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    By Barbara Bird
    Originally written June 2009 for her GroomWise.com Blog, and now archived here in Resources. Barbara's web site is www.bbird.biz. Please visit her site today.
    Copyright 2011 Barbara Bird All rights reserved

    I enjoy reading groomers’ descriptions of their bathing rituals, what products they use, the sequence they employ, and how long they let various products “set up” on the coat or skin. These descriptions are shared in the sincere belief that the ritual and timing is as important to the result as the products themselves. Although I honor the value of ritual in giving us confidence in our results, some of these rituals are based on myth and fiction. Today we will look at some facts in the relationship between time and use of pet grooming products.


    MYTH: Leaving a regular shampoo on longer will yield better cleaning.

    FACT: The action of cleansing surfactants is instant.

    FACT: Movement of the cleansing surfactant through the coat is more important to better cleaning than is additional contact time.

    FACT: The possibility of skin irritation from the shampoo detergents (contact dermatitis) is increased with increased contact time. Some detergent cleansing ingredients, such as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, that have been removed from many human bubble bath products, because of a high incidence of contact dermatitis following soaking in the products. These same ingredients are used in many pet shampoos.

    FACT: Mechanical action, scrubbing or massaging product through the coat by hand or water pressure through a bathing system, is more important to thorough cleaning than increased contact time.


    FACT: Most antibacterial and antifungal agents require 5-10 minutes of contact time with the skin to be effective. It is important to read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the label.

    MYTH: Leaving a medicated shampoo on longer will give better results. Not true, although leaving it on less may compromise the desired results. Leaving a medicated product on longer may risk skin irritation from the detergent ingredients.


    A very basic generalization is that agents that require penetration of the skin or hair cuticle need time to do this. Penetration is never instant. Conditioning ingredients that have been made cationic and simply attach to the hair surface, can do so quickly without set up time. Most conditioning agents are of this type. The best indication of what type of ingredients are in a conditioner are the instructions on the label. If the label says to leave the product on for 2-5 minutes (or more, as in a remoisturizer), it means that it requires that time for full effect. If the label does not suggest a time frame, most likely the product acts quickly.

    Another way to tell if conditioning ingredients are cationic is to look for the suffix –onium. This means that the ingredient has been “quaternized” or made cationic. This clue, of course, only works for products where the manufacturer discloses ingredients.

    CONCLUSION: Many conditioning agents, especially more sophisticated ingredients, act instantly and do not require long “set up” time. Old-fashioned ingredients, and many less chemically sophisticated agents require time to work. For many regular conditioners, there is no benefit from greater contact time than is suggested on the label.


    Texturizing is usually accomplished either by adding stiffening ingredients, or omitting ingredients that soften the coat. Texturizing products do not usually require extended contact time. Bodifiers may require penetration of the hair cuticle. An example of a bodifier that needs a few minutes of extra contact time would be Chris Christensen Thick N’ Thicker Foaming Protein. Spray-on products usually have instant effect. Again, the manufacturers instructions are your best clue. The best practice is to use a timer to be accurate in your set-up time.


    Flea and tick products almost always require a few minutes of contact to be effective, especially the more natural ingredients. Leaving products on for longer than the manufacturer’s instructions, however, can lead to irritation or even toxicity. Putting pesticidal or medicated products on pets and leaving them sit in a cage while the groomer does other things risks overexposure to either the active ingredients or the detergent surfactants.


    This is another group of products that requires careful timing and care in use. It is important to use color enhancing shampoos on thoroughly wet coat unless otherwise instructed, and for only the recommended contact time. If too much pigment is deposited under the hair cuticle lens, you will have a dye job instead of color enhancement.

    There are very few products where lengthy contact time has better effects. In terms of shampoos, extended contact beyond that recommended on the label may risk contact dermatitis or toxicity. Color enhancing ingredients, bodifiers, and some deep conditioning ingredients may benefit from extended contact, but many ordinary shampoos and conditioners work very quickly and extra “set-up” time is wasted. Anionic cleansing surfactants and cationic conditioning ingredients work instantly, like magnets, and thorough application is more beneficial than more contact time. Always read and follow the instructions on the label. And remember, time equals money.
    Published on 01-09-11 02:32 PM

    Salvage Work by Melissa Verplank, from her GroomWise Blog http://groomwise.typepad.com/melissa_verplank/.

    As many of you know, I'm a big dog person. Working on these large furry dogs that have a huge shedding problem is one of my favorite things to do in a grooming salon. I know, I know, call me crazy -- but I just love seeing the transformation in this type of job. Over the years I've gotten really quick with the process and rarely cringe, no matter what the size of the dog, nor the condition -- I see it as a fun challenge!

    My #1 rule is: Never work on a dirty dog. If water can penetrate the coat, let your products do the job.

    Working on a dirty dog is not only unpleasant, but it also takes longer to do . Plus, there will be a lot of coat damage and breakage. A dirty coat is dry and brittle. The dirt and dander trapped within the fur makes it more difficult to brush out. Working on a clean coat will be easier for both you and the pet – and much more pleasant.

