One of the most misunderstood arts and sciences is pet grooming. The benefits are the improvements in your dog’s health, appearance and social acceptance. Often asked questions include the following: Why have my dog groomed? Many pet owners don’t understand “grooming” with a haircut which often is referred to as clipping. Clipping is what is commonly done to poodle, spaniel and terrier breeds, but is only one of the many procedures that are done in the grooming process. Combing, brushing, cutting nails, plucking ear hair and parasite control are all part of Grooming. Groomers can also brush your pet’s teeth which should not be confused with a veterinarian dental cleaning, which removes plaque and tartar at the sub gingival level, preventing dental disease. The obvious results from these procedures are the overall appearance, comfort and social acceptability of your pet, but also improved health benefits achieved by catching skin problems and reporting them to your veterinarian before they become a greater health problem.
Should all dogs be groomed? All dogs should be occasionally bathed, but combing and brushing is probably more important, especially with the long haired breeds. Matted coats can cause skin irritations and unnecessary discomfort that lead to health concerns. When neglected it will eventually require a lengthy grooming session, which is difficult on your pet and your wallet. Regular grooming improves skin tone and circulation making the coats healthier and more attractive. What is wrong when regular bathing doesn’t seem to help with my dog’s strong odor? There is a possibility that your dog’s teeth, their ears or anal sacs are actually causing these continuous odors. Seeing your groomer regularly can help you to determine the nature of these problems and they will refer you to your veterinarian.

You may wonder, what is an anal gland? They are small sacs that are located on the sides of the dog’s rectum. Sometimes they fill up with bile and fecal matter and need to be expressed or emptied. Most groomers provide this service as part of the grooming procedure. When these are the causes of the malodorous smells, then bathing alone will not resolve the problems that you are experiencing. Actually over bathing your pet is not beneficial and can leave your pet’s skin dry and flaky. Bathing once a month is usually sufficient unless they get extremely dirty. Long-haired dogs however can benefit greatly by regularly brushing their coat at least once a week, in lieu of regular bath. Human grooming tools are not always the best items to use on your pet and a groomer can guide you in purchasing the right equipment to benefit your pet. Frequent scratching isn’t necessarily fleas but can be the result of dry skin caused by excessive bathing, dry climates, nutritional deficiencies, allergies or even shampoos. Your groomer can help identify these issues and refer you to your veterinarian.

Why does my dog’s nails get long? Many pets don’t spend as much time outside as their ancestors may have, and therefore they don’t walk on as many hard surfaces enough to wear them down. When they spend time outside they are less likely to need regular trims. Groomers will also include this service in their pricing. Poorly trimmed nails and dew claws can cause feet problems and can become infected or even start growing back into the skin. You should check them at least once a month and request that your groomer or veterinarian trim them as close to the quick as possible.

How do I train my pet to behave for the groomer? Most groomers don’t encounter an unruly pet because they have years of experience and use a firm but gentle hand. If your pet is brought to the groomer at a young age it will learn to accept and appreciate the grooming process and become at ease with the groomer. Older animals without regular grooming may find it more difficult to sit for a grooming session. If this is the case a veterinarian can administer a mild sedative prior to the grooming, which helps the pet relax and refrain from injuring itself or the groomer. Most groomers that groom cats will require a sedative to provide the best results. A regular six to eight week appointment will keep your groomed pet looking its best, but regular attention and brushing between appointments will help as well. Regular grooming allows the groomer to devote a greater amount of time to beautifying the pet, rather than de-matting and trying to correct a neglected coat. If you bathe your pet at home make sure that you comb it out properly. Failure to do this will result in a heavily matted coat that is difficult to work with and will generally require a complete shaving.

How old should my pet be for their first grooming? While a 3 month old puppy may not need a grooming it will behoove you to take him/her to the groomer to get accustom to the process. By starting early your pet will learn to accept grooming and see it as a positive experience and learn to enjoy grooming. Long-haired cats can really benefit from getting started early in life and train them to be groomed without the need of a sedative.