5 Times You Need a Pro Dog Groomer

Simple dog grooming tasks are fine to tackle on your own — but when do you need to call in a pro dog groomer? Some of these might surprise you!

A dog running in grass with matted hair.
A dog running in grass with matted hair. Photography ©dageldog | Getty Images.

We dog parents aren’t afraid to get our hands dirty. We pick up poop every single day. So it’s no surprise that many of us aren’t intimidated by a little DIY dog grooming. It’s a messy job, but we’re up for it. Pedicures, baths and blowouts may be within an amateur groomer’s skill set, but every dog is bound to have a bad hair day that requires a pro dog groomer.

Allison Phillips is a groomer and vet tech who has worked with dogs from Florida to Alaska, and she says there are definitely grooming issues pet parents may want to get a professional dog groomer for, and some of them may surprise you.

1. Dog eye boogers

A closeup of a dog eye.
Eye boogers may mean calling in the pros. Photography ©fotokate | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

They seem like such a minor thing, but according to Allison, eye crusts or “boogers” can cause serious damage to a dog’s eyes. She says sometimes DIY groomers don’t realize how many boogers are hiding in their long-haired dog’s facial hair. It sounds funny (and gross), but DIY booger removal is serious work.

“If they’re really packed in there and dried out when you remove them, it can pull off some skin. And it’ll cut the inner part of their eyelid,” she tells Dogster. Ouch!

Allison suggests that humans keep a close eye on their pup’s eyes and try to wipe crusties away as they form. If you miss some and they dry out, don’t pull at them (you could scratch a cornea). Pull out your phone and call your groomer instead. This is a task for a professional booger picker.

2. Discovering new bumps

We pet parents like to think we know every inch of our dogs’ bodies, but when we’re petting them every day we may not pick up on subtle changes.

“I find lots of random lumps and bumps, brand new warts, growths, cysts,” says Allison, who encourages pet parents to see dog groomers as “almost an additional veterinary resource.” When it comes to things that grow (or in the case of ticks, catch a ride) on dogs, groomers have seen it all and know the difference between a blackhead and something that needs to be seen by the vet.

3. Let your dog groomer know about any sensitive areas

Speaking of little bumps, if your pooch’s complexion is less hot dog, more corn-on-the-cob, trying to shave him at home isn’t a great idea. You could nick a kernel!

Allison recommends seeing a groomer and discussing known lumps and bumps before a haircut. She recalls how one customer with a white Maltese would make sure groomers knew exactly the spots she was talking about: “She would take a marker and she would circle every single one before she brought her dog in,” she says.

4. This common problem from wearing dog sweaters

A dog in a Fair Isle sweater.
Sweater-wearing pups need some extra brushing! Photography ©GlobalP | Getty Images.

It’s no secret that many dogs look adorable in sweaters, but many pet owners don’t know this secret: Sweater-wearing pups need some extra brushing!

Allison says that dog lovers should give their pooch a brush down every time the sweater comes off, or dogs can end up with painful underarm wardrobe malfunctions.

“Armpit mats can lift the skin up and twist it,” Allison explains. “And so sometimes when it’s released it can cause a hematoma or it can get cut while being groomed.”

But she says not to worry. “You can keep your sweaters, but we’ll just make sure we do an extra good job with armpits.”

5. When you’ve left mats too long

Sometimes pet parents are ashamed to go to the dog groomer and present a dog who is obviously matted, but Allison says that’s literally what dog groomers are for, and waiting any longer is just going to hurt your dog.

In this case, going to the dog groomer is a bit like going to the dentist: You might get a bit of a talking to about brushing, but it’s coming from a place of love. Matted fur can harbor bacteria and hide skin infections or hot spots, so groomers do try to educate dog owners about the dangers of letting fur clump.

According to Allison, serious mats are something that should not be DIY’d (again, the skin could be cut), but your groomer can show you ways to prevent mats through brushing or combing.

“Groomers love showing people how to groom,” Allison says. “I want your dogs to be happy, and I want them to be healthy, and I want grooming to be a positive experience — for you and the dog.”

Sometimes, dogs need professional grooming help, but if we DIY the right way, we can make sure they don’t have grooming emergencies.

And what are some surprising situations where DIY grooming is best?

Sometimes our dogs get into situations that are totally disgusting but not an actual grooming emergency. In these cases, you can sometimes DIY it.

If your dog rolls in fish guts, cooking oil or gets into a grease trap, dishwashing liquid can help cut the grease (and the smell), but it must be rinsed out well and followed by a conditioning shampoo made just for dogs.

If the smell lingers after that, it’s time to head to the dog groomer. Sorry about your car’s upholstery.

Thumbnail: Photography ©dageldog | Getty Images.

About the author

Heather Marcoux is a freelance writer whose dogs, GhostBuster and Marshmallow, smell like they could use a groom. @HeatherMarcoux is on Twitter, and her stinky dogs are on Instagram as the @ghostpets.

Editor’s note: This article appeared in Dogster magazine. Have you seen the new Dogster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting room of your vet’s office? Subscribe now to get Dogster magazine delivered straight to you! 

Read more about dog grooming on Dogster.com:

9 thoughts on “5 Times You Need a Pro Dog Groomer”

  1. We have a dog grooming service and love reading up on articles from the industry.

    It was lovely to read and we particularly liked the part where you said to discuss known lumps and bumps before a haircut because we always like to make sure our dogs have a calm and enjoyable experience with us and that would be affected if we might cut a little bump they might have that we did not know about.

    Great advice, thank you for sharing

  2. Every time my dog takes a five minutes nap I feel like my dog has more eye boogers. since she is a lab it wipes off easily if we keep up on it. Another point I try and make to my clients is brushing their teeth is as important as brushing their coat. Just like they should be getting any loose fur out every few days they should scrub those teeth as well. It’s not okay to just wait weeks and weeks in between groomings. I always find a consistent routine gets the pets used to the process. If you never do it they they obviously are not going to feel comfortable doing it. Thanks for the article heather. I will be sure to share it.

  3. I didn’t know that dogs who wear sweaters need extra grooming too. This is very important information and now I can share it with my friends. Thanks for providing so helpful information.

  4. Thanks for explaining that dogs who wear sweaters need extra grooming. I have a small dog who wears sweaters to keep her warm. I’ll be sure to take her to a pet grooming service to make sure her fur isn’t matted.

  5. I am just starting up my grooming business and this is a great article to share with my clients! They’re often asking me about when they should be making appointments and what they should be doing. While I do my best to educate them, this is a fantastic resource for them to turn to. I think they’ll also get a kick out of their dog potentially being “more corn-on-the-cob.” Thanks for the excellent post, Heather, I’ll be sure to keep up with your articles!

  6. Wow, I didn’t know that eye crusts could potentially damage my dog’s eyes. I’ve felt some bumps on my dog’s fur as well so I might take him to a dog grooming service. I think it’s because my dog wears sweaters all the time, so it’s best to let a professional handle it for me.

  7. Pingback: 5 Times You Need a Pro Dog Groomer | Prophecy Update News

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