    If there are large chunks that water cannot penetrate, go ahead and break up the tangle using the tool that is safe for the pet. Don't worry about removing it completely, just break it apart so the water and shampoo can do its job.

    Prepare your bathing area. If the dog is exceptionally dirty, use the shampoo especially designed for dirty dogs. Using a follow-up treatment of a skin and coat conditioner after bathing twice (or maybe three times in some areas) will assist with the brush out and dead coat removal during the drying process. Make sure you have all the tools you'll need to aid in getting the dog clean like rubber curries or scrub brushes. And make sure you have plenty of towels handy.

    My favorite trick when working with this type of job is to bring my high velocity dryer right into the bathing area. With the dog fully lathered, blow the shampoo right off the pets while they are tethered in the tub. The slippery soap will allow the dirt, loose coat, and tangles slide out, being trapped in the shampoo and sticking to the back wall of the tub, minimizing the mess. Not all the shedding coat or mats will be removed but a lot will, making your job easier once you transfer to the drying table. Once you have blown out the pet, follow up with the rinsing process. Repeat this process as many times as necessary to get the dog “squeaky clean.”

    Once the pet is clean and thoroughly rinsed, apply a skin and coat conditioning treatment before heading to the drying table. Read your directions: some conditioning treatments need to be rinsed out while others do not. Your high velocity dryer and a heavy slicker brush will be your best friends during the drying process.

    Rule # 2: Be Methodical and Thorough

    First, blow out as much moisture and loose coat at possible with the air flow. Use the highest power setting the pet is comfortable with, and a condenser cone. Once you have pushed as much water and loose fur from the pet, remove the condenser cone, and bring the air flow close to the pet’s skin. “Boost” any loose coat out of the dog by lightly patting the area where the air is striking the skin with a slicker brush.

    Continue to work over the dog in a methodical manner until your brush glides through the coat easily and no more loose coat is trapped in the brush.

    Rule #3 – ENJOY!

    When the dog is complete, it should smell clean and fresh. The coat should be glossy and float freely as the dog moves. There should be an irresistible desire to reach down and bury your hands in a freshly groomed pet.

    By Debi Hilley

    Admin has published this article on behalf of Debi Hilley, GroomWise Blogger, aka Particentral.

    For efficient drying of anything that is wet, you need four things.

    Air Flow Volume
    Controlled Heat

    By understanding how these principals affect drying you can make your drying process faster and safer while saving yourself money on utility bills as well. I found a lot of really good research has been done on the topic by several manufacturers of water damage restoration equipment. If you think about it, drying a carpet or floor out uses the same types of equipment we use in drying dogs and to be honest, carpets and dog coats are similar in that they are all fibrous and when wet hold a lot of water that must be removed safely without damaged those fibers. By reading about how they train their people to do the work of water removal I learned a lot about drying that can be transferred over to dogs.

    Let's begin with Extraction. Simply speaking that is the physical removal of water. In dog grooming that is the most important part of drying and it accomplished by two major steps of the drying process; towel drying and force drying. Proper extraction of the water can reduce your drying time drastically.

    Towel drying is a critical part of the drying process for most dogs. There are many types of towels you can use. Regular bath towels, microfiber towels, moisture magnets or chamois and Water Absorbers are all available and effective. No matter which towel you choose to use, there are key steps to drying efficiently with a towel. Begin by squeezing excess water out of the coat with your hands while still in the tub. Then, using a squeezing motion again, absorb as much water as you can with your towel. Change towels as they get wet to maximize this step in the process.

    From the tub, after drying I place dogs onto the drying table which in my case, has a flannel covering on it with two or three towels underneath it. This helps in the extraction process by absorbing the water from the feet, and the water that is going to be removed from the coat in the next step of the process. If you have a short coated dog, you can ruffle the hair while toweling but in longer coats it is a bad idea as it may tangle the coat.

    Some people use towel warmers or towels right out of the dryer to dry dogs with. This does in fact speed up the drying process and it allows the towels to absorb more water. A warm towel makes you and the puppies more comfortable, so if possible, use one that is warmed up. Many places offer towel warmers for sale at a reasonable price. Simply search on the web and you will find ones available in many places, but make sure they will hold and heat the size of towels you are using. Some designed for human hair salons are designed to heat smaller towels.

    If you are using something other than towels to dry, then a warmer is not an option. The Moisture magnet s and Absorber type towels work better when they are wet to begin with. Simply wring them out and they are ready to go back to work again.

    Towel health tip: NEVER re-use towels from one dog to another. Always use a clean towel on each dog. The same is true of the other types of towels as well. Absorbers can be stored in a Chlorhexidine solution in between dogs and wrung out well, but otherwise, use a fresh towel and wash between uses.

