Recently I wrote a blog about summer pet grooming tips, but I wanted to revisit the subject after having several conversations with pet parents about unfortunate mistakes they’d made when grooming their own dog or in the requests they made to their groom. Most people seem to just think that that dogs should have most of their shaved off for the summer months and that will do the trick. The truth is pet hair grows in seasonal cycles. In the winter, the hair lies close to the skin, but in the summer it fluffs up allowing them to regulate their internal temperature more efficiently. Hair overexposed to air can tickle the dog’s skin and cause itching and scratching. I was able to investigate fact from fiction while spending some time interviewing the wonderful staff of The Dirty Dog in Winter Park, Florida.
For some pet owner’s they are not even sure how to find a groomer or how to easily get their dog to willingly go. According to groomer Sue Johnson, “Get a referral.” Someone you trust might be able to suggest a good groomer. Visit the location for a tour to make sure it is clean and there is proper equipment being used. You also want to ask what their disciplinary practices are. Let’s face it, some dogs aren’t as thrilled as we are to go to the groomer. But, there are ways to prepare pets for a trip to the groomer. Groomer Nicole Deornfeld explains, “Regular brushing and combing will help. Touching their feet and touching their ears will also help.” Pets that have little exposure to physical contact are not regularly brushed or are not use to having anyone touch all parts of their body will be more likely to resist a groomer.
If you are the brave type and choose to groomer your pet at home, there are some things to consider. Even though you are at home, you still need to avoid common mistakes owner’s make. The biggest mistake made according to Christine Patrick is owners don’t brush their dogs before they wash them. This is recipe for an exhausting grooming session. Dirty fur plus water equals knots. Dogs and cats alike must have their coats brushed out prior to washing or it will tangle. The second biggest mistake is when owners try to cut out matted fur and end up cutting their pet. A matted coat often covers over unseen skin. Trying to cut it before brushing it out can lead to an expensive trip to the vet. Even before the wash, an owner needs to consider whether or not their pet has any allergies. And, at the end of the wash, be sure to rinse twice to be sure all product residue is rinsed away and don’t forget about your flea prevention. The summer time is the season where you see a significant increase is flea activity.
Another mistake is using the wrong equipment. Using your husband’s clippers to shave your dog could be disastrous as they are not made for pets. “You’ve gotta’ have proper equipment,” says Johnson. Clippers meant for human hair can burn dog’s skin as the instrument heats up during use. Pet parents also make the mistake of towel drying their pets with bath towels. Usually, this significantly increase the probability that their pet is still going to smell bad even though they were just given a bath. If a dog or cat is not dried quickly, they will retain that dirty dog or cat smell. Towel drying is simply not an efficient way to dry an animal unless they are a small short haired breed. Blow dryers work best, but I don’t mean the kind you find in our bathroom. The wattage of a human hair dryer is too low to quickly dry off a dog or cat. The wattage of a pet groomer’s hair dryer is significantly higher and can dry dogs and cats much faster, and in doing so reducing the scent of the animal.
How much time and money you spend on a groomer often depends on whether or not you have a low maintenance or high maintenance breeds. Pit bulls, Dobermans, Whippets, Italian Greyhounds and even Jack Russel Terriers are lower maintenance and could get away with going in for regular nail trims and an occasional de-shedding. When asked which breeds require the most amount of maintenance, the staff of The Dirty Dog echoing behind Christine Patrick said “Doodles!” Higher maintenance breeds such as Doodles, the Standard Poodles, the Maltese, the Shih Tzu, the Bichon Frise, the Great Pyrenees and other breeds are going to need to see a groomer often. Their coats get matted easily and can result in lengthy, tedious grooming appointments.
The most important tip given was to “Brush, brush, brush!!!” Christine Patrick could not stress this enough. It cuts down on matting, helps with shedding and can be quite enjoyable to many pets.