Grooming | Mikki Pet Review

Brush time. Whether you find it therapeutic or not, it needs to be done; especially if you have double coated dogs. Now that Anuko is an adult and his coat is fully matured, I had to sit down and devise a routine that’ll keep me itch free when it comes to blowing season. There’s only so much hair in my coffee I can take.

A part of this plan included the obvious: brushes. Which style, which brand, which size: so many questions and a lot of conflicting opinions online. I wanted tools that were stylish yet didn’t compromise quality, that were lightweight for prolonged use and affordable. Quite a list, right? Thankfully Mikki Pet did much of my work for me and sent me 5 of their best selling brush tools to try out.

A little about Mikki

Whilst searching for grooming equipment, Mikki was a name that popped up repetitively. Mikki Pet is a company who are most reknown for their professional grooming products but have since gone on to develop other items necessary in the day to day life of pets. They’ve been making their award winning grooming tools since 1984 and are loved by groomers and pet owners alike.

The Mikki Pet grooming range alone is enormous, offering a tool for just about every coat type there is out there. The selection I was sent was created in mind for Anukos thick, plush double coat.

Before:

The 3 tools that immediately caught my eye were the Anti-tangle rake, the Undercoat take and the Moult master. In that order I tackled one half of Anukos body, giving each tool 5 minutes to get as much hair out of his coat as possible.

The results speaks for itself. The Moult Master, despite being the 3rd brush to try on the same side, destroyed the other 2 in terms of how much fur was taken out in the time period given. Given this circumstance you may be inclined to reach straight for the Moult Master and be done with it, however I found great benefit in the routine and order I went through when grooming Anuko.

The first brush to be used was the anti-tangle brush. This brush has long metal teeth which dig deep into thick fur, whilst dently tugging away any knots and tangles. Whilst it didn’t get a great deal of fur out, all of the fur that was excavated were knots that would’ve otherwise been painfully ripped out had I gone straight to either of the other two brushes. Plush and woolly coats especially would benefit greatly from this brush passing through the fur at the beginning of any grooming sessions.

The second brush, undercoat rake, is shorter in width with thicker teeth that have plastic coating at the bottom, giving a dagger-like effect. Double coated dog owners everywhere know that our dogs don’t tend to go poof evenly all over their bodies, and instead develop clumps that stick out from their fur. This brush is amazing at removing those clumps because of the shape of the teeth, especially on the hind legs where fur gets thick and unruly. Since these clumps are not tangles, the anti-tangle rake passes through them. The Moult Master worked a little at removing them, but clumps imbedded Into the undercoat could not be reached. For clumps that were especially deep I’d angle the brush and gently tug the clump out with the end teeth.

The Moult Master polished off the job by removing all of the fur the other two brushes did not get. The teeth are short and close together, and do not cut live hair, instead removing the dead hair beneath. Out of all of the brushes it was the most time effective one at hair removal, and left the beautiful wind strokes through Anukos fur that I love. In total it took me about 20 minutes on each side, and 5 minutes on all other areas of his body such as his tail and legs.

After:

Aside from the performance of the brushes themselves, they’re a pleasure to work with. Being lightweight means they’re not taxing on my arms when in use and I can perform a whole groom without needing a break. The handles have red rubber strips running down them alongside the plastic, which provide a comfortable grip. Another great feature is that some brushes provide a grey flexible area between the handle and brush which gives to some bending. On my right hand I currently have a cyst on my wrist which limits its movement and it was pain free the entire time, so I feel these brushes would be ideal for arthritis hands and wrists.

I was in love with the results. Other grooming sessions with other products did not result in the natural wind strokes in Anukos fur that I favour, and instead left his fur soft but fuzzy all over. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just isn’t my preference.

Did they all work?

The Massage Slicker brush admittedly didn’t do much for grooming Anukos fur. After a good few strokes it picked up perhaps a couple of strands. However I feel that isn’t the main purpose of the brush; it is instead to stimulate blood flow and improve the growth and condition of the fur in one loving massage brush. For this reason I feel it would be an epic brush for bath time and I will try that out when Anuko is next smelling a little stinky. I will keep you updated on how that goes.

