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Pets General

Pet Grooming

Val Cairney September 18, 2020 220

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Hello and welcome to this episode of Val Talk’s Pets.  This episode is all about keeping our furry friends clean and presentable. And I’m super excited to include an awesome interview with professional groomer Christine Santon of The Spaw Grooming Salon. 

All pet owners know that if you want a pristine house that is free of cat or dog hair, paw prints, litter odour, shavings odour, pet ownership is just not for you.  All of our furniture is covered with pet throw covers and there is a towel on the bed, there are pet beds strategically placed and there is hair, lots and lots of hair.  The main culprit for the hair is our husky shepherd who is affectionately known as part German shedder.  And of course being part husky he likes to dig a hole in the dirt and lie in it.

Christine Santon - Owner/Operator The Spaw Grooming Salon
Christine Santon – Owner/Operator The Spaw Grooming Salon

So, keeping our animals clean and brushed and clipped and trimmed, nails and all can be a challenge.  So what is the best way to keep our furry companions clean and presentable?


When it comes to cats, bathing can be quite a challenge.  There are some professional groomers that specialize in bathing cats, and some groomers will do cats as well as part of their service, but many groomers will not do cats, so make sure you phone around to find out if having your cat professionally groomed is possible.

If you are going to go the bath at home route, some people chose a dry shampoo for their cats.  This can be in the form of a foam that you rub into the cat’s fur and then brush when dry.  Or you can try putting kitty in the sink and go for the full out wash and shampoo.  This is when it gets tricky.  Most cats, and I say this because there are always exceptions, do not like to get wet and are afraid of running water.  Now I have personally bathed quite a few cats in my time.  I have had to bath stray cats that are covered in fleas and dirt, senior cats that cannot keep themselves clean anymore, and cats that have been skunked.  I’ll tell you what I have done and if anyone else has a trick for bathing cats, please feel free to share on my website.  I have found that bathing a cat works best in the sink and it is made a lot easier if you have a sprayer nozzle.  I have tried putting a rubber type mat on the bottom of the sink so they do not slip, but it has to be one that allows the water to keep draining.  Putting a cat in a sink full of water will never go well.  I also find that because cats like warmth, I make sure the water temperature is quite warm.  I have found that when I bathed my senior cat in nice warm water he quite relaxed.  It must have felt really good on those old bones and muscles.  In general the warm water seems to be one of the tricks to getting cats bathed.  It also helps if you have an extra pair of hands when bathing a cat.  They can grab anything with those dexterous paws and claws and haul themselves out of the sink in seconds, so a second pair of hands to hold kitty down will be a major contribution to success.  So once kitty is wet, I turn off the water and do the shampooing, then rinsing is going to take a bit of time, because no matter how much you towel dry your cat, he or she is going to go into the most indignant licking and grooming.  So we do not want any residual soap on their fur.  Okay, so once the rinsing is done, I squeeze out excess water from the body and tail, and transfer into a towel.  Have a few towels ready because they will get wet fast. At this point, I figure kitty has had enough and I let him go, off to lick and give me dirty looks.  Once the cat is somewhat dry, I’ll attempt to do a brushing.  So the question remains however, is it important to bath a cat? Generally speaking, cats do not need to be bathed.  They have the ability to keep their fur clean on their own, but depending on whether there are health conditions, or they have rolled in something they just cannot clean, or they were skunked, or they have long hair that keeps getting matted, bathing may be a good idea.  Your cat may not need bathed, but brushing is a good idea to get dead fur out and keep the skin stimulated.  Brushing will cut down on the dander and hair balls.  Plus, this is a good opportunity to check for any abnormalities that may require a vet visit.  Trimming of their nails is also a very important thing to keep up on.  One of my cats grows nails right before your very eyes it seems, so I trim his about every 2 weeks.

Small Animals

So let’s take a look at bathing and grooming our little friends.  First and foremost, remember you can never bathe a chinchilla in water.  They have their own dust that can be purchased.  Rabbits.  Can you or should you bath your rabbit? Well yes you can.  Bathing a rabbit is the same as bathing a cat.  Use nice warm water, not too cold or too hot, a non-slip mat and towels on hand.  Don’t submerge them in water as this could produce shock.  So just the same as cats and just as cats do, rabbits do a great job keeping themselves clean, so only in certain circumstances will you need to bathe your rabbit. 

Guinea pigs can be bathed as well, but again, they clean themselves so the need to bathe is rare. If you have a long haired guinea pig that requires bathing, following the same advice for cats.  Again just like rabbits, it really needs to be a needed bath, not something you would do routinely.  When it comes to hamsters, if you really need to bathe something out of their fur, it is probably best to use a wet cloth and cleanse that way.  If shampoo is needed use it sparingly and rinse well.  Ferrets tend to be bathed a bit more because often ferret owners will use special ferret shampoo to cut down on their musky odour.  So, yes, bathing a ferret can be done a bit more routinely but not overdone.  Hedgehogs can swim and some seem to like to float about in an inch or two of water.  Once the hedgehog is calm in the water, you can shampoo his belly and quills and rinse.  Remember to never leave your pet alone when bathing and always use a pet appropriate shampoo.  Human baby shampoo is made for humans, so the PH is not the same for animals.  Remember to brush your pet often and keep those nails trimmed.


