimes that’s not until four months of age. Do you want to wait that long?

Barbara Miller:      Yes. As long as the veterinarian says that it’s all right for that puppy to be in a grooming environment it’s fine with me and probably most other groomers. But I always ask the owners of a young puppy to double check with their veterinarian and whatever they say goes. But as soon as the puppy is able to safely be in a grooming shop, that’s when it needs to be there. And we have some puppies that are pretty active and we have to work with them and it takes a long time. And we also suggest to the owner, when they pick up the pup, that they make another appointment within four weeks, or before they leave, for another four weeks. I ask them to consider it as an investment in the future. Even though in the future the puppy may not need grooming perhaps every eight weeks, every ten weeks, whatever, it’s important to get the puppy used to grooming while it’s in its learning curve. And there is a learning curve for puppies.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:         Are there things that a pet owner can do at home, while it’s still in the midst of getting its vaccine series, so when they finally do bring it to you it’s not so much of a three-ring circus?

Barbara Miller:      Absolutely. One of the most important things, and I think here we’re talking about puppies that are going to be long coated, that need hair cuts, such as Shih-Tzu’s, Cocker Spaniels and what not, not the short-coated breeds, but, yes. If they would run their fingers, I suggest they run their fingers under the eyes and into the eye corners of the puppy, get used to being handled in the face area and make a buzzing sound and use your little fingers and go all over the face with your hand. And also…

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:         Do this when nobody is watching because they’ll think you look strange.

Barbara Miller:      Right! It seems very strange to be doing it but it’s very, very helpful. Also to take some sort of, perhaps an electric razor, or even a blow drier, turn it on and run it over the coat. Just very calmly, very slowly so the puppy gets used to the vibration of an appliance on its body, because that’s essentially what we are going to wind up doing.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:         Well, we’ve been talking about people bringing their pets to you. Now there are some dogs that don’t need to go to a groomer or people just want to do it themselves at home. For instance, giving a bath. How frequently does a pet need to be bathed?

Barbara Miller:      My answer to that is when it starts to get stinky. I don’t know that it needs to be done once a week. I think that when it’s dirty or it smells it needs to have a bath.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:         How about cats?

Barbara Miller:      I don’t believe that cats really need to have a bath just for the experience of it.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:         I think most cats will agree with you, too.
Barbara Miller:      I think that they do a pretty good job of keeping themselves clean and the longer haired breeds, really, if the owner is brushing them or combing them on a regular basis, unless they get into something I don’t think they really need to have a bath.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:         So you have your bottle of shampoo and you have your pet. What temperature water do you want to use?

Barbara Miller:      I like to use just lukewarm water. I don’t, we certainly don’t use water that’s comfortable for us to be bathing in because that’s way too hot for a dog’s skin and may actually exacerbate some skin problems that the dog might already have. So I would say tepid to lukewarm water would be just fine.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:      Shampoo all over the head, the body, tummy and everything else?

Barbara Miller:      Yes. All over. I would suggest using a tearless shampoo and that way you don’t have to worry about getting shampoo in the eyes. You should be careful anyway but if you’re using a tearless shampoo you have less likelihood of an eye problem after the bath. One of the little secrets I can share with you is that on either a long-haired or a short-haired breed if they have what I would call a shampoo brush, which can be the kind of brush that they use to brush the dog with on a regular basis, that they just save an extra one for the shampoo. Once the dog is all shampooed up and nice and soapy, use that brush very gently and lightly but go all over the dog, all over the back, the tummy, the legs, the ears and that will get the shampoo down to the skin.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:         One of the suggestions that Marsh Davis had about getting some cotton gloves and putting the shampoo on the gloves and then getting it all over the pet’s body instead of just being concentrated in one spot and trying to move it around. I thought that was kind of a sneaky idea. What would you recommend about protecting the ears? Because I know oftentimes people will get water into a dog or cat’s ears and then they’re in to see me about a week later because they have an ear infection that’s raging.

Barbara Miller:      That’s right. I would take a cotton ball and perhaps even break it in half. You have to be a little bit careful when you’re putting these cotton balls in the ear, which is the ultimate objective here. If you put one in that’s too big it’s going to fall out right away. So you need to just get it to be the right size so you’re simply plugging up the area that goes into the deep ear canal. The other suggestion I have is that when you rinse the dog, if the dog is not super large, you can take your thumb and middle finger going across the head and actually pin the ears down with one hand while you’re rinsing the dog with the other, with the hose. And that process along with the cotton balls will actually prevent most of the water getting into the ear.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:         Good idea for those people who are doing it outside or for those of us who take the pet into the shower. Same idea. And the last thing. Trimming nails. I know if you have a pet it doesn’t seem like you should have to trim a dog’s nails if they’re out there running around, staying active. But we know there’s a lot of couch pups out there who have very long nails. What’s a safe way to trim a dog’s nails, and, after you finish that, do you have to trim a cat’s nails?

Barbara Miller:      Well I think the safest way to trim a dog’s nails, probably, is to take it to your vet or your groomer. And by the way, we will just take a walk-in that needs nails done. But if you get the right kind of nail clippers you need to take a little bit off the very tip of the nail and actually keep going until you can see what is called the quick. And the quick is the end of a blood line that’s in the nail so you’re not going to cut it real short in the beginning. You’re going to keep looking at the end of the nail as you’re taking off little by little until you see a dark area in the middle of a lighter area and that’s the end of the quick. And that’s about as short as you’re going to be able to go.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:         And if perchance you cut it too short, what can they do to stop the bleeding?

Barbara Miller:      I would suggest that you have a product called Quick Stop that you can get at any pet store available and on-hand. And you just take a little dab of it, it’s a styptic powder, and you simply put a little bit at the end of the nail and that’ll stop the bleeding.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:         Great idea. You can also use a styptic pencil that maybe you have a man in the house is using as he is shaving his face, you can use that, just don’t tell him that you used it. Put it back, he’ll probably be fine with it. So Barbara, thank you so much. Some really good ideas of how people can look for a good groomer, what’s involved in finding a good groomer and ways that they can get their pet used to being handled in that day of beauty at the dog or cat spa. And then some ideas of what they can do at home. Good. Thank you. I appreciate it.

Barbara Miller:      It was my pleasure. Thank you very much.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:         My name is Dr. Bernadine Cruz. We’ve been listening to Barbara Miller, a professional pet groomer from Orange County, California. Puppy Pals is the name of her facility. So if you are trying to bathe your own pet we now know what shampoos to use and if you have questions ask your veterinarian. That’s always going to be the best source of health information as well as grooming information. If you have other questions that haven’t been answered you can always ask me. You can email me at Please check back next week. We’ll be addressing more issues concerning you and your pet. Because remember: it’s your pet, health matters. Thanks for listening.

Pets can be a wonderful addition to your life. Because they’re a member of the family keeping them healthy and happy is important. Pet Life Radio presents the Pet Doctor with veterinary media consultant and veterinarian Dr. Bernadine Cruz. Whether you have a dog, cat, reptile or rabbit, you’ll find answers for your pets straight from the vets. On demand, every week. Only on


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