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CAM Meets Misty Reed

Misty Reed NCMG

Misty is a Nationally Certified Master Groomer and award-winning competitive groomer with 22 years in the industry and has owned a successful salon for the past 10 years. Before going out on her own she managed a high-volume salon and groomed at a vet clinic so has seen the industry from many different perspectives. She has groomed multiple generations of pets for many clients and has taken them from bouncy puppies through their golden years. She has trained countless groomers who have gone on to successful careers of their own. When grooming herself or teaching others her focus is comfort over beauty though she always strives for both. She is a successful competition groomer and shows her own dogs in conformation and performance events in her spare time. She lives in College Station, Texas with Remy, a 13-year-old Standard poodle, Nori, a 6-year-old springer spaniel, Ricky and Tildy, 2 year old springers, and Mayzey, a 21 year old beagle/chihuahua mix.


Misty kindly agreed to share her thoughts on grooming an arthritic dog:

Grooming arthritic dogs is one of the most difficult things groomers face for a variety of reasons. Beyond the dog’s physical limitations, the hardest thing for groomers to manage is the owner’s expectations and their own sense of perfectionism. We are faced with the fears of disappointing a client because it’s not our best work and the social media backlash that any negative experience has the potential to result in. Groomers and owners need to come together and ultimately do what is right and best for the pets. It may not be the prettiest haircut, it may not be breed standard, it may not be what the pet has always gotten in the past, but at the end of the day we have only 3 things we should be concerned with:

  • Is the pet clean?
  • Is the pet comfortable?
  • Is the pet safe?

Anything beyond that should be a bonus when grooming a pet with limited mobility.


What owners need to know about grooming arthritic pets:

Don’t neglect grooming appointments, the more often the dogs come in the happier they are, and the less stressed grooming is. In addition to that, quicker isn’t always better, arthritic pets need frequent breaks to lay down and relax. Fast grooming requires the dog to stand for an extended period which is painful and dangerous for the dog. The same rule applies during home sessions, be sure you are not asking more of your dog than they are able to give. They will always try and do what you want despite their own comfort and that includes trying to stay on their feet even when they are in pain. Another big thing you can do to help is to maintain the coat at home by brushing regularly. This will decrease the amount of time your pet spends on the table which ultimately makes him more comfortable. And lastly, don’t skimp on the pain meds on grooming day. If your pet is on an ‘as needed’ arthritis medication grooming day is a day they should receive those meds. If your pet is given pain meds regularly for arthritis be sure they receive the proper medications on grooming day as well. Grooming is inherently physically demanding on senior dogs, we ask them to move in unnatural positions to shave different areas which can aggravate a pre-existing condition.


What considerations should be made for an arthritic client:

Invest in appropriate equipment to help you help your furry clients. Slings, hammocks, butt bars, etc. are invaluable to help support the dogs while you’re working. Balancing on 3 legs is difficult for a fully mobile dog, on an arthritic dog it’s almost impossible and these tools will help support the bulk of the dog’s weight while you work taking the pressure and strain off painful joints. Go slow and give frequent breaks, you don’t ask your elderly grandmother to go run a marathon, so don’t ask an elderly or infirm dog to stand for hours at a time without a break. Ask for help from co workers or the owner when you need it, it’s a sign of intelligence not weakness and know when to say no more. Sometimes the dogs just can’t handle salon type grooming any longer. Don’t put yourself and the dog at risk by continuing to try and groom a dog who would be better served by grooming at a veterinarian or house call service. Recommend seeing the vet for prescription medication for pain management to be given prior to and/or after an appointment if it’s obvious that the dog is in pain. Be open and honest with owners about the pet’s condition and any difficulties. The only way the dog will get relief is if the owners are aware of the difficulties the dog is experiencing. Try the rule of three, which is prioritising the three most important parts of grooming for that individual dog. That may be nails, pads, and sanitary areas, or it may be eyes, feet and tail. Every dog is different and has different needs but on every arthritic dog the nails should be kept short and pads shaved to help with proper joint alignment and prevent slipping on slick floors. To achieve this, suggest to clients that a mini groom be performed between full services to address these areas.