Some pet services are considered essential during COVID-19, such as boarding and doggie day care centers. However, grooming salons are forced to close their doors temporarily. There are many ways dog parents can keep their dogs clean, comfortable, and fresh during the stay-at-home order.
We asked a professional groomer and pet salon owner to give his advice.
The owner of GG’s Pet Salon is our expert
Gavin Hardy is a professional certified groomer who recently opened his own business, GG’s Pet Salon near Phoenix, Arizona. Gavin started grooming in 2012 when he started as a bather at PetSmart. He immediately enjoyed the work and sought training to acquire the necessary skills needed to become a full-service groomer. After working in corporate salons for many years, he decided to take the plunge and open his own business. He recognized there was a need for a dog salon in his community and his long list of clients agreed.
Gavin opened GG’s Pet Salon in March of this year, just before COVID-19 forced so many small businesses to temporarily suspend services. Until the non-essential business ban is lifted and Gavin can serve his customers again, he’s providing support in the best way possible: with tips to help us safely care for our fur babies at home.
Why you should groom your dog at home
You and your dog will undoubtedly cuddle more often than usual during this time. Regular care at home ensures that your dog smells wonderful, feels soft and sheds less. Gavin recommends that some basic care practices be performed regularly at home, now and between care appointments after the pandemic subsides.
Brushing and combing
The key to avoiding mats, reducing shedding and keeping your dog soft is regular brushing and combing, especially before bathing. There are different brushes and combs you can use depending on your dog’s hair type.
- Smoother brush: Used for detangling dogs with curly and long-haired wavy or straight coats. Simply brush the coat along the grain, using enough pressure to penetrate the coat, but not so firmly that you brush all the way to the skin. Gavin told iHeartDogs: “Aggressive brushing will cause your pet’s skin to become red and irritated. Your pet will always let you know if you are doing this correctly.”
- Greyhound comb: This comb style reaches the undercoat and should be used after using a slicker brush to get through the top coat. Hold the comb slightly at an angle, bring it up to the root and comb through. If you can’t get through it with the comb, you’ll need to use the slicker brush more often.
- Waste brush: Used for dogs that shed excessively after you use the slicker brush and the comb can go through without snagging anything. When it comes to short-haired dogs, Gavin says, “Use the hair removal tool very lightly.”
Wash your dog at home
Many dog parents are bathing their own dogs for the first time in years, if ever, during the COVID-19 quarantine. It’s not like these dogs are unbathed! It’s just that many dog parents rely on professional groomers to do this for them. Here are a few tips to make the most of your bath time at home.
- Wash your dog in the bath, shower, or outside if the water from your hose is warm enough. Showering with a hand shower attachment is particularly comfortable.
- Brush, comb and, if necessary, use a shedding aid on your dog before bathing him.
- If your dog has mats at all, don’t wash them! Gavin told iHeartDogs: “If your pet has mats, or is completely matted, getting them wet will make the mats much worse and tighten the mats. Make sure your pet is as tangle-free as possible before bathing, but do so safely. Do not pull or tear the mats to brush them out. This causes your dog’s skin to tear.”
- Use a bath massage brush when bathing your short-haired dog. Gavin says: “Rub this rubber tool gently over your pet’s coat, just like you would a bar of soap. It feels like 18 little fingers are gently stroking them at the same time, pulling out loose, falling hairs.
- Choose a dog shampoo that smells pleasant and is gentle on the skin, such as a hypoallergenic formula.
- Make sure you dry your dog completely! If you don’t, the wet dog smell will quickly permeate your entire home.
Related: 10 Best Dog Doors
Don’t try these grooming practices at home
Safety is the biggest concern when caring for your dog at home. There are some grooming techniques that should really be left to professionals or performed with extreme caution and care.
Even though your dog may look a little shaggy, this is not the time to test your ability to shave a dog’s coat. Do not attempt to cut your pet’s hair. Gavin told us: “This is very dangerous. We trimmers have many blades, in many lengths, with many attachments for all kinds of reasons. Please do not attempt to cut your own pet’s hair.” There are several reasons why this is a bad idea.
- Most people don’t have the right tools. Dog clippers are not the same as beard trimmers. Your groomer has the right tools specifically designed for use on dogs, with a variety of attachments carefully chosen for your specific pet.
- Most of us don’t have the experience. It takes years of practice to become good at using hair clippers. During his studies, Gavin even had to cut the fur of 100 dogs before he became certified!
- Your dog will most likely get injured if you try to groom him at home. It requires a lot of technical skill and groomers must be extremely careful not to cut the dog’s folds, pads, ears or neck.
There are people who can clip their dog’s nails safely at home, but if you’ve never clipped your dog’s nails before, it’s harder than it seems. It is very easy to cut the nail too much, cutting the embedded vein (the fast one), causing a lot of bleeding. Your dog’s nails can probably wait until you see your professional groomer again. If you have to do it at home, here are some tips to make it safer and easier.
- There isn’t one simple nail trimmer that will help them avoid the quick ones, it’s all about how you do it. For this reason, it may be better for your dog to simply wait until he goes to a professional.
- Do not use “guillotine style” nail clippers, as they only have an edge on one side, which just presses against the nail. Use a double-edged dog nail clipper and cut the nail on both sides.
- Gavin says, ‘If you cut them too short, a pinch of cornstarch held on the bleeding nail can cause it to clot and stop. Professional groomers use something called ‘quick stop’ (styptic powder), but most people don’t have that at home.
Related: The 24 Best Grooming Tools for Dogs
Stay calm, offer a treat and be gentle
When you first try to groom your dog at home, it may not go as smoothly as you had hoped. Gavin told us, “Go slow. If your pet is not used to regular grooming/brushing/bathing, he may be wary of what you are doing. Be gentle, speak softly and reinforce good behavior with treats. ALWAYS treat your pet with love, care and respect when caring for them at home. As a result, they enjoy the process and behave well when they come in for professional services.”
Keeping your dog well cared for will make your time together at home more satisfying. Keep your dog safe by waiting to see your professional groomer for anything other than brushing, combing and bathing.