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    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.

    This article originated in the SmartStyling GroomWise Blog by Chris Sertzel, aka WindyWayCavaliers in GroomerTALK.

    We see them every day, in sets of four usually, but sometimes 5 or even 6. Multiply that by 4 legs and it adds up to a lot of nails that we see, clip and address with clients each and every day.

    But do we really understand all that we should about these incredible little appendages?
    We should first realize the larger picture. Dogs walk on their toes like a horse, not on their pads or the "soles" of their feet like a human. So this puts weight dispersion and balance of the dog's entire mass on a very small center of impact absorption (especially if they are also overweight). Meaning that if they feel pain in a toe or a nail, they will then have to rock back on their heels and extend the ligaments of their larger pad and the back of their ankles to try to ease the pain in their toes. This puts them at a tremendous risk of injuring their ankles, elbows, hocks, shoulder and hips, as well as their connective tissues such as ACLs. Everything in one's musculoskeletal system is connected with every other part of the body. So, simple overgrown nails can be the root of not only much discomfort, but much financial expense in the long run.

    Overgrown nails on a dog is one of the leading causes of obesity. If we really think about it, it is likely the leading cause.

    Overgrown nails lead to discomfort of the bones and tendons and ligaments of the toes, then up to the larger bones and tissues of the foot, up the arms and legs and into the larger bones of the shoulders, hips and then on to the spine. Everything touches something else. And when one thing is out of line at the root of one's center of mobility, it puts everything else in the body out of sync, and therefor in some level of discomfort. After time, this leads to genuine physical deterioration and then to eventual disability. So, looking at the total structure of the dog, and in thinking about how we feel when our feet hurt or are injured, it is easy to see that the comfort and care of the feet and toes are at the forefront of one's most important necessities--both human and canine or feline.

    We as people can address to our own needs and vocalize when we have pain to someone who can help. For dogs, they rely on their caregivers to take notice and give them relief. So, it is my belief that proper care and maintenance of a dog's toenails is one of the most important jobs and skills a groomer needs to have.

    Canine Toenail Composition

    The canine nail is comprised of 3 main parts. They are of the quick or the vein and nerve endings that supply both blood circulation and sensitivity to pressure and hot/cold senses of the toe and the foot.

    Surrounding this very soft, fluid filled center is a pulp, inner nail bed, or layers of soft and moist tissue that helps to protect and cushion the sensitive vein and nerves much as our fatty tissue and subcutaneous makeup does for our own bodies. This area is slightly harder than the layers beneath it, yet still cannot be counted as the nail itself because it cannot protect the quick of the nail when exposed. This area is also what is visible in a light colored nail as the darker circle or half moon shape when we trim back the nail and get closer to the quick. On dark nails it can be nearly impossible to see, but it does make a different sound in the nail trimmers when clipped into. This area feels pressure and will often cause the dog to begin to pull back as it feels this pressure and anticipates possible pain.

    Around these inner layers is a harder more durable wrap of many layers of protein and keratin- or fibrous structural proteins that are tough and insoluble. These layers make up the nail and round out its full length.

    In the picture below, you can see the cross section of the nail bed, and the bit of moisture in its center.

    In the pictures below you can see the layers forming the inner and outer portion of the nail and how they grow out in rings and wrap around the nail, creating its shape. Notice that this nail is quite overgrown.

    So, looking at these photos, we can clearly see how important it is to keep nails trimmed up as short as possible to avoid the inner quick from getting too long, and therefor the nail growing out ahead of it too far.

    Look at this photo of a dog's foot with overgrown nails.

    Can you see the extension of the foot, the lengthening of the toes and how the weight is being bared on the back of the foot? This is what creates pain, difference in weight distribution and eventual physical issues.

    Proper Clipping of the Nail

    For clipping the nails--everyone does do it differently, so this technique might not work for you, but it is the best way I have found for myself.

    I will always clip the nails as soon after or nearest to the pet's arrival as possible, before the bath- not just in case I quick a nail, but also because elevated blood pressure actually surges blood flow into extremities--including the toes, so it will be possible to clip a nail SHORTER if the nail is clipped before the dog sits and works itself up (if it is anxious), or before the bath- as the elevated water temp. also elevates the dog's core temp. and therefor increases circulation.

    For me personally, I have found it works best to bring the foot softly back under the dog so that the elbow is tight to the pet's side, and the foot is not too overly bent at the ankle- in case the pet has stiffness there from age, etc. This can be tough though, depending on the size of the dog and if working on a stationary table.

