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Grooming Your Dog & Cat

Grooming is an extremely important, but much-misunderstood art/science.   We would like you to understand more about this service, which can improve your dog or cat’s health, appearance and social acceptance. The following questions are the most frequently asked, and the answers should help clarify some of the more common misconceptions about grooming.

Why should I have my dog groomed?  Don’t only poodles need grooming?

Most pet owners confuse “grooming” with “clipping.” Clipping (which is commonly done to poodles, spaniels, terriers, as well as to mixed breed dogs), is only one procedure in the grooming process. Grooming also includes combing and brushing, clipping nails, plucking hair from ears, and parasite control.  Although the most obvious result of these procedures is an improved appearance, the major benefits to your pet are increased comfort and social acceptability, and perhaps even improved health.

Do all dogs need grooming?

All dogs need an occasional bath, but it is more important to keep your dog combed and brushed, especially if he has long hair. Matted hair can easily cause skin problems and unnecessary discomfort for your pet. If neglected for too long, it might eventually necessitate a lengthy grooming session, which could be uncomfortable for your pet, and expensive for you. Regular brushing, on the other hand, improves his skin tone and his circulation, and makes his coat healthier and more attractive.

 My dog has a very strong odor. Bathing doesn’t seem to do any good. Why?

It may be a skin condition, but it’s also possible that his teeth, his ears, or his anal sacs are responsible for the problem. Depending on the source of the odor, grooming may or may not be able to alleviate it. Your groomer will be able to help you to determine the nature of the problem, and refer you to your veterinarian, if necessary.

What are anal glands?

They are small sacs located on either side of the rectum. They sometimes need to be expressed or emptied. Some groomers accomplish this as a part of the grooming service. If this is the cause of your dog’s odor problem, bathing alone will not solve it. Your groomer will be happy to explain this procedure in more detail.

How Often Does My dog need to be bathed?

Most dogs do not need to be bathed more than once a month. Some do not need to be bathed more than once every six months, unless they get extremely dirty. However, longhaired dogs should be brushed out properly at least once a week, in lieu of a bath.

What kind of grooming tools should I use?

That depends on the type of coat. Please ask your groomer about the equipment, which is correct for your pet.

 My dog scratches alot, but I can’t find any fleas on him. What’s the problem?

Scratching is often caused by dry skin and not fleas. This could be the result of excessive bathing, dry climate, nutritional deficiency, or the wrong type of shampoo. Discuss this problem with your groomer. Fleas and other allergies can cause serious skin problems and must be addressed promptly. In many cases we can make recommendations that will provide relief for your pet.

 Why do my dog’s nails get so long?

Because he isn’t on hard surfaces often enough to keep them worn down. You should have them checked at least once a month. Walking on pavement will help wear them down naturally. Older dogs usually need regular nail care to help them to walk more easily.

 My dog doesn’t behave for me to brush him. Can you get him to stand still?

Most dogs tend to be on their best behavior with groomers, especially when they sense the firm yet gentle touch, which marks the experienced professional. It is rare for a groomer to encounter a dog with a drastic temperament problem. In these infrequent cases, the groomer might ask the owner to have his or her veterinarian administer a mild tranquilizer prior to grooming. This protects the pet from injuring himself and enables the groomer to complete the grooming quickly. (our groomers do not administer tranquilizers unless they are prescribed and provided by the animal’s veterinarian, since undesirable side effects sometimes occur.)

Many times, a dog which reacts badly to grooming at first, will learn to accept and appreciate the process as he becomes more at ease with the groomer, and as he realizes how much better he feels after grooming. Younger animals (puppies) learn to accept grooming faster and enjoy it more than a pet that is not groomed until an adult age, and groomed infrequently.

 I have my dog clipped every six months but he doesn’t look as pretty as my neighbor’s dog. Is that my groomer’s fault?

Your neighbor probably has a regular six to eight week appointment with the groomer, and keeps their dog well brushed between appointments. This kind of regular attention enables the groomer to devote more time and effort to beautifying their dog, rather than to de-matting and trying to salvage a neglected coat.

 Should I bathe my dog before taking him to my groomer?

One of the worst problems that confront groomers is that of working on a dog, which has been bathed without being brushed out completely. The result of such a practice is a coat, which is so firmly matted that clipping is sometimes the only solution. Ask your groomer if bathing at home prior to grooming is recommended, and always brush your dog properly before bathing.

 How old should a dog be before he has his first grooming appointment?

Even though a three-month-old puppy is not usually in need for grooming, he should be taken to your groomer to get him used to full grooming gradually. In this way, he will learn to accept grooming as happy experience that he will enjoy. Waiting until your puppy is grown and perhaps even matted, and expecting a groomer to accomplish a complete groom with comb-out, bathing, clipping, and a perfect style is not realistic. It is not fair to your dog or the groomer to expect an enjoyable grooming experience for all parties.  The object is to build a life-long team which includes your groomer, your dog, and you; the result is a more beautiful, happier, healthier pet.

Should my cat be groomed?

Cats, like dogs, should be acclimated to the grooming process at an early age so they accept it as a routine part of life. Waiting until the cat is in need of some extensive grooming procedure can be traumatic, and is not fair to your kitty or your groomer. Long-haired cats need combing occasionally to prevent matted fur. Many times a certain amount of clipping may be required if mats have been present for an extended time, and have tightened to the skin. Many cats also need bathing at times, if they are not capable of achieving the neatness that is usually attributed to cats. Our groomers do provide this service for cats.  Cats usually require two groomers in order to safely accomplish the grooming procedure.  Because of this, a cat groom may require extra time and be somewhat more expensive than a groom on a small dog.

Are there any other benefits to regular visits to a professional groomer?

Remember that Stonehaven’s professional groomers are especially qualified to advise you about the type of grooming and grooming equipment that is best for your pet. They can advise you of the techniques for grooming your dog or cat at home, and can provide the finest service available at the pet resort or grooming salon in LaVale. Many times, our groomers will be able to detect potential health problems, which should be handled by your veterinarian, before you might ordinarily notice them. Problems such as possible ear infections or mites, skin disorders, unusual growths, parasites, etc., are more easily detected as a result of regular grooming. Our groomers are familiar with the type of grooming which will make your pet look his best and can also provide special baths for fleas and ticks, dry skin problems, and, in cooperation with your veterinarian, medicated baths for special problems.  Your pet’s good health and good looks go hand in hand with good grooming…  The best team for accomplishing this is your veterinarian, your professional groomer, and you.

Be assured that every member of the Stonehaven Team is very serious about this profession, and is dedicated to your pet’s well-being.  We all regularly attend events such as trade-shows, pet health and nutrition seminars, grooming expos, and many other pet industry related events in order to enhance the services we provide.