Not everyone has gotten the message – senior dogs also need grooming!!
Unfortunately, there are many dog guardians out there who seem to think that just because their dog is older and spending more time in bed than out of it, grooming can take a back seat. They wait until the dog smells so bad they can’t stand it, or is unable to walk properly. Some arrive at the groomer so matted there’s no choice but to shave them, or with nails so long they end up needing veterinary care.
Yes there can be some stress involved
- Your dog may have always been quite happy going to the groomer, but lately seems reluctant. Perfectly understandable!
- Arthritis, back, or hip problems make it uncomfortable to stand.
- Vision problems make them fearful – not knowing where they are, or what’s happening to them.
The importance of grooming
Every dog, no matter what age or size, needs a bath and a nail trim, and if they have hair that grows, then a cut as well. It’s one of the basics of proper dog care, no less important than good nutrition, exercise and mental stimulation. You may be surprised how many groomers have noticed something “suspicious” on a dog they’ve been grooming, that you may not have caught. .
My experience finding a groomer for my deaf and blind dog
A few years ago my husband and I adopted a deaf and mostly blind dog named Josephine. I lost count of how many groomers I called, asking if they would groom her. Every single one of them said no.
Am I ragging on groomers? No I’m not, so if you’re a groomer please don’t get offended. I’m talking strictly about my experience. It got to the point where we bought a dog shaver, and did it ourselves. Because her hair grew, we desperately needed to have the fur around her eyes done.
Our only option, and yes, it was our only option at the time, was to take her to the animal hospital, and have her very lightly sedated with a mask, while someone trimmed the hair around her eyes.
A very scary and traumatic experience for Josephine, and us, and one we did not plan on repeating. With some practice, and lots and lots of treats from my husband, I managed to trim around her eyes on my own.
Making the experience as stress free as possible
Finding a groomer
I assume you’ve been having your dog groomed on a regular basis, and again, I assume your groomer will continue to do so throughout your dog’s life. If, however, you’re looking for another one for whatever reason, here are things to consider in your search.
What I do
I always start by asking people I know with dogs – especially if they share their lives with seniors.
When I find a groomer that seems promising, I go and have a chat before the appointment, or at least a lengthy one on the phone. I’m extremely protective of my older dogs, and anyone can tell me anything on the phone. I want to get a sense of the person I’ll be dealing with.
Questions to ask, things you want to know
- How much experience does she have with older dogs who may have vision or hearing problems, skin growths, trouble standing, snippy when handled…
- Does she use a high powered nozzle to wash the dogs – which could scare some of them
- How does she dry them? Towel or noisy powerful dryer?
- Does she have a nonslip mat on the table? In the bathtub?
- What about blind dogs – does she keep talking to reassure them?
- How does she handle an overly stressed dog? Does she stop for a few minutes and try again? Break up an appointment into two sessions if necessary?
- How about pee breaks?
If, for whatever reason, you’re dubious – say thank you and look for someone else.
Should I stay or should I go?
Some dogs are more anxious when their guardians hang around, others need that comfort. If you’re concerned because it’s someone new, tell the groomer you’re going to hang around the area for a few minutes in case she calls. This way, you can get there quickly.
When we first brought our puppy mill rescue Saffy to the groomer, my husband and I stayed the entire time. Although we’ve always had confidence in our groomer, Saffy was such a wreck from being confined for 8 years breeding, we were the only comfort she ever knew, and I didn’t want to leave her. In her case, it was the right decision.
Getting the first appointment of the day means no chance of previous clients running late, delaying your dog’s appointment and adding to his stress levels.
Arriving early to pick up your dog means he doesn’t have to hang around waiting, possibly adding to his stress levels.
Perhaps when your dog was younger you were interested in fancy hairstyles, no matter how long it took. Now it’s less about winning beauty pageants (although I’m sure that would be the case no matter what!), and more about the safety and comfort of your dog. You want your groomer to do a great job, be careful, and be quick.
There are lots of groomers riding around in their “beauty parlour on wheels.” They pull up in your driveway, groom the dog in their van, and you’re done. It couldn’t get any handier than that! This might be the best option for your dog.
Senior dogs also need grooming – conclusion
I know you are diligent about keeping your dog well groomed, no matter what. If you know someone that isn’t, perhaps you can somehow have a casual chat about it. They might not realise how important it is for their dog, and may be grateful you’re trying to help.
I’d love to hear your experiences, just leave them in the comment section below.