    Why hold the foot back instead of forward? First, you're back away from the dog's mouth and range of view. Also, holding the foot out away from the dog encourages them to pull, you to then squeeze or to equal their pull with yours, and for you to have a less steady foot for cutting the nails. Also, it is proven that tucking up the foot does help dampen the nerve endings of the toes and therefor they may be less sensitive for the feel of the clipping. If you clip a nail on a dog out in front of their body--listen to the sound that the nail makes when you clip. Listen to it when you clip- the sound will be noticeably quieter when the foot is tucked up. Some dogs just fear that "kajunk!" sound the clippers make.
    After lifting the foot back and slightly up, then I clip the nails back, straight up & down, until I see the little dark spot in the center of the nail that signals the beginning of the soft spongy tissue that encapsulates the actual vein. With some dogs like those who are old and lack the softness in the center of the nail (this happens from loss of circulation, trauma to the nail bed after years of overgrown nails, or an ongoing low grade nail fungus) it is harder to tell the beginning of this soft area, so even after all of these years, I'll find myself sometimes still taking off a sliver at a time until I see the spot. Cutting the nail straight up & down pulls the angle of the nail up and back from the floor when the pet's foot is down, therefor helping to keep the nails' not "ticking" on the floor to last longer. You can also go back over the nails and clip off the left and right side of the nail to soften the ends and give a "pedicured" look, and of course, clipping first and then going over the nails with a Dremmel will pull the quick back even more and give each nail a soft tip. This is my technique,and it will likely work great for you.

    The guide below shows the angles that I use the clippers to take length off. Clipping the nail at these angles also encourages the quick to "die back" and therefor each trimming session will result in a shorter nail.

    And here is a photo of a clipped set of nails. This dog will need to come in about every other week for a few clips to get the nails back a little more each time.

    Below is a photo of a clipped set of nails next the an unclipped foot--can you see how already the weight is more up on toe and how the nails are away from the floor even though they still need to be gotten shorter?

    There is a world of information that goes into any thing that we do in our salons day to day, understanding how a dog's nails are comprised, and how to properly care for them, and how important it is to talk with clients about proper nail and foot care for their pets, will help us to provide for a better overall quality of life for each and every one of our clients!

    And don't forget to care for their pads as well! Feel free to read up on my homemade recipe for a wonderful paw and pad treatment, or click here to check out my full line of Canine Spa Therapy products available for not just feet, but all areas that need extra TLC!

    Related article for more information:

    This article originated in the SmartStyling GroomWise Blog by Chris Sertzel, aka WindyWayCavaliers in GroomerTALK.

    This is a quick and easy way to get a nice carrot tail on your pet trims in the salon. If you are hand stripping or very familiar with Terriers, you likely already know the ins & outs of quickly producing a proper tail, so this tip is more so for saving time in the salon.

    First trim in your pet pattern as you normally would--whether just a heavy card or a clippered back, remember to always try to at least do a good amount of carding before and after clipping a harsh coat to help keep some texture and benefit the skin. Also remember that a skip tooth or "S" blade with uneven teeth will give you a more natural finish than a finishing of "F" blade. A #3 3/4 Skip is my favorite blade for a pet trim as it leaves enough texture and un-evenness to card and thinner out really nice.

    When you go to do the tail, use the same blade as you did on the dog's back. Unless you've used a #7! If the dog is clipped in a #7, go up a couple of blade lengths to about a #4, and just do the entire tail, and then thinner it heavily to take out bulk. You can thinner the underside to remove any poof with your blenders instead that running a #7 up the underside as this will flatten your tail. Be sure to check that the dead hair is also removed from the top and sides of the tail- using a Coat King carefully or another carding tool will do the trick, and get the tail to lay a little more tightly.

    The idea is to create a natural looking tail that adjoins the body without a dip at the base of tail from the croup, and to have no flag on the underside of the tail; but a tail which adds no length to the dog's back, and completes a level, solid topline.

    The hair should be hard and of uniform length. The tail circumference should be proportionate to the rest of the dog, not too thick and not too thin--but "slender" is good. By taking the hair on the underside of the tail short, be are actually shortening the perceived length of the dog's back and its frame.

    Clean and combed tail ready to trim.

    Underside of tail trimmed with a #3 3/4 Skip, and heavy thinning with blenders around rectum.

    Setting the length of tail. I do this with blenders about 1/2" from the tail tip. If the tail is thin or scarred at the tip, do not scissor too close. Please excuse those hard working hands!

    Westie tail angles

    Drawing the tail straight down and slightly out from the rump, stand over the top of the dog to see where the sides of the tail need trimming to begin to bring the base of the tail in towards the tip. With the tail in this position, trim each side in a straight angle from tip to base, wide at the base and similar to a short, "robust" carrot. You should blend the hard lines off with blenders or thinners to create a natural look. You now have the underside and the sides of the tail trimmed, what's left is just blending and contouring the top side of the tail to complete the carrot shape.

    Keep the tail in the down position, holding it straight all the while you are trimming. Now shape the top of the tail thicker at the base and straight out to the tip. Be sure that there is "cushion" at the tail base so that there is no dip off the croup where the tail adjoins the body.

    Now lift the tail over the back to see that the hair on top of the tail base isn't too thick so that it poofs when the tail is carried up. We want a level topline and a back that looks sturdy and not too long.

    Remember that when finishing your dogs, you should always double check your work in front of a mirror if possible, with the dog standing as squarely and stacked as it can, in their typical breed standard stance. Learning to take a good overall look at your dog will help you notice little things you may have missed. And don't be afraid to let them have a walk and a shake and then re-stack them to see what their movement may have moved or settled on their clip.

    Notice below how the carriage of a tail alters the topline and overall appearance of the same female dog. The same dog at 12, 1 and 11!