About Me:

I am a professional Pet Groomer. I have been grooming for 28 years. This Blog is a kind of diary of my work. I wish I had started years ago, writing some of the experiences I have had while grooming. Most days are fun, some can be sad, some can be just down right crazy. If you are a pet owner and come across this blog, I hope it helps you understand how your pet is groomed. If you are a Pet Groomer, I hope you can relate to some of the stories. Maybe even learn a grooming tip or can leave a friendly grooming tip for me. There is always something to learn, no matter how long you have been grooming.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Let's Try Again

Okay, I am done ranting.

I don't like ranting.

I feel like I have been a whinny groomer for the past few days.

So I am going to tell this story without ranting.

Well, at least I am going to try.

Plucking Ears and expressing Anal Glands.

I have been doing this service for customers since my first of day of grooming school.
The very first time I ever emptied anal glands, I emptied them out of the dog right into my hair and face.
You better believe that I learned really quickly how to cup my hand and keep from shooting those things across the tub and onto me.

I understand from reading groomer forums that a lot of groomers no longer provide this service.
I don't have any problem with providing this service, but lately I have been thinking of only offering this service as a 'by request service'.

Veterinarians can not seem to make up their minds whether they want groomers providing this service or not.

My personal Vet does not think that I should be emptying anal glands, yet I have customers coming in all of the time telling me that their Vet told them to 'make sure your groomer empties the anal glands'.

Of course, I also have customers coming in telling me that their Vet told them to tell me not to empty the anal glands. 

Then there are the phone calls from customers telling me that they had to take their dog to the Vet because their dog was scooting and the Vet told them that I (the groomer) must not be emptying the anal glands.

Earlier this week I had a regular customer come in and tell me that one day they found their dog straining to go to the bathroom.
They took her to the Vet.
Their Vet told them that the anal glands were blocked, and the reason was because I (the groomer) was not emptying the anal glands.

Excuse me?!

Why am I the scapegoat when a dog goes to the Vet for impacted or blocked anal glands.
This is not the first, second, or even third time that I have heard this over the years.

Last year my husband spent half an hour on the phone with an irate, long time, regular customer that had to take his dog to the Vet because the dogs anal glands had gotten impacted.
Again, the Vet had told the owner that the cause was because 'the groomer' had not been expressing them.
This particular customer had to be reminded that they had been told by us, awhile back, that we could not do their dogs anal glands, because the dog was too obese to find them.
He of course did not remember this and was very upset that he had a Vet bill.

We only express anal glands from the outside, with light pressure.
If I can not empty the glands using light pressure, but I can feel that the glands are full, I send the dog to the Vet.

My question is...even as a groomer, and not having spent years becoming a Vet, I know that every dogs anal glands are different.
Some dogs glands are always empty, because the dog is able to empty them themselves.
Others fill slowly.
Still others fill very fast.

I once groomed a little Maltese whose glands had to be emptied everyday, and eventually had to have the glands removed.

So how is it that a groomer can be blamed for a dog having problems with their anal glands?
I don't charge extra for this service, it is added to the grooming as a  courtesy service.
I am tired of being blamed for anal gland problems.

Now, on to ears.


I have also been plucking and cleaning out ears since I started grooming.

 I have always been very particular about getting all of the hair out and getting the ears whistle clean.

 A couple of years ago I had a booth at the Pet Expo in town.

One day a Holistic Vet from another booth stopped by to talk to me.
While talking to me, she was petting my Standard.
She was also openly examining her.
She lifted her ears and immediately started giving me a hard time bout the fact that I plucked my Standards ears.
She told me that I was causing infections in my dogs ears by plucking them.


I have three Standard Poodles.
Two of them get their ears plucked, maybe every couple of months.
Their ears are fine.
My white Standard must have her ears plucked regularly or she starts having trouble with them.
As long as I keep them plucked and clean she has no problems with them.

I do not believe that plucking ears causes infections.

The same dog, whose owners told me about the anal glands this week, also told me that their Vet said, that because I plucked the dogs ears, she got an ear infection.


I am the one that found the infection when I plucked the ears the last time the dog was in.
I am the one that told them to take the dog to the Vet for her ear.
But yet, I am the one to get blamed for the ear infection because I plucked the ears.
I had to remind the owners that I was the one who found the ear infection, and that the infection was there before I plucked the ears.

This is another thing that Vets don't seem to be able to agree on lately.

Over the last year or two I have been having more and more customers come in telling me that their Vet said not to pluck the ears.

I also have many more customers coming in telling me that their Vet said to make sure that I pluck the ears well.
And, I can't tell you how many times Vets have sent dogs to me to pluck and clean out infected ears so that the customer can put medicine in the ears.

Needless to say, when this customer came in earlier this week and told me that their Vet had blamed me for both the anal gland problem and the ear infection, I was not a happy camper.

I NEVER put down a Vet to a customer.
Even Vets that I know are not the greatest.I will tell a customer to get a second opinion, but I will not blame a Vet for anything.
Why can't they give groomers the same courtesy?

It happens too often.

I once had a customer take their dog into the Vet for a Hot Spot.
You guessed it.
The Vet saw that the dog had just been groomed and blamed it on me.
Not only that, but the Vet had also told my customer that I must have used dirty, hot blades.
What the Vet didn't know was, that I found the Hot Spot on the dog in my lobby before I took him back for grooming.
Oh, and the dog also got a clip comb and scissor cut.
No blade.

Thankfully, that customer took up for me.

If you asked me a couple of days ago, I would have told you that I was no longer going to offer ear plucking and anal glands as a regular service, but I have calmed down.