My boy Tundra after a bath at The Spaw. Look at that grin!

So one of the biggest group of pets that get bathed and clipped, and primped are dogs. Dog of all shapes and sizes and breeds if taken care of well, do end up getting bathed.  Some people with bigger dogs like to backyard bathe with the hose and I’ve done this too, but let me be very clear, we hook the hose up to the laundry tubs so the water is a nice temperature.  I would never just turn a cold hose on the dog for a shampooing.  I’ve heard of people who use a plastic kiddie pool to bathe their dog and some wrestle their dog into the tub and go for it, doggy shake down and all.  But, when it comes to really addressing a good grooming, a professional groomer is your best bet.   Some dogs of certain breeds really need to see the groomer on a regular basis because their coats need trimming as their hair grows.  Most people are not comfortable doing a proper cut and trim so they leave it to the professionals. And leaving it to the professionals is the best practice because attempting to clip with electric clippers or scissors can go very wrong if you are not experienced at this. Some very serious wounds and injuries can be done to your dog with clippers and scissors if you don’t know what you are doing.  So if you have a dog that requires clipping please see a professional. Other dogs that may not need coat trimming benefit greatly from a professional bath as well because dogs with undercoats will shed and shed, and getting that undercoat brushed or blown out at the groomers cuts down significantly on the shedding.  Other benefits of being at the groomers is to get those nails trimmed, anal glands expressed, ears cleaned and a good overall check for lumps or bumps.  So as I said, I sat down with one of the best groomers I know, Christine Santon.  Christine is the owner, and senior stylist of The Spaw grooming in south west Ontario Canada.  Christine has over 17 years experience and has a true passion and artistic eye that makes her an exceptional professional dog groomer.  She has mastered the patience in handling very difficult and/or nervous dogs with a soothing energy to bring some calmness to the overall grooming experience providing a very high level of personal care.

Interview with Christine.

Well I really enjoyed my time chatting with Christine and I think we can all see the benefits of professional grooming and keeping our pets groomed and cleaned and presentable.   And I’m aware that not everyone can afford to visit a professional groomer on a regular basis.  So, in this case home grooming is just as important so remember to brush regularly, trim your pet’s nails regularly, look in their ears and always use a pet appropriate shampoo. Even if you visit the groomer for nails regularly, and bathe at home, you are still looking after your pet the best way you can.  In my podcast on tips for getting a pet and pitfalls to avoid, one of the things I drew attention to is the expenses incurred owning a dog and grooming is one of them particularly with dogs that grow hair.  So remember, this needs to be a part of the budget when considering getting a dog particularly one that needs trimming.

Pet Peeves

So that leads me to my pet peeves section.

I think my biggest pet peeve with regards to this topic is that we still see some appalling conditions with regards to pets that have loving owners but they have neglected some very important hygiene and upkeep.  We will see owners come in for our monthly charity nail clipping with their dog or cat and the nail lengths are quite shocking.  We know that this pet has not had its nails trimmed in a very long time and we can also see that the dog is not comfortable walking or that the cat’s nails are dangerously close to curling under into the paw.  Often the owner will say that they just can’t manage the pet; that they turn into tigers when they try and do their nails.  Well, that may be true, but there is no excuse then to not make an effort to go to a groomer or a vet.  Both will gladly take your pet in and get those nails done.  Ignoring the problem is not giving your pet the best care.  As for mats in long haired cats and dogs, again, you have to make the effort and if you can’t manage this on your own, you will have to seek professional help.  From pet professionals I mean.  Mats can be very painful and not addressing this really means there is neglect. 

So keeping our pets clean and presentable is a reflection on our commitment and pride in being a good pet parent.  Grooming and bathing is not only a health issue but it also bonds us with our pets in yet again another way.  Doing your best at home is just fine, but if you have a higher maintenance type dog remember that professional grooming is going to be part of their upkeep.  As well, a good groom with a professional is just like when we go to the salon and a professional washes our hair and gives us a nice cut and blow dry.  We feel renewed and pampered.  Your pet will feel the same.  And feel free to call around and ask questions about a groomer’s facility and their philosophies and how they deal with pets that may be reluctant.  And again, many thanks to Christine Santon of The Spaw Grooming Salon who took the time to chat with me. Christine in our interview gave some great tips that can be used to help you chose a groomer that fits with you and your pet. So don’t be afraid to ask those questions, because as I say, knowing is caring!

For more information on Christine, her team and services, please click the links below.
website: The Spaw Grooming Salon

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Val Cairney

Hi everyone, and welcome to Val Talk’s Pets, the forum for pet parents and enthusiasts alike. So, I have been working in the pet industry now for almost 10 years and, on a daily basis, I handle a lot of issues and questions arising from pet parents. I am not a veterinarian but I do have certifications in Canine, Feline, Small Animal, Fish and Herptile and Avian Health and Nutrition from the University of California, Davis Extension, the Vet College.

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