Is Dog Grooming Safe? 6 Things Every Dog Owner Should Know Before Getting Their Pup Groomed

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OK, you took Fido to the dog park and he rolled around in... who even knows what, and now he smells horrible. Now, you probably want to get him groomed. But, is dog grooming safe? There are some things every dog owner should know before taking their four-legged friend to the doggy salon. Obviously, you know your dog better than anyone else. If Fido gets stressed out on the reg in new situations, you might be better off taking him to a self-service dog wash where you're the one giving him a bath. Ditto if your pup has any kind of medical conditions that could make professional grooming dangerous for him.

However, if you do decide to take Fido to the doggy salon, you should do your homework first. "Some groomers are registered or certified by a grooming school or professional association, but no government agency regulates or licenses pet groomers," the Humane Society of the United States noted on its blog. "Check with your local Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been lodged against a grooming facility. After narrowing your search, call groomers to ask about services, costs, and hours of operation. Also request the names of a few current clients to interview."

While this might sound like a lot of work just to get your dog a bath, nail trim, or haircut, it's not unheard of for dogs to get injured during grooming. By doing a little leg work up front, you can ensure that Fido's trip to the groomer is pleasant and stress free for both of you. Ready to book that grooming appointment? Here are a few things to know first.

1Consider Your Dog's Age

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If you have a senior dog, a trip to the groomer could be both stressful and painful, especially if your dog has arthritis. "Older dogs, especially with arthritis, have difficulty getting into the tub and standing for the duration of the bath," Angela Brittain wrote for Fitdog's blog. "We recommend reducing the frequency of baths for your dog. So for example, if you are bathing your dog once a week, try every other week or once a month. You will be saving your dog from a lot of pain and discomfort."

2Tell The Groomer About Your Dog's Medical History

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It's important to disclose all medical conditions to the groomer before you book your appointment. "The groomer must know in advance whether your pet is geriatric or has a chronic health condition, or they are to provide special handling," the HSUS explained. For instance, my dog has a chronic condition called megaesophagus. Her esophagus is basically like an old stretched out sock. The muscles are paralyzed, and she has to be fed upright. This means she can't have any treats or water at the groomer, nor can she have any stress on her neck. If your groomer doesn't feel it's safe to groom your dog based on its health, listen.

3Prepare Your Dog For The Appointment

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Before your take your dog in for his first grooming appointment, it's important to know how he or she will react, especially if they've never been brushed or had a bath before. "Gradually introduce a brush or comb," the HSUS advised. "Each day, increase the grooming time and work on different areas. Reward your pet for cooperating. The more comfortable your pet feels with home grooming the better they'll tolerate professional grooming."

4Advise The Groomer About Your Dog's Temperament

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Is your dog fearful of or aggressive toward strangers? It's important to disclose this to the groomer up front so they can ensure the safety of both themselves and your dog. If you're at all uneasy about how your dog might react at the groomer, it might be better to bathe them at home or at a self-service dog wash. If your dog has long hair and needs a summer haircut, you can ask your vet if they can perform this service in their office.

5Stay & Supervise Your Dog's Grooming

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If it's Fido's first trip to the groomer, stay and watch the grooming process to ensure that he's OK. If the groomer says you can't observe Fido's grooming, find another groomer. "You should always be able to see your pet because you can watch the handling,'' Vivian Nash, professional dog groomer and owner of Nash Academy in Lexington, Ky., told TODAY. "I teach my staff and the students, you should never have to prepare for a visit (by a pet owner). If you keep a window, it creates a much safer environment for the pet and professional groomer."

6Ask A Lot Of Questions

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If you refrain from asking questions because you're worried about being seen as a helicopter pet parent, don't let this get in the way of your pet's safety. According to Nash, a lot of pets get stressed and anxious when being dried off with a dryer versus being towel dried. Ask about all of the equipment that will be used on Fido so you can approve the entire process.

"Some dogs with pushed-in faces, like boxers and pugs, might never acclimate to the force dryers because of natural breathing issues, which need to be clearly discussed with the groomer," Nash told TODAY. "That force of air can take their breath away, and when they experience it, they never forget it."

Overall, as a pet parent it's up to you to decide what's best for your dog. Do you homework before booking any sort of grooming appointment for Fido. If you find the right groomer and feel it's safe to proceed, that's great. If not, that's OK too. Some pet parents do all of their own dog grooming and bathing or have it done at the vet. Whatever makes you and your pup happy is the right decision.