As mentioned in the welcoming post, grooming is a dirty and difficult job. For me and most groomers it is a rewarding one. Now, grooming is different for each pet, but for the most part professional grooming includes bathing, blow dry, brush out, nails trimmed, ears cleaned, and those that require it, a haircut. Further along, I will go into detail about each component of grooming, but for right now this is just a base overview.
Now, if you are a pet parent, and you call to make an appointment for a groom service on your pet, you want to make sure you clarify exactly what type of service you need. Whether you need a bath and brush out only, or a bath and a haircut for your dog. When you only say ‘my dog needs a groom’, that does not help the person making the appointment. Clarify. If you have a Shih Tzu, you are more than likely going to need a haircut for your Shih Tzu. Say that. Also, you want to clarify what type of dog you have. It does not matter if you have been to a facility dozens of times, for the most part, the person making the appointment might not be at a computer to look up your pet, or does not recognize your name and your dogs name. It takes you two seconds to clarify what type of dog you have, rather than wait 2 minutes to look up your dog.
I have had people get irritated with me because I didn’t know who “Bella” was, but not realizing how many “Bella’s” groomers get daily. If a groomer asks what type of dog you have, please just tell them. It makes it that much quicker to find you an appointment, or help clarify if your pet needs a bath and brush, or bath and haircut.
So, quick recap. Clarify on whether your dog needs a bath and brush out, or a haircut and bath, and inform the person on the phone what kind of dog you have. If your dog has any type of special needs, as in they are really nervous, has a heart murmur, things of that nature, let them know that over the phone as well, so if they need to make further accommodations for your pet, they have the time to do it.
Here is also a few other things to keep in mind making your appointment. The Rabies vaccine is required in the United States, and it is required for grooming. Most grooming facilities need to have the rabies vaccine given by 15 weeks of age. The rabies vaccine also has to be up to date. Depending on your vet, rabies vaccines expire every one to three years; if your dog is not current on the rabies vaccine, do not expect to get your dog groomed. Some facilities have an exception to that rule, because unfortunately some dogs can be allergic to the rabies vaccine, but you need to call the grooming facility and find out their policy on that. The Bordetella, or Kennel Cough vaccine is not required by most grooming facilities, but it is good to have your dog vaccinated against it. It is an air born virus, meaning dogs can catch Kennel Cough even if they are not in direct contact with other dogs. The Kennel Cough vaccine only covers about 80%, just like flu shots. It is especially recommended for puppies, senior pets, pets with trachea issues, and pets with heart murmurs. Most vaccines take about a week to fully incorporate into their systems, and I recommend you waiting about a week after any type of vaccine before going to the groomers. However, most facilities require a 48 hour, or 2 day waiting policy after any vaccine before your dog can be seen by the groomer. Make sure you call the facility, ask about their policy on vaccines, and any waiting periods they might have.
Another thing to consider is grooming of sedated pets. Major chains tend not to do sedative grooming, because it can be a liability. That includes any type of calming medication, whether it be natural and over the counter, calming treats, etc. If your pet needs to be sedated for grooming, you need to call the facility you were interested in and find out their policy. You cannot get upset with the groomers if they cannot groom your dog on any type of sedatives or calming treats/medications, because you did not call and ask about their policy. Some smaller shops are comfortable to groom dogs on sedatives, but again, call and ask about the policy. If all else fails, there are veterinarian’s who do grooming on sedated pets.
Open wounds is another topic. Most groomers do not groom any dogs with open wounds. The possibility of infection due to soaps, hair, bacteria getting in there while in the groomers care is high, and groomers do not want to be held liable for that. If your dog has an open wound, your first priority should be to see the veterinarian, not get it groomed. Believe it or not, there was a situation where I was schedule to groom this dog, and he had gaping wounds all around his neck due to a bark collar. It was extremely infected, and smelled like death. The owners were more concerned about getting him bathed so he didn’t stink, instead of rushing him to the vet. That did not go over well for me, and without causing harm to the human being, my manager at the time convinced them to go to our vet next door.
Stitches is another topic to consider. Most facilities do not groom pets that still have stitches, including stitches due to a spay or neuter. Just like open wounds, there are possibilities for infection, as well as possibilities that the stitches may come undone. That is another liability for the groomer and the grooming facility. Wait until all the stitches are removed before making an appointment for grooming.
One last tidbit of information is that you need to make sure you are giving your groomer plenty of time to groom your dog. What I mean is, do not expect to drop “Bella” off at 10am and pick her up by 11am. If you have appointments, or have somewhere to be so you need your dog done by a certain time, do not make the grooming appointment. It really frustrates groomers, and stresses them out, trying to accommodate the pet parent because they didn’t plan adequately for their dogs groom. Grooming can take anywhere from 2 to 6 hours, depending on a multitude of factors. Groomers tend to take anywhere from 4 to 10 dogs a day, and are rotating through dogs. Some facilities do offer what is called an Express Appointment, where for an additional charge, the groomer works on only your dog from start to finish at the beginning of their day. It is best to call the facility you are interested in going to, and see if they offer that service.
Those were just a few things to consider and think about before making a professional grooming appointment. One last thing I want to touch base on are a few grooming terms.
Matting, matts, matted: When I groomer mentions one of these, they are talking about the dogs hair being immensely tangled, whether it just be a few spots or all over. The safe bet they are going to recommend is for the matt (or tangle) to be spot shaved out, because it is not safe or healthy to try and brush that out. I do have a post discussing all about matting coming up.
Pelted: There are occasions where groomers have to be firm and use this term. It coincides with matted. It means that a dog is so tangled all over, it needs to be shaved all over. Most likely, the matts are going to come off in a sheet, and that is not good. Usually this word comes out with the pet parent is not listening or arguing with the groomer, and the groomer is trying to be firm but still professional.
Shave Down or Summer Cut: A short haircut all over, length varies depending on the pet parents preference. Most choose a #7F blade or a #5F blade, which are both really short lengths, but still hide the skin on most dogs. There is a full post on shave downs coming up.
Puppy Cut: A general term, that essentially means nothing for a groomer. It is just one length, all over. Head tends to vary as well, going anywhere from the same length as the body to a round head. There is not universal length. There is a full post on the Puppy Cut coming up.
Sanitary: The private areas on the dogs. Around the vulva on the female, and the penis on the male, as well as the rear end where they poop. This is usually shaved in a #10 blade, which is short.
Anal Glands: The anal glands are two sacs located internally underneath the opening of the rectum. They fill up with fluids that are sometimes thick, and have the tendency to smell like rotting fish or eggs. Some dogs need this done manually, usually smaller dogs, while bigger dogs tend to do it on their own. If you start expressing your dogs anal glands, you are more than likely going to have to keep doing it manually.
Ear Plucking: Some dogs tend to grow hair inside their ears that need to be pulled or plucked out. Some vets recommend it, some do not. I recommend it, because hair can trap moisture and bacteria in the ear canal, leading to ear infections. On occasion, after plucking the hair out, ear infections can occur due to moisture and bacteria already festering below. It does sting for dogs, and most do tolerate it. It has been compared to the plucking of eyebrow hairs.
The Quick: The quick is the blood vessel located in the dogs nails. It is easier to see on white nails than on black nails. If cut, it does bleed.
Any questions, comments, or concerns, or if you have any other terms you need clarified, please leave them in the comment section below. I hope this post was helpful and informative. Till next time!