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What a Groomer Should Look for When Health Checking a Dog

Health Checking by Groomers

Dog groomers often have the chance to do a health check on a dog and can help provide early detection of things that can get more serious. It is always important to remember that you are not a qualified vet. Although you may have a good idea of what is wrong you should always recommend that owners seek a vet’s advice.

The contents of this article cover unit 4 of City & Guilds Level 3 Dog Grooming


Ear Examination and Cleaning

Most dogs end up with dirty ears and this can easily be addressed by using baby/dog ear wipes or an ear cleanser and cotton wool.

Particular problems to look out for are.

Very hairy ears

· Can cause a lot or ear wax to build up

· Makes it difficult to administer ear cleanser or ear drops


· Trim the ears with scissors

· Pluck using Groomers Ear Powder and tweezers/ fingers

Very red ears or sore ears

· Can be a sign of an ear infection


· Use a Ph balanced ear wash and gently clean with cotton wool

· Alert owner of the problem and suggest that a trip to the vets may be necessary.

Smelly Ears/ Discharge

· Can be a sign of an ear infection


· Use a pH balanced ear wash and gently clean with cotton wool

· Alert owner of the problem and suggest that a trip to the vets may be necessary.

Scratched Ears/ Red spots on ears

· Can be a sign of fleas, ear mites or other parasites.


· Check for any signs of parasites

· Use flea shampoo/ flea comb

· Alert owner that dog will need treatment and to see a vet

· Make sure that the groom area and equipment is thoroughly cleaned before grooming next dog

Nose Care

Generally, you don’t have to worry about clear nose discharge in dogs unless it lingers or there are other symptoms. However, discharge that’s cloudy, yellow, green, or smelly is always cause for concern.

Discharge could be a sign of:-

· Allergies

· Blockage

· Infection

· Polyps and Tumours

Eye Care

Examination of the eyes is important. Many dogs will have a sleep discharge. This can be kept to a minimum by trimming around the eyes. Cleaning with a baby or dog eye wipe should clear away the discharge. If there has been a particularly bad build up around the eyes, it may be helpful to soak this when in the bath to soften and then use the wipes.

Problems you should be looking for when checking a dogs eyes are

· Do they look different in any way?

· Is there any puss or discharge?

· Cloudy eyes?

· Red around the Iris?

These could be signs of infection or other problems. The owner should be notified and you suggest that they might take them to the vet for a thorough examination.

Mouth Care

Check the mouth for inflammation, gum infections, tartar build up, tenderness, loss of teeth and bad breath.

Teeth can be cleaned with a toothbrush and dog toothpaste or dog dental wipes. There are numerous products available for bad breath which you may wish to recommend to the owner.

For heavy build up of tartar or any other problems regarding the mouth, a trip to the vets should be recommended to the owner.

Cysts, lumps and bumps.

Many dogs will have cysts, lumps and bumps especially as they get older. Mainly they are harmless but can be a sign of something more serious.

Things to be aware of when grooming

· Clippers can cut the head of small cysts. Go gently around/ over them with clippers.

· In some cases, you may not be aware of the cyst until you cut through the fur and cut it accidentally. In this case stop the bleed with Trimmex and cotton bud. Reassure the dog.

· Be careful when towel drying as this can knock the head of a cyst.

· Many owners will probably be already aware of lumps and bumps, but you should point them out in case they wish to get it checked by a vet.

Mammary Line and Genital Area.

The mammary line runs along the chest between the nipples. This area and the genital area should be checked for lumps as they can be more serious than in any other areas.

Also check the genital areas for any discharge, swelling or abnormalities.

Bitch in Season

Having a bitch in season can pose problems in a dog grooming parlour. Normally an owner would avoid having their bitch groomed at this time or at least warn you when they drop them off.

Signs of a bitch in season

· Enlarged Vulva

· Vulva Spotting

· Excitement in male dogs

If you do have a bitch in season in the salon, keep her separate from male dogs. Should any unplanned mating occur, inform the owner to take the dog to vet if they do not want any unplanned puppies.

It may also be necessary to keep male dogs separate to prevent fighting.

Rectal Area and Tail

Check for any swelling, discharge or abnormalities.

A swollen bottom may mean that the anal glands need emptying. Normally the glands discharge a bit of fluid when the dog toilets. But sometimes the glands cannot empty or empty enough and leads to a build up which can be uncomfortable, leak at inconvenient times or becoming impacted and infected.

Signs of anal gland problems.

· Dragging bottom along floor

· Strong fishy smell coming from dog

· Swollen anal area

· Trying to bite bottom

Some dog groomers offer squeezing of anal glands or it can be done at the vets.

Paws and Claws

To ensure the comfort of a dog paws and claws should be checked.

Things to be aware of when grooming

· Claws can grow so long that they will start to curl and grow back into the dog. This causes extreme discomfort. This can be a particular problem with dew claws that aren’t ground down. Not all dogs will need their claws clipped but you should examine them and if a clip is necessary, do this at the start of the groom after excess fur has been cleared away.

· Sometimes it may be necessary to make a claw bleed or you may accidentally cut the quick. If this happens apply Trimmex coagulant. If it is a particularly bad bleed notify the owner and give them a small amount of Trimmex to apply as bleeding can occur again if knocked.

· Paws should be checked for matting in between the pads and toes and cleared out with clippers or scissors. Matting between the pads and toes can be sore for dogs and can make the skin sore.

· Grass seeds can cause problems and could be the cause of matting. Check between the pads and toes whilst trimming. If any grass seeds are stuck in the dog, remove with tweezers. Advise the owner what you have done and recommend that they apply antiseptic cream or to keep and eye on it so that it doesn’t go septic.


An ecto-parasite is a parasite that lives on the outside of the dog’s body rather than on the inside.

Common types are

· Fleas – can been seen with the naked eye as well as their faeces. They jump from host to host. They can cause itchiness in dogs due to biting and also to humans. Flea shampoo can be administered at the grooming parlour, but the owner should also be advised to buy a strong flea treatment from their vets, as the treatment only lasts for one month and the flea cycle is 6 weeks the dog should have the treatment at least twice. If the dog has fleas make sure all equipment and grooming area is cleaned before moving onto another dog. Flea bombs can protect your parlour for 3-6 months from fleas. Also regularly using a Tea Tree Shampoo in your parlour not only soothes any dog’s skin that has been groomed, fleas do not like Tea Tree so can prevent cross contamination in your parlour.

· Mites – can’t be seen by the naked eye. Signs of ear mites are little red dots on the ears and the dog constantly scratching their ears. Another common mite is one that causes mange. Look out for alopecia and skin lesions. Mites will need to be treated by the vet. Again make sure grooming equipment and area are thoroughly cleaned if you suspect that you have had a dog with mites.

· Ticks – look like a grey bubble. They have a very small head that they burrow into their host and their body gets bigger as they consume blood. They can cause some diseases and infections. Either use a special tick removing tool that will remove the head (just pulling the body off and leaving the head will lead to infection) or advise owner to use a spot on tick solution which will kill the ticks. They will then die and fall off within a few days.

Potential Problems with Medium or Long Coated Dogs

Grass Seeds and Thistles can get stuck into the fur and stick into the dog causing possible infection.

They can also cause matting.

Also dogs with long curly fur are prone to matting if not groomed regularly.

Excessive matting causes a problem as it puts pressure on a dog’s skin as they move which can cause skin infections. It can also lead to poor circulation.

Another problem with excessive matting is that the skin cannot be examined for parasites or any other problems.

Source: Internet

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