december puppy

You may be wondering what your pet stylist has to do with keeping your pet healthy apart from keeping them well groomed and matt-free. But many times your pets stylist has the knowledge to inform the pet owner of changes in their pet or their pet’s body.

Being a pet stylist comes with lots of challenges. Teaching young dogs how to be groomed. Dealing with seniors when they have reached the point where grooming isn’t easy. Also dealing with the occasional stressed out pet parent. As a whole, being a pet stylist is an amazing career that lasts a lifetime, but there are occasions when the job demands we think of things we would rather not.

YorkieIt was 3 months ago when Bella, a small Yorkie-Maltese mix, came in for her regular six-week grooming. The first thing I noticed was that Bella seemed tired. This young 3-year-old was always doing Circus Dog paws on the table and standing on her hind legs in the tub. She was quiet, not painful just seemed tired.

She usually gets a shorter clip on the body, then her legs are scissored. Bella looks more like a Yorkie, so I had been putting a Yorkie Pet head trim on her with Yorkie tipped ears. Another small change was her already thin coat seemed to be thinner on her back and her back legs.

Then, I found it.

What seemed weird. As I lifted Bella’s chin I noticed large lumps where her glands are, under her lower mandible. They were so big in fact taking the blade over them was not an option. Had I seen those before? Definitely not…

So I kissed Bella on the nose and finished her groom. When Bella’s mom came to get her I put Bella on the reception table and showed her mom what I had “found.” She hadn’t noticed and said, “Do you think I should take her to the vet?” I told Bella’s mom about Bella’s hair changes and most importantly her behavior changes and told her I would rather her be safe than sorry. Bella and her mom left, and I finished my weekend of grooming.

That Tuesday I received a call from Bella’s mom.

Bella had been diagnosed with Lymphoma at the tender age of three. She was stunned and said that all she kept saying to the vet was, “the groomer noticed she was weird, the groomer noticed the lumps.” Bella’s mom then told me she was opting for Chemotherapy, as Lymphoma is the most common AND the most treatable cancer found in canines. Bella was also going to have electrochemotherapy to help aid in the progress of the cancer cells. This type of therapy, in which electronic pulses are placed on the tumors to make the cancer cells more accepting of the Chemo drugs, has been used in humans for quite some time. It has just recently been used in pets.

Bella has undergone two treatments. She missed her second to the last appointment as her hair was already falling out, but she has returned since then. The tumors are smaller and the sparkle in the little dog’s eyes has returned. She hasn’t done Circus Paws again for me, but we’re hoping for a Christmas miracle this month with her grooming!

The base of this story is that without the help of “another set of eyes” on your pets some things may go unnoticed. People get busy, holidays are coming, and your pet stylist’s one job is to take care of your pet with regular grooming. This makes us great resources. Ask your groomer, “Anything wrong today? Acting the same? Any lumps or bumps?” Not only does this make you a better pet parent, but it makes us better pet stylists!

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