Grooming is more than just a means of making your pooch the prettiest on the block. It's also important to your dog's health.
The brushing, bathing, and general once-over given by groomers can help alert owners that something is amiss in a dog’s physical health. Brushing may help remove dead hair, dirt, and dandruff, but checking a dog’s skin and coat can also reveal abnormalities that should be treated.
Regular grooming appointments can help pet parents stay on top of any health concerns that may arise. Groomers check for ticks, fleas, and dry patches on the skin, as well as issues with a dog's nails, teeth, ears, or eyes. Noticing health problems such as these early on enables pet parents to seek treatment early.
What do groomers look for when assessing a dog's physical health? Take a look at Petco’s 7-Point Pet Care Check list, which is designed to help identify possible issues.
- Eyes. Looking at your pup’s peepers can help pet stylists spot a health issue. Bright eyes are a sign of a healthy dog, but dull colored eyes (or eyes with a yellow or green discharge) may indicate that a dog is suffering from an allergy, infection, or something more serious.
- Ears. Most dogs’ ears don’t smell like roses, but very strong odors may be a sign of an issue. Ears that are swollen, tender, and have discharge also tell pet stylists that something is up.
- Nose. Dry, cracked noses -- especially those with loss of pigmentation, discharge, scabs, or sensitive open sores -- may hint at something bigger and serve as a sign that pet parents should seek professional medical help.
- Mouth and teeth. Decaying teeth and swollen gums may be signs of gum disease. But healthy teeth with puffy gums can also be a warning sign.
- Paw pads. Cracked pads can be caused by irritants, diet, or rough terrain. They’re not always a sign of a serious problem, but they could be depending on the history of a pet.
- Skin and coat. Pet stylists look for lumps, bumps, scrapes, hot spots, warts, and matting (any raised surface, essentially) when running their hands along the pet’s body.
- Underside. Odors, matting, or insects on a pet's underside can be cause for concern, as can red, swollen, or irritated skin. Pet stylists look for all of these symptoms and may recommend treatment by a veterinarian.
PetMD suggests starting dogs off with regular grooming appointments while they’re young (as early as three weeks old). Waiting too long to expose dogs to grooming practices like these (nail clipping and ear cleaning, especially) could make the experience more stressful and unfamiliar to them later.