Face First

face first pet grooming blog

Imagine you have just finished grooming a small, fluffy dog. You take it to greet its waiting owner, and they "ooh" and "ah" appreciatively to see their freshly trimmed pet. Do you know what they are looking at first when their dancing dog greets them? It's their precious little face.

There are ways to step up your game to make those canine faces exclaim worthy. Of course, it all starts in the tub. We all know that prep work is the basis of an excellent groom. However, perfecting prep work on faces can take some extra steps.

Dog's faces are exposed to… well, some things we don't even want to think about. For example, dogs like to sniff things that we humans wouldn't be caught intentionally inhaling. They get right into the scented area and can come away with questionable debris on their fur from the experience. They also eat things that can be sticky, smelly, and offensive, and the leftovers may remain. Their ears can be waxy, causing the coat around them to be limp or greasy. Perhaps they have had an ear infection; we all know that medication residue can be nearly impossible to wash out. Dogs also get petted by humans on those faces. Sometimes those human hands are not so clean, and it shows! It's not unheard of to remove lipstick from many kisses from those little heads, too. Then there is the matter of build-up and staining in the corners of their eyes, which is an area that often requires special care.

Here are some tips to make fuzzy faces look their best:

  • Try using specialty products designed to clean faces. For example, Tropiclean SPA Fresh Facial Scrub, Bio-Groom Facial Foam Cleaners, ikaria® Revive Facial Wash. Facial products are designed to be gentle around eyes, while still cleaning well. (Note: if any shampoo product accidentally gets in the pet's eyes, rinse well with cool, clear water following the manufacturer's instructions.)
  • Apply facial cleaner or shampoo to the head and face first, so it can be working to break down dirt and oils while you are washing the rest of the dog. Then, rinse the face lightly and repeat. To get those faces super clean, it may take multiple applications of product.
  • Use a soft brush to work the shampoo through the coat on the head and face. Pay special attention to the area around the mouth, the base of the ears, or anywhere you noticed soiled fur.
  • If the dog arrives with noticeable oily residue from ear medication, apply a degreasing product directly to that area before wetting the head. Then, follow up with a second treatment if necessary, or continue with your facial or regular shampoo.
  • If there is a build-up of matter in the corners of the eyes, allow the area to soak a bit, then try removing the residue with a fine-toothed comb (such as a flea comb.) Work gently because the skin under this area can be sore or sensitive.
  • Don't forget to use a light conditioner to replace the natural oils all that cleaning has removed.

Once that fuzzy face is super clean, conditioned, and gently dried, the magic of sculpting the fur to reveal its epic adorableness can begin in earnest. Let the "oohs" and "ahs" ring when the pet owner greets their fresh, clean, perfectly adorable pet.


By Daryl Conner, MPS, MCG 

Daryl Conner has been devoted to making dogs and cats more comfortable and beautiful for almost 40 years.  You can find her happily working at FairWinds Grooming Studio with her daughter and infant granddaughter, or typing away at her latest grooming-related article. Daryl was awarded both a Cardinal Crystal Award and Barkleigh Honors Award for journalism.  She shares her meadow-hugged antique Maine farmhouse with her practically perfect husband and too many animals.