Liz Otis of Castaic has several poodles that require frequent grooming to prevent matting around the ears and all over their bodies. She takes Saxby, 8, and Grizwald, 1, to Bark Avenue Grooming in Canyon Country every two months or so.
On a warm April day, the two dogs were getting their annual cut.
“Usually, when it gets hotter, like now, I like to keep their hair short,” Otis said. “That way they can swim and play in the water and not have any issues.”
For Randi Storm of Castaic, it’s a year-round process keeping her four cats groomed, but this time of year is a crucial time, especially for her long-haired kitty Toki.
“The seasons change and their fur changes, too. Right now is a shedding time when they’re losing winter coats,” she said. “Grooming takes the bacteria, dirt and dust they’ve collected off and helps them to stay clean. Cats like to stay clean.”
Storm has Deborah Hansen of Kitty’s Purrfect Spa groom her cats about every six months. Hansen is a certified master cat groomer, who started her business six years ago. Since then, she’s groomed more than 3,000 cats, all in the comfort of her clients’ homes.
Hansen noted that grooming isn’t just beneficial for cats, but their owners, too.
“In spring, there are pollens in the air and humans notice allergies more. Bathing reduces dander on cats and that can make people feel better,” she said.
Cats are known for grooming themselves by licking, but as Hansen pointed out, it’s not a substitute for a professional.
“What cats are actually doing is removing dead coat, which they ingest, but can’t digest, so they have to vomit or poop it out,” she said. “Controlling your cat’s coat also greatly reduce furballs, which can sometimes create a blockage that can be dangerous and expensive.”
How often do pets need to be groomed?
For cats it depends on a number of factors, according to Hansen, with age as the most critical.
“Older cats produce more oils in coat and they’re not as active,” she said. “if you have a kitten that’s dashing around the house, the dead coat is flying around, whereas an elderly cat laying in one spot, does not have its dead coat being removed as effectively by natural movement.”
Other factors include environment, genetics and diet.
“Some cats need grooming every three weeks, while other cats can do one groom and go years without another and they’re fine,” Hansen said.
After an initial grooming session — which starts at $120 and includes set up, nail trim, bathing, facial, ear cleaning, drying, disinfection of bathing, area and a thorough vacuuming — Hansen will return to the client’s home at no charge to evaluate the cat and estimate the date for the next grooming session.
For dogs, grooming schedules largely depend on the type of fur. Non-shedding breeds like poodles have hair that keeps growing and can get matted without regular brushing, bathing and trimming, as do dogs with thick undercoats, such as Huskies.
Belinda Raine, owner of Bark Avenue Grooming, recommends a bathing or grooming session every four to eight weeks. Baths start at $25 per dog, while bathing and a haircut starts at $50. Both services include nail trims, ear cleaning and anal gland expression (if the dog’s glands are impacted, Raine will recommend a veterinary visit for further expression).
According to Raine, signs that your dog needs to be groomed include the beginning of matted fur, excessive shedding or scratching, dry flaking skin and the presence of fleas.
Coming in sooner rather than later is better for both you and your dog.
“Waiting until your dog has bad matting that’s really tight to the skin is really uncomfortable for them,” she said. “It can cause skin problems, because we have to cut the hair really short. It’s a lot more work for us and the price is going to be more.”
For cats, greasy fur is a key indicator that it’s time for a grooming.
“If you run your fingers through your cat and the fur doesn’t fluff back up, they need to be cleaned to prevent matting from starting,” Hansen said.
In between grooming sessions, both Hansen and Raine recommend daily brushing.
For cats, you’ll want to use a comb and keep the sessions short, Hansen noted.
“A brush just doesn’t do the job. You really need a comb. A basic $5 version will do,” she said. “Just two to three minutes a day. Any more, and the cat can get angry and the human can get frustrated.”
Deborah Hansen of Kitty’s Purrfect Spa grooms Brayden, a silver shaded Persian, at his home in Valencia.