BY LIZ ILLG
While all dogs remain puppies at heart, it’s inevitable that our pets will one day reach their golden years. And when you notice some gray in their coats and under their chins, you may wonder: Should I still be taking my senior pet to the groomer? The short answer is absolutely!
Grooming senior pets is just as important as grooming a kitten or puppy. While it can be a bit more tedious, groomers are trained to handle pets of all ages. Plus, your pet is never too old to enjoy a nice pawdicure and pampurrring. In fact, grooming can significantly help your senior pet to better enjoy their golden years. Stiff joints may make it harder to scratch that itch behind their ears—a nice bath and brush can really help to alleviate those itchy spots.
Senior Pet Brushing Tips
It’s very important to remember that pets lose elasticity in their skin as they age—just like us humans! As your pet ages, take care to use softer brushes and make an effort to brush your pet’s coat slowly and softly. Rough bristles and strokes can cause harm to your senior pet. Additionally, older pets may not be able to stand for long periods of time while you’re brushing their coat. Make sure your pet is in a comfortable position, and let them lay down if necessary.
If you choose to brush your pet at home, be on the lookout for abnormal hair patches or growth patterns. Also, gently feel along the pet’s skin and coat, making note of any changes, bumps, lumps or growths. If something doesn’t look or feel right, or if the pet is noticeably irritated, be sure to take your pet to the vet for a look!
Senior Pet Bathing Tips
Most groomers will recommend that you bring your senior pets in to be bathed in a professional environment with all of the proper tools and equipment. However, if you choose to bathe your senior pets at home, be sure to keep the following notes in mind. Your pet may need a special medicated shampoo if he or she has a skin condition—you may want to talk to your vet about the best options for your pet.
If you use a bath or sink to bathe your pet, you’ll want to invest in a non-slip pad. Be sure the water is warm—not hot—and your pet should never be shivering during a bath. And have those warm, dry towels nearby so your pet can get warm and cozy afterward!
Senior Pet Nails, Teeth, Ears, and Eyes
Grooming, of course, involves much more than just a nice brush and bath for your pets—it includes your pets’ nails, teeth, ears and eyes. When it comes to nail trims, even the youngest dogs can have a hard time with this. That’s why it’s especially important to be very careful with older dogs. In fact, older dogs will need their nails trimmed more often than puppies because they’re less active. While younger dogs help to keep their nails naturally filed down by running around outside, older dogs generally don’t have that opportunity.
Many older dogs develop a bit of goop around their eyes once in a while: Be sure to keep their eyes clean at all times. If you notice a colored discharge coming from their eyes or ears, you’ll want to get them checked by a vet. As for your senior pets’ teeth, it’s essential to keep up with their oral hygiene. Regular brushing can help to prevent gingivitis and cracked teeth in senior dogs. Many vets and grooming salons offer anesthesia-free teeth cleanings as well.
Senior Pet Products
As the pet industry continues to grow, so do the various products on the market! These days, there are plenty of products specifically geared toward senior pets. From specialized food for aging cats and dogs to stairs that make it easier for your furry friend to get on and off the couch or bed, there are plenty of ways to ensure your pet is comfortable as they get older. There are even herbal supplements created just for your senior pets who may suffer from arthritis or other ailments.
Caring for a senior pet is a lot like caring for yourself. Our pets deal with many of the same changes as we do throughout their lives, and they’ll still need regular grooming care along the way.