I must admit before I started dog grooming I thought it was for show dogs and poodles. Having been brought up with working Gundogs the idea of having our hard-working companion booked in at the local groomers for a “pamper” seemed ridiculous and daft.
It wasn’t until I was at college studying animal care that we did a module on dog grooming and boy, what little did I know!! What an eye-opener. There was so much more to it than posh poodles and dogs with bows in their hair. Let’s just say I was hooked. Working with dogs was all I ever wanted to do.
Fast forward to the present day and I am a fully qualified dog groomer and have been grooming for 10 years and have two thriving grooming salons.
There are so many benefits to having your dog groomed, no matter what breed. Some dogs require regular 3-6weeks intervals and others probably just twice per year, all dependent on breed, lifestyle and coat type.
Getting your dog groomed can be like a mini health check. Many a time I have noticed things perhaps the owners haven’t noticed or picked up on. This isn’t always their fault as it may be they didn’t know what they were looking for. Grooming can help with the well-being and health of your dog, for example:
Apart from the obvious, the overall appearance of a good haircut and smelling better, having a bath will get rid of dirt, grime, dead skin and hair and any bad smells. Having a good trim will help manage and maintain a healthy coat making it easier to keep on top of with brushing and preventing dreaded matts from forming. If you have a spaniel, for example, you will know their ears are a magnet for anything (especially if they are working). They are also a hotspot for knotting and forming matts.
Matting: Matting can cause severe discomfort if ignored. It can cause pain, sores, skin complaints and conditions as well as making your dog very unhappy. Groomers will groom for the welfare of your dog and not for vanity, so heavy matting will always result in the area or entire coat being clipped short (we’ve all seen those pictures) so regular brushing and trips to the groomers will help to avoid this.
Shedding: If you have a short-haired breed you will know that at certain times they shed their coat – most of it normally seems to be on the kitchen floor! A regular bath and brush (de-shed) will help remove the dead hair from the coat making the coat fresh and the skin able to breathe.
Nail Trimming: Keeping nails at a healthy length and getting them trimmed regularly will avoid uncomfortable paws and ingrowing/curling round nails. If your dog has dewclaws, these may grow quickly as they aren’t worn down as well as the nails that are making contact with any surface. Some dogs do have rear dewclaws and the same applies.
Fleas and Ticks: If your dog has fleas or ticks your groomer will almost certainly find them. Firstly, fleas don’t like water so when your dog is in the bath, fleas will come to the surface of the coat to search for a dry area. Secondly, a groomer looks at every inch of your dog and can see right down to the skin when the dog is being dried, so fleas and ticks can be easily spotted. Keeping regular flea and tick treatment will help avoid discomfort, skin irritation and worst-case scenario from ticks, diseases being passed on from other animals such as Lyme’s disease.
Grass Seeds: Regular grooming will help to find parasites (fleas and ticks) as well as other foreign bodies such as grass seeds. Grass seeds can be dangerous for dogs if they penetrate the skin. If left untreated it can be incredibly painful, become infected, can migrate and I have known it on rare occasions to be fatal. Regular checking between toes, pads and ears is so important during grass seed season. A groomer will be able to check these areas thoroughly and know what to look for.
Eyes and ears: A groomer should routinely clean your dog’s ears so if there is anything untoward or out of the ordinary going on, they will be able to tell you. They will also pluck any hair to prevent ear infections and build-up of dirt and wax. This will help the ear breathe. They should also clean the ear thoroughly. When it comes to eyes, they will trim hair away that might collect any gunk built up through runny eyes to keep them clear.
Teeth: When I have a dog in for grooming, I will always look at their teeth and the colour of their gums, and look for any build-up of plaque/tartar, wobbly teeth and if there are any foreign objects in there. A number of times I have pulled splinters from between teeth and between the gum line from dogs that have been allowed to chew sticks. If anything is noticed, the owner is advised to take the dog to the vet. Also, some groomers will offer teeth cleaning as a service which will help keep a healthy mouth and prevent gum disease and build-up of plaque and tartar.
To give your dog the best possible start to its grooming journey is to begin from the word go, as soon as they have had all of their vaccinations, they are good to go. We do puppy introductions which are small steps that work towards a full groom. We want this to be a happy and positive experience for them, and for them to be relaxed with the process. Granted, not all dogs will enjoy being groomed no matter how hard you try, but they will almost 100% feel much happier afterwards.
A bath and brush or full haircut (full groom) will give your dog a spring in its step and will help with the maintenance of their health and wellbeing.