Monday, April 6, 2015

To shave or not to shave?

Every year as we move towards the arrival of warmer weather, groomers get lots of calls for spring/summer shaves on breeds that aren’t normally shaved such as Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Pomeranians, Shelties, German Shepherds, and other double-coated breeds.  Owners are under the impression that by shaving the dog, they will help keep the dog cooler.

Mother Nature designed the double coat and it is an excellent device to enable dogs to regulate their temperature. A double coat is a coat that is comprised of longer, stiffer guard hairs with a shorter, softer undercoat.  During the colder months, the undercoat will come in thicker to act as insulation and keep the body warmer.  As the temperature warms, the dog sheds the soft undercoat and allows air to circulate at the skin level, keeping the dog cooler. The guard hairs protect the skin from sunburn and other environmental issues. Shaving your double-coated dog can actually make them more susceptible to heat stroke because their natural cooling system no longer functions properly. It also makes them more susceptible to sunburn and you may have to purchase sunscreen to protect your dog.

Shaving a double-coat can also irreparably damage the coat and it may never grow back to the original state.  The dog may look patchy, with bald spots, thick spots, and areas where there are guard hairs and areas where the guard hairs won’t grow anymore.  This results in the dog also losing the ability to regulate his/her temperature in both the colder months and the summer months.

A second reason owners want to shave their dogs is to reduce the amount of shed.  Shaving your dog will not make any difference in the amount of shedding your dog does.  Yes, the hair may be shorter, but there will be just as much coming out.  The best way to reduce the amount of hair in your house is to bring your dog in for regular grooming which will keep shed to a minimum.   It will also remove any dead coat, excess coat, and dander which will help you keep your floors and furniture cleaner.

Single-coated breeds that are kept trimmed should carry a minimum of 1 inch of coat year round.  It’s enough to keep them warm in the winter and cool in summer by allowing their innate temperature regulation to work while protecting them from sunburn in the summer.

If you have any questions on this topic, please don’t hesitate to call or email us.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Taking Care of Teeth - Oral Hygiene

When was the last time you took a good look inside your dog’s mouth?  If you are like most dog owners, it’s been awhile or you never have.  Time to take a look. Oral hygiene problems affect up to 80% of dogs! From gingivitis to serious periodontal disease resulting in tooth loss, these problems are affecting the health of your dog, potentially shortening the already too short time we have with them.

Why do dogs have such a high rate of dental problems?  They don’t brush their teeth 2-3 times a day like we brush ours. This allows for the build-up of plaque and tartar which then leads to overgrowth of bacteria and from there, the problems snowball.  The toxins from periodontal disease can be absorbed into the blood stream, potentially causing kidney, liver, cardiac, and even brain damage.

Having your dog’s teeth cleaned by a veterinarian is a costly endeavor. For routine cleanings, prices in the Portland area will range from about $300-$800.  Add in radiographs and potentially some extractions, you can easily double those amounts.  Dogs also have to be fully anesthetized to have dental procedures.  Anesthesia is very safe and gets safer all the time, but there is always risk involved in any anesthetic. 

So what can you do about it?  There are several options.  You can brush your dog’s teeth at least once daily.  But you have to do it every day, studies have shown that even every other day is not effective in reducing gingivitis.  You can buy dental treats which can be helpful if you have a dog who will actually chew on them rather than eat them as fast as they can.  There are supplements you can add to their food or water which have varying degrees of success.

Or, you can forget about it at home and let us do it with your dog’s regular groom!  Our oral hygiene program will gently remove plaque or tartar build up and leave your dog’s teeth clean and breath smelling great.  We use no sedation or anesthesia, our process is so gentle that the vast majority of dogs don’t have any issues.  By using our service, we can drastically reduce the need for a full dental cleaning at your veterinarian.  And so far, we are getting rave reviews from the vets who care for our clients! The cost savings are substantial as well.

So the next time you are in, ask us about adding this service to your dog’s groom.  (We also offer our Oral Hygiene as a stand-alone service.)  Call or email today for more information!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Grooming and Health Care

Keeping your pet clean, mat-free, and with nice short nails is important for overall health. Your groomer can be an ally in your pet’s health and can sometimes be an early warning system for several different types of health issues in your pets.