The last brush technically isn’t a grooming brush but is still one of the best tools in grooming I’ve used, and that’s the Pet Magnet Tool. Fur clings onto my carpeted house, so when I groom Anuko my floors look like there’s been a snow storm in my living room! I’ve been using the Dyson pet Vacuum cleaner for a while now however with how much hair Anuko produces, I usually need to empty it in the middle of cleaning up after a grooming session. No more!

With one effortless sweep all of the hair is picked up and bundled. It takes me perhaps a few seconds to scrape up all of the fur clinging to my carpet, bin the bundle and vacuum the remaining few hairs left behind. It can also be used on clothes which saves a fortune in sticky rollers.

Final opinions…

As I go on my journey to creating Anukos personal bullet-proof grooming session, Mikki Pets will be a name I know will end up in my final routine. At such an affordable price whilst delivering a professional performance, I can see why they have won so many awards. And what do I do with all of the hair I end up with, you ask…

Faith In Nature | SFV + CF dog shampoo 

Finding products that cater to our dogs skin is very important to maintaining their overall health (find out why here). Let’s face it: from paddling in mud and dirty ponds, to encountering skunks and peeing on themselves, dogs can get pretty stinky. Whilst healthy dogs will always have some odour to them, excessive smelliness can get pretty rancid and that’s when dog hygiene products become useful. Here is the start of my series exploring various brands and products available across all budget spectrums, discovering their effectiveness and value for money.

I actually stumbled across Faith In Natures pet care range whilst restocking my own hair care products from them. If I had a tail it would’ve surely started wagging then! Faith In Nature is a favourite brand in my own skin care routine. They are a cruelty free and vegan company who use natural ingredients, and I knew I wouldn’t use a brand on my dogs skin if I wouldn’t use on my own so reached out to them and was fortunate to receive all of their dog shampoos to try! 🐶

Who are Faith In Nature and what does their company stand for?

Faith In Nature (FIN) are a multi-award winning British company who have been making and selling nature-based hygiene and cleaning products since the 1970s. They source their ingredients locally and ethically whenever possible, and take pride in being a “green” company, having ingredients that are well-researched and safe for use. Their packaging is gorgeous, brandishing plants and flowers on every bottle, not to mention that the bottles themselves are made from Bioplastic and recycled plastic. A quote from their website:

In business, we believe in making decisions that put our people and our environment first. That means manufacturing locally, treating people as we’d want to be treated, and being as green as we can in everything we do.

Faith In Nature Pet Care Range

Faith In Nature “Faithful Friend” pet shampoos are catered specifically to dogs skin and all have natural ingredients with a built-in conditioner effect for a shiny coat. Their range has 4 different shampoos designed for specific needs. They are…

Faithful Friend – “Happy Dog” Chamomile. A very pleasant and gentle smell, this shampoo is good for dogs who need a little wake up in regards to their odour and their fur shininess.

Faithful Friend –  “Calm Dog” Lavender. This shampoo offers a slightly stronger smell of lavender, which is a natural fragrance that helps to not only calm nervous dogs who hate baths but also to combat the majority of unpleasant odours.

Faithful Friend – “Dirty Dog” Teatree. This shampoo is most likely my favourite and absolutely ideal for Anuko when he needs an emergency odour extinguisher bath! I’ve yet to find an odour this shampoo does not defeat. We do not come into contact with skunks in the UK, but this shampoo worked well to rid the scent of fox faeces from Anukos coat. I’d be interested to hear how this shampoo works on skunk spray.

Faithful Friend – “Fresh Dog” Coconut. A close second favourite and one I’ll routinely use on Anuko every few months to keep his odour neutral rather than as a one off emergency necessity, which I’ll then use Dirty Dog. This shampoo spruces up his fur, leaving it shiny with a pleasant but not overpowering fragrance. The scent for me definitely trumps all of the others as I love the smell of coconuts.

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How do they perform?

