A Groomer's How To - by Candy Levine
Tender Pawz Pet Grooming - Surrey, B.C.
“Grooming”….it’s more than just a ‘beauty session’ for your pet. Your pet's personal groomer can play an intricate part in their health and well being and they can provide YOU, the owner, with a field of valuable information in regard to regular grooming & maintenance. Along with your veterinarian, a groomer can be very helpful in discovering existing health and skin problems, and may be able to work with you in resolving some of them. A new puppy getting introduced into a new family, also needs to be introduced to the ’world of grooming’. Believe me, some animals think this whole grooming experience is “for the birds”…and aren’t shy about expressing their feelings on the subject!!
Regular grooming, along with everything else is a ’training process’. Whether it is a puppy with a lifetime of new experiences ahead of it, or a well loved older cat in need of a little TLC. Establishing and maintaining a grooming schedule can be an overwhelming thing to try and figure out. There are many different breeds of dogs and cats. Although cats require different grooming needs than their canine counterparts, routine brushing is beneficial.
The first basic rule of thumb is to start early. A puppy can have its first grooming around 3 months of age, just basically a ‘get acquainted’ visit, then another full grooming around 6 months. It’s a good idea to get them used to the routine of brushing, nail trims, etc…this will hopefully make everything so much easier as they get older. “Turn your pets’ bad hair day into a good hair day!!”
Here are just a few basic things that will help introduce you to the grooming world….
• Nails - Don’t be afraid to play around a bit with your dog’s feet; this will help it get used to the feeling of someone holding their foot in order to do a nail trim. It is a good idea if you are apprehensive about cutting nails yourself, to take your pet into your groomer or veterinarian to learn how to do it properly. If you do try it at home, make sure you have a good pair of nail clippers and some Quick Stop or a Styptic Pencil handy, just in case you cut into the quick and it starts to bleed.
• Ears - They should be checked on a regular basis. (Cats need clean ears too). There is an ear wash, a cleaner and a powder. If the ears are especially bad, and there is a lot of hair that has built up inside the ear, this needs to be removed. Some people say to leave it, but my own experiences have lead me to pluck the hairs out of the ear. Use ear powder to help get a grasp of the hair and pull it out. Ear powder also helps to dry the ear out and control the odor. Next step is to put a couple of drops of the ear wash into the ear canal and massage gently to bring up all the wax build-up, dirt, etc. that has accumulated in the ear. It is important not to use a Q-Tip if you don’t know what you are doing; you can damage the ear if you go too far in…stay with a cotton ball, or soft cloth. Wipe out the inside of the ear, and you can finish up with using a good quality ear cleaner. I prefer a natural one with oils to help promote a healthy ear.
• Bathing at home - Make sure you use a dog/cat shampoo, not a human shampoo. Our skin and a pet’s skin have a different PH level, and our shampoo can cause skin problems in your pet. Make sure you put cotton in the ears so as to not get water inside the ear; the build-up of water can cause ear infections.
• Anal Glands - Larger dogs have less of a problem expressing these glands on their own during a bowel movement. Smaller dogs seem to have more of a difficult time, in some cases. Check with your vet or groomer. Some groomers include ’anal glands’ as part of their services, and some don’t. One way or another, they need to be “expressed”. These little glands can be a concern. If they are a constant problem, and develop frequent infections, sometimes there is no choice but to have them surgically removed for the health and comfort of your pet, but this is only in severe cases.
• Brushing is mandatory! - Introduce your dog to a soft brush, and pick a time to do it. Make it part of your daily routine. “Don’t Give Up!” Many dogs can manipulate this brushing session to the point where they win the battle. Owners give up when their pet nibbles, fusses or scratches, saying “he/she doesn’t like it”. But, when they go see their groomer, they have to go through the process; it’s the groomers job to make sure that the grooming gets done. It is very helpful to a groomer that the animal they are working on is co-operative (which isn’t always the case!). This can start at home; a lot of patience, re-assurance and a firm voice goes a long way. Remember, you are the boss, not your pet during this time. A lot of times, pets co-operate at the groomers, they know that it is getting done!!
