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Dog Grooming 101 – What Really Happens?

April 11th, 2017

Grooming is a vital part of your pet’s overall health and well-being, which can ultimately improve their longevity. All breeds require daily grooming, but how much depends upon their type, age, or health. Regular grooming helps ensure their comfort and quality of life and is recommended to be done professionally every 6-8 weeks. But how much do you know about grooming and what is involved? When you drop your beloved pet off for a few hours, what really happens behind the scenes?

The primary reasons for daily grooming are as follows:

  • decreased chance of various health problems, such as thrush, scratches, and other skin problems
  • make the dog look pretty
  • general cleanliness of the dog
  • monitoring of the dog’s health by checking for cuts, heat, swelling, lameness, or changes in temperament, all of which could be indicative of illness
  • creating a closer bond between dog and owner reducing infestation load of external parasites on skin

First Visit? Upon your first visit, a reputable groomer will ask new customers to provide information about the owner and their pet. This should include your veterinarian’s number, your cell or home numbers, and who to call in case of emergency. Additionally, it will contain the pet’s health history which includes information about vaccinations (to ensure they’re up-to-date) and any conditions that may be important to the groomer, which could impact grooming. This is important to ensure safety and the prevention of transmission of contagious diseases.

If you’re the owner of a puppy, it’s recommended that they have their first two sets of vaccines in order to be groomed. Until then you as the pet owner can get your pet used to being groomed by brushing or combing your pet at home. On a daily basis play with your pet’s ears and feet getting them used to these areas touched, which will help them when coming to groomer for the first time.

What Tools and Supplies are Used? A groomer has all sorts of brushes, combs, tables, supplies and other salon styling tools available to assist with caring for your pet. A few include: Curry or Curry Brush: A tool made of rubber or plastic with short “teeth.” The tool is rubbed (or “curried”) over the dog’s coat to loosen dirt, hair, and other detritus, and stimulate the skin into producing natural oils. It’s more commonly used for dogs with large amounts of hair that shed such as German Shepherds. They are also used for untangling knots in certain parts of the dog’s body, near the ears, paws or tail. Using a currycomb must be done carefully as the action of this type of tool can harm the skin of the dog, if pulled too hard.

Shedding blade: A metal shedding blade with short, dull teeth is used to remove dead hair from certain types of harsh coats. The shedding blade is not used to cut the hair.

Scissors and clippers: Cutting tools used to remove/shorten hair on certain types of coats or in sensitive areas. Not all types of coats are suitable for clipping, (i.e. double coats on breeds such as Border Collies) keep the dog cool in summer and warm in winter, and should not be clipped unless the dog is matted. The typical pair of scissors for dog grooming is between 6.5 and 9 inches long, longer than typical hair dressing scissors. Some are designed with a blunt tip to prevent any injuries due to the dog moving around.

Grooming a dog before it is bathed is important because it frees up and removes dead undercoat and matting, while allowing the proper penetration of water and shampoo to the skin. This can be done by using a slicker brush all over its body, especially on its legs, and the places where knotting occurs frequently. Groomers sometimes use a metal comb when combing for the second time, paying close attention to the toes and in between the toes. Metal combs can be helpful in the areas of the dog’s body that are common spots for knots. Brushing and combing the tail is also important as it is an area that is commonly missed. A stainless steel comb is used to groom dogs with a coarse or fine coat.

Dog brushes come in various sizes and shapes can be made from metal, plastic and wood. Although there are many types of dog brushes, they are not very popular among professional dog groomers as most prefer using teasels. Dog brushes are perfect for breeds that have long and fragile hair, especially if the coat is getting properly maintained. Common dog brushes are the bristle brush, wire pin brush, and the slicker brush.

The bristle brush is one of the most widely used types of brushes mainly because it can be used for any type of coat. As a general rule, longer and widely spaced bristles are suitable for dogs with longer coats and shorter and tightly-packed ones are better to use on dogs with short hair. Typically, the bristle brush is used on dogs with long coats to finish the coat and to bring out the natural lustre and shine of the coat. It is commonly used in daily grooming as it removes surface dust and dirt.