Now I don’t know about you guys, but Anuko loves water and is an absolute water baby. If he sees a puddle he will go and lay in it so usually after walks he has particularly muddy legs and paws whilst his body remains relatively dirt-free. Often high speed water just doesn’t cut through the mud and dirt which means a teeny bit of shampoo is required. I was wary about what the impact of regular usage on Anukos leg skin and fur would be, so I have been using the Happy Dog shampoo for these specific incidents. I’m happy with how it’s been performing as it’s a gentle enough formula and fragrance to cut through the grime regularly without drying out his fur or skin.

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All of the Faith In Nature shampoos lather rather well. About 2 x 50 pence sized dollops cover Anukos entire body, and he has very thick plush fur. If when using these shampoos you find that they do not lather quickly, don’t panic – they’re meant to be that way! Brands that use ALS as apposed to SLS products won’t lather like other, cheaper shampoos. You will still get a very clean body with a little massaging, just whilst using harsher chemicals. You can massage with your fingers or you can use an Oster bathing brush or a Zoom Groom, which is a little more ideal for Anuko to get underneath his long top coat. I’ve yet to do a review of the Oster brush, so if you want to hear about it let me know in the comments below! To find out more about SLS and ALS, read my article here.

Overall Results

Once Anuko had fully dried, the fragrances were subtle enough to smell good but where not unnaturally overpowering. I had noticed whilst he was playing in the garden in the sun that his fur was unusually shinier than normal, which looks so healthy on black fur. This summer called for Anukos routine blowing-out his fur season, and this year he’s been spitting out more fluff than ever so his skin is doing great too. I really am very happy with these shampoos, so much so that I have given a spare one to a good friend for his huskies to try. Faith In Nature does wonders for my own hair and now they do wonders for my dogs!

One important thing to remember is that dogs are not odourless beings just like we aren’t. Many people go above and beyond trying to diminish every trace of odour from their dogs when the actual fact is that ALL dogs will have some smell to them, and the only way to rid of it entirely would be to cause damage to your dogs skin in the process. Love your dog for who he is – Dorito feet and all. Who knows, maybe we smell bad to our dogs too but they put up with it anyway as they love us so dearly? 😘

Woofs & licks!

Dog skin care | doggy dog odour

Many of us canine companion owners know of that “doggy smell”, and sometimes do our best to diminish it. It may not be an issue for us, but for people who are not used to being around dogs it can become pretty powerful.

The facts

What is that doggy dog smell, anyway? Dogs being mammals do have sweat glands in their skin but most of any perspiring, if it occurs, will come from their paws. This is why in the summer dogs can leave sweaty paw prints on wooden floors! Mostly, though, the process of heat exchange in canines occurs by panting or vasodilation of their blood vessels. The sweat glands in their skin on the hair follicles do produce a tiny amount of liquid that smells differently to each individual dog (but the same to all of us) along with sebum from the sebaceous glands which coats the dogs skin to help protect it. Built up amounts of this oil can also leave a musky doggy odour. Be noted that If your dog has symptoms of overproduction of this oil named oily seborrhea, it is best to speak to your veterinarian before trying to handle it yourself. 

It’s important to consider our dogs skin pH level when looking for products to help reduce these odours. Like our canine friends, we have an acid mantle which is a fine film on top of our skin which helps to protect it, and the acidity or pH is dependant on each individual species. Canines acid mantle pH is roughly 7.5 on the pH scale, compared to humans who are roughly 5.5, which makes dogs skin more neutral/slightly alkaline and more prone to bacteria growth should the protective barrier film become disturbed. This makes even gentle human baby shampoo, with a pH of 5.5, much too acidic for dogs skin. Using a product designed for acidic skin will strip your dogs acid mantle, to which his skin will try to over compensate and can eventually lead to excess oiliness and odour.

Sulfates, parabens and phthalates

So by now you’re aware of the number one rule when it comes to caring for your dogs skin: that being no products intended for humans! It doesn’t quite stop there, though. Just like our own hygienic merchandise, harsh chemicals such as sulfates, pthalates and parabens creep into dog products that can actually have detrimental effects which often lead to worsening that dreaded dog odour. Remember: our furry friends pH being more alkaline makes it much more susceptible to having its acid mantle destroyed.

