Grooming

Grooming Photo

Olney-Sandy Spring Veterinary Hospital offers a complete menu of professional grooming services that can keep your pet clean, healthy, and happy. Our full-time groomer, Christine Clem, has over two decades of dog grooming experience with all breeds, including in-depth knowledge of breed patterns and breed standards. Our hospital staff can handle any canine or feline grooming needs.

OSSVH pet grooming services include:

  • Routine and therapeutic bathing, including medicated baths and dips
  • Brush outs
  • Blow dries
  • Nail trims
  • Check ears and remove hair
  • Express anal glands
  • Hand scissoring

OSSVH will also provide you with advice for maintaining your pet between grooming appointments. Regular home and professional grooming can help prevent hair matting and skin and ear infections.

Schedule a Grooming Appointment for Your Pet

Grooming services are available by appointment only Monday through Friday. All pets and breeds are welcome; however, your pet must be current on vaccinations. To schedule a grooming appointment, please log in to My Pet Records to submit your request online, call OSSVH and ask for Christine or call Christine directly at 301-774-9878. You can also email Christine.

Here is more detailed information on grooming your pet at home:

Grooming 101 for Pet Owners

Regular grooming keeps your dog clean, healthy and manageable, as well as preventing yeast infections caused by matted hair, periodontal disease caused by uncared for teeth, ear infections from excessive buildup of wax, dirt and bacteria, etc. This article covers basic at-home grooming and ways to make the process more pleasant for everyone involved.

How often should I brush my dog?

Initially, you will want to start by brushing your puppy or dog every day to get him/her accustomed to the process. Start small, but do a little bit every day. Don't quit because he or she doesn't like it – or they never will. With repetition, your dog will learn to tolerate the grooming and enjoy the attention.

Once your dog is accustomed to being groomed, the frequency with which you brush your dog will be determined by the length of your dog's coat. Dogs with thick coats will need to be brushed 2-3 times per week, while dogs with long hair will likely require daily grooming to avoid tangling and matting.

You will be most successful with home grooming, if you elevate your dog off of the floor. Use a table, counter, washer or dryer that has a non-slip bath mat on it. This takes away the dogs leverage and makes them uncomfortable and less likely to struggle, and puts less strain on your back from bending over.

What type of brush or comb should I use?

  • Wire Pin Brush – this brush is the best to use on medium to long hair dogs, or those with curly coats.
  • Slicker Brush – this brush is used to take out mats and tangles and is used to smooth your dogs coat after using a pin brush. This is the most commonly used grooming brush and can be used for all coat types.
  • Comb – a comb is used for combing through hair after dematting has occurred and as a general finishing tool.
  • Furminator / Stripper / Shedding Blade – these tools are best used on short coated dogs. They will remove dead hair and undercoat. These items should not be used on medium to long coated dogs, or dogs that have wet hair as it will break their coat.