    The next step in the extraction process for us is force drying. By using a force dryer to remove water from the coat we can drastically reduce the drying time and as a result get a better finish, as well as getting the pet dryer faster for its own comfort. A good force dryer is essential to any pet groomer in my opinion. Most of them do not have added heat but pull air across the motors to cool the motor, so the air coming out of the nozzle is warm, generally 30-50 degrees above room temperature when it exits the hose. Once it comes out into the air, the temperature is drastically reduced. So while it feels hot in the hose the temperature at which it contacts the pets is much lower. Some dryers do not pull air across the motors. As a result you are getting room temperature air that uses force to dry dogs. You might, after a prolonged period of use, find that the air warms up slightly, but it does not get as hot as one that does. You must decided for yourself what you need in a dryer then choose one accordingly.

    All of these dryers are great for removing large quantities of water, and which one you choose will depend largely on what types of dogs you groom and what your personal preference is. I like warmer air, so I chose my dryers accordingly. I find that I get a better fluff with heat, and that the dogs dry a bit faster when using a dryer that contains some heat, and I can explain why that is in the next section, but others feel like the added heat is a detriment and prefer the cooler air dryers. Whatever you choose, make sure you have enough power for the types of dogs you groom. If you do a lot of the big hairies, a larger, more powerful blower is for you. If you do mostly smaller dogs then you can get by with less force. For me, I do a variety of dogs and prefer a variable speed control, so I can adjust the airflow to the job at hand, and my dryers raise the temperature of the air as well for what I feel is a better fluff out.

    Whatever type of force dryer you choose however, their principle purpose is water extraction, and they do a great job of it.

    Air Flow is the second key point in drying dog coats. Air flow is critical to drying dogs because it allows for evaporation of water left over after and even assists DURING the extraction process. The more air that passes through a coat the faster the evaporation process will be. If you think about it, clothes hung on a clothesline on a day with no wind dry slower and stiffer than clothes hung out on days with lots of wind. The wind, through air flow evaporation techniques, dries the clothes faster and the fibers are moved by the wind as well preventing them from getting "stuck" together, and they are softer. The same principal applies to dog hair believe it or not. The more air flow you can get through the coat while it's drying, the better the coat will feel and the faster it will dry.

    When choosing the right dryer, consider how fast the airflow is. If it is just a small amount of air, then the drying will be less efficient. Remember, air flow promotes evaporation. Air that is stagnant cannot do that.

    Ambient air dryers are the best at moving large amounts of air. Box Fans, stand fans, vortex dryers, and carpet dryers, like the Sahara by Dri-Eaz are all great at drying dogs fast and safely. I k now some people think that a fan is only blowing cold air across a dog so it cannot dry well, but remember, we already extracted water from the coat and are now looking at air flow to remove the remaining dampness. The faster the airflow, the faster the dogs will completely dry. The ambient air dryers pull air across the motors to cool them, so the room air temperature can be raised dramatically by these dryers, even though they do not put out heat directly, so it is important to keep an eye on the temperature in the room. When used with open cages, like wire crates, these are by far the fastest and safest dryers available.

    Cage selection is critical as well to the drying process. Closed cages like cage banks, or vari-kennels restrict airflow. Wire cages allow the air to move past and through the area, making them much more efficient. You can even use fans to direct the air in the direction you want to the coat to lay. Place one on top of a cage for a full coated dog, and underneath for fluffier coats. There is no end to their versatility.

    If used correctly this drying technique (large volume air flow) offers you versatility, safety and speed.

    Dehumidification is critical to drying dogs fast and easily. When you are removing the water from the coat it is going into the air. That water in the air must be removed to maintain the balance in the room. The more humid the air gets the harder it is to dry dogs in it. That makes sense as it is also true of carpets, laundry and even mud puddles. The drier the air, the faster they dry out. It is one reason carpet cleaners tell you to run your air conditioner after they clean your carpet. It is to reduce the relative humidity in your home. I run a secondary window air conditioner in my drying rooms to keep the humidity level and the temperature under control without making the rest of the shop cold. You can use a dehumidifier if you are in a colder climate and there are many to choose from. Dri-Eaz makes a great one that they sell to the pet industry but there are many to choose from.

    Dry air also reduces the chance of heat stroke, because heat plus humidity are what usually lead to that occurring.

    Temperature is the final step in the process. Warm air is thirstier than cool air. Warm air increases the rate of evaporation. As a result, in cooler climates, it may be necessary to use a heated dryer at some point to raise the temperature of the air that is being passed over the dog. This can happen by using a stand dryer, a warm air high velocity dryer or a cage dryer. Typically, most dehumidification equipment works best at temperatures between 70 and 90 so it is important that the area pets are being dried at not exceed or fall below those temperatures. That range is also a safe, comfortable temperature for most people and pets. Anything hotter results in high humidity and anything cooler results in lower evaporation rates. Mobile groomers can attest to the fact that when it's colder or hotter their drying times increase.

    Since the optimum temperature seems to be relatively low I am at a loss to understand why dryer manufacturers make dryers that heat up to 155F. You can see how the relatively low airflow they offer coupled with the high heat in an enclosed area like a small cage can be devastating to the pet and unproductive for the groomer. The best drying scenario for groomers is high velocity removal of water from a well towel dried dog, at a temperature of 70-90F and a low relative humidity, using high volumes of air for evaporation.

    If you follow the basic principles you will have a productive, efficient and safe drying program.