Sulfates are probably the most discussed chemical when it comes to worsening skin conditions across all mammalian species. There’s 2 main types of well known sulfates, Ammonium lauryl sulphate (ALS) and sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS). Although they sound similar their structure is very different; SLS molecular structure is small, which means the molecules penetrate deeper layers of the dermis of the skin which disrupts the formation of new cells. ALS in contrast has much larger molecules unable to penetrate these layers of skin, and thus causes less irritation compared to SLS. Another major difference is the solubility in water between the two with SLS being much less soluble, and that SLS foams rather a lot whilst ALS much less. This doesn’t mean much else other than shampoos which are intended to be clear cannot use SLS as it would present itself a milky colour, and that products with ALS will produce less soap-suds. There are some rumours that SLS has links to causing cancer (in humans), although the credibility of this has yet to be proven. Whilst it is possible to find completely sulfate-free dog shampoos, if push comes to shove, ALS is much preferred whilst SLS should be avoided completely.

Parabens are another largely discussed chemical and are used in products primarily to prolong the shelf life. Parabens have been linked to interfering with hormones especially estrogen, which can cause some problems in regards to mating seasons and females attracting male dogs. But for this article, parabens have been linked to causing irritability or allergic reactions on the skin and thus should be avoided if possible. The main types of parabens in products to look out for are methyl, ethyl, propyl and butyl parabens.

Lastly we have phthalates, which are used as gelling agents in products to make them appear a thicker consistency. Whilst there aren’t many direct negative impacts on the actual dermis of canines, I thought I’d just mention them as there are veterinary studies to show that phthalates can damage vital organs, the endocrine system and the reproductive system – particularly developing testes – within animals. Phthalates have been banned in cosmetic products within the EU, but for my American readers, it may be something to note whilst searching for products for your pooches.

However, regardless of the ingredients I would advise to shampoo and clean your dogs skin sparingly for when he actually needs it. Whilst safer ingredients will not destroy your dogs acid mantle, they will still cause some alteration: whilst one wash of a harsh shampoo may completely break down the acid mantle, over washing of gentler products may also negatively affect the skin. For Anuko he usually needs just his legs hosing down with a tiny amount of shampoo post dirty walks, and then a full body shampoo every few months.

So what can I use?

There are actually many brands that take pride in taking a more natural and safer approach to canine hygiene. For my own personal ethics I also always opt for the cruelty free brands, and even then the market for products across all budgets are impressive. Here are some brands which you may love:

  • Wild wash
  • Faith In Nature
  • Pure Light Botanics
  • Serenity Pet
  • Natures Groom

And that small list only scratches the surface so fear not, there will be a product that suits both your dog and your budget and I will do my best to find them all for you. I will be starting a series trying out various skin-related products from different brands and presenting them to you in an honest review blog starting with Faith In Nature so ensure you keep an eye out for that! If there are any brands you think I should include in my series, do let me know in the comments section below.

Woof & licks!

Battle of the Boxes

On our Snowdog Guru group on Facebook, there was a big concern about BarkBox not being a UK based company. I did some research and found that actually we have an impressive amount of Treat Box Companies just like BarkBox right here in the U.K.

I got in contact with some to arrange a review of their boxes and they readily agreed!

I would just like to take this time to thank each company who sent Anuko a box. You wasn’t obliged to and we’re both very grateful for the luxuries your boxes have provided us. I feel he felt like it was Christmas each time we received a new parcel which put a huge smile on my face. Without any further ado…

BarkBeats Box
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BarkBeats is a UK based treat box for dogs. Their boxes can include toys, treats, health care and grooming products. They donate a fantastic 10% of their products to a range of charities found on their website, which receives a huge thumbs up from the Snowdog Guru team. They offer box sizes of Small (10kg), Medium (10-20kg) and Large (20kg+), each box contains 5-6 items and they have three plans. We chose the Large plan appropriate for Anuko (and most of our readers). This plan includes:

  • (Large) £19 Per Month Box.
  • (Large) £14 Per Month Box on a 6 Month plan. This is their most popular plan.
  • (Large) £13 Per Month Box on a 12 Month plan. This is their best value plan.

