Pet Grooming 101: What to Expect
Owning a pet can be expensive if you're committed to giving that pet the regular care and loving attention it needs. It's not just food and toys that need to be provided: pets also need regular medical care and grooming, among other services, to maintain a high quality of life.
If you're unfamiliar with the importance of grooming, or you're looking for ways to bypass the cost of taking your pet to a professional grooming service, it's worth your time to educate yourself on why grooming is so strongly recommended for your pets—and how regular grooming can help prevent other hygiene and health costs from cropping up in the future.
Why are Cat and Dog Hair Cuts Necessary?
The reason for a cat or dog cut depends on the type of hair your pet has. Some dogs, for example, have fur coats that naturally shed and maintain themselves without any trimming required, unless they have a health reason such as matted hair or a parasite. Other types of dog hair, though, are more similar to human hair, and require regular trimming to keep the hair in good health.
While puppies may need haircuts and regular grooming, it's recommended that you avoid getting a puppy haircut until your dog is at least 12 weeks old. This is to make sure they're vaccinated before entering a space where they can contract illnesses from other dogs, and to reduce the risk of separation anxiety from their mother, if they haven't yet been weaned.
A cat haircut, on the other hand, usually isn't necessary because cat coats maintain themselves. However, if the cat's hair becomes matteed, it may be necessary to cut away the hair to get rid of the matting and allow your cat's coat to heal.
When considering a grooming appointment for your cat or dog, remember that a haircut is just one part of an overall grooming service—and the sum of these services is important to maintaining the health and hygiene of your pet.
What Do Dog and Cat Grooming Services Include?
Each professional groomer makes their own decisions about the dog and cat grooming services offered. In addition, some aspects of grooming may be included in a base grooming package, while others may be add-on services that bring an extra charge.
In general, common grooming services include:
- A bath.
- Brushing the pet's coat of hair.
- Drying the pet's hair.
- Nail trimming.
- Ear check.
- Teeth cleaning.
Before making a reservation with a groomer, contact the business to inquire about the services included in their grooming package, and whether other services you're seeking can be added on.
How Long Does Dog Grooming Take?
Grooming appointments can vary widely based on the type of hair your dog has, the size of the pet, and the number of services being rendered at your appointment.
For small, simple coats and minimal services, a grooming appointment could take 30 minutes or less. For large pets and/or pets with complicated grooming needs, a grooming appointment could require up to 90 minutes, and sometimes more.
How Dog Coat Types May Affect Your Cost
While cat hair tends to have the same characteristics regardless of the breed, dog hair is a little more complex when it comes to anticipating the grooming costs associated with that hair. It's important to understand the type of hair your dog has, and the grooming needs associated with that hair, when shopping around for grooming prices.
While many types of fur will shed on their own and don't require cutting, certain types of dogs—such as poodles, Shih Tzus, and wirehaired versions of dachshunds and other breeds—grow hair that will continue to lengthen until it is cut. If the groomer has to give your dog's hair a proper cut, this will inevitably increase the price of those services.
Curly hair and other types of dog hair can be particularly sensitive to infrequent washing and/or poor drying, and can face an increased risk of becoming matted, which may increase the cost of grooming. Curly hair is also more time-consuming to cut, and may require more time from the groomer.
If you're paying extra for your groomer to removed matted hair and mend other issues related to your dog's hair and skin health, you can prevent those costs in the future with more regular washing and more thorough cleaning.
Can't I Give My Pet a DIY Groom Service?
While certain grooming services, such as giving your pet a bath, may be manageable for most pet owners, it's important to consider the full range of services that come with grooming, as well as the difficulty of doing those tasks on your own—and the potential consequences your pet may face if they don't receive proper care over time.
Infrequent or imprecise nail trimmings, for example, can cause your pet discomfort and even put them at risk of snagging or tearing a nail, which may require a visit to the vet. A lack of professional teeth cleaning can increase the risk of dental problems and their associated costs later in life.
Other services, such as ear cleanings and ear exams, can affect your pets' ability to hear and potentially put them at risk both indoors and outside of the home.
While some grooming services may be appropriate for a DIY approach, it's recommended that you bring your pets to a professional groomer that can provide expert care across many aspects of your pets' hygienic health. Even if your pet dreads a visit to the groomer, they'll be much better off with regular care and attention paid to their various grooming needs.