Grooming Tips for Senior Dogs

Scheduling several short appointments will lessen the strain on your dog’s health.

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Q. I recently adopted a 14-year-old Old English Sheepdog.  He has issues with his back legs, his sight is fading and his hearing is gone. He needs to be groomed, but I am worried that sending him to the groomer all day will be too much for him.  I am already an OES owner so I have a great groomer, but what should I do if this is too strenuous for him?

A. Given his age and his health issues, I think a whole day at the groomer’s would be too much for this dear old fellow. If you have a great groomer for your other Old English Sheepdog, I am sure he or she would work with you to accommodate this senior canine. Standing on the table and in the tub for one session would be severely taxing on those back legs. Instead, book him for short maintenance visits and do not expect his grooming to be accomplished in one appointment. When the dog gets tired, have the groomer call you to pick him up immediately.

If this shaggy senior came to you with a tangled coat, I would consider dematting out of the question. It would be tortuous for an elderly dog like this. The kindest course is to have him clipped down and start the coat over. If the groomer gets him brushed out and/or trimmed in one visit, schedule another visit for a bath and blow-dry. At home, get him used to being brushed lying down to ease the strain on those back legs. Kudos to you for giving this dog a loving home in his golden years!

Kathy Salzberg, NCMG, is a Certified Master Groomer and writer who has been grooming pets since 1976. With her daughter Missi, she owns The Village Groomer in Walpole, Mass. She has also written extensively on pet care for several consumer magazines and authored three books on dogs and careers with pets. Kathy lives with her pets on Cape Cod.

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Eileen - 249708   Port Perry, ON

9/15/2013 8:18:41 AM

Good information to know.

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Janet   Bethlehem, PA

8/29/2011 9:20:43 AM

good article, thanks very much

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zac   melbourne, AL

1/21/2009 3:06:54 PM

Find a groomer who will let you sit in the "waiting room" while your dog is being groomed, and will make a timed appointment. If you're willing to give up an hour or two of your time, this is the best way and avoids the dog having to spend a whole day in what can be a traumatic environment. Some groomers will even have a setup where you can observe the process and remain in the dog's sight, which can be comforting. Ring around until you find the right groomer for your needs.

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Julie   Zanesville, OH

9/16/2008 12:51:06 PM

I have a Cairne Terrier mix, Josie who is 13 and having issues with stiffness, poor sight, hearing, and yet still has a good appetite. The one problem I have is with grooming issues. She can no longer keep her back feet and pee pee clean herself, so she pretty much smells exactly like pee pee. I bathe her as often as I can, and try to keep her clipped, but she won't let me do much anymore, she is pretty snippy, and bit me the other day. I feel it is getting towards the time I may have to have her put down, but when do you know? And if it comes to that, is there a way to sedate them with a pill so they don't know what is happening, or where they are going? I know that final trip would be unbearable if I had to hear her cry and know she was afraid.

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