I really think that plucking ears is important.
So many of my customers don't take their dogs to the Vet for ears like I tell them to, and the only time the dogs ears get taken care of is by me.
So, I will keep cleaning ears, and I will keep telling customers when they need to take their dog to the Vet for bad ears.

As for the anal glands....
I am still playing around with the idea of making that a 'by request service'.

Don't get me wrong.
There are a lot of good Vets around me.
I know of at least three that recommend me, and I have a few Vets that I recommend.
I want to work together with the Veterinarians, because as far as I am concerned, they don't no a thing about grooming, and I am not a Veterinarian, but we need each other to help keep the dogs healthy out there.

Grooming a dog is just as important to a dogs health as Veterinarian medicine is.
There are bad Vets out there and there are bad groomers out there, but if you get a good Vet and a good groomer working together it would be great.

Okay, I am done.

That wasn't a rant, was it?  :)

Happy Grooming, MFF


  1. Good post. I am the daughter, sister, and aunt to family groomers. Since the 70's. I think you groomers are so under appreciated. I love to have a groomer provide these services. I just want to know if they don't provide them, because I was used to my parents grooming parlor, they always provided this. Now after they retired the store, and I am not living near other family member groomers. I have been trying to find good groomers. I have been surprised that the new school of thought is so much less than what the standards were in my moms shop? So I keep finding myself dissapointed with the new groomers.
    It sounds like you are rewarded by your job and taking actions to provide a good service for your customers. I can't say what to do, but the vets shouldn't use you as an excuse for what is probably the owner's lack of care for their dogs.

  2. It was not a rant! :)

    It's great that you offer that to your clients. I'm just an owner, and I do my bulldog's "grooming" myself (even though his upkeep is complex, since he doesn't have looong hair to brush, I don't feel like it counts), but I feel like your clients are lucky to have you!
    Wouldn't it be great if everyone worked in a service industry and could word a question kindly? I.E. "My vet thinks that plucking ears might be a problem for my dog. Can we forego that from here on out?" And you would. Seems simple. Too simple...
    Thanks for blogging! and grooming!

  3. Hot spots, love them. What i also love is that they are caused by the allergic reaction of the crappy food that the vet recomends.

    Anal glands, had a customer bring in a dog that was a "show up dog" as my dad calls them and we bathed the dog, lightly expressed the anal glands. The dog was then unable to have a bowel movement and of course the vet blamed it on us. To make things even better said that we were very mean to our dogs.

    I am with you, i dont think that you get anywhere in life bad mouthing other people because i sure as heck dont want anyone badmouthing me, but it sure does get hard to turn the other cheek.

    Keep your head up!!!!

  4. Hi Susie,
    I am sorry that you are having problems finding a good groomer. I was having the same problem as an employer. :/
    I think that the problem now a days is that people are not taught to take pride in the work that they do anymore. Not just the grooming industry, but most other businesses too. Unfortunately, the bottom line is the all mighty dollar. I feel that being paid by commission is really hurting the grooming industry. Some groomers forget about the fact that they are working on a living, feeling animal, and are only worried about how many they can do in a day. Not all groomers feel this way, some want to take their time and do a good job only to have a boss breathing down their neck wanting to know why they are not grooming more dogs.
    As for the ears and anal glands, I think that some groomers are backing off on these services because of Veterinarians. Unfortunately, there ARE some Vets out there that feel groomers are taking business away from them. They want the money for providing these services.
    Of course, there are the groomers out there that know longer want to provide these services because of the 'icky' factor. I have actually read on grooming boards about groomers talking of this. (shaking head)
    I guess I am showing my age or it is because my Grandmother brought me up. She was a woman of very high work ethics. She was working up till a month before she passed at the age of 83, and I don't ever remember her complaining. She took pride in what she did.
    I try to teach that to my kids. If you are going to do something, do it right and the best that you can!
    My job is very rewarding to me. I make dogs feel good and happy everyday. I take pride in my work and do the best that I can on every dog, even if I can't stand their owner. :)
    I will most likely continue to provide all of the services that I can for my customers. I have already been doing it for 28 years. Why change now?

    Hi Jackie,
    Thank you. If only everyone could take a lesson from your book and learn how to talk that way. :) I think it is going to get to a point where everyone talks the same way they text, with no care for how something is said or comes across, especially our kids. :(
    Your right, it is too simple.

    Hi Paisely,
    I don't know. I can't understand why Vets are so easily able to bad mouth us, when we can get in so much trouble if we even dare disagree with them. It can be very frustrating.
    The thing is, I don't want to bad mouth Vets, but I do want them to respect what I do and work with me. We are ALL working for the welfare of the pet, right?

    Thanks everybody for reading!!
    Lisa, MFF

    1. Thanks for your story. LOL I groom my two bichon fries myself. Our first vet said be sure to do anal glands. She quit and the new vet said not to. He said the more you disturb them the more they will produce. My dogs are brother and sister. Hers are always bothering her, his never. I am leaving hers alone now but keeping an eye on them. I only did his once when he was acting very weird and one was extremely swollen. I am now petty sure that her problem is atopic dermatitis and the more she scoots to scratch her itch the more she activates the glands.
      Then the ears. Hers have very little hair and his are full of it. She has the most problem with itchy ears him about half as much. I have tried keeping their ears squeaky clean and letting them go. Nothing changes, and they hate the procedure so I am now only keeping the hairs that tickle trimmed which they seem to like. I think there is still a lot to learn about dog maladies. Thank you for caring about our pets.