By Elizabeth Anderson Lopez
To groom or not to groom isn’t the question. The question is whether your pet should be groomed by you at home or a by professional in a salon. You may determine a hybrid approach is best: you do the regular brushing but have a professional do bathing and nails. Time, talent, tools, and type of coat are all factors to consider when debating where your dog or cat should be groomed.
Part of your decision will likely include cost, and washing your pet at home is definitely easier on your wallet. But the Four T’s—time, talent, tools, and type of coat—are designed to help you determine if the pet grooming version of “time is money” is a worthy trade off.
“Grooming done well can take some time,” says Linda Easton, president of International Professional Groomers, Inc. “This usually is a minimum of 90 minutes or more for a small dog.”
Along with the time it takes to groom your pet once, consider that this will be an ongoing commitment that you’ll either enjoy as way to bond with your pet, or you’ll put off because it’s an unpleasant chore. Remember that it’s your pet’s health and happiness on the line. Grooming isn’t simply cosmetic as matted hair and overgrown nails can cause discomfort.
Another factor to consider is your pet’s disposition. If you have a particularly anxious pet, grooming at home gives you an unlimited amount of time to help your pet become accustomed to the tools and sounds that go along with grooming.
Washing and brushing may not sound complicated, but it takes Easton about six months to train a bather/brusher. Bathing and brushing a pet includes thoroughly inspecting the skin under the coat to look for any issues.
Cutting an animal’s hair, on the paw, can be very complicated. Zack Grey, owner of The Urban Pet and Moon Shine Grooming in Los Angeles, explains, “Unless someone is experienced, grooming involving hair cuts should be done by a professional. There are too many variables involved, and an untrained hand using scissors or a shaver can pose a danger to the animal.”
There are many different types of brushes and combs that exist for various animals and hair types. If your cat or dog has short hair, one tool may be just fine. For more complicated coats, a salon will have ready access to a selection, including clippers, and a variety of shampoos and conditioners formulated for different skin and coat needs.
A salon also offers an all-over dryer system instead of the hand-held model you use for your own hair. Another hybrid solution if you prefer bathing your pet at home is the ConairPRO Dog Pet Dryer, which is designed specifically for pets and includes a four-position stand for hands-free drying.
Type of Coat
Not surprisingly, long-haired dogs are good salon candidates. “Dogs with longer coats that need trimming—Shih Tzus, poodles, Labradoodles—definitely need to be seen by a professional to avoid matting and unhealthy skin conditions,” says Easton.
If your pet is matted, that’s another perfect time to visit an expert. “The majority of cats that visit our salon are long-haired and have mats or are looking for a specialty cut such as a lion´s cut,” Grey adds.
Some cats won’t accept being groomed. Don’t force the issue. If there is any risk of injury to the cat or you, definitely see a professional. If you’ve decided to take your pet to a groomer, Pam Lauritzen, president of the International Society of Canine Cosmetologists, has some advice. “Pet owners should inform their pet care professional of their pet’s age, health and any special conditions their pet may be experiencing—skin problems, behavioral problems, anxieties, etc.,” Lauritzen advises. “They should also make certain that the pet care professional knows how to reach them in case of an emergency.”
There’s no right or wrong way to do it—you can groom your pet at home, take it to a salon or a combo of both. Whichever type of grooming you choose, you’ll end up with a happy pet who has a healthy coat and nails.