For a human, frequent visits to a salon are generally seen as a luxury. You may enjoy a mani-pedi and a new dye job may make you feel like a million bucks, but you’ll be okay without it. Nobody is starting GoFundMes for their best friend’s bikini wax. But does your dog need a spa day?
You drop them off for a “spa day” at a nicely-decorated place and pick them up with a new ‘do complete with a cute bandanna or bows. You might chuckle at how fancy they are; how spoiled.
But grooming isn’t just a bougie outing for pampered pets. It’s an essential part of your pet’s healthcare.
For some breeds, most of the essential grooming can be taken care of at home with the right tools and knowledge. Your beagle or dalmatian will not get matted without a haircut, for example. That doesn’t mean they don’t still need grooming. All dogs and cats should be brushed on a regular basis and have their nails trimmed and ears cleaned. Petting- like, just with your hands- is also an essential part of grooming. It helps distribute the oils in their skin and fur, takes care of some of the loose or shed fur, and allows you to catch any problems early. Even short-haired animals can sometimes get knots or mats, especially if they’re overweight or aging. Thorough petting and deliberate, systematic brushing can also help you catch some health problems. You may find lumps, fleas or ticks, burrs, warts, or bald or irritated spots that need veterinary attention. Most healthy short-haired dogs should only need to be bathed every two to three months… or after they roll in deer poop. Shampoo made for humans is too acidic for dogs’ skin and fur, so stick to dog shampoo for this purpose. Afterward, make sure their ears and any skin folds are completely dry- you don’t want to encourage the formation of a bacteria oasis on your pug’s face.
For those dogs and cats who don’t have short hair, grooming is an even more essential part of their care. Dogs with long or curly hair are often sold as “non-shedding” or “low-maintenance,” which is misleading. Dogs like shih tzus, sheepdogs, any and all “poos” and “doodles,” Portuguese water dogs, and cocker spaniels may not leave as much hair on the couch as your average husky, but they still need a lot of attention for their coats. They should visit a groomer like our friends at Kennelwood for a professional bath, brush, and trim about every six weeks and need daily brushing. This is especially true for active dogs living rough-and-tumble lives or dogs with mobility problems. If you prefer your dog’s coat fluffy, make sure you’re prepared to put the work in to keep it looking nice. It takes more than a quick daily once-over and, depending on the dog, may require some specialized tools and methods. If you’d like to keep your dog in a long or fluffy coat, talk to your groomer. They’re dog people just like you and want to help keep your best pal healthy and happy.
Failure to properly groom your pet can lead to all kinds of problems. Matted hair isn’t just unsightly. It can be really painful and itchy, can prevent topical medication (such as flea and tick preventative) from reaching the skin, and can rip the skin and cause open wounds. Dark, moist environments can serve as breeding grounds for yeast and bacteria- or even maggots. Along with all those things in combination, it can make it difficult to see or feel your pet’s actual skin and can hide those problems and allow them to get out of hand before you’re even aware they exist.
Once a dog is matted, the only way to fix the problem is by shaving the hair off at the skin. Let’s be honest- most people who get floofy dogs do it (and often pay a lot of money for them) because they like the floof and are less than thrilled when their groomer has to return their dog to them “naked.” And floofy cats look absolutely ridiculous (not to mention perpetually irritated) when they’re shaved. But once the fur is matted, there’s not really a better way to fix the problem and the owner has only themselves to blame.
If your pet is not of the “frufru” variety, they may still need or benefit from a trip to the groomer! Some pets don’t need full-body haircuts, but… you know… they have hairy butts. So trimming their “butt feathers,” shaving a “poop trail,” or otherwise keeping their sensitive areas clean can help a lot with staying sanitary. Urine can cause burns or rashes when trapped next to the skin and “dingleberries” can be uncomfortable and difficult to remove. Nobody wants a turd trapped in their butt hair and that includes your furry friends.
Double-coated dogs, like huskies and German shepherds, can benefit from a good grooming when they’re “blowing coat.” This usually happens more-or-less twice a year and results in a huge amount of shedding and usually loose tufts of undercoat all over them. If you’ve ever tried to brush out a dog who is blowing their coat, you know it’s a BIG job… and possibly one better left to professionals. All that loose hair can be itchy (not to mention a pain to clean up around the house) and a good de-shedding treatment can go a long way.
Pets need good food, proper vet care, sufficient exercise, a clean and comfortable place to live… and appropriate grooming. It’s not an extra. It’s a basic and necessary part of taking care of your best pal. And I mean… they do look super cute when they come home all fluffy with bows in their hair. That is a perk.
We know you want to make sure your pets get the best care around and so do we! Whether floofy, wiry, slick, or even totally bald, you can count on our dedicated pet sitters to care for your babies like they’re our own. Check out our PET SITTING page for your next travel!
Janie founded 4-Legged Kids, Inc in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1997 and provides education through her PetBizHIVE podcast and her PetBizMBA membership and courses. She is a Certified Professional Animal Care Operator, Fear Free certified and a Certified Professional Pet Sitter. Learn more about the Founder, Janie Budnick.