Ten Reasons Your Vet Might Want To Play Groomer

Pet care & safety
When Your Vet Becomes Your Groomer

At the outset, let me clarify: I’m not a groomer. Unless you want uneven bangs on your Bouvier or a raggedy “lion cut” on your Ragdoll, you really don’t want me wielding clippers around your healthy pet. Others are far better qualified to trim, snip and clip. I nonetheless find my hand forced on plenty of occasions… when a pet’s health is at stake.

So you understand the politics involved, groomers don’t like it when we infringe upon their territory by offering grooming services –– no more than we like it when they offer healthcare advice, anyway. And it’s true that I’m not trained as a pet groomer (though I’m lucky to have a couple staff members who are). But in my defense, I do not handle routine grooming cases.

In fact, the hospital that employs me won’t even bathe animals unless there’s a medical reason to. For the most part, we 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 are ten examples...

#1 Blood and Other Bodily “Fluids”

These unappetizing prospects are the most common examples of grooming-gone-veterinary. Fur just has a way of getting in the way of getting pets well.

#2 The “Sanitary Clip”

This variation on #1 is the second most common medical grooming trick I’ll perform. It involves what you might call a “butt shave” or a “pee-pee clip” and is almost exclusively performed on über-hairy cats and dogs.

After all, who wants to risk a UTI, constipation, or worse because of too much hair and too little hygiene? Because if you can’t keep your pet’s behind clean for all that fur occluding the exits, a baboon-behind “do” is decidedly best.

#3 Sedation Required

This usually becomes necessary only after 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 if teeth and claws fly at the mere sigh of a brush or claw trimmers, it’s time to bring in sedatives… or even anesthetics.

#4 The “Tick Party”

In case you’ve never been treated to a “tick party,” let me explain: A pet infested with hundreds of ticks requires cordoning off an area in the practice for emergency de-ticking. It goes without saying that this is a thoroughly revolting experience. We charge by the hour, by the way.

#5 Vaccination Issues

Most groomers in my area won’t take on unvaccinated pets, including puppies or kittens too young for vaccines or those for whom vaccination has been deemed disadvantageous. That is, unless they work in a mobile setting (which is what I recommend for these patients). Nevertheless, in some cases veterinarians will do minimal clip-jobs to keep the mats at bay –– and that’s it. No breed-specific cuts and zero frills.

#6 Amitraz (Mitaban®) and Lime-Sulfur Dips

Pets suffering mange mites or ringworm infestations may require these specialized dips –– usually performed in-house.

Though plenty of clients elect to do them at home, we don’t generally recommend it. That’s because the after-effects of amitraz dips can be troublesome (a small percentage of dogs may suffer weakness and even collapse) and because any dip containing sulfur is bound to stink up your house with the distinctive aroma of rotten eggs. There’s some grooming even groomers don’t want to do…

#7 The Hot Spot Or Ringworm Lesion

These spots are sometimes best addressed with a clean set of clipper blades. In some cases we’ll even shave down the entire animal! Cats with lots of ringworm lesions are typical candidates for this “extreme” clip. It helps the shampoo, spray, dip and other treatments get to where they need to go without getting hung up on all that hair.

#8 The “Blind Dog” Bang Trim

I don’t care if your breeder or groomer or handler thinks extra-long “in-the-eyes” bangs are a good idea. It’s not. 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. That’s why I always offer to trim too-long bangs… and don’t even charge for it.

#9 The Eye Goo And Ear Gunk

If owners aren’t getting the eye goo gone, I’ll clip that hair at the corner of the eyes. And if all that ear hair isn’t being plucked properly, some pets –– dogs, especially –– will acquire a hairy mess that’s incompatible with effective hearing.

#10 The Surgical, IV Catheter and Ultrasound Clips

This kind of “grooming” is to be expected at a veterinary facility. Nonetheless, it’s a common bone of contention between vets and owners, especially among the show pet set.

Now, I know some owners will complain about our wild way with the clippers but seriously … unless your pet is being shown in the next few weeks, medical clipping should be gracefully tolerated. More so given that judges are required to overlook these temporary, veterinary care-related “defects.” After all… hair regrows.