Taking My Nervous Pet to a Groomer - What do You Need to Keep in Mind?

Beautiful dog looking for his/her owner

Monday, November 28, 2022

It is a horror story to most, if not all pet parents are familiar with: taking your pet to the groomer. No matter how old your pet is, or how often they take a tour down to the groomers, it is always a dreaded day when the cage and the lease come out, and they know it’s not for going to the park. 

Well, one can barely blame the animals in this case. A grooming salon is an unknown environment, with new people touching them, and for a helpless little pet, it can get quite scary. This fear often results from or in anxiety, and in some rare cases, can turn into hostility on the pet’s part. 

So, how we prevent this? Of course, there is no sure-shot method of making sure that the pet does not suffer from anxiety or turn hostile during his visit, but there are several ways of making the experience more enjoyable, comfortable, and safe for them. 

The first step to this is recognising stress in your cats and dogs, and letting them know that they’re going to be alright. Here are some signs of stress to look for:

In Dogs

  1. Pacing back and forth violently; not staying still
  2. Repeated panting and salivating 
  3. Sniffing everything around them; acting suspicious of everything
  4. Constant barking to show disapproval 

In Cats

  1. Hiding 
  2. Incessant grooming
  3. Accidental urinating 
  4. Dilated pupils; ears twitching and tucked back; unrested tail

Once you have identified these signs, the next step would be to make them feel safe and comfortable. You may give them a treat and sneak in a few pets and cuddles to help them feel better.

Preparing for the visit:

  1. Talk to your groomer about feeding rules. Usually, it is advisable to keep a gap of at least 4 - 5 hours between their last meal and their visit time. This is to make sure that their nervousness does not result in them throwing up or defecating on the way or at the groomers.  
  2. For small dogs, and all cats, it is suggested to use a roomy carrier. If you are taking multiple pets, it’s better to take them in separate carriers. In this manner, they would not be suffocated, which reduces the chances of feeding into their anxiety and making it worse. 
  3. Get Matt Muffs. Matt muffs are ear muffs but for animals. Because at a grooming salon, your pet will be exposed to a number of loud noises like those of hair dryers, electric clippers, etc. Such loud noises can stimulate sensory overload, therefore it’s best to be prepared for it. 
  4. Keep giving them treats as reassurance. Treats will make them feel loved and protected. 

While at the Groomer

So, now that everyone has made it safe and sound to the groomer, how can we make our pets feel better and at home? 

The number one suggestion would be to stay with them throughout the visit (as much as possible and permitted). It is important for your pet to realise and register that they are not being abandoned by you. 

If while at the groomer, your pet starts becoming aggressive, consider a muzzle, or a cone. We would not usually suggest anti-anxiety medication, however, if instances of aggression continue for more than two visits, it is best to consult your pet’s veterinarian to suggest remedy and/or medication. 

What are Some Other Things You Can Do?

  1. Start taking them to a groomer at an early age for them to get better habituated to the process. 
  2. It is suggested that you do not change groomers frequently, (or at all, until and unless absolutely necessary, or their services are not adequate). This would make your pet feel more comfortable and at home, with every other visit. 
  3. Take them on car rides to happy places. In this way, they will not associate getting in the car with going to the groomer, and at least the journey would be a rather peaceful one. 
  4. Most importantly, if you realise that your pet really, really hates going to the groomer, it is best to find a mobile grooming salon, that will come to your place and perform all the services that one can expect at a professional grooming salon.