Creature comforts: A guide to professional pet grooming in the UAE

Experts share their best advice on how owners can pamper their furry friends, from long-haired cats to desert-loving dogs

DUBAI , UNITED ARAB EMIRATES, October 02 , 2018 :- One of the dog in the grooming area at the My Second Home for pets in Dubai Investment Park 2 in Dubai. ( Pawan Singh / The National )  For Business/Instagram. Story by Dania
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Regular grooming sessions are an effective way to keep your animal clean while also keeping them in good physical health. After all, while brushing the coat helps untangle matted fur and removes dead hair and dirt, it can also be a soothing experience for some pets. Sometimes owners cannot handle grooming on their own at home, though. Every once in a while (and for certain breeds of cats and dogs), a professional groomer can save the day – for ­painfully matted fur that long-haired cats can suffer from, for example, or when your desert-­loving pooch needs a vigorous scrub down.  

From massages and manicures to complete makeovers, pet grooming has come a long way from the regular hair and nail trim. The UAE is peppered with salons that promise a spa-like experience for your kitty or pooch. Although some people may feel it's a risