Summer Skin Issues - Groomer to Groomer

A Simple Guide

Summer Skin Issues

By Michelle Knowles

Here we are in the dog days of summer. Many of us have clients that are dealing with skin issues that are common when the sun and humidity are high. Here are some common issues and how to handle them in the salon environment.

Shaving should not be an option. Contact dermatitis is an allergic condition when an offending substance touches the outside of the pet and causes a reaction. The hair does not cause the issues with scratching and discomfort. Regular and thorough bathing and conditioning are the only things that can remove these offending proteins while keeping the coat intact.

UV Protection

Dogs that spend a lot of time outdoors need the protection of their coat to defend against UV rays. Humans have pigment in their skin that darkens due to exposure from the sun, dogs and cats only have this protective pigment in their primary hairs. When dogs are given a “summer shave down” they have no hair to protect them from the sun and lose an important part of their Cutaneous Immune System (Skin and Hair) that helps to regulate their temperature. Shaping is an important service to offer so that the primary hair to secondary hair ratio is preserved.


De-Shedding is an important step we can take to ensure that our pet friends’ hair is protecting their skin in a healthy way. A coat that is full of undercoat or mats can trap moisture, bacteria, and fungus which can cause fungal infections and hot spots. Keeping our clients on a weekly or bi-weekly schedule will ensure a clean, well brushed coat that will be able to keep the pet protected during playtime in the sun and the pool.

Hot Spots

Hot spots are bacterial in nature. These bacteria occur normally on the skin but get out of balance when lake water, chlorine, and other environmental toxins overwhelm the natural oil barrier on the skin. Fungal infections can occur when the pet is exposed to lake water and/or the undercoat is so thick that it traps moisture against the skin.Therapeutic baths can be offered as
a summer service that can really make a difference in the comfort of your pet clients. There is a simple formula that follows the scientific principles of the needs of the pet skin that is compromised.

DetoxifY–Cleanse – Hydrate

Step 1: A clay mask will help pull the toxins and offending proteins off of the coat.

Step 2: Cleanse with the shampoo that addresses the issue — bacterial issues need an antibacterial shampoo; fungal infections need an antifungal shampoo. When both of these conditions are present, mix these cleansers together to “level the playing field” and bring balance to the skin. Allergies, hair loss, shedding, dry skin and coat can all benefit from a quality protein shampoo.

Step 3: Hydrate. All land mammals that do not require dust to control parasites (such as chinchillas) benefit from some type of conditioner to replace the oils that were washed away by bathing. This restores the sebum layer and keeps the skin barrier healthy and supple.

Cleaning folds and wrinkles with a natural type of oil, such as Emu oil and Argan oil will also keep these delicate areas protected. Oiling the foot pads of your clients’ pets after the groom is finished is an excellent way to keep them from cracking and dryness. Summer is the perfect time to create some new spa services that benefit the health and wellbeing of the dogs in your care whether they hike on trails, swim in the lake or a chlorine pool, camp with their owners, or simply accompany them to the local coffee shop to be admired. Be creative with the names of your services, make a little extra cash, offer healthy and beneficial treatments and above all, have fun doing it! ✂

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