Getting Started

  1. Gather all necessary supplies before beginning to groom the dog. Make sure you have all you need to clean eyes and ears, trim nails or hair, brush teeth, bathe, and dry.
  2. Always brush your dog first, and do it thoroughly. Mats enlarge and become unmanageable when wet – do not bathe a dog with mats. If a mat goes undetected or coat care is neglected, you may have to shave or cut out the mat so that bacteria doesn't grow between it and the skin and cause a yeast infection. You will want to start by standing on one side of your dog. Brush from the head working back toward the tail. Work in small sections and brush the hair against the direction of growth. You will want to part the hair down to the skin to avoid matting. Repeat this process on the other side of the dog. Continue the same process along the under belly, rump area and the tail. Once you have finished brushing against the direction of growth over the entire dog, you should finish by brushing from head to tail with the direction of growth.
  3. Follow with any necessary clipping or other grooming that needs to be done before the bath. For example, trim out any mats or large amounts of hair that will only waste your time shampooing and drying. Dogs look best when groomed after they are bathed and blow-dryed.
    • Eyes - Some breeds require more maintenance in this area than others. While it may be a simple matter of pulling eye boogers away from a potentially irritating spot in the corner of the eye, long-haired or white-haired dogs may require special attention to make sure that all gunk is truly out of the coat. A healthy eye should be clear and should not show any signs of irritation or unusual discharge.
    • Ears - A clean ear may contain some wax and shouldn't have any particular smell to it. Warm any cleaner or medication in a container of body temperature water (as you would a baby bottle) before you put it in the ear. Cold is painful in the ear canal. A few drops of warmed rubbing alcohol will dry water from the ear canal and kill bacteria, yeast and mites. To clean your dog's ears, apply some ear cleaning solution to a cotton ball and simply wipe dirt and wax away from the inner ear. Don't rub vigorously as to cause sores, and don't travel too far into the ear; both could cause damage. And don't expect your dog to like the process; you may be met with some resistance. When you're done wiping out the ear with a damp cotton ball or cloth, gently dry it out with a dry one. If your dog's ear looks swollen, red, irritated, dark or blackened, shows signs of discharge or sores, or smells really bad, call your veterinarian. This is not normal and could be signaling an infection or disease.
    • Teeth - According to veterinarians, about 80% of dogs have periodontal disease. Ouch! If plaque is continually digested on a larger than normal scale, it can cause kidney or liver troubles. Try to brush your dog's teeth at least 2 to 3 times a week. Use only those products made specifically for dogs so that you don't unintentionally poison your dog. You can use gauze over your finger or a toothbrush. But either way, ease your dog into the process so that it can be a pleasant experience rather than a stressful one and you don't get yourself bitten. Pets will usually prefer human touch rather than a hard plastic brush. If your dog already has a considerable buildup of tartar and plaque, veterinary cleaning may be needed. Some dogs will let you scrape the tartar if you are brave enough to try it. Just purchase a dental scraper and be gentle. Otherwise, brushing about 3 times weekly should be enough for maintenance. Remember that you should not use human toothpaste on your pets. Pets will swallow the toothpaste and may get sick. There are several pet toothpaste products available, just be sure that whatever you use is specifically approved for pets.
    • Nails - If left uncared for, nails can grow to enormous lengths, twisting the toe and causing a pained, irregular gait that can lead to skeletal damage, sometimes even curling into the pads of the foot. To keep your dog's nails short, clip them regularly. Depending on the dog, you may need to do it as often as once a week or as infrequently as once a month. To clip the nails, trim a very small amount of nail (like 1/16 of an inch) away with a pair of dog nail clippers (unless it is a very young puppy or very small dog, in which case human clippers may suffice). Should you accidentally clip too much nail away and hit a blood vessel, styptic powder or corn starch applied with a bit of pressure should stop any bleeding.

Get your dog into the tub and, if necessary, secure to something such as a suction cup-type bath lead to keep him or her in place. Some dogs are frightened by the sound of running water - if this is the case, you need to desensitize the dog to the sound. Filling a tub with water and using it for bathing just leaves your dog sitting in dirty bath water. The regular collar should be off and replaced with one that will not stain the coat or be damaged by water to restrain the dog in the tub. Do not put on the dog's regular collar until late in the day (if you bathe in the morning or early afternoon) or the next day (if you bathe in the evening). A collar can cause sores around the neck of a dog that is not fully dry.

Thoroughly wet down your dog – a shower massage or spray nozzle works best to help you clean all parts of your dog's body with ease.

Begin shampooing at the neck and move downward. Shampoos will always be easier to apply and rinse off if diluted. It's better to give 2 diluted shampoos that rinse thoroughly than one strong shampoo that leaves residue. When you are shampooing a certain area, give it a few squirts and use your hand to spread the shampoo. You will need to work the shampoo into the hair by massaging the coat. Save the head for last, and don't actually use soap around the ears and eyes. Be careful around the nose and mouth too.

Thoroughly rinse your dog. As long as you see dirt or soap bubbles in the water coming off of an area, keep spraying, then move on. Shampoo left in the coat will cause hot spots, an irritating spot of bald, itchy, red skin.

Towel dry your dog as best as you can. If your dog has a very short coat or you prefer to let your dog's coat dry naturally, you're done. If you have a double coated or long-haired dog, keep reading.

  • Blow dry the dog as best as you can without completely drying him or her. You don't want to dry out the skin. If you have a dog with especially long hair, you may need to dry the coat while brushing it.
  • Dogs with curly coats like Poodles and Bichons need to be dried thoroughly or the hair will revert to curl. Feet always need to be dried thoroughly as well or fungus may take hold