Geriatric dogs have their own set of problems. We should all strive to help them and keep them content in their autumn years. In general, with a very old dog, I would clip off the coat; rather than de-mat, as this precious pet has had many years of being beautiful, now it is time to be comfortable.
I provide water at all times and soft bedding. If your pet has special dietary requirements feel free to bring some food or treats. Your pet will get frequent toilet breaks in our secure outdoor area during their stay.
Due to mental impairment, blindness or hearing difficulties, the geriatric pet may become confused. I speak to them at all times before I touch them so that they do not get startled. Blind dogs are spoken to constantly so that they can locate me, and to reassure them.
Many of my geriatric patients have arthritis and I have specialist equipment, slings and hammocks to support them while they are on the table. Arthritis is a roughening of the joint ends, which causes pain on movement. The sweetest of pets can react when they are in pain; therefore I handle all geriatric pets as if they have arthritis. I move very slowly and careful when working on an elderly pet in order to make them more comfortable and to prevent injuries. An elderly pet will need longer rest periods throughout the stages of the grooming process .
As in humans, a dog’s skin thins with age as it loses it’s elasticity. This fact along with possible warts and growths means that the skin can be more susceptible to damage, therefore a more gentle technique using softer brushes and/or a comb should be adopted when grooming them. Often I will come across lumps and bumps that the most dedicated owner will not have noticed under all the hair and I will bring them to your attention if I feel it is something to keep an eye on.
Many physical changes occur with old age, one such change is the dropping of the pasterns which results in the feet changing shape and becoming longer. As a result of this, the nails do not make contact with the ground and do not get worn down as in their youth. It is vital that your elderly dog has its nails cut regularly to prevent ingrown claws and to assist with mobility. My regular geriatric clients are welcome to come in for a free nail clip between grooms.
If, during the grooming process, your elderly pet becomes stressed, they will be given a rest. If I feel he/she cannot proceed with the rest of the groom I will contact you immediately. Very occasionally it takes two grooming sessions to complete the grooming comfortably and to ensure that your pet is happy and relaxed. Where possible I can make arrangements to groom a feeble, geriatric pet with no other clients in the salon if I believe that your pet would be happier in a quieter environment.