When pet grooming gets medical'¦
…veterinarians step in.
I’m no groomer. And no, I don’t relish adopting the mantle of those far better qualified than a vet to trim, snip and clip. I do it only when a pet’s health is involved.
So you know, groomers don’t like it when we encroach on their territory by offering similar services—no more than we like it when they offer healthcare advice willy-nilly, anyway.
It’s true that I’m not trained as a pet groomer, though I’m lucky to have a couple staff members who are. Nonetheless, we do NOT handle routine grooming cases.
In fact, many vets won’t even bathe animals unless they absolutely must. (I don’t even offer therapeutic shampoos, preferring to send these products home with owners.) We DO, however, take on a variety of pets in need of specialized “therapeutic grooming” services.
Here’s a two-handed sampling of these:
1-The MUST! SEDATE! cases
Your pet probably doesn’t fall into this category but I get at least a couple cases a month like this. Usually it happens when every groomer in town has rejected the pet on the basis of a “bad attitude.” Sometimes the owners don’t even try seeking out a grooming professional—they know that Fluffy means business when the brush comes out and her teeth and claws fly.
(Key, here, is that vets are not groomers—so persnickety pet owners with a long list of cosmetic demands should adjust their expectations on the show quality of the clip.)
2-The “every-tick-in-the-world-is having-a-party-on-my-pet” patient
Yeah, I hate these. It means cordoning off an area in the practice for emergency de-ticking. Sometimes I don’t even bother with the indoor experience. If the pet is well-behaved and tractable it’s out-of-doors they go until the “tick jar” is full (sometimes two four-ounce bottles full of pure tick biomass). We charge by the hour, by the way.
3-The pet too young for full vaccine coverage
Most responsible groomers in my area won’t take on a puppy or kitten too young for complete vaccine coverage (less than four months)—unless they work in a mobile setting (which is what I recommend for these patients). In some cases we’ll do a minimal clip-job to keep the mats at bay—and that’s IT. No breed-specific cuts and zero frills.
4-Dirt, feces, filth and blood
Not an appetizing prospect, right? No pic necessary.
5-Mitaban and Lym-sulfur dips
For pets who suffer mange mites and ringworm infestations and require these specialized dips, I strongly recommend in-hospital treatments. That’s because the after-effects of these dips are potentially devastating for pets afflicted with conditions that necessitate these unfortunate therapies.
(Mitaban [amitraz] is a poison I hate to use except in extreme cases. And Lyme-sulfur is one I’ll often apply to especially fragile animals. Though some owners prefer to undertake this at home, in these cases I prefer to watch them recover from their smelly side-effects.)
6-The hot spot or ringworm lesion
Sorry, but I clip most of these. In some cases I’ll shave down the entire animal for therapeutic reasons. It helps the shampoo, spray, dip and other treatments get to where they need to go without getting hung up on all that hair.
7-The “my-groomer-insists-on-keeping-my-dog-blind” bang trim
Breed specific cuts are great for show dogs but they should be modified for pets so they can at least SEE where they’re going. Yes, I do offer to trim bangs. (And I don’t even charge for it.)
8-The “sanitary” clip
This is perhaps the most common medical grooming trick I’ll get into. Prepucial (penis area) secretions stuck to the “pee-pee” hairs? That over-long vulvar hirsutism? Who wants to risk a UTI (urinary tract infection) because of basic lack of hygiene?
Then there’s the “dingleberry” disaster pet. I mean, if you can’t keep your pet’s behind clean then you deserve to have him/her receive a baboon-butt sanitary clip. And some pets just can’t live without a generous sanitary clip no matter how careful the owner is about backside-wiping.
Here's the only pic I could find to illustrate a sanitary clip (sorry about the bad tattoo):
9-The eye goo and ear-hair gunk
You know what I mean. If owners aren’t getting the eye goo gone with daily ministrations I’ll clip that hair at the corner of the eyes. And if all that ear hair isn’t being plucked some pets will acquire a hairy wax build-up in ways Mother Nature never intended. I’ll be sure to get that nasty business out.
10-The surgical, IV catheter and ultrasound clips
Now, I know some owners will complain but seriously…unless your pet is being shown in the next few weeks, medical clipping should be gracefully tolerated. (Even so, I’m told the rulebook says that judges are required to overlook these temporary, veterinary care-related defects.) Sure, you can request that we go easy (that always helps) but it’s no use arguing after the fact—we won’t be able to do anything about it.
So, do you blame me for taking some grooming out of the hands of specialized pet grooming professionals?