Ask the Expert: Townhouse Pet Care

Ask The Expert, animals shown are a hamster, rabbit, cat, and dog.

You love your pets. But their hair? Not so much.  Never fear, dear readers: we asked some of the best groomers in town what to do about all that pet hair. Read on to find out more from three expert groomers: Kathy Beckman, Carol Goshaw, and Cait Walsh at Townhouse Pet Care.

Townhouse Pet Care, Kathy looking at a brown dog, Carol holding a golden retriever, and Cait holding a black dog.

Why Did You Get Into Pet Grooming?

We chose to get into pet grooming simply because we love animals and wanted to make a positive impact on their lives and well-being. Pet grooming is just one way in which we can help enrich the pet and their parents’ lives, by tending to their physical needs. We love to build bonds with pets and their parents and to hear that we've helped them in some way. We wouldn't choose any other career!

Why Should I Groom My Dog Or Cat?

Kathy grooming a large gray and brown dog

The biggest misconception about pet grooming is that it is an optional “luxury” service, similar to getting your hair trimmed and styled as a human. While there are forms of grooming that involve fashion haircuts and breed styling, the majority of pet grooming is functional more than fun. Grooming involves a range of services like haircuts, de-matting, de-shedding, flea baths, anal gland expression, and more

Grooming your pet is essential to their physical health. Not only do we bathe and trim their hair when your pet is being groomed, but we also check their skin, hair, teeth, anal glands, eyes, pads, ears, and trim their nails. Our attention keeps the pet parent aware of any physical changes that may have occurred and allows for vet intervention if necessary.

Long Haired Pets Need Extra Care

For long-haired pets especially, grooming keeps their hair unmatted and their skin healthy. If a pet’s hair begins to mat, the skin beneath can become dry, irritated, itchy, or even infected. Unmanaged long hair can also cause pain and discomfort for the pet, and can even restrict movement depending on where it is on the body. Overall, it is best if you can get your pet in for regular grooming every 4-10 weeks, depending on their breed and needs.

What If My Pet Is Scared Of Grooming?

Many people don't know that grooming can take time to make it as stress-free as possible. Grooming at our shop, and many others in the Portland area, can take anywhere from 4-6 hours. While this may seem like a long time, we do this specifically to help minimize stress for your pets. In this longer time, your pet has time to relax and acclimate to the environment between steps.

The best way to get your pet comfortable with grooming is to begin bringing your pet in for grooming as a puppy or kitten. Your dog or cat can start grooming as early as ten weeks! If your pet experiences grooming while young, it will make the process less stressful for them throughout their life.

Before ten weeks, you can also begin exposing them to similar stimuli at home that mimics a grooming shop. For example:

  • touch their paws often
  • brush their coat gently
  • brush their teeth
  • run a fan or hair dryer nearby

Between grooms, we also highly suggest brushing your pet at home. This goes for all breeds, hair lengths, and textures. Brushing is essential and can prevent matting from building up between grooms. If the coat is kept maintained and brushed, the grooming process at the shop will be much less extensive for the pet. De-matting can also be really uncomfortable for the pet, so it's best to try to avoid that by brushing at home if possible.

What If I Can’t Afford To Groom Regularly?

Carol shaving a small gray dog

While grooming should typically be done every 4-10 weeks, depending on the breed of the pet and their individual needs, we understand that it may not be possible for every pet parent. For any pet, regardless of hair type or length, one of the most important things we do is to trim their nails. If you are unable to do a full pet grooming regularly we highly suggest coming in for highly affordable walk-in nail trims. If the nails aren’t trimmed regularly, it can result in difficulty walking for the pet or ingrown nails, in which the nail grows around the toe and into the pad. Either result can be very uncomfortable and painful for the pet, and could even require veterinary attention.

For a long-haired dog or cat, if you are unable to come in for regular visits, we suggest an all-over short shave. This will ensure that your pet stays mat-free for as long as possible, which will allow the skin to breathe and keep the pet most comfortable. An all-over short shave can last anywhere from three to six months without having to return for another appointment.

In between grooming visits, you can continue the process at home. There are so many wonderful grooming products out there for home-use that sometimes it can be hard to know where to even begin. For all pets, we recommend investing in a good slicker brush with long pins, and a metal comb. These tools in conjunction can keep the coat smooth and untangled between grooming visits. Another great product is a rubber hound glove, which helps de-shed, remove dander, and distribute the oils in the coat all over the body, in turn keeping the coat and skin healthy and moisturized.

The Final Word From Our Groomers

It’s important to know that when dropping your pet off for grooming, there’s no need to worry. Sometimes, when dropping your pet off for grooming, they may appear hesitant. But once they're on the groom table and started, we can assure you: they are happy as can be.

It can be hard to leave your pet for an extended period of time, but we will make them comfortable by providing water and bedding, alongside plenty of potty breaks and the best tummy rubs we can give. We will love and care for your pets just as much as you do at home. In no time, your newly clean and happy dog or cat will be on their way home! We hope to see you soon!