An Article on Grooming Written by a Groomer

Groom Your Dog                                           

by Laurie Albright       

Let me start by saying, I am not pointing fingers.  I am not placing blame.  I am sharing experiences and observations.  The dogs and people you read about here are fictitious.  They are a smooshing together of things I have seen and heard about.  Okay, now that that’s out of the way... It’s really important to groom your dog.  We all know that, and we tell the kids it’s their responsibility to brush Fluffy, because we have to take care of the dog. Now here’s why.  For starters, mats hurt.  Oh, the little ones that are not close to the skin are not a big deal – except that if they’re left unattended, they become a big deal.  Take a lock of your own hair and twist it around your finger until it’s as tight as you can get it.  Hold it there for a half an hour.  Now imagine holding it there for weeks or months.  Ow.  Now imagine it in your armpit where it pulls every time you move.  Really ow. 

I have a lot of people who come in to the groom shop and say, “She can’t be matted!  We brush her all the time!”  I believe them!  They are good people who love their dog and do their best.  It’s just not enough to brush the dog, brushing often just runs over the top of the mats and gets the top bit of the mat cleared.  The dog looks better, but it’s still matted underneath.  You need to be able to run a comb through the hair right down to the skin, that’s the real test!  You can use a brush to de-mat a dog, but if it’s a long haired dog, you need to pull the hair forward with your hand and make sure you’re brushing right down to the skin. If your dog is matted and you take it to a groomer, please don’t expect the groomer to de-mat your dog.  A few small mats, okay, we can handle that, but mats on the stomach, all around the collar, in the arm-pits and groin, not so much.  We don’t groom dogs because we like to torture them, your dog is going to get shaved.  If we’re lucky, we can save the hair on the head and tail so your dog can at least go home looking cute.  How close we shave your dog depends on how close the mats are to the skin, we have to get the clipper blade under the mat to get it out.  We’ll try to leave as much hair on your dog as we can – but what we can do depends on the condition of the coat.

Nail trims.  Also very important.  When I was a kid we had an obnoxious little mutt – he bit people sometimes.  We didn’t know any better so we just kept him away from people he might not like.  He also didn’t like having his nails trimmed.  We didn’t know it mattered that much until he was older and his feet were deformed from having toe nails that were too long.  Having his feet deformed caused him to walk funny, which contributed to the arthritis in his back.  He was loved and pampered, but our lack of knowledge made his old age uncomfortable.  (Okay, this one is a true story – I can tell tales on myself!)  When you trim a dog’s toe nails, you need to be careful not to cut deeply into the quick.  It hurts.  Some dogs are quite stoic about it, others will act like you just cut their foot off.  Please don’t bring your dog into me every six or eight months and ask me to make them short.  The quick has grown out and you can either clip them back once a week for the next six months to get the quick to recede, or you can take the dog to the vet for anaesthetic and have them cut and cauterized.  I won’t torture your dog.

Then there’s the other reasons for grooming your dog.  When I groom for someone, I’m going over every inch of their dog with my hands and my eyes.  I’ve often found lumps and bumps that the owner didn’t know were there.  Mostly they’re nothing, fatty lumps or warts on older dogs.  But there have been cases where we found cancers.  They were removed, the dog was treated and is still around.  Now, the owners would have found them if they had been going over the dog with a fine tooth comb (literally), or after they got bigger, but it was great to have found them and treated them sooner.  I’ve also found hot spots and skin sores that really bothered the dogs.  They were hiding under long, thick coats so the owners didn’t see them.  After a trip to the vet, the dogs were treated and the itchy spots were cleared up.  I also tend to find ear infections before they are raging and inflamed.  Much nicer for your dog to have it cleared up before it gets really, really bad. You don’t need to go to a groomer to have all these advantages for your dog.  You can do it yourself.  Just make a habit of going over your dog from nose to tail once a week.  You will find your dog enjoys better health, comfort and happiness.  And really, it’s nice to have an excuse to slow down and play with your dog’s hair for a while!  

Enjoy this minute! 

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