Some dog breeds need special grooming all their life. However, there comes a point in life when the dog becomes too old to be groomed. Many dogs develop arthritis as they age which can cause severe pain while grooming. As a pet owner, you need to consider some questions pertaining to senior dog grooming: how old is too old? Is my dog too old to be groomed?
Your vet can guide you in answering these questions. If you are unsure as to how to groom a senior dog, you can search for special grooming for senior dogs near you. In case you unsure whether your dog is too sick or old to be groomed, then use the following guide to help you:
Pay attention to pet’s body language
Dogs will give important clues when they are uncomfortable. Watch out for cues such as pain, groaning or wincing. Some older dogs can get really cranky and won’t allow you or a groomer to touch them. In such cases, one may have to muzzle the pet. In their senior years, the pet’s comfort is of greater importance than his looks. So ask the dog groomer to cover just the basic necessities. You can limit the hair trimming and trim in areas that are absolutely necessary to groom.
Groom in phases
Limit the grooming sessions to shorter duration. Older dogs can get very anxious and tired easily during grooming. You could wash on day one, trim one half of his body on day two and complete the grooming on day three. Groom in a style that is practical for your aging pet; do not insist on having foo foo hairstyles suitable for young dogs.
Listen to the groomer – No means no!
Some groomers refuse to take clients aged 12 and above. They might politely tell you that your senior dog is not fit for grooming any more. If that is the case, please listen to the professional. Do not try to find other dog grooming salons near you to groom your cranky, tired geriatric dog. Not only will your dog be extremely uncomfortable with a new groomer; it is also unfair to the professional who may not know what s/he is signing up for. So if you have been told that your dog is too old to be groomed, listen to these experienced people. You don’t want your dog to bite, cry, scream or even pass on the groomer’s table. Many groomers have been bitten by older dogs and have required surgeries following the bites. So these experienced professionals have a reason to refuse service to you if they deem fit.
Senior dogs with sores and papules
Senior dog skin, just like old people skin, is very fragile. Many breeds like cocker spaniels are known to develop flat, smooth and shiny papules or raised plaques in their old age. Since geriatric dogs lie down a lot, they tend to develop bed sores which can be very painful while grooming. It is best to be very gentle with these dogs during grooming. If possible, provide an orthopedic cushion for the dog to lie down on the painful side. As far as possible, avoid shaving near the sores or papules. For dogs with hair loss, rashes or delicate skin, avoid bathing. You can use doggy deodorant or dry shampoo powders. Pet parents can also use a homemade deodorant powder with herbal ingredients like chamomile flowers, lavender flowers, etc. This powder will keep your pet smelling good. I have discussed a recipe below:
- 1 cup each dried rue, fennel, rosemary, peppermint, wormwood.
Mix all ingredients and grind in coffee grinder. Fill the powder inside a clean salt shaker and sprinkle all over the pet’s coat. This will repel fleas and ticks and keep your pet smelling great.
Matted hair in senior dogs
Grooming a senior dog is often trickier because the pet tends to lie down and sleep more often. Due to this, the fur in long haired dogs tends to get packed and matted. Many older dogs develop mats which can be so painful to remove that it can cause the skin to tear. If you haven’ groomed your geriatric pet for more than a year, you must seek the services of a gentle, professional dog groomer who will help shave the mats off without causing any pain to your pet. Older dogs are not very patient during brushing and might not allow you to access certain painful areas. Everything hurts more in older dogs, so be very careful and gentle while brushing.
Grooming older dogs with cardiovascular diseases
The problem with grooming an older dog with heart disease is that not only are they in much pain; they are actually in the danger of passing during grooming. Please discuss what is and isn’t acceptable for your dog with a knowledgeable vet or professional groomer. You really do not want to stress out the pet any more. Watch out for signs of breathlessness-dogs with heart disease could develop bluish grey tongues and some even start panting. Stop the grooming session immediately if that occurs. Get the pet to a vet immediately. Seniors dogs need to be dried quickly and without a hair dryer; you certainly do not want to overheat the pet. In summers, use an air conditioner and keep temperature comfortable while trimming or bathing the pet. If your pet’s temperature goes up to 105 F, please stop immediately and seek medical help.
Grooming a senior dog with arthritis
Older dogs with arthritis have painful joints. So when you try trimming the hair on their paws or between the legs, they might not allow you to hold the paw up. Simply brush the hair and trim it quickly. Watch out for cues of pain or discomfort. Note that longer haired dogs can have problems during nature calls owing to longer fur length on the rear. The arthritis and lack of muscle mobility can worsen things. It helps to keep rear end hair shorter. You can choose to have short hair all over or simply trim certain areas for upkeep.
Signs to watch out for
Many dog groomers check the senior dog before accepting him as a client. Here are some signs and checklists:
- Can the dog stand unassisted? Is he shaking?
- Are the dog’s ears cold to touch?
- Is there muscle wasting?
- Dog’s gums can also give important clues about its health. Groomers analyze the pet’s gum and breath. They might refuse to groom your senior dog having breath stinking of urine, rotten fruit or decaying teeth.
- Does your pet react painfully when the groomer handles or manipulates its joints?
If these signs are present, professional groomers might insist on vet’s written approval before they can accept your pet as their client.
There comes a time in every dog owner’s life when making their old pet stand for trims or fancy grooming sessions is no longer humane. It is better to have a dog with matted hair than put him through the pain and torture of lengthy grooming session. Go for simpler hairstyles and try to keep grooming and bathing to a minimum. Choose a friendly and ethical dog groomer nearby to assist you. Always get your vet’s approval to ensure that your pet is fit to be groomed.