Pride and Groom

by Martha Michael

Beauty is only fur-deep, but your animal’s health and wellness has a lasting effect.

When it comes to grooming your pets, there are household tools for brushing their coats and shampoos that are specific to dogs or cats. But do-it-yourself washing and preening should be reserved for time between appointments by professional groomers.

“Every breed is different, but most of your typical household pets need to be groomed every 6-8 weeks,” says Chris Anderson of Chris’ K-9 Clippery in Canyon Country. “Cats need grooming every 3-6 months, especially if they’re long-haired cats. They need their nails, ears, and some cats require their coats to be shaved, while some don’t – it depends on whether or not they maintain it themselves.”

The purpose of grooming animals isn’t just to improve their looks, says Veronica Ochoa of On The S’paw, a new grooming salon on Soledad Canyon Road in Canyon Country.

“I would advise owners to keep their dogs and cats clean, not only for the physical appearance, but for their health as well,” Ochoa says. “When owners don’t keep their pets maintained, it could hide some health issues such as dry skin and other skin problems. When they are groomed, both the groomer and the owner can find this and be aware of the condition the pet is in.”

An article on PetMD suggests readying your dog for grooming before its first appointment, while still a puppy, particularly in the case of long-haired dogs, as their appointments tend to be longer and more intense than dogs with short, clipped fur styles. They can begin routine grooming as early as 3 weeks old. It increases the chance of the experience being incident-free.

Brushing is recommended for long-haired and short-haired breeds, as they benefit from the removal of dirt, dandruff and dead hair, plus it brings out their natural oils. It’s also a good time for health checks, such as inspecting the skin for the presence of fleas, ticks or afflictions stemming from allergies, and for trimming nails, as well as examining teeth, ears and the eyes.

“Grooming your pets on a regular basis not only keeps your pet looking their best but also can alert you to any new physical changes you might not have previously been aware of,” says Corrin Bailey from Groomingdales in Acton. “When a pet comes in on a regular basis, the groomer gets real familiar with your pet’s skin and coat.”

Even serious issues are often detected by groomers. “Sometimes the groomer is the first to notice a new lump growing in an unusual place or a rash that has broken out, or changes in the coat, like brittleness or not growing back properly,” Bailey adds.

Mobile groomer Fernando Martinez concurs. “You’ll see if they have skin issues or ear infections,” he says. “Most of the time, when you don’t groom your dog they’ll have a lot of liquid inside of their glands, and that will cause a lot of problems. Grooming is the best way to keep your dog in good shape and healthy.”

Anderson said it’s the groomer’s responsibility to check all the orifices of the animal. “If there are any skin issues, we’d be the first to tell you,” she says.

But the animal isn’t the only one affected by the threat of allergies. “Our dogs collect a lot of dust and pollen every time they are out running or out for a walk,” Bailey explains. “Remember, they are a lot lower to the ground than us and put their noses in everything. Then, guess where those little noses end up – in our faces. So, in conclusion, regular grooming can alert you to health issues, keep allergens at bay, and make your pets look and feel fabulous.”