Making Your Pet’s Grooming Experience So Much Less Painful
It doesn’t have to be so hard for your groomer — or your pet
Even my brief experience as a boarding kennel attendant made me grow painfully aware of just how many people aren’t fully competent as far as basic pet care. We saw plenty of well-maintained Pomeranians and poodles, but there were also dogs with downright concerning baseball-sized mats (often concealing abundances of ticks and fleas) and mysterious objects trapped in layers and layers of never-brushed fur. We had a small grooming facility, with only one full-time groomer; the rest of us came in to assist with basic tasks like bathing or holding our furry friends still for nail clips. For many people, we were a last resort — some flat out said they’d been considering just shaving their dogs to get it all over with. For everyone on staff, these were the worst kind of people to deal with — and these experiences were extra stressful for their longtime-neglected animals.
Fortunately, there are a few easy ways to make your grooming experience better for both your groomer and your pet.
Regular maintenance is key
It seems that many feel that occasional (or no) brushings combined with a monthly professional grooming is adequate for healthy maintenance of a coat. Unless you have specific breeds that do require little grooming, this is a pain for your groomer, and sometimes a literal pain for your pet. Most long-haired dogs and cats need brushings at least once a week, with some particularly needy breeds requiring daily grooming. This doesn’t mean you have to spend tons of time making your dog look like she’s about to be in an AKC show; you can stick to the basics. Evaluate your dog’s teeth and nails. Remove any tangles or objects matted in the fur. Brush your dog thoroughly over the whole body (Furminators are worth the investment). You likely won’t need to bathe unless your pet has gotten into something, but you may want to invest in a quality coat-refreshing spray (similar to a dry shampoo). Coat wipes are an easy way to remove small debris or mud and keep your pet’s coat shiny on a daily basis. Your grooming schedule should not be based around when your dog has become so matted her fur cannot be penetrated by your fingers. It isn’t just a pain for the groomers; letting your pet’s coat go without needed basic grooming can be dangerous for them, leading to hotspots, skin infections, and other issues. Not quite sure what you’re doing? Consult your groomer for advice or look up breed-specific guides.
Honesty is the best policy
Admittedly, most people aren’t excited when they learn their next client will need to be muzzled or may try to jump off the grooming table. But what’s much worse is being assured the pet they will be seeing is an angel, only to have their fingers clawed or bitten or have the animal panic. Being honest upfront about your pet’s experience with groomers and veterinarians, as well as any possible safety concerns, protects both parties. If your groomer is aware in advance, they likely already have the protective equipment needed — we kept a pair of leather welding gloves on hand for our angriest cats. If you knowingly send in an aggressive or fear-reactive pet without warning, you risk not only your groomer’s being injured, but being refused future service — or accidental injury to your pet if they have to be removed off of someone. Even if your pet only has issues with other animals, let the person who will be handling them know so they can try to accommodate your pet and ensure they will not see other clients.
Avoid pains for beauty
Many trendy haircuts make our pets look extra adorable, like the popular lion cut often seen on thick-furred cats like Maine Coons. But despite their cuteness, designer cuts aren’t always the best thing for our pets. Pomeranians are often seen with adorable “teddy-bear” shaved or clipped hairstyles that make their fur extra puffy and create an adorable roundness in appearance.
However, these haircuts aren’t good for the breed’s coat and can cause them to have damaged fur that is unable to properly grow back — permanently. Do some research when getting an unusual cut for your pet, and ask your groomer if they feel it is healthy for the animal — most will be honest with you, even if they would make more of a profit otherwise.
Nobody wants fleas
Keep your dog up to date on flea and tick preventative. Often, owners were completely unaware that their dog was utterly infested — their thick fur masked the problem, until we began clipping away. Not only does this put other animals in the facility at risk, it means your pet has been suffering from itchy skin and bites — and infecting your household. Keep in mind that these pests aren’t just little annoyances — they can lead to often fatal conditions like heartworm. You can often pick up preventative right at your groomers’.
It can be harder with older animals, but if you know your pet will regularly need to see a groomer, work extra hard to help them grow accustomed to the atmosphere and experience of being groomed. Touch them regularly on the paws, ears, and tail; spend a little extra time brushing even if they may not need it; desensitize them to the noise of clippers. This will prevent your pet from going into a panic from scary new stimuli — without you present to comfort them. Some groomers will even be willing to meet and greet with your pet before the grooming so they are already familiar.
Overall, the best policy is giving the best care to your pet. If you are upfront about any concerns, regularly groom your pet, and ready to receive suggestions or redirections about what your pet may need, you should have few worries. Not sure where to find your best local groomer? Your vet’s office often will have a groomer on staff (in a place your pet is already familiar with!), and if not, they will likely know who will provide your pet with outstanding care.