• The First Haircut - Can be a puzzling experience. If you have a dog for the first time, and aren’t quite sure of the style that it is suppose to have, ‘don’t panic!’ Your dog &/or cat is just that…”yours”, so enjoy them and don’t sweat the little stuff! Just because you have a Bichon (which by grooming standards should have a full scissor cut), or a Wheaton Terrier (that according to their breed should have a ‘fall’ bang), or even a Cocker Spaniel with a full-length Cocker Clip, in the end, its “up to you…the owner”. Your groomer is always there to make helpful suggestions on how they ‘see’ your dog’s style, but again, it is YOU that we groomers listen too. ‘Teddy Bear, Daisy, Kennel, Utility, Springer Cut, Lion Clip…so many clips, so many dogs & cats, it can be overwhelming to think about. You may have an idea of how you want your dog to look, and as for myself, I want to make the owner happy with the cut, and your pet happy with a positive grooming experience. Even if in some cases, I don’t really understand or agree with what a client may want, it is ultimately up to the owner to let the groomer know what they want. Don’t let your groomer tell you that your dog should look a certain way because of its breed, it’s “your” decision in the end. We can certainly inform you how this particular breed should look and what they require, but not all dogs do well with grooming. They may have skin conditions, or matt up to the extreme that an owner is incapable of de-matting them, their hair just may not be consistent with the way that it should be. A lot of factors can come into play. But, groomers can be very knowledgeable and can help to achieve that special look you want. Unless your dog is a ‘show dog’, then it is required to be groomed according to the breeds’ standard book. Otherwise, your pet is a very important part of your family, and you just want them to look well taken care of and be loved. Definitely a routine grooming can achieve that goal. Each breed requires different grooming needs, some more frequent than others. Your groomer is the best person to let you know how often your pet needs to come in. Some dogs that have long full coats, may need to come in as often as once a month. Whereas, as dog that has a basic shavedown or bath & tidy up, can go much longer than that. You still need to keep up on the nail trims & ear cleaning on a regular basis in between groomings.
• Teeth brushing - is an important part of health care, especially in smaller dogs. Some groomers provide this service and some don’t. My theory is that if you are not going to make this a daily routine at home, one teeth brushing session at the groomers every 3 months, isn’t going to make much of a difference. There are a few ways to get your dog/cat familiarized with teeth brushing. Purchase a rubber tipped messaging brush that fits on your finger tip and just rub this inside their mouths to get them use to the feel of it. No need for toothpaste at this point, you just want your pet to feel comfortable with this procedure first. After a couple of weeks or so, purchase toothpaste. They have a variety of flavours to entice your animal to enjoy this whole experience. After they have gotten use to this, you can try using a regular pet’s toothbrush. Purchase doggie treats that help lessen the tartar build-up and something that makes them want to chew. For example, Dentabones & Greenies products are good, try to stay away from the rawhides, because they are not easily digestible in the stomach, and can cause a build-up inside the intestines & stomach. Of course, dental visits with your veterinarian are a must.
As you can see, our pets need a lot of love & care. Cats and dogs cannot look after themselves alone; they need their ‘human family’ for all of their needs. They can’t always tell us when something is bothering them, or if they are in discomfort. At least with a regular grooming regimen, skin problems, fleas, lumps & warts, or any other kinds of skin conditions, can be discovered just by a routine visit to your groomer. Your groomer can be your first link to discovering some skin problems, and can suggest, along with your vet, proper shampoos that can help turn the problem around.
“ Don’t be afraid to ask our groomer for tips!” Even if you think it may be a stupid question at the time, never let that stop you from getting the information you need. Many groomers do genuinely care about your pets’ needs, and are there to help you in any way they can. Your special family member deserves a long, happy & healthy life. They were special enough to be chosen to be part of your family, make sure that they stay that way.
… “Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole”
Article courtesy of Candy Levine
Tender Pawz Pet Grooming - Surrey, B.C.