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PetEdge Grooming Question of the Week: Grooming Older Dogs

Q. What are the challenges of grooming older dogs?

While a squirming puppy can be a handful on the grooming table, older pets pose a unique set of challenges for groomers, too.

By understanding some of the issues facing senior pets, you can make the grooming experience more comfortable for the pet—and more enjoyable for you.


Older pets tend to be stiffer and less mobile than their younger counterparts. They may have trouble climbing into tubs or onto grooming tables, and it can be harder for groomers to pick them up.

Investing in a low rise electric or hydraulic grooming table can eliminate the need to lift older dogs up and onto a table. A table that does the heavy lifting for you will save your back, too.

Once the dog is on the table, it may be helpful to use a grooming support to brace the dog's midsection while you groom. A brace like our Master Equipment Adjustable Grooming Support (above) will reduce the stress on the dog's joints and encourage the animal to stay centered and still.

A padded grooming table cover can also help to cushion sore joints while a dog is being groomed.

Skin and Coat

Dog skin tends to become thinner and more sensitive with age, and you may have to adjust your grooming routine accordingly. A shampoo or spray that worked fine for a dog when it was younger may start to irritate the skin as the dog ages.

Older dogs can also develop allergies to certain shampoo ingredients. If you notice an irritation or a rash developing after you groom, you may want to switch to a hypoallergenic or tearless formula.


Dog coats also tend to become drier and more brittle with age. To help restore moisture and protein to the coat, try using a shampoo that's formulated to provide extra coat support.

Our Top Performance® Shed Patrol Shampoo, for example, has vitamin E to restore moisture to skin and protein-rich wheat germ to strengthen hair follicles.  

You can also offer hot oil treatments to older pets as an add-on service.

Cutting and Clipping

When grooming an older dog, take care to check the skin before you start. Many dogs develop bumps and warts on their skin as they age, and you want to be careful not to cut them when you're clipping.

If a dog has bumps or warts, you may want to use a longer blade or a different blade style to avoid accidentally catching a bump when you cut. Nicks and cuts are painful for the dog, and it can be hard to stop the bleeding once it starts.

TP1207_600X600Dental Care

Older dogs tend to have more issues with teeth and "doggie breath" due to age and the buildup of plaque and tartar.

If your senior dog is comfortable having its teeth brushed, you can offer brushing as an add-on service.

You can also keep some dental spray in the shop to freshen the dog's breath before you start grooming. This can make your close work much more pleasant. :)


As dogs get older, their sensory abilities start to decline. They can have more trouble seeing and hearing, and are more likely to be startled by sudden noises or movements. Since a scared dog is more likely to bite, it's important to keep the dog comfortable by moving slowly and speaking clearly.

Older dogs can also have trouble managing stress, and are more likely to become distressed if held in a cage for a long period of time. It's important to keep this in mind when you're booking older pets.

If it's possible to schedule an older dog for a light day, or at a time when you can get the pet in and out quickly, it could be helpful for you and the pet.

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