Over the past few years, pet grooming has grown in popularity in India. Many options are now available, from mobile grooming services at your doorstep to upscale facilities with luxurious grooming experiences. Shweta Verma, founder and principal pet stylist of Yes Says Doggie in Seawoods, Navi Mumbai, says that 10 years ago, when she started, the industry was nascent. She believes the pandemic, when people started thinking of pets as companions and family members, played a major role in its growth.
Regular grooming will help promote the health of your pet’s skin and coat. It helps remove loose hair, debris, and dirt that can get stuck in fur, leading to matting, tangles and skin irritation. It also aids in the distribution of the coat’s natural oils, keeping it healthy and shiny.
Grooming can help reduce the risk of health problems. For example, regular nail trimming can prevent nails from growing too long, which can lead to discomfort, even injury. You can examine your pet’s skin and coat while it is being groomed to look for lumps, bumps, or other unexpected changes. You can examine the ears for inflammation or discharge. An early diagnosis may result in faster treatment and improved results.
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But it’s just as crucial to do it correctly. Use grooming equipment made for your pet’s particular coat type. Sharper combs could hurt them. Exercise caution while grooming. When a pet mom tried to trim the hair around her Shih Tzu’s face with scissors a few years ago, she accidentally nicked her pet’s tongue. It had to be treated.
Bathing your pet can help keep them clean and free of odours but it’s important not to overdo it. Use a shampoo once a fortnight. Too many baths might dry out your pet’s skin and coat. After the bath, be careful to dry them off completely with a towel or hairdryer. Their skin may become more susceptible to fungal infections if the fur stays wet. Use pet-care products that are gentle on their skin and coat. Several of the substances used in products for humans are poisonous for animals.
The “zero cut”, fairly popular in India, is my pet peeve in terms of grooming. As the weather gets warmer, many consider shaving their pets to keep them cool and comfortable. But this can actually do more harm than good. Pet hair provides natural insulation, helping to regulate body temperature in both hot and cold weather. Shaving can interfere with this. It can lead to overheating in hot weather because dogs do not sweat like us. They cool down through panting and sweating through their paws.
Shaving may also increase susceptibility to sunburn, even skin cancer, given the exposure to the sun’s harmful UV rays. Little skin nicks and cuts brought on by the use of clippers and razors could become infected. The regrowth of sharp hair can lead to itching and discomfort and thereby, excessive licking and biting. Some animals experience psychological effects after a total haircut that make them want to hide and become inactive.
If you groom your pet routinely, all this can be avoided. Otherwise, matting may eventually require a groomer to shave your dog to get rid of the tangles. Leaving the job to a professional groomer is a smart choice for breeds like Shih Tzus, Maltese, Pekingese, Poodles, Golden Retrievers, Persian cats, etc. which require a lot of coat maintenance. Choose a groomer with training in professional grooming. Talk to them about your pet’s needs. Any health issues, allergies or behavioural problems that may affect the grooming procedure should be disclosed. This will enable the groomer to better accommodate the particular requirements of your pet.
Verma says simple things, like brushing the dog’s coat, bathing them at home between professional grooming sessions, brushing their teeth, must become part of the daily routine. This, she says, will help you develop a better bond with your pet and help them enjoy their professional grooming sessions.
Nameeta Nadkarni is a practising veterinary soft tissue surgeon and pet blogger from Mumbai.