The bathing and drying process can show us many skin issues that might be difficult for owners to see either because they are in the early stages or hidden under a thick coat.  With our drying process, which is drying your dog by hand, we are able to see every inch of skin on your dog’s body and we can monitor for healthy skin every visit.  If we see small skin problems developing, you can get your pet treated in the early stages when the issue may be easier to treat.  

Lumps and bumps often appear as pets get older and while it’s easy to find some, groomers may be able to see or feel some that are harder for the owner to locate. We can monitor existing lumps and bumps for any change, as well as letting you know if we find any new ones.

We also check for unwanted guests on your dog!  Fleas can be hard to see, but our bathing and drying shows us if there are any hiding on your dog.  Although ticks are rare in this area, we do see those occasionally as well.  When ticks first attach, they are quite small and hard to see even on shorter haired breeds. Ticks usually only become visible to the owner when they have been the dog for a couple of days.

Ear infections are common in a lot of dogs, especially those with drop ears. Ear infections, if left untreated, can be very itchy and painful, can cause ear hematomas from constant head shaking, and may even cause permanent damage to the ear drum.  Regular grooming with Canine Perfection always includes ear cleaning and flushing with veterinary ear products.  This process will show us if your dog has an ear infection and needs veterinary assistance.  However, proper ear cleaning done regularly can actually help prevent ear infections from ever happening in the first place.

Dental health is extremely important to the overall health of our pets and is often challenging for pet owners to handle.  As part of the grooming process, we will look at your pet’s teeth and mouth and let you know if we see any issues.  We offer an oral hygiene program that can help keep your pet’s teeth clean and hopefully reduce the need for dental cleanings under anesthetic with your veterinarian.

Regular nail care is important! Many people don’t realize that overgrown toenails can, at the very least, be uncomfortable for both dogs and cats, but sometimes it can be downright painful if the pet has to walk differently because the nails are too long.  If left too long, sometimes the nails can even curl around and starting growing into the pads of the feet.  There is another nail issue that can occur even in short nails and that is that toenails can crack, split, and sometimes be partially or fully torn off.  And lastly, toenail beds can get infected and painful. If we see anything like this, we will be sure to let you know so you can take your pet to the veterinarian for treatment. 

Every time your dog comes in for a bath, we will assess the anal glands, checking for any abnormalities in the size and/or the contents.  We will check to make sure they appear to be emptying normally and that there aren’t any lumps or signs of infection.  Anal glands can become blocked and painful and can even abscess, so regular assessment is important and something most pet owners don’t want to do.

You can see that regular grooming is an important part of your pet’s healthcare maintenance. We are happy to be an ally with you and your veterinarian for the best of care for your pets.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Winter Pet Care

We Pacific North-westerners love our mild, wet winters, but sometimes the rain and mud can be a challenge for dog owners.  Especially those dogs with longer coats. We can help you deal with muddy paws, wet coats, and even that not-so-wonderful wet doggy smell.

Coat Length

We are often asked how long a dog's coat should be for winter.  For most dogs, about an inch of coat is a good length year round.  This will help protect them from the elements and keep their skin dry and it is just the right amount to insulate them and help them regulate their body temperature.

Muddy Paws

Going for a walk or even letting your dog out in the backyard often results in muddy paws.  It seems no matter how well you try to dry them, they still track mud into the house.  A simple trick is to use a a shallow storage container, cat litter box, or a kiddie pool by the door.  With a small amount of water, just foot high, you can easily rinse your dog's feet.  This really help get the mud out between their toes. Gently blot with a towel, wring out, but don't rub, longer coat and then have them walk onto one of the mats designed to absorb moisture.  There are lots of different brands out there, ask at your favorite pet retailer or google 'dog mud mats' and you'll have lots of shopping options.

We can help you by keeping your dog's pads shaved out and feet trimmed short.  Some people with longer coated breeds will do 'poodle feet' under the hair so it does not show. Poodle feet are shaved very closely both underneath and over the tops of the toes. (See pictures below.)  Unlike a poodle, we can leave the leg longer and the feet will be hidden and really only visible when the dog is laying down.

