Is my dog too old to be groomed? What happens when your pet groomer won’t groom your pet any longer because it is against their company policy to do elderly pets? What do I look for when trying to find a pet groomer for my elderly pet? How often should I groom my senior pet?
These are the questions that are very common. We will try to answer these questions for you in this article.
Fifi just turned 10 years old.
This is your beloved pet who has been loyal and loving for all of her life! She deserves to be treated with dignity and respect in her elderly years. After Fifi’s birthday, you call to confirm your grooming appointment and they tell you she is too old and it is against their “policy” to groom her any longer! Gulp! What now? As you struggle with the shock of this devastating news, reality sinks in. Your groomer will no longer groom Fifi! Most corporate pet chains and many groomers have an age limit cut off for pet grooming. So, what is one to do when this happens? We answer these questions the best we can.
When your pet gets turned away, most people frantically start looking for a new pet groomer.
They call and ask what is the age limit for grooming. When they find one that will accept the aged pet, they bring their pet to be groomed. Even worse, they may have to fudge the age because no one will accept their pet for grooming! That may work for a while but what happens when the pet ages out of that salon? The answer is simple. You need to find a place that will not “age out” your pet. That is, if the health of your pet will allow it. There are many senior pets in better health than younger pets. The condition of the health should supersede the age of the pet. If your pet is at an extremely high risk due to health conditions, most pet salons and groomers will turn the pet away because they fear they may be blamed if a fatality happens during the grooming process or it's just company policy. However, someone still needs to groom your pet so what can you do?
What happens when your pet groomer won’t groom your pet any longer because of its age? What if it is against their company policy to do elderly pets?
The best course of action to help prevent this from happening to you is to do your research early. Of course you don’t have to look when they are still very young but I encourage you to do so. Try to find a groomer who will stay with your pet until it is not able to be groomed in any way any longer. That way, your elderly pet will not be under any unnecessary stress when being groomed by a stranger. If you haven’t already done so, start looking for a permanent, experienced, knowledgeable groomer who will stay with your pet by the time your pet is the age of 8 years old for dogs and cats alike.
Most pet grooming facilities whether private or corporate companies will make you sign a waiver that will hold them harmless if your pet passes on during the grooming process.
This means that if your pet suffers from any medical condition or passes away during the grooming process, they will not be held liable for the condition or death of your pet. It also means that you will not hold it against them if something does happen. They want to be sure you won't blame them for the loss. It is not without risk grooming an elderly pet and you must know that if you continue to have your pet groomed. You do have the option of finding a vet with a groomer on staff in which the vet may intervene if your pet goes into cardiac arrest or any other condition. That would be totally up to you. If anything major happens with a groomer that doesn’t work at a vet’s office, it is unlikely the pet will make it to a vet hospital on time whether it would make a difference or not. It is something to think about and know while you proceed to find a groomer for your elderly pet. It is very scary to groom an elderly pet with high risk knowing the pet may pass away during the process so you must be able to release all responsibilty of such loss from the person who is willing to groom the pet. You must accept the fact that if your pet does have cardiac arrest or any other condition that it was not the fault of the groomer.
What do I look for when trying to find a pet groomer for my elderly pet?
First of all, if your pet is very aggressive during grooming, you will want to search for a vet that has groomers on staff.
Look for groomers who care about the comfort and safety of your pet more than the physical appearance. It is also very important the groomer you choose is very gentle and not heavy handed (also known as being rough).
Look for groomers whose motivation is not all about the money.
Look for groomers with at least 5 years of experience because they are used to dealing with all types of bodies, aches and sagging skin issues.
Look for groomers who have lots of grooming equiptment. It is very necessary for senior pets. The reason for this is if a groomer only has one of each blade, that blade will heat up quickly and it is hard even with cooling spray to get it to stay cool. It is best if your groomer has 2-3 blades of each kind they use. When blades heat up too much, it causes razor burn!
Ask the groomer if they have different types of blow dryers they can use especially for low velocity blow dryers. Look for groomers who have a "groomer's helper" tool to help keep pressure off the pet's trachea or they can use the grooming loop like a harness instead with one front leg going through the loop. Some groomers do not even know about this procedure. Please know it is of upmost importance for small pets to have some type of harness or grooming loop on them to avoid falling off the table.
Don't forget to ask the groomer or company what the current age limit is for pet grooming at their facility.
What are common things many pet groomers do that can stress out or potentially hurt my senior pet? Force drying an elderly pet with a nozzle on the dryer is hands down the most common problematic thing pet groomers do to senior pets. Some young pets can also have this problem. A high velocity force dryer can cause a Reflex Seizure in pets also known as a “bark seizure”. This seizure is NOT considered a form of epilepsy. This seizure is when the pet starts making uncontrollable noises. In dogs, this is uncontrolled high pitched barking (bark seizure) while frantically trying to escape. In cats it is uncontrolled screaming and or panicked jumping to get away. This kind of seizure can be caused by loud noises for short or long periods of time. Every pet is different. You can think of this as a similar kind of seizure that happens to certain individuals after seeing a flashing light or strobe lights. This is a reactive seizure that is fairly common in dogs and cats when loud blow dryers are used particularly on senior pets. Cats can also be set off this way simply by turning on a spray shower of water. The sound can automatically set cats into a panic. Although not as common, a pet can have this type of seizure from other things also such as the feel of a clipper or dremel. Reflex seizures are caused by a certain stimulus. This type of seizure is usually not fatal but it can be depending on the pet’s health and how quickly the pet calms down amongst other factors. Any seizure lasting longer than 5 minutes should be considered an emergency situation.
