I had the pleasure to speak with Meghan Sogge of Senior Paws Grooming in Rhode Island. She shared with us previously what to look for in a groomer to ensure your senior dog has a pleasurable experience with a groomer. Meg also shared with us how to take on the grooming task at home if a groomer (either at a facility or at home) is not an option.
When your dog gets older as the pet parent you might decide that the best option for them is to try and groom them yourselves at home. Keeping your senior safe and comfortable is the most important thing to remember if you are thinking about grooming yourself. Make sure you do a little reading on each step outlined so you know what to expect. The below outlines a basic grooming session and doesn’t include if you need to clip or trip the hair on your dog. The Classic Pooch recommends a professional perform a haircut to keep everyone’s stress level as low as possible.
When it comes to bathing Meg recommends using your bathtub if possible (or sink if your senior is small enough!) There are different hose attachments that you can get to either attach to the tub spout or your shower head so you can have a hose to easily bathe your senior. This Hose attachment for tubs is an example of a good product you can purchase. One thing a pet parent might not think about, is how to keep their Senior in the tub. The Pro Guard Stay-n-wash is a grooming loop that suctions to the side of the tub. It is a great tool to have if you have a dog that is constantly trying to get out of the tub. Additionally, if the bottom of your tub is slick, you may want to purchase a tub liner or use a yoga mat to give your senior better footing. As your fur friends get older their skin can become more sensitive. Meg always uses a hypoallergenic shampoo, oatmeal shampoo, or if a vet prescribes a medicated shampoo she uses that as well. Earthbath brand is Meg’s go-to brand of shampoo it is all natural, so it is safe to use around the eyes and it lathers nicely making it very easy to get your dog clean. (Earthbath hypoallergenic and Earthbath Oatmeal)
Baths are not necessarily always right for each dog as they get older. For some, getting a bath is overwhelming and it is not worth the stress. Also, a lot of times pet parents might bathe a dog and let them air dry. Senior dogs have a hard time regulating their body temperature, so it is not recommended to leave them to air dry. Meg now relies on waterless shampoo for a handful of my seniors she grooms when a bath is too stressful. A great waterless shampoo can still make sure her senior clients are as clean as possible. And as a pet parent you can feel confident that you are keeping your Senior clean and comfortable without the stress of the bath. Meg uses Paw Choice Dry Dog Shampoo. It gets all the oils, dander, and odor out of the coat by simply applying it to the coat then brushing! But there are many other great waterless shampoos on the market as well.
Drying your Dog after a Bath
Drying can be the part of grooming that is the most stressful for dogs in a professional grooming setting. Grooming dryers are very efficient, but they are loud and can be powerful, which can easily stress any dog out. Most pet parents will not have a big grooming dryer and that's okay. A “human” hair dryer will work perfectly for your smaller senior friends! Meg uses a handheld dryer on her little seniors all the time. They still dry in a timely manner and it isn't as loud. Make sure the heat level isn’t set too high; Meg sets her dryer to “medium” For those that have bigger dogs and really want to be able to groom their senior at home, you could purchase a small grooming dryer like the Shelandy pet dryer. It is a great price for a pet parent and it actually works really well. It is a little loud, but it has just enough power to dry bigger dogs. Another good option for bigger dogs is to use the dry shampoo from above so you do not need to worry about getting them dry, but you are still able to clean the coat.
If Meg could suggest only one grooming product to pet parents, it would be the happy hoodies. The happy hoodie is a fantastic grooming product that every pet parent who is grooming their dog at home should have. They are the most useful grooming tool for me. It is essentially a towel tube that goes over your dog’s head. It not only muffles the sound of the dryer, but it will help dry the dog’s ears and head while you dry the rest of the body. Once you get up towards the head it is mostly dry and there is less drying time around the face. If you do not feel like getting a happy hoodie is for you, not to worry!
If you feel like a dryer is the best way to go but the sound bothers your Senior here are a few steps to take to help:
- Towel dry as much as possible!
- Put cotton balls in their ears to help muffle the sound
- Wrap a towel around their head to help dry the head and add extra layer to muffle sound
- Always start drying a dog at the back end, it startles them less.
- If you save the head for the end, it will be mostly dry, and you won't have to use the dryer around the head for too long.
Keeping your senior’s nails short is important to help them maintain good posture for walking and to help keep their balance. Nail trimming can be difficult, and a lot of pet parents are nervous to trim them. Even if you are confident about clipping nails, seniors tend to get a bit unsteady on their feet so it may be hard to clip their nails like you have done in the past. The ideal way for you to trim your seniors' nails is to use a nail grinder. Grinding the nails is a lot safer than clipping them since you are filing your dog's nail down instead of one harsh clip. There are many pet parent friendly nail grinders on the market that you can buy so you can grind your dog's nails safely. For example Casifor Dog Nail Grinder works great and is very affordable. I find with my own dogs that it is easiest to try and grind their nails while they are laying down or when we are hanging out on the couch together. The first few times you try and grind their nails you might not get them all done at once. They might not like the nail grinder to start but the more you grind their nails, the more they will get used to it and it will be easier to maintain their nails. Ideally you should trim your dog’s nails about once a month.
I want to personally thank Meg for sharing her wisdom as I learned some new tip and have added some great products to my home in addition to the store. Learn more about each of the products mentioned in the article in the Meg’s Picks for Senior Dog Grooming.