Personal Care for your Pet’s Appearance and Health
By Melissa Gulden
Story by Melissa Gulden
I WRITE A LOT about maintaining your own health and beauty, but what about your pet? Sound crazy? Pet beautification is a million-dollar industry and goes way beyond just a shampoo. Grooming is not just about your pet’s level of cleanliness, nor is it about keeping your dog looking good. Grooming is about maintaining your pet’s physical health as well as his appearance.
If the eyes are the window to the soul, then hair is the window to the animal’s inner health and overall well-being. Changes in a dog’s coat can indicate a more serious condition within, such as dietary imbalance or diseases of digestive, thyroidal, renal, immune or parasitic origin.
A benefit of grooming is that it allows you to check your pet for any abnormalities. This includes skin problems such as ticks, fleas and dry patches, or any issues with their nails, teeth, ears and eyes. When treated at an early stage, many of these issues can be treated fairly easily, but if left unchecked, can develop into a more serious condition. Lara Schneiderwind is a groomer at Furry Tales Pet Spa inside Kimberly’s Grooming. She says it is important is to keep up on flea and tick treatments, especially in this area, so the animals don’t end up with an infestation, because that is harder to get rid of.
A dog’s skin and hair form a barrier to protect the dog’s body from infections, parasites and the elements. The hair is classified into three basic types: primary or guard types, which form the outer coat to protect the animal from weather; secondary or undercoat, which provides insulation; and tactile or sensory, such as whiskers or the hairs inside the ears.
Dogs of different breeds display different rates of coat development, which varies considerably based on its coarseness or thickness. And, contrary to popular belief, all dogs do shed, it’s just that they shed and regrow hair at varying rates and some dogs shed a lot less than others. Understanding the type of breed you have (preferably before you adopt it), and how much grooming and maintenance is necessary, can help you determine whether that breed is right for you.
Although no formal training is required, most groomers have some sort of a certificate, in addition to a high school diploma. Some even choose to acquire specialized certification, such as the National Certified Master Groomer designation. This entails attending an accredited workshop, proving practical skills through demonstration and passing a series of written exams.
Dawn Call, a local groomer of small dog breeds, became a groomer because she has a love for dogs and helping them feel good.
“I like it when the owners pick up the dogs and the dogs are all cute and happy,” Call says. She was going to be a vet tech, but decided that grooming dogs is more of an art for her. And after 17 years of grooming, Call still continues to work on her trade. She started out as a bather at a local shop for several years and then had an apprenticeship under Kimberly Wroe, owner of Kimberly’s Dog Grooming in Redding, and was able to hone her craft.
“I have an emotional bond and an art bond with my dogs,” she says. “I want them to know they’re taken care of. I really care about my dogs.”
And it isn’t only dogs that need grooming – most pets require some sort of maintenance. Cats spend a good deal of their waking hours grooming themselves, but still benefit from some human intervention every now and then. Regardless of whether you have a fancy Persian or a regular shorthair, brushing helps remove tangles, burs and dander, as well as that extra hair your cat leaves you in the form of hairballs. Brushing should be a daily routine, as it releases the natural oils in the fur, creating a shiny coat.
Nail clipping is also important, especially if you have an indoor cat. And just as with dogs, this should be started early on so they get used to it. If you’re feeling nervous about using clippers, ask your vet to show you the proper technique so you don’t injure the animal (rodents and reptiles need their nails trimmed, too).
And don’t forget those pearly whites. Yes, a little teeth brushing two or three times a week goes a long way to remove plaque and tartar and keep an eye on the cat’s overall dental health. Just be sure to never use human toothpaste on your pets.
As for finding the right groomer, check the reviews and ask friends for their recommendations, but at the end of the day, always rely on your gut instinct. Call says to always walk through a facility and check things out before you drop off your dog – have a viewing and make a surprise visit. Follow your instincts from there.
Look around the premises and check the workspace. If you don’t feel comfortable leaving your pet there, don’t!
Simply put, grooming helps keep your pet healthy and happy, gives time set aside for the two of you and can help you save on veterinary bills. So start grooming your pets early and enjoy the benefits of a happier, healthier furry friend. •