By Ann Hohenhaus, DVM
As a veterinarian, I know that keeping your pet well groomed helps to keep them healthy.
In between visits to the groomer, pet owners should brush their long-haired cat or dog; otherwise mats appear. Ignore the mats and they start to hold moisture and grime against your pet’s delicate skin which can result in a skin infection under the mat. Pets’ nails must be trimmed on a regular basis, otherwise an overgrown nail can tear into the paw pad, causing pain and infection.
Recently, several of my clients have expressed concern over several tragic stories in the news about dogs being injured while at the groomer. While I have no personal knowledge of these particular cases, I do have some suggestions for pet owners to help ensure a safe and beautifully groomed pet:
1. Do your homework
Ask friends and colleagues who grooms their pets. Visit the grooming salon. Is it clean or does it have a bad odor? Do the dogs look beautiful and their owners look happy as they are leaving? One person I talked to choose a salon with a glass viewing panel which allows owners to unobtrusively watch grooming as it happens. Not all groomers are willing to have you watch. Not because they are hiding something, but because your little darling behaves better on the grooming table when you are not there to distract him.
2. Talk to your groomer
Has it been a long time since the last pedicure or doggy up-do? Warn the groomer your dog may be out of practice on the grooming table or her nails maybe need limited trimming since the nail quick lengthens when the nails are untrimmed and a full trimming may cause bleeding. Does your dog have warts or little skin tags? Point them out to your groomer in advance to prevent them from being nicked by the clippers. Maybe your dog is anxious at the groomer. If so, be prepared to cut the session short. In some cases, your veterinarian can prescribe medication to help your pet cope better.
3. Listen to your veterinarian
Is your dog a “fraidy cat?” Some veterinarians offer grooming as a service to their clients. For the frightened dog, this facilitates sedation and a quick comb-out. Sedation is safest in the veterinarian’s office, where the medical staff can monitor the pet while it is being groomed.
Some medical conditions impact grooming. Does your pet have diabetes? If so ask your veterinarian how to advise the groomer to be prepared in case a hypoglycemic attack occurs during the salon session. Hairy small breed dogs are those commonly in need of professional grooming and are also breeds commonly affected by a collapsing trachea. These dogs should not be placed in a heated dog dryer. The same is true for dogs and cats with squashed faces like Bulldogs and Persians.
4. Maintain a regular grooming schedule
Professional grooming can transform your underdog to a wonderdog, but without some maintenance work at home, your dog will quickly become shabby. Daily brushing will keep long-coated dogs and cats from matting, but short-coated pets benefit from the use of a deshedding tool like the FURminator®. These professional quality tools help remove hair, which decreases the accumulation on your sofa and helps prevent nasty, soggy cat hairballs on your floor or bed. Frequent deshedding helps decrease hair in your home and in turn helps those with allergies to pets. If you have a new puppy or kitten, start early, teaching them good grooming habits by trimming their nails one paw at a time and brushing them daily.