How to Groom an Old Dog

Medium
10 - 45 Minutes
1 Day

Introduction

How old is an old dog? It depends on the breed and the individual dog. Some large breed dogs are seniors at 6 years of age, while smaller breed dogs may not be considered old until they are over 10. Also, the effects of old age vary greatly from individual to individual, depending on health conditions like arthritis, hearing loss or blindness, one dog may be fit as a fiddle and relatively unaffected by aging, requiring few special considerations, while other dogs may be riddled with health conditions, making handling them difficult and calling for special precautions while grooming.

Dog's Perspective

As a dog ages, they tend to experience joint and muscle pain and mobility issues that can make grooming more of a challenge, as manipulating your dog to groom can cause the dog discomfort. You will need to take care and consideration when grooming a dog that is experiencing such discomfort. Older dogs that experience sensory difficulties, like a reduced ability to hear and see, can also become anxious or confused. Consideration will need to be given their reduced abilities in order to make them comfortable. Also, old dogs can be just plain grumpy, sort of like old people sometimes are!  Keeping grooming sessions short and having patience may be necessary to keep an older dog from becoming frustrated.

The Adjust Methods Method

Effective
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Spray
Slicker Brush
Pin Brush
Nail Clipper
Comb
Step
1
Keep it short
Keep sessions short to avoid overtiring a senior dog or prolonging the use of sore joints during grooming. Having multiple short sessions daily, instead of one long one, may work better for an older dog. Keep an eye on your older dog for signs of discomfort, anxiety or impatience. Adjust techniques, like using a softer brush, or ending the grooming session early, if your dog indicates discomfort or distress. Incorporate brushing into petting time, or at feeding time, when your dog is distracted if necessary. Allow your dog to lie down and groom one side only, wait and groom the other side when your dog makes it available at a later time, for example.
Step
2
Massage
Massage your older dog with your hands or a grooming glove. Apply natural oils to compensate for dry skin if present and distribute while massaging gently.
Step
3
Be prepared
Have equipment like nail clippers, brushes and sprays readily available so you do not have to unnecessarily prolong grooming sessions in order to get the tools you will need.
Step
4
Move gently
Manipulate your dog's joints carefully and slowly to get under the limbs and reach his belly. Remember, joints and muscles can be sore in an older dog.
Step
5
Don't startle
Move slowly and talk reassuringly to an older dog that is experiencing sight and hearing loss so as not to startle or confuse the dog.
Recommend grooming method?

The Take Special Steps Method

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Slicker Brush
Shampoo
Scissors
Pin Brush
Nail Clipper
Towel
Step
1
Clean ears
Check older dogs' ears daily. Older dog can easily get imbalances in natural yeasts and bacteria, resulting in infections in the ear. Use ear cleaning solution and a cotton ball to wipe out the ear canal and surrounding area daily.
Step
2
Bathe appropriately
Bathe older dogs regularly, weekly or biweekly, to remove dead skin, address dryness, and prevent yeast infections and other skin conditions. Use warm water for baths and help your dog into the bath by lifting gently or providing a ramp or steps. Reassure a visually impaired dog that can not see what is happening clearly. Use a soothing oatmeal shampoo or moisturizing shampoo and conditioner to address dryness or an appropriate medicated shampoo to address any skin condition. Massage your older dog gently. Use a washcloth to avoid eyes and sensitive areas.
Step
3
Keep warm while drying
Rinse well, pat dry with a towel. If you are air drying, ensure there a warm place for your dog to dry. Avoid blow drying, which can dry out older dogs' skin, burn your older dog, or cause him distress from the noise.
Step
4
Clean teeth
Check older dogs' teeth and brush regularly. If teeth appear to be experiencing disease, get professional dental care.
Step
5
Care for feet
Clip hair around your dog's feet and keep nails short, so that your older dog has good traction. Injuries from slipping on floors can be more likely and serious in older dogs and short hair and nails on the feet increase traction.
Recommend grooming method?

Caution & Considerations

  • Older dogs may have mobility issues. Move limbs and manipulate joints slowly and carefully. Watch for signs of discomfort and adjust as necessary.
  • Invest in gentler grooming equipment like grooming gloves and softer brushes if your older dog becomes sensitive.
  • Take time and patience, and groom when your dog is feeling up to it. Be flexible.
  • Get prompt veterinary care for any conditions you suspect or discover while grooming your older dog.
  • Move slowly and talk to your dog if he has sight or hearing loss so as not to startle him while grooming.

Conclusion

Older dogs need grooming just like younger dogs, more so even. Older dogs can experience dry skin and skin conditions, like yeast infections, more frequently. Regular grooming to prevent and discover conditions and address them as necessary is required. Remember that an older dog may experience physical discomfort moving--take your time to find out what is comfortable for the dog. Make sure you recognize deficiencies in hearing and sight that can make a dog anxious and change their behavior.  Move slowly and be gentle and patient while grooming your older dog.

Success Stories and Grooming Questions

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