Dogs with medium to long hair are often brushed with a wire pin brush. The wire pin brush is also great for dogs with curly coats. They usually have an oval shape and have meal bristles set in a flexible rubber base. This type of brush is great for dogs with long, wavy, wiry and curly coats as they are useful in separating and untangle the coat. Pin brushes are of better quality if they have polished pins or coated pins, which prevent from scratching and harming the dog’s skin. Because the coating or polish may go away over time, the pins of such a brush should be replaced as needed. Pin brushes come in a variety of sizes, textures and fullness, depending on the type of coat they’re used for in grooming.

Slicker brushes are typically used after primarily brushing with a bristle or a wire pin brush. They are used to smooth the coat and to take out mats and tangles. They are provided with fine wire pins that are secured to a flat base. The pins are bent at an angle approximately halfway down the pin. The slicker brush is typically used on dogs with long coats and those with curly coats. For heavier and thicker coats, one is recommended to use a brush with stiffer pins. This type of brush comes in a wide range of sizes and degrees of pin stiffness.

There are also brushes that combine both the pin and bristle styles. This type of dog brush is the most convenient because it has two brushes in one. The combination pin/bristle brush has two different sides, one with bristles which can be successfully used for grooming the short hair areas of the coat, and another side, with pins that can be used for long-coated and double-coated dogs.

Matt combs are special combs that help to “cut” matted hair from the dog’s coat without leaving a bald spot.

Rakes are important grooming tools especially for double-coated dogs such as the Newfoundlands or Siberian Huskies. They are good in removing dead hair from the undercoat. The undercoat rake’s teeth are especially designed to penetrate through the overcoat down into the thick undercoat to remove loose hair faster and easier than a standard comb. Rakes can also be used for untangling and de-matting.

Bath tubs are commonly found in professional grooming shops. They are made of a variety of materials, including galvanized steel. These shops may have bathing systems and sprayers available for a better grooming as well as for the comfort of the pet.

Shampoos and conditioners are common grooming supplies that are especially designed for dogs. Products are used that won’t strip the pet’s coat of its natural oils.

Stand dryers are also available for a quick drying of the dog’s coat. Commonly, when a dog is brought to a groomer this implies a thorough cleaning of the coat as well. And because the dog cannot leave the shop while wet, special driers have been manufactured. These can be stand driers, cage driers or hand driers and are more common in professional grooming places than in the owner’s house. Drying a dog with a dryer designed for humans is NOT recommended as it could cause scalp irritation, dry skin or skin sores.

Grooming tables provide a secure and productive environment for grooming.

Nail trimming is essential for maintaining good health. If a dog’s nails are allowed to grow, they will curl over into a spiral shape; walking will become increasingly painful to the dog as they grow, putting pressure on the dog’s toes (a bit like walking in shoes that are too small). Uncut nails may curl so far that they pierce the paw pad, leading to infection and debilitating pain. If one does not trim a dog’s nails on a monthly basis, the quick will grow along with the nail, making it nearly impossible to cut properly. Owners may choose to trim nails themselves or may opt to take their pet to a groomer or veterinarian.

Nail trimming is done with a nail clipper. There are three main types of nail clippers, the guillotine clipper, standard scissors nail clipper and the file trimmer.

Dental care may be most important while grooming, just like humans a clean mouth can impact the pet’s health greatly as it ages. This is a difficult mission, given that dogs hardly allow their teeth to be brushed.

The coats of many breeds require trimming, cutting, or other attention. Styles vary by breed and discipline. While some hair removal has its origins in practical purposes, much is based on the taste of the owner, whether or not the dog will be shown, and what work the dog does.

Finishing touches can be added with finishing supplies, including perfumed sprays, ribbons and many other accessories.

How long does it take? It is normal for an average full groom to take 2 to 3 hours and some large or very thick coated breeds can take longer.

Groomers may also sell products for dogs’ fur and other products such as dog clothing. Additionally, to enhance the grooming experience, grooming salons can offer pet spa packages, special treats and other enhancements like we do at Hollywood Houndz.