Hi there, my name is Molly Sabourin. I’m a professional dog groomer and full-time animal lover. I’ve been grooming dogs (and a few other animals besides!) for the past 20 years and I consider myself to be truly blessed.
When you love animals as much as I do, having a job that allows you to stay at home all day meeting all kinds and getting to make a fuss of them… well it’s pretty amazing! Of course, I’ve got my own pooch – Bee – who I adore most of all.
But as well as getting to play with pups all day, I also provide an important service for animals and their owners alike. What many dog owners don’t realize is that the importance of dog grooming goes beyond simply making their pets look fabulous. Dogs need their hair cut and nails trimmed in order to be happy, health and full of life.
This goes over a lot of dog owners’ heads and in fact a question I get quite often is: ‘why does my dog even need grooming’? Well, let me explain.
Dogs Wouldn’t Get Groomed in the Wild, Why Do They Need to Get Groomed Now?
Good question! And this lies at the root of many people’s misunderstandings regarding dog grooming.
In the wild, dogs of course wouldn’t have little old Molly to trim their hair and make them look pretty and presumably they survived just fine back then! So, what’s the difference?
Well, this may come as a surprise to you… but there were no wild poodles. There are no wild pugs. You will never cross the African Savanna only to encounter a chihuahua hunting down a pack of gazelles. It just doesn’t happen!
Dogs of course are descendants of wolves and since then, they have also been bred into entirely different forms. They might have shorter legs, longer fur or both.
So, while a wolf would never find itself with hair growing into its eyes, this is something that a long-haired mutt is much more likely to struggle with.
Likewise, the lifestyle of your dog is really rather different from the lifestyle of a wild animal. Wild animals are constantly hunting, running through the woods and sharpening their teeth and claws on the ground, on their prey and in a range of other scenarios.
If you have a nicely domesticated pooch meanwhile, then they are going to be stuck at home the vast majority of the time. When they do go for walks, they probably won’t rip up all that many carcasses. And thus, their nails can become long and brittle.
The list of differences goes on but you hopefully get my point: there is no comparing a wild wolf to a modern domestic doggy. They need to be treated very differently and that means they need grooming. That’s where I come into the equation!
How Grooming Makes Your Dog Healthier
So specifically, just what can grooming your dog do for their health and happiness?
Firstly, brushing and trimming the fur can help to remove dead hair, dirt and dandruff. It will also help to bring out the natural oils that exist in a dog’s fur and in this way, it can support the ‘skin barrier’. Humans have something similar and essentially this helps to keep bacteria at bay and prevent infections among other things.
As you might expect, bringing out those oils can also help to give your dog’s coat a healthy sheen and prevent them from losing their hair prematurely.
Grooming and trimming also helps to reduce the likelihood of fleas and more importantly still: ticks. Ticks can carry disease and if they are knocked off then they can leave their legs embedded in your dog, leading to infections, inflammation and a range of other issues. While a groomer goes through your pet’s fur, they will be able to look for such things and deal with them appropriately.
Groomers are also often the first to spot a range of other irregularities. We might notice a lump that could be indicative of cancer for instance, perhaps we might notice inflamed, dry or otherwise sore looking skin. Often, we will notice brittle hair or nails and be able to recommend diet changes etc.
Finally, if you don’t trim your dog’s hair around the face then this can end up getting in their eyes or digging into their ears – potentially causing problems such as eczema or interfering with their vision. This is just another way that a fresh coat can make them happier and more energetic – they’ll be like a new dog!
The other aspects of grooming might involve brushing the teeth professionally or trimming the nails. This can prevent plaque and also avoid the nails becoming long and painful. Find the right tool to trim nails can be a pain, here’s a how-to guide along with top notch dog nail grinder reviews. Groomers can also address things like washing – it all depends on the type of pup and on what you would like done!
What Can I Do?
Now you know just how important it is to keep your dog properly groomed, you might be wondering if there is anything you can do to help. Should you be grooming your pup as well, or should you leave it to the pros?
That all depends once again on the type of dog and on what you’d like to achieve for your canine companion. It also depends on your confidence and how likely your pup is to sit still while you trim around their ears – every dog has its own personality and some are certainly better customers than others! I’ve got a few scratches to prove it…
Regardless of whether you intend to groom your dog yourself or take them to a groomer, you’ll want to try and encourage them to get used to being groomed. A good way to do this is to start brushing them from a young age. This has health benefits right away and it will help to acclimatize them to the experience of being brushed.
As they get older, you can try trimming their hair yourself with clippers or some small scissors but of course it’s very important to be careful and not cut or hurt them! If they won’t sit still or if you feel nervous, then this is when it’s time to call in the professionals. It’s similarly important to be careful when drying a dog’s fur: if you hold the dryer too close or have the setting too high, it can end up causing a nasty burn.
Note of course that grooming a dog is much easier if they are straight furred. If you have a dog with curly locks – such as a poodle – then you may want to take them to a professional regardless.
Otherwise, your job is to make sure that your dog lives a healthy and happy lifestyle. Feed them well and ensure they get plenty of exercise. What’s important is to recognize that health – dog or human – is a holistic practice. A well groomed dog will be happier and have more energy and vigor. This will help to support their general health. Likewise though, if you do your job and get your dog plenty of exercise, lots of sun and a balanced diet, then their hair, skin and nails will be stronger and shinier and it will make our jobs easier too!