Pet Grooming Is Sometimes Like Pulling Your Hair Out7 min read
PET GROOMING IS A KEY TO GOOD HEALTH
One of the biggest complaints that I heard from pet owners was that their dog “stunk”. I guess it has been called doggy odor or worse over the years. Regardless, dogs that have not been groomed in a while will smell. Items in the home such as sofas and chairs will carry the smell of the animal. It is not the animal’s fault. Dogs and cats cannot jump into the shower daily to shower and wash their hair! They are no different than babies or toddlers. Pet grooming can change all that. Both pets and young children are dependent upon adults to take care of their hygiene issues.
When people told me about their malodorous pooch I investigated further. Many times the odor that the owner was detecting was not emanating from poor hygiene but from other parts of the body. Foul odors from: ear infections, dental disease, oral tumor growth and gynecological issues such as vaginal drainage (pyometra) are often thought initially by the owner to be due to a dirty dog or cat. I always double checked things when I heard those comments.
Pets have all sorts of hair-coat types. They range from single to double coats, fine or wiry or short-hair or long-haired. Pet grooming does have an important function keeping the animal comfortable plus maintaining healthy skin. Dogs and cats with long, thick coats need to be groomed so that the hair-coat layers itself over the body. This allows warm body heat to be retained in the winter while cooling the dog in hot summer weather.
When asked: “What is the largest organ in the body” people often mention the liver or heart. The largest organ in the body is the skin. A layered coat prevents moisture buildup on the skin that can lead to yeast or bacterial skin infections (pyodermas). Shampooing your dog or cat does more then make it smell good! It washes away sloughed epithelial cells that combine to form detritus. This then can lead to excess sebum production which then clogs the hair follicles. This then leads to the seborrhea complex. So by shampooing the pet’s outer skin layer (epidermis) the skin stays healthy. All shampoos contain soap. All soaps are antibacterial in nature. They help to rid pathogenicPathogenic means- disease causing-. Anything that is pathogenic causes some form of disease. bacteria from the skin such as in pyodermas.
A well groomed dog or cat that is also on some form of flea or tick preventative usually has a nice looking coat. That coat also prevents sunburn in dogs or cats. Owners that own the Sphinx cat (no hair due to a recessive gene) or the Chinese Crested dog have to be careful about preventing sunburn as they are hairless. The Crested has a few tufts of hair but still it is susceptible to sunburn. The latter breed is also the only dog that has sweat glands in its skin. All other dogs don’t. Pet grooming in these breeds serves the purpose of keeping the skin healthy.
HOW TO GO ABOUT PET GROOMING
Pet grooming is something that should be thought about way before any pet is purchased. Some breeds of dogs require more grooming than others. Breeds such as the Poodle and Pomeranian are two examples of breeds that require lots of pet grooming care. Whatever you do get your puppy or kitten used to pet grooming when it is young! Pet grooming is one factor involved in the time needed for a pet. It can also get expensive over time to have the animal professionally cut and shampooed on a regular basis. That is why most veterinarians almost never see Old English Sheepdogs with that gorgeous, thick, long luxurious coat! Most of them are shaved down for easy maintenance.
You have two choices, either groom the dog yourself or have the animal taken care of by a groomer. Groomers are subdivided into three types: those that come to you in a mobile grooming van, those that you take your pet to in a normal store front setting and those that sublet space in a veterinarian’s office. Grooming a dog yourself takes a lot of training and experience. Many dogs are fidgety and it is very easy to accidentally cut the dog’s skin. That then requires a visit to your veterinarian for medical care.
A good groomer is worth their weight in gold. Not only will they cut (and remove or comb out all mattes) and shampoo the animal but they will: pull excessive hair out of the ears, trim nails (which most dogs can’t stand having done) and clean the anal glands. This will prevent problems in the future. Groomers will alert an owner to abnormal lumps or growths that they trip over when grooming your pet. Take their advice and have your veterinarian check the animal out.
There are many pets that absolutely hate to be groomed. They may urinate and defecate, squeeze their anal gland contents all over the place or try to bite the poor soul that is attempting the grooming job. Many of these animals require sedation. I recommend that all of these cases be handled by groomers affiliated with a veterinarian’s office. The animal can be then monitored by the veterinarian.
Make sure that your groomer has adequate staff to ensure the safety of your pet. I have dealt with all of these disasters: animals that escape from the groomer, animals that died of heat stroke due to drying lamps or fans not being monitored or serious lacerations or issues that were not immediately reported to the owner. Most groomers are competent but ask them about how they prevent the above problems from happening in the first place. All groomers also require that all appropriate vaccinations are up to date, including a rabies vaccination certificate signed by a licensed veterinarian.
GROOMING PRODUCTS TO USE
There are so many pet grooming products on the market that they cannot possibly be all mentioned here. If you groom the dog yourself stay away from baby shampoo. It may sound safe but it dries the dog’s coat out too much. This can lead to dry skin and itching. A good all around shampoo for dog or cat skin is a shampoo containing oatmeal. Episoothe® is one brand that contains it and it is similar to products available for human use. Oatmeal shampoos also help to temporarily alleviate itching due to irritated skin. Conditioners can be combed into the dog or cat. They serve the same purpose as in people- moisturizing the skin and making combing much easier.
If your veterinarian has prescribed therapeutic shampoos take them to your groomer and have them used instead of the groomer’s regular product. Most are happy to oblige.