Basic Pet Care Info

Tips From a Dog Groomer

Dog being Groomed

On the inside trim

To most of us, dog coats are somewhat of a mystery—sometimes a very matted and messy mystery. Whether they're long and fluffy, short and coarse, or single- or double-coated, there's a proper way to groom dogs' coats to keep them looking their best.

We didn't have all the answers to the ins and outs of dog grooming, so we asked an expert: Corinne Wahl of Dogwood Days in Hoboken, NJ. Corinne is a professionally educated and trained pet stylist, and she let us in on the inside trim of the grooming experience—from what you can do in between grooming appointments to ways to enhance your visits to the groomer.Test

At-home grooming essentials

Proper grooming is really a vital part of your dog's health and well-being, and helping clients take the best care of their dogs is always Corinne's #1 goal. We asked her what dog owners can do at home, in between professional grooming, to keep their dogs' coats up to snuff.

The tools There are three basic tools for maintaining a freshly groomed coat: a comb, a brush, and a rubber brush.

For long coats, a half wide-tooth, half fine-tooth comb should be your primary tool. Use with a slicker or dematting brush to help keep your long-coated dog fluffy and knot free.

For short coats, a rubber brush will be your primary tool. Use it with a deshedding tool to remove under coat, and finish up with a comb for a wonderfully smooth and shiny result.

The brushing Pick a pattern and follow it over your dog. Try starting on the right hip and work down to the foot. Then move to the neck and work across the back and down the side. Then brush the front right leg, under chin, chest, and start the pattern over on the left side. Save the tail and head for last.

Lift the hair and work small sections at a time, making sure to get to the root of the hair directly at the skin. Corinne told us this about brushing to the root, "Far too often, clients tell me they brushed their dog, and are surprised by having to choose between dematting charges or shaving their pet because they did not comb through to the root."

Corrine suggests that if you like to bathe your dog at home, try combing the knots out while the hair is wet. It is easier to see exactly the size and location of the mats. When towel drying, pat, don't rub, the coat dry. Rubbing aids in the formation of mats. If you dry your dog with knots left in, they will tighten, forming more mats. If mats are left unattended, they cause discomfort, irritation, and can be very dangerous to remove.

Nail trimming Probably the most disheartening duty of pet grooming is nail trimming. Corrine uses a motor-operated grinder, which allows her to work the nail down slowly. The dog's reaction tells her when she's close to the quick. For those of us at home with old fashioned clippers, it can be hard to gauge the right spot to clip, and if you clip too close, you cut into the quick which bleeds and causes your best buddy pain.

It's most common to use styptic powder on a pet's bleeding nail. Corinne also reports that, "Cornstarch or flour helps stops bleeding nails if you don't have a styptic powder or gel. To staunch the bleeding, hold the powder to the nail and apply pressure. Keep an eye on those nails, though—the bleeding may resume if the nail scratches a rough surface."

At the groomer's

There are a few things that you can tell your groomer to make the grooming visit the best possible experience for all:

  • Does your dog have any medical conditions, food allergies, ever had a seizure, or need medication?
  • Have you ever been informed of bad behavior at a previous groomer?
  • Does your dog have sensitive feet? Hates getting wet? Freaks out with the dryer?

This helps your groomer give your dog the special attention he needs or make necessary accommodations for your visit. Also, make sure your groomer has your current contact information, so they can get in touch with you in case of an emergency. Happy grooming!