The plans which are spread over months are paid in one go when buying your first box, which gives you a considerable discount. The monthly plan is not contracted and you can cancel your boxes anytime hassle free.

The box Anuko received contained the following…

  • Woolf Chicken & Blueberry Bites. Price N/A. Anuko rates 1/10
  • Gesunde Hundekekse (gluten free) Cheese Bites. Price N/A. Anuko rates 9/10.
  • RAC Dog Travel Bottle. Price £3.99. Anuko rates 10/10.
  • Barks & Sparks Smoothie. Price N/A. Anuko rates 10/10.
  • Plush Octupus Toy. Price N/A. Anuko rates 8/10.

Our BarkBeats box arrived promptly via Royal Mail. Packaging included a cardboard box with BarkBeats written across it and the goodies were neatly wrapped in paper which had the companies name printed on it, fastened with a BarkBeats sticker.

Packaging: With their packaging being 100% recyclable, personalised and easy to open we give a satisfied 4/5.

Experience: BarkBeats did all the work for us, all we had to give was an address and name. They had fast, polite responses. 5/5

Box Contents: Anuko did not take to the Woolf treats at all, and he enjoyed the plush toy however it was destroyed within a few minutes. He loved the cheese crunchies, smoothie and we’ve used the RAC bottle on every hike we’ve been on since and it’s become very handy! 4/5

Any suggestions for the company? I could fill out boxes stating my pets name and breed, however I did not see on the website an option to put any allergies my dog may have.

Would I buy again? I love the fact BarkBeats supports a lot of companies that are not very well known as well as a few of the more well-known companies. As well as the 10% donation per box to charity and the great products, presentation and experience it’s a definite YES.

PROMO CODE: SDG5 for £5 off your first box.

Animal Box (Pawsome)
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AnimalBox is a European based company that provides monthly treat boxes in the UK not only to dogs (PawsomeBox) but to cats too (PurrfectBox)! Upon exploring their website, we found it extremely diverse and has the most options of any box we’ve been asked to review so far. Their boxes offer a selection of products including treats, toys, accessories, hygiene and pet care products. Not only do they offer boxes to both cats and dogs, they have four size options and four plan options. Size options include Mini (5kg), Small (5-10kg, Medium (10-25kg) and Large (25kg+). We chose the Medium plan appropriate for Anuko and this is what we found…

  • (Medium) £19.90 Per Month plan.
  • (Medium) £18.90 Per Month on a 3 Month plan.
  • (Medium) £17.60 Per Month on a 6 Month plan.
  • (Medium) £16.90 Per Month on a 12 Month plan.

Much like the vast majority of Treat Box companies, their monthly plans are paid during payment of the first box and give a nice discount. Their monthly boxes are renewed monthly but can be cancelled anytime hassle free.

In the box they sent us, we received…

  • Mutt & Jeff Cured Sausage. Price £5.90. Anuko rates 10/10
  • Trixie Multi-Vitamin Paste. Price £4.49. Anuko rates 7/10
  • Georplast Collapsible bowl. Price N/A. Anuko rates 10/10
  • Georplast Frisbee. Price N/A. Anuko rates 1/10.
  • Armitage Latex Squeaky Toy. Price N/A. Anuko rates 8/10.
  • Good Boy Crunchy Chicken Treats. Price £3.99. Anuko rates 10/10.

Our Pawsome Box arrived on time via a private delivery company. The box is bright blue with paw prints and the companies name sprawled across it, and inside was decorated with animated dog print patterns.

Packaging: We give 5/5 due to the packaging being 100% recyclable and because of the colourful and patterned packaging, their box can easily be spotted amongst other Treat Box Companies.

