Written by Arden Moore – our master pet first aid & CPR instructor
Cats and dogs come in all sizes, coat types and lengths. But all pets deserve to sport healthy coats. After all, the skin represents the largest organ in their bodies. Skin issues can impact other organs and the pet’s overall health.
Advice from a Master Groomer
That’s why I reached out to Heather Schaefer. She is the master groomer at Heart + Paw, a veterinary center based in Philadelphia, PA. She is regarded as one of the world’s leading dog groomers, is a member of Groom Team USA, a certified canine esthetician and certified in pet first aid/CPR. She competes in grooming competitions all over the world and is an in-demand educator and industry spokesperson.
“One of my favorite things to do is to teach behavior class handling of pets to new groomers,” says Helen. “Dogs don’t pull away or growl or show their teeth on the grooming table because they are trying to ruin our day. They may be displaying these actions because they are scared, nervous or in pain. It is important to properly read the dog and to talk calmly to them and identify issues bothering them.”
A big issue facing people with pets is discovering a mat in the coat. That is a knotted clump of hair that can become painful. Helen advises against reaching for a pair of scissors to cut out the mat because the pet could wiggle or jerk and you could accidentally cut the skin and cause bleeding.
“Matting starts closer to the skin than most pet owners realize,” she says. “It is not a tangle on the end. It is a tangle near the skin. What happens is that the undercoat absorbs a lot of the sebum and dander and that gets tangled up into these guard hairs.”
Her tip: Rub cornstarch into the mat. “It will loosen up that mat to help it to be brushed out. And, because it is a natural product, it will not impact the hair or the coat in a negative way.”
She says all dogs – and yes, cats – can benefit from being bathed and groomed by a professional pet groomer as the pet’s coat and overall health status warrants. In-between professional visits,
Helen offers these tips:
Be in a patient mood. “Dogs and cats can smell our emotional state,” she says. Select a time when you are calm and relaxed to help your dog become more relaxed and trusting of being handled. Dogs used to being brushed and petted with a purpose are better patients in the veterinary exam room and welcomed clients at dog grooming salons.
Brush and then reach for the comb. “Work with your groomer to select the right brush and comb that fits your pet’s coat,” she says. “I recommend brushing thoroughly at least once a week for longhaired dogs. For all coats, brush first and then check with the comb. The comb should fly through the hair without too much resistance. If you find any resistance, try not to yank. Instead, go back and work the coat with a brush.”
Selecting the right pet shampoo. “De-shedding pet shampoos are highly moisturizing shampoos that help loosen dead coat, while feeding the skin with essential nutrients and moisturizers,” says Helen.
Achieve home bath success. “Make sure you rinse very thoroughly before toweling dry,” she says. “Gently squeeze the coat, including the ears and the feet. The water running out of those areas should be clear, not cloudy or sudsy.”
Aid for water in the pet’s ears. “If you accidentally get water in the ear, follow up with an ear cleaner made for pets that is veterinarian-approved,” she says.
Tips for Cat Grooming
Yes, you may witness your cat grooming his coat several times a day. And, he may not emit any “doggy odors” and his coat may appear shiny. But, Helen says, you can improve the health of the coat by regularly brushing.
“Yes, cats lick their fur, but it is usually to remove pollens or irritants bothering them, or as a way to cool their bodies down,” she says. “But the reality is that cats tend to have thinner, drier skin than dogs and it is important to keep their skins moisturized. Regular grooming using the right brush and then comb helps to reduce the allergens cats produce. It is that saliva protein that is what most people are allergic to who have cat allergies.”
Bottom line: Helen loves being a professional groomer.
“I love all aspects of pet grooming because although the same skill sets apply, every day is a little different and every pet is a little different,” says Helen. “There is no limit to what you can learn about grooming. There will always be a new product, a new technique, a new breed of dog or a new hairstyle and I find all of that exciting.”
Learn Pet First Aid
Learn more on ways to keep your cats and dogs safe by visiting ProPetHero.com. Consider taking our veterinarian-approved online pet first aid/CPR course. Enter this code: CPR – ARDEN MOORE and receive a 10 percent discount! And, if you are interested in becoming a Pro Pet Hero instructor, please click on the BECOME AN INSTRUCTOR button on the home page for more details.