5 Risks of Grooming a Dog and What to Watch Out For

Dog grooming is an essential part of general dog care. Of course, you want your puppy to look and feel his best, but accidents can happen during grooming. I’ve been grooming my own dogs for more than two decades and will still occasionally run into some issues. Here are a few things to pay attention to in order to avoid hurting your pooch or getting hurt yourself when grooming at home.

Nail clipping

Nail clipping is something all pet owners must do on a regular basis, unless your furry friend is so active that the nails require no clipping at all, which is rare. Nail care is important because long nails can be very painful for dogs and make them prone to nail diseases. When dogs walk on hard surfaces, a longer nail will get pushed back into the nail bed, causing discomfort. Changes in posture that result from overly long nails can over time even cause permanent joint problems, too.

Dog’s nail clipping can be tricky because there’s always a danger that you’ll cut the quick – the blood supply to the nail. This, of course, hurts and will cause bleeding. A hurt dog is an unpredictable dog, and you risk getting bitten. If a dog’s nails are very long, there’s almost no way to clip the nails in one go without injuring your pooch. Instead, you will need to gradually shorten them using a file. Keeping them at a slightly shorter length for a while will cause the quick to shorten too. The next time, you can go a little bit shorter, until you finally reach the desired length.

When the pet’s nails are not too long, you can cut them using sharp scissor-like nail clippers. The type of clippers which take the whole nail in can be painful and should be avoided. In case you do accidentally hurt your dog and cut the quick, keep some corn starch nearby to stop the bleeding or use styptic powder, and give your puppy a treat to calm him down.

Matted fur

I’ve talked to many professional groomers, and most will mention that matted fur on the dog is one of the leading causes of grooming accidents. It can be very disorienting, and it’s hard to tell where fur ends and skin begins, so cuts and nicks are a common occurrence. It’s important to keep mats under control as they can affect the animal’s health, causing skin conditions like sores and cuts.

Trying to detangle mats using a comb (usually a metal one) is only an option if the matting is not too bad or too extensive. It’s a painful and laborious process, and most canines don’t have the patience to sit for hours while you tug on their fur. Scissors might seem tempting, but they are too dangerous since it’s easy to cut the skin.

Your best option when dealing with dog fur mats is to just clip the matted fur using electric clippers. Always use professional grade dog clippers, and try to finish the procedure quickly, before your pet loses patience. Once you are done removing the matted hair, wash your dog with a gentle shampoo and conditioner and then comb the entire coat to prevent further tangling.

Owner presence

If you are grooming your newly adopted dog or, more importantly, another person’s dog, there’s a proper protocol to follow to ensure everyone’s safety. Dogs that are being groomed shouldn’t be harnessed or kept on a leash that’s too long. If it’s not your pet, ask the owner to keep the dog on a short leash, then let you have it.

If you reach out for the leash yourself while it’s still in the owner’s hands, the dog might see that as a sign they need to protect their owner and may even attack you. Never attempt to groom an unleashed dog. An animal’s reaction can be quite unpredictable, and frantic reactions can lead to accidents, bites, or worse.

Assess each dog

An important thing to remember is that no two dogs are the same. You might need to try different approaches to everything grooming related. Some dogs, especially heavier ones, might need extra support in the form of a hammock. Reactive dogs will need a special approach using a leash, like this one recommended by a professional groomer.

Puppies can be too playful or easily scared – and it’s hard to groom an animal that won’t stop wriggling. Finally, there are some dogs that are just too dangerous. If a dog seems overly aggressive, or has a bad history with grooming, maybe it’s best to leave grooming to professionals.

Removing ticks

While ticks are a relatively common occurrence, they can carry diseases, which is why you should always be careful when trying to remove them. Serious infections are a significant risk, so it’s wise to remove the parasite as soon as possible, but do it the right way. Improper removal can raise the chances of infection for both you and your pet.

Squeezing the tick can cause some of the infected blood to return to your dog’s bloodstream. Tearing it during the removal process is risky because you could get infected too (to avoid this, always wear gloves when removing a tick). The best way to get rid of the tick is to use pointy tweezers or a tick remover tool. Don’t use blunt tweezers because that cut it in half. The trick is to catch it as close to the skin as possible without pinching and scaring your pet. Once you do, just pull upwards. Squeezing or twisting the insect can cause it to break off and should be avoided.

Click here to watch a video on how to do this. 

Once you’ve removed the parasite, clean the spot with a pet-safe disinfectant. You should also monitor your dog for the next few weeks, in case of any signs of infection.

Don’t forget

Dog grooming accidents happen, and beside taking precautions, the best thing you can do is to be prepared with knowledge on what to do and have the appropriate first aid kit on hand. Whether you use it on a pet or a person, you need almost the same supplies.

What to keep in your pet first aid kit? Always have a disinfectant, like hydrogen peroxide, some gauze, bandages and band aids. An antibiotic spray or cream might also come in handy. Of course, all injuries should also be looked at by a vet or a doctor, but cleaning the wound and treating it yourself is a good first step.

If you’ve injured someone else’s dog, make sure to point out the injury to the owner so that they can keep an eye on it and take proper care of it. Bear in mind that with an injured dog, a situation can quickly get frantic. It’s crucial to act quickly and avoid panicking to effectively deescalate the situation.

Guest Blog by Top Dog Tips 

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