Keeping the pads shaved has an added health benefit.  When the pads are full of hair and damp, it allows a perfect environment for bacteria or fungus to start to growing which can lead to sore feet, hot spots, and a trip to the vet.

Wet Legs & Undercarriage

Dogs with hair are a challenge to not only keep clean, but also to dry.  If your coated dog comes in wet, you should blot the coat.  Gently rub the hair in one direction which should be the same direction the coat grows.  This will help keep mats to a minimum.  There are lots of super absorbent towels on the market such as "Shamwow" or microfiber towels that work much better than a typical terry cloth towel.

We can also make some changes to your dog's groom over the winter months, such as trimming the hair on the chest and belly nice and short.  It will only visible when your dog rolls over for a belly rub.  This has several benefits. It keeps the armpits dryer and reduces the possibility of bacterial or fungal infections in the armpits.  It also will reduce matting from moisture and friction. And, it will help keep debris from getting caught in the coat and coming in the house.

Wet Dog Smell

It's funny how a damp or wet dog can smell so much worse than a dry one. Even short-haired dogs can have this problem. Portland winters are a testament to that. A Bath & Tidy service might just make the difference between a snuggly bedfellow and sleeping in the dog house. A Bath & Tidy includes the hydrotherapy massage bath, blow dry and brush out, pads are shaved and feet are trimmed, sanitary trim, nails are clipped and buffed, ears are cleaned (and plucked if necessary), and tidy up of the face. You can add an aroma therapy spa package for an extra boost of freshness.  Short-haired dogs will benefit from regular bathing as de-shedding and exfoliation will help with odor control.


Sap is always a problem in this area, but gets much worse in the fall months.  Please, unless your dog is uncomfortable, let us get the sap out for you. We have several techniques and products that can save the coat and gently remove the sap.


A lot of people are surprised that fleas can be bad in the fall and winter months.  Our warm winters don't cause a flea die off like you see in colder regions.  Many people stop treating for fleas this time of year thinking they'll be okay.  We actually see some of the worst flea infestations in October and November, so keep up your flea prevention over the winter months.


If you plan to dress your pet over the colder months in a sweater or coat, you may want to consider doing a shorter trim on the body.  Clothes, coats, and harnesses causing matting, especially on the neck, chest, and around the front legs.  If you want to keep the coat longer, be sure to brush out your dog once a day, especially in those areas.  You will want to wash your dog's clothes regularly as oils and dirt can build up on the clothing and then transfer to your dog.


You might be tempted to do bathe your pet more frequently during the winter. Remember that if your dog has mats in his or her coat, and  you bathe him/her, you are 'setting' the mats.  Once the mat dries as a mat, it is much more difficult to brush out and may require that it be cut out.  Dematting is a service that we at Canine Perfection are willing and able to do.  Contrary to popular belief, dematting does not have to be difficult or painful for your dog.  However, this is a learned skill and, in most cases, is something that should be left to the professionals. It's kind of like painting your car, you probably could do it on your own, but a professional is going to do a much better job! The right tools, products, and techniques make all the difference. If you want to learn, we do offer lessons in dematting and can provide the best tools for you to use at home.

Older dogs or dogs with orthopedic issues who may ache a little more than usual in the cold damp months might enjoy a therapeutic Epsom salt hydrotherapy massage. This gentle soothing bath will warm their joints and massage aching muscles. This link will take you to more information on the benefits of Epsom salts:

Please call us today to schedule your pet's winter care.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

We are different!

You might be wondering what sets us apart from other grooming shops.  It's not only that we have Certified Master Groomers to create beautiful styles. Our styles start with the most thorough bathing and drying you will find. The products, techniques, and safety we offer your pet are also the best we can find.

We don't cut corners on products to save  money, instead, we use top of the line products that are designed specifically for dogs and cats.  The Les Poochs line of shampoos and conditioners are considered by groomers and top breeders to be the best in the world.  Not only are they safe, but they clean and condition the coat and skin better than any other shampoo we have found. They will keep your pet clean and smelling great far longer than any other product on the market.  We have different types of shampoo depending on your pet's coat and skin condition, including hypoallergenic and medicated, as well as tear-less shampoo to wash faces.

