Canine Nutrition: What Groomers Should Know (and Why)

Canine Nutrition: What Groomers Should Know (and Why)

Groomers come in contact with dogs every day who may have sensitive stomachs, special diets and allergies. It is important that groomers know and understand diet and health in canines (or any animal that they are in contact with). 

In many salons, treats are given as a reward, but they may not be suitable for all dogs. For some, anything outside of their special diet can trigger stomach upsets, skin rashes, skin sores and tear staining. 

Canines are originally scavengers, and, unlike cats, they do not need meat protein in their diets to survive; however, they are carnivores. A canine diet should consist of protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and of course water. 

What you use to provide these necessary elements could be through homemade dog food, commercially–prepared food or locally–prepared food. It is important to look at what a dog is eating. Is their food pure, organic and full of natural goodness? Or is it made up of artificial flavors, fillers and colorings? 

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Many behavior problems root from poor diets that contain artificial ingredients because, like humans, too much artificial coloring and sugar makes them hyperactive. Our canine friends are also similar in that they need a balanced, healthy diet with minimal excessive additives to maintain a healthy mental state, maintain energy and optimal health.

A lot of pets are now clinically over weight and this is largely due to a high fat and sugar (through high carbohydrates) diet. Certain treats of similar quality can also contribute to this problem. Fat is important for providing essential fatty acids for healthy cell function, but it also makes things tasty and is given in excessive amounts in tasty treats and tasty commercial diets—especially rich wet food and colorful kibble which is made to be more palatable for your pets.

The key ingredient in a canine’s diet should be a digestible protein such as meat. Dogs mainly get their energy from fat and protein so they do not technically require a lot of carbohydrates. A lot of commercial dog foods contain corn, wheat or soy (carbohydrates) as their main ingredients because it is cheap, bulks the weight out and expands, making it cheap for manufacturers. This is an issue, as these ingredients can cause all kinds of problems and allergies. 

Protein not only affects muscle mass, overall growth and body condition, it also affects coat condition. Flaky, dry skin can be caused by lack of protein and also vitamins such as the amino acids which make up protein. Some essential amino acids cannot be made by the body and need to be provided in the diet. If the diet lacks in one of these essential amino acids, the body cannot manufacture protein sufficiently. This is important at all ages but especially in growing dogs. 

As a groomer, you could advise your clients to talk to their vet about a diet change if their pets have sore, irritable skin and other causes have been ruled out. But remember, we cannot recommend a diet change ourselves as we are not qualified to do so. So always suggest bringing diet up with a vet. For clients with flaky skin, dry skin and dull coat, you could suggest a vitamin supplement for coat care such as a canine–formulated fish oil.

Always be aware of giving dogs treats in the salon as some dogs really do react to something in their diets that shouldn’t be there. If you are a groomer who uses treats in the salon, it is important to think about this as most treats contain artificial ingredients that should be avoided. In addition to behavior, certain additives can cause stomach upsets, diarrhea, excessive anal gland fluid and tear staining as the body tries to get rid of the toxins, which, in this case, are the artificial flavorings and colorings. 

If you want to use treats in your salon, you should ask the clients before the groom and note on their record card if you can or cannot give treats. Try to source natural, organic treats that are low in fat, low in calories and contain only a single or few ingredients. 

Lastly, dogs, like humans, need to consume enough water. A general rule is one ounce of water per pound of weight; however, this can change with health and age. When grooming, dogs can get stressed and anxious and they may need more water during and after a groom. So it’s always important that you have easy–accessible, fresh water available to all dogs at all times in your salon. ✂️

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