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Grooming for Senior Dogs

Should senior dogs and cats continue to be groomed?

The answer is YES! Although it can be a difficult process for the elderly dog and cat, it is essential for their health and well being. After the groom they tend to feel better and a little more energized. Being a groomer for 15 years I am a first hand witness to this. They come in a little smelly and soiled with long nails and dirty ears. When they leave, they seem happier and refreshed! Our pets are an integral part of our family. They provide us with loving sloppy wet kisses when we are sad, they are protectors, pillows and best friends. Our boy Sparky, AKA “Mr. gray face”, an aging yellow Labrador is now 14 years old (98 in dog years). He has saved every human in our family thru trying times with unconditional love and constant companionship. His eyes are cloudy, his joints unsteady and unable to go for car rides or a big hop up on the couch. He has a comfortable bed located in our family room where we lay on the floor next to him. There are good days and bad.

The ASPC estimates that 78 million dogs and 85.8 million cats are owned in the United States and almost half (47%) are age 7 years and older. As they age, they are prone to stress and anxiety making it extra hard on them going to the groomer. You may start to notice that certain sounds tend to frighten them into a panic such as wind or fireworks. At the pet salon they also tend to be afraid of the noisy dryers, clippers and other barking dogs. However, an experienced groomer can provide special extra amenities such as a sling and/or an ear sock to eliminate loud noise. Communication between you and the groomer is most important. Daily doses of pet CBD can calm them as well as provide relief from arthritis and joint pain. Pets also tend to slow down, sleep more, get a little wobbly and eating habits may change due to the effects of congestive heart failure, kidney or liver issues. You will notice that their nails grow longer quicker since they do not grind down naturally through activity. They must be trimmed or grinned more often so that the quick does not grow too long. It is important to keep them calm, clean, clipped and comfortable.

I came across this poem, I would love to share as it sums up the struggle between groomer and pet …..

“This is an open note to all the groomers out there who yesterday, today, or tomorrow, are holding tight a senior pet throughout their grooming sessions. 

The ones who wobble, the ones who struggle, the ones who tremble, the ones who bite & fight, the blind ones, the deaf ones, the ones who can’t hold their bladder, the arthritic ones, the stumbling fumbling ones, the screamy ones, the ones whose breath isn’t too fresh, the panicky ones, the ones whose coats are thin, the ones whose hair is dull and greasy, the ones whose bodies are worn out and broken down, the ones whose minds aren’t as focused as they were…….

Thank you for being extra patient and kind. Thank you for putting vanity aside in favour of our comfort. Thank you for going slow. Thank you for turning down the dryer. Thank you for the extra snuggly towel cuddles. Thank you for the thoughtful way you turn and lift me. Thank you for the extra warm bath massage. 

Thank you for knowing that I’m not giving you a hard time, but rather, that I’m having a hard time.”🐶 💓 Anonymous

Now if you can wipe the tears from your eyes and continue reading, here are some ideas and topics to discuss with the groomer:

  1. Ask for the most experienced groomer.
  2. Communicate to the groomer of any pressing concerns, ie. recent seizures, sore spots, skin or fur issues, anxiety, etc.
  3. Remind the groomer of any lumps and bumps to avoid with clippers and scissors.
  4. Ask if they can be groomed as soon as possible and not place in a cage. Use a mobile groomer if possible for a more calm, one on one experience.
  5. Bring a favorite blanket or squeaky toy for comfort.
  6. Bring a washable diaper in case of incontinence to avoid a mess on the grooming table or on the way home.
  7. Try giving a calming treat or a light sedative prior to the grooming service.
  8. Do not expect a perfect groom or ask for anything out of the ordinary. Their comfort is more important than vanity.
  9. Provide light daily grooming habits at home. It can help to identify new issues as well as creating a bonding experience.
  10. Do not wait too long in between grooms. It is a more difficult process if the coat is too dirty or matted.

We recommend these top 5 items for their at home care

  1. Waterless shampoo for the in between visits to the groomer
  2. Orthopedic bed
  3. Washable dog diapers for male or female
  4. Calming dog chews with probiotics
  5. Pet camera

Whatever the age, good grooming practices are essential for your pets health. Its important to start early so that they become comfortable with the process and continue it as long as possible. You may also want to consider grooming at your veterinarian office for sedation and immediate emergency care if needed. Your groomer my eventually deny service and recommend the vet because it has become too difficult. Please don’t get upset, its because they care. Groomers become attached to their furry friends and when we lose them to an illness or old age its definitely the most difficult part of the job. Keep in mind, for us, sometimes its a monthly occurrence.

Hopefully this was useful information. Thanks for reading. Tell your dog I said “HI”.

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