The Price of Grooming Your Pet

On almost a daily basis I get asked why it costs so much to have a dog groomed. The truth is very simple, I’m going to try and put this in ‘human” terms at first for a better idea.

First off, your pet gets a shampoo, a blow dry, a pedicure, a brush out and/or a haircut. They are handled by at least three different staff members from the person at the front desk, to a bather and finally a groomer. If you were to go to a hair/nail salon to have all of these things done…just imagine how much you would be charged! Pretty good deal in my opinion.

Big box retailers will upsell most of these procedures adding $5 here and $5 there. Or will offer some sort of  special treatments that do absolutely nothing just to bring in a few more dollars. I’ve heard of people being charged $65 for the same thing we do for $45-$50! The groomer never sees any of this money, it goes right to profit. We don’t do that. Everything is inclusive except for nail dremeling. The groomer is paid for this since they do the work.

Some pets take upwards of 3-5 hours to just complete the entire process. It all depends on the size and condition of the dog. Just think of a Chow Chow who hasn’t been to a groomer for at least a year. The coat is in terrible condition. Matted, greasy and usually full of most of your yard! $90-$120 is a decent price to pay to have the dog looking and feeling like brand new. Then if you think of a beautiful Standard Poodle. Just to start off the dog has to be roughed out. This means shaving the feet, the face and brushing out the entire coat even before the bath. Then after a bath and blow dry, the Poodle is literally sculpted into a work of art. I can tell you from experience that sitting back and admiring your final product is rewarding. I wish most pet owners understood this. Some do…but a lot don’t. They just look at the price, not how much it takes to get that end result.

Then, you have the pets who are extremely difficult to work with. Some will bite for no reason or will bite unpredictably. We work with these dogs on a daily basis. Most places will turn them away. We feel that a little caution and moving slowly, all while trying to figure out why the dog is so bad, will let us win in the end. Just NOT letting the dog know it’s getting to you can work wonders. Some of these pets have been traumatized by grooming, bathing or a trip to the vet. Some just come that way and so it goes. You just never know sometimes. Some dogs will spin around to avoid any contact what so ever. Think of how long that must take to finish. Not to mention you have razor sharp instruments in your hands and HAVE to avoid poking an eye out or cutting the dog as it passes by.

Next, is the dog owner who comes in with a matted dog that has to be taken short. Not even a miracle can fix it…and believe me, I’ve pulled off some miracles! These people swear that they brush the dog on a daily basis. They probably do, but only the surface coat. The undercoat is pelted to the skin. It’s inhumane to even attempt to brush it out. Brushing and dematting something like this can cause serious skin problems, including brush burning…this is where you actually brush so much it irritates the skin and can cause bleeding and/or infections. It can also cause bruising of the skin. Dematting ears on a dog, whether you shave or brush can also cause hemotomas.  This is where the blood rushes through the small vessels in the ear to the very bottom causing either swelling or actual bleeding from the bottom tip of the ear. Even shaving matted ears can sometimes result in this problem. The bottom of the ear has NOT been cut in any manner. It just happens if the dog shakes their head uncontrollably. The dog comes in in horrible condition…then it’s our fault for uncovering these problems. Go figure!

I’ve found things under mats that you wouldn’t even believe! Fish hooks, wire wrapped around the leg, maggots from infection, gum, tar, hard candies left over from xmas, one time a sewing needle imbedded into the flesh of the dog. Nails that are so overgrown that they are growing into the pads of the feet. You just never know what may be under there.

The worst complaints I hear are about taking matted dogs short. People just will not believe you no matter what. I feel that a healthy, happy dog is a better outcome than a bruised ego from having to have your pet shaved. The hair will grow back, but a painful and/or health problem from dematting can last for quite a while. Please think of this the next time you take your pet in and the groomer says that they MUST take it short. It’s not because it’s easier for us…it’s better for the dog! We want the dog to go home looking just the way you want it. Sometimes, it’s just not going to happen.

Grooming/bathing are very labor intensive jobs. Most of us have carpal tunnel, bad elbows, bad shoulders and backs. We still do it…not to make a fortune, but because we genuinely love working with the dogs. It can be very rewarding and frankly, sometimes frustrating, but we keep doing it and making your pets clean and beautiful. Please remember these things the next time you question the price of having your pet groomed.

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