Many pet groomers are trained to get the job done fast and efficiently by using high velocity loud force dryers. Unfortunately, most groomers are not trained on the cons of force drying. Force dryers are very loud and have very high velocity air (forcibly coming out at high speeds). Force drying with a nozzle is very loud and sometimes very scary for pets. It is almost always best to use a low velocity dryer for elderly pets! If your pet can tolerate the force dryer, the groomer should take the nozzle off so as not to alarm or stress out your pet. The nozzle on the force dryer makes the air coming out much louder and stronger. Tiny and frail pets are more prone to be high risk, high stress for high velocity dryers.
Additionally, heat dryers on cages are also very dangerous. Cage dryers without heat won’t cause your pet to pass away, but your pet can get very cold.
It is always a good idea to ask what kind of dryers are available for drying your pet.
If they only have force dryers, that is something you must consider. However, not using a force dryer does have its drawbacks. If your pet has an undercoat of hair coming out, the groomer may not be able to get out as much hair as they would if the force dryer is used. If your pet can tolerate the force dryer, the groomer can use a terry cloth hood (a “hoodie”) that will go over your pet's ears so they can’t hear the noise which may ease the discomfort of the loud dryer.
It would be good if the groomer has the option of letting you bathe and dry the pet a day before grooming also. The groom may not be as “pretty” as it would be if the groomer did it, but what matters most is your pet being comfortable in their later years! Try to find a flexible groomer or company who will listen and work with your pet’s needs.
Another common mistake pet groomers make on senior pets is not knowing how to hold legs and feet or body parts in a way that will not harm the joints or dog itself.
Pulling legs or hips away from the body can physically hurt your pet. Bow legged and deformed pets have much more pain in the joints than normal bodied pets. Some groomers do not think about this while grooming the pet, especially when clipping the nails and trimming the legs. This can cause pain especially with arthritis and joint issues that humans can not visibly see. We also can not see bruises on pets.
Another tactic I have seen is to grab the dog's hair under the chin in an attempt to make the dog hold still so they can groom it's face. Some groomers have been trained to do it this way! This is not the way to handle this issue and it will usually make the pet much more fearful and anxious. The best way to hold the head for a face trim is to hold the grooming loop underneath with your fingers and pull forward so as not to aggravate the trachea or scare the pet. This is a much better way to do the face and nothing may work if the pet is really fighting the face trim. Experienced, educated and conscious groomers are already aware of these issues and will know the cues the pet gives that there may be pain or anxiety involved and will stop and try a different way so as not to harm or scare the pet.
Yet another common mistake some pet groomers make is putting a grooming loop around the neck only instead of harnessing the pet with the loop.
Some companies require the grooming loop to be around the dog or cat's neck only but this can be a big mistake. With cats, if the cat panics it can really harm it because of the immense pressure being put on the neck when leaping. In elderly dogs, it is not a good idea to put it only around the neck unless there is another front fastener that will pull the front of the neck away from the throat so it is not putting pressure on the trachea. This is especially harmful with small dogs or dogs with collapsing trachea or dogs with brachyocephalic (short muzzle, flat faces) pets.
Lastly, a common mistake groomers make while grooming senior pets is putting the physical appearance of the pet above the comfort and safety of the pet.
Some groomers want to please the customer or the company they work for by any means necessary, even if it means making the pet very uncomfortable. We will never recommend this type of grooming on a senior pet. If you like Fifi’s feet shaved, but Fifi hates it, it is best to stop shaving the feet and just make them short. Fifi will love you for it! We don’t need Fifi’s stress level to go so high she never wants to be groomed again, right? On the other hand, if Fifi doesn’t want her nails clipped but it would cause more pain for her to walk on long nails or to break a nail, then her nails should be cut if at all possible. The difference between these two scenarios is strictly aesthetics vs necessary!
How often should I groom my senior pet?
If your pet tolerates the grooming well, it is best to get it groomed every 4-8 weeks to keep it clean and manageable. At least a bath or brushout with nail clipping will make your dog or cat feel fresh again. Some pets who do not tolerate the grooming well may get groomed less often but be careful not to go too long because it may be harder to get it back to a comfortable coat condition. Matted pets are harder to groom than those with no tangles. This will also depend on whether you brush and comb your pet at home while keeping the coat tangle free. These are all things to keep in mind for the quality of life for your pet.
Come back and check our blog for more articles for grooming tips and educational information! We will be posting more as time goes on so be sure to check back!
If you live in our service area which is based in Plano, Texas and serves Far North Dallas and surrounding areas, try Little Munchkins Pet Grooming for your pet grooming needs! We welcome elderly senior pets! Check our website for service areas and book online! https://littlemunchkinspetgrooming.com/