Why are Animals Groomed?

Grooming is a key part of any animal care; essential to an animal’s health and welfare, aswell as having an aesthetic value. Grooming may be preformed on pets, livestock and wildlife. A lack of grooming can lead to health problems with some animals. At the other end of the spectrum, animals are groomed for competitions (eg. Horse and Dog Shows)
Animals come in all shapes and size, colours and textures. Some have long or short fur while others have scales or feathers. This variation serves different functions for animals and can be aesthetically pleasing; however these variations mean humans have to conduct a variety of grooming tasks in order to maintain the animals in their care.

While most grooming techniques have been developed to fulfill practical necessity some techniques have been developed due to aesthetic reasons. This mostly applies to companion animal grooming especially dogs, as dogs may be groomed to fit a breed standard or in a way to suit their owners taste, for example the classic poodle clip looks very different to the way poodle fur naturally grows.

Some services are essential to the animal’s health and wellbeing; while other services (at the opposite end of the spectrum)
may be more about the aesthetics and marketing than any practical benefit.
Some services may have begun as a practical necessity, but have now become more aesthetic (eg. Classic poodle clip).
What Animals are Groomed?
A range of animals are groomed including companion animals such as dogs and cats, farm animals such as cattle and chickens and wildlife such as reptiles and big cats.
Companion animals require ongoing grooming and maintenance to ensure their health and welfare needs are met and that they are aesthetically pleasing to their owners. Grooming must be suited to the function of the animal for example a pedigree show dog would be clipped and groomed very differently to a working dog such as a bomb detection dog, as both these dogs have to serve a different purpose. A show dog’s purpose is to look a certain way and fit a specific breed standard while a working dog would need to be groomed in a way that maintains their wellbeing and allows them to perform their function without hindrance.

Farm animals are routinely groomed in order to maintain animal husbandry. Due to the large volume of animals housed together and the temperamental nature of farm animals it is vital that the animals are groomed in a way that prevents them from injuring their handlers or each other. This is why grooming techniques such cattle dehorning or chicken debeaking are common in beef and poultry production. Dehorning involves the complete and permanent removal of the horns of cattle to prevent them from injuring each other or their handlers. Debeaking involves the removal of the sharp tip of a chicken’s beak to prevent damage to other chickens from feather pecking and cannibalism which are huge problems in the poultry industry. There are welfare considerations to be taken into account with both these practices.

Wildlife in zoos, conservation parks or out in the wild may also be groomed in order to maintain their health and wellbeing. Wildlife can be susceptible to health problems that must be prevented or treated with the relevant grooming techniques for example giraffes require hoof trimming and care to prevent them from getting cracked or overgrown hooves. There are a number of challenges that come with wildlife grooming as you are dealing with wild animals that may not be accustomed to human contact and may be considered dangerous for example lions and tigers.

What Does a Groomer Do?
A groomer will perform a range of tasks suited to the species or breed of the animal. Examples include:
  • Hair removal –this can be performed with the aid of clippers and brushes to remove various amounts of hair. Hair removal may be performed to help maintain an untidy coat (i.e. remove mattes and knots), to achieve a certain style or for health reason such as to help an animal cope with a hotter climate or make it easier to find parasites such as ticks.
  • Hair cleaning –this can be performed with the aid of shampoo and conditioner, water or a hydrobath. Hair cleaning or washing may be performed to maintain the hygiene of an animal by removing dirt and reducing unwanted odor, to make the animal more aesthetically pleasing and for the health of the animal.
  • Nail Clipping – this can be performed with the aid of nail clippers to physically remove the tip of the animals nail. Nail clipping is performed to help animals maintain a healthy nail length, without clipping animals nails can cause serious problems to the locomotion and health of an animal. If left dogs nails can grow back into their paw pads impeding on their ability to walk and can pierce the skin which increase their risk of infection.
Learn more about Animal Care and Grooming
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