Experience: We spoke to Red via E-mail and our experience was very warm, quick and pleasant. When Pawsomebox found out we were featuring them in this review, they edited a very hilarious picture of Anuko. We give them extra points for this! 5/5
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Box Contents: Anuko is not a big fan of fetch and the material of his frisbee didn’t prove to be a pleasant chew either. I use his Trixie paste whenever he’s feeling under the weather in his Kong which he seems to enjoy. He absolutely loved the chicken treats, and we regularly use our collapsible bowl on our days out. Our squeaky toy was thoroughly enjoyed but lasted only a day. 4/5

Any suggestions for the company? We could fill out our pets age, breed, name, hair type and size but like BarkBeats, didn’t find an option to fill if our pets have any allergies which I feel is important.

Would I buy again? With a very sassy looking box, an awesome army of humans to speak to and great products, it’s a very easy YES.

Pawpost Box
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Pawpost is a UK based company that delivers world wide, to both cats and dogs. They donate an impressive £1 to All Dogs Matter for every box that is purchased on their website, big thumbs up from Snowdog Guru for this! Pawpost boxes contain 5-7 products including toys, treats, health and hygiene products and even something for us humans too! Like Pawsome, they are very diverse and offer a big range of sizes and plans. Sizes include “Dog Treat Box” (prices £8.97+) “Dog Box” (prices 17.95+)  and “Cat Box” (prices 17.95+). We chose the “Dog Box” to get an example of the prices of the plans. Here is what we found…

  • £27.95 Per Month Box.
  • £20.95 Per Month on a 3 Month plan.
  • £18.95 Per Month on a 6 Month plan. This box is their most popular Dog Box.
  • £17.95 Per Month on a 12 Month plan. This box is their best value Dog Box.

Again, the monthly plan box is renewed monthly and you can back out hassle free any time. The rest of the plans are paid in full on the first payment, which gives you a very nice discount.

In our box, we received…

  • Beautiful Joe’s Treat Tin. Price £2.50. Anuko rates 9/10.
  • The Dog Treat Company Calm Treats. Price £2.50. Anuko rates 1/10.
  • The Dog Treat Company “Take My Breath Away” Treats. Price £2.50. Anuko rates 1/10.
  • Rosewood Cyber Rubber Tyre Toy. Price £5.29. Anuko rates 9/10.
  • Beco Plush Aligator Toy. Price £6.80. Anuko rates 10/10.
  • Honeys Natural Feeding Handbook. Price £7.50. Anukos Human rates 10/10.

Our Pawpost Box arrived on time via a private delivery company. The box is a solid cardboard box, with Pawpost in black across the top. The contents are neatly wrapped in animated patterned paper and was pleasant to get into.

Packaging: I feel the packaging is a statement look, and although not many colours are used the logo and brand are easy to spot. These boxes are also 100% recycle. 4/5

Experience: Talking to the humans behind Pawpost was a pleasant experience and I received e-mails back quickly and professionally. We still receive monthly boxes of Pawpost to enjoy. 5/5

Box Contents: Anuko wasn’t too fond of his treats from The Dog Treat Company, but went nuts for his Beautiful Joe treat tin. He loves chewing and playing tug of war with his tyre, and I feel Anuko fell in love with his Aligator plush toy. Usually they last only hours but we still have the toy to this day, I think it’s his “baby”. I thoroughly enjoyed the feeding guide book, and was quite excited at the fact that I get something as well! I feel the quality of the products are exceptional. 5/5

Any suggestions for the company? As well as giving my pets name, age and size there’s a “comment box” which I assume I can use if my dog has any allergies. If that’s not the case, to make it a box about additional information such as allergies would be great.

Would I buy again? Each box I’ve received since the first one has been truly exceptional in the quality of the products. Each box most of the products I find myself thinking “wow, how did I live without this before?” I feel you truly receive more than what your money pays for with Pawpost. YES

Even though the products sent to us were for free, all opinions are our own. If you are a company that offers a similar box and would like to be involved in our next Battle of the Boxes, please contact Jasmine through jasmineglanville@hotmail.com