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People take their dogs and cats to groomers not just to get that perfect style but, more importantly, for their health and wellness. Proper grooming is an essential process and choosing your groomer is not a task to take lightly. Here is what you should expect from your groomer.
When your pet arrives at the groomer, the first task is a really good bath. A professional shampoo is massaged into your pet’s fur, ensuring the coat is thoroughly scrubbed all the way to the skin over the entire dog. I like to use an all natural, tear-free, hypoallergenic shampoo. Rinsing is just as important as the washing to ensure all shampoo is removed.
There are a several options for drying, a forced-air hand dryer made for pets, a non-heated cage dryer or a heated cage dryer. I never use the heated cage dryers because there is a risk of over-heating a pet. The forced-air dryer is a hand-held, strong blower that, in addition to drying the pet, removes a great deal of undercoat and reduces the amount of shedding. Occasionally, we will get a pet that is anxious about the hand-held dryer, so the cage dryer is a better option for them. However, the cage dryer will take longer to dry a pet, so owners may have to allow a little more time for the grooming appointment.
Once the pet is dry, a good groomer will look them over, checking eyes, skin, nails, teeth, ears, nose, and pads on the feet to see if there are any issues that should be reported to the owner. Groomers often may be the first to notice a new lump or growth on an animal or some other health issue that should be seen by a vet. Any such changes on an animal should be reported to the pet’s owner.
Next is the nail trim. The ultimate length for a nail is to be trimmed right where it starts to curve down. However, nails that have gotten overly long have quicks that have lengthened as well. The quick is the blood vessel that runs through each nail. It is painful to cut the quick in the nail, just as it is if a human breaks their fingernail off really short. Groomers should work hard to not cut the quick. Instead, to get the nails shorter, owners may need to have their pet’s nails trimmed more often for awhile as this will help push the quick back in the nail. As a courtesy, groomers at my shop also file nails on dogs that don’t get overly anxious with the process. Filing smoothes the nails and make it less likely for owners to get scratched. To learn more about nail trimming read Dog Nail Trimming, Foot Care.
Ear plucking is necessary for dogs that have hair growing in the ear canals. This hair can block in wax and moisture, increasing the risk of ear infections. Dogs don’t have a lot of nerve endings in their ears, so if done gently, the process is not uncomfortable. An ear powder is used that absorbs moisture and makes the hair easier to pull out. Once done, the ears are cleaned with cotton balls or Q-tips and a pet ear cleaner. My favorite product for this is Burt’s Bees® Ear Cleaner for Dogs.
Double-coated breeds, those whose hair does not continuously grow, get a good brush out to remove all loose undercoat. This reduces the amount of shedding between grooming appointments. Breeds with deep wrinkles such as pugs, English bulldogs, sharpeis, etc., need those wrinkles gently cleaned and dried to prevent skin infections.
For breeds with continuously growing hair, the cut and style is next. Part of a groomer’s job is to interpret how an owner would like their pet trimmed and styled. Not all pet owners want the traditional breed trim for their pet. So pet owners should pick a groomer who listens to what they would like and asks questions to ensure they understand. It may take a couple of appointments to get the style just the way the owner wants but with good communication, owners can have the exact style they want.
A quality haircut will be smooth and even, not choppy. The sanitary areas generally are trimmed short to help pets stay clean when urinating or defecating. Hair on the pet’s lips should be trimmed so it does not go into the mouth. All fur around the pet’s eyes should be tidied so it doesn’t go into its eyes causing infections. The hair between the pads of the feet is trimmed so pets don’t slide on hard flooring.
These steps are the basics that every groomer should be providing.
Additional services may include specialty shampoos (i.e. medicated, flea/tick, etc.), massages, facials, painted nails, feather extensions, and hair color.
Knowing what to expect from your groomer will help you choose only the very best for your pets.