We use Hydrotherapy Power Bathers for all baths.  The bather produces a vigorous, penetrating spray of shampoo and warm water through a hand held sprayer that enhances the effectiveness of shampoos and conditioners while providing your pet with a luxurious massage. If your pet needs a special medicated shampoo prescribed by a veterinarian, the hydrotherapy bather will treat your pet effectively with less shampoo. Pets, especially our older kids, love the massage treatment the bather provides.

Every pet that comes in gets their ears cleaned. Our ear cleaning method is a two step process using Animal Dermatology Laboratories cleanser and drying agent. This product is the standard at over 14,000 Veterinary Hospitals in the USA. The first step loosens wax and debris, the second flushes out that debris and leaves the ear dry.  Many of our clients who have dogs with chronic ear infections find that monthly grooming with us greatly reduces the frequency of problems!

We offer an Oral Hygiene program to keep your pet's mouth healthier and breath fresher. We can help reduce the plaque and tartar build up which keeps your pet's overall health better.  We have a product called Plaqclenz that we put on the teeth which softens the tartar. With the use of a toothbrush and water pik we can brush the teeth and remove tartar.  

Each pet is hand-dried, no cage dryers here! Not only is this more comfortable for your pet, it also helps to remove dead hair and skin. By hand-drying, we go over every square inch of your pet, which allows us to find and brush out mats, evaluate overall skin condition, and bring any problems to your attention. Our drying techniques straighten the coat as much as possible so that the hair is all cut evenly, keeping your pet's groom looking good much longer.

While your pet is being dried, their ears are protected with the Happy Hoodie. The Hoodie was created to calm and protect pets from the loud noise and high-pressured air associated with force air drying. It is a soft, expandable fabric band with gentle compression that relieves anxiety and calms dogs.  We also fill the ear canal with cotton so that when we need to dry your pet's head and remove the Hoodie, their ears are still protected. 

Short toenails are important to us.  Your pet's nail will be trimmed with well-maintained, sharp nail clippers for the most comfortable trim.  Dull clippers pinch the nail before cutting, causing an uncomfortable pressure.  After trimming, the nails are buffed with an electric rotary tool. (Please note: the rotary tool is not used on cats.)  This gives a splinter-free, smooth finish.  You will be amazed at how short your pet's nails can be.

As you can see, a lot goes into each groom before we even start cutting hair!  But our process gives you a cleaner, healthier, and happier pet whose groom will look much better for a longer period of time.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Certified Master Groomers

Have you ever wondered what a  Certified Master Groomer actually is? What does it mean for you and your dog?

We should start by explaining that there are absolutely no rules, regulations, or governing body for pet groomers.  Quite literally, anyone can hang out a shingle and call themselves a pet groomer, even if they have no experience whatsoever.  Most groomers learn by apprenticing with an experienced groomer.  There are a few grooming schools around the country, but they are fairly few and far between.  It is interesting to note that just as there are no regulations on groomers, there are also none on grooming schools.

There are, however, several organizations that support dog grooming.  There is the National Dog Groomers Association of America (, International Professional Groomers, Inc (, and the International Society of Canine Cosmetologists (  All of these organizations offer voluntary certification programs for groomers.  All three programs involve both written and practical tests designed to test a groomer's knowledge and skills. The written tests cover things like behavior, proper handling, product use, breed identification, and more.  The practical tests involve grooming several different dogs of different types in front of certifiers who then critique and grade the groom.

Michell Evans, owner and head stylist of Canine Perfection is one of just a very few people in the world who is certified in all three organizations! She is currently working on becoming a Certifier for NDGAA. Once that goal is achieved, she will administer and judge the tests for aspiring groomers. All stylists hired by Canine Perfection will be required to be certified in at least one of the above organizations.

Why do we have these requirements? Quite simply, we want the very best for your pet. We want stylists who can give you the exact style you want for your pet.  From traditional breed grooms, to the new trends like Asian Fusion , to the individual style you devise, our stylists will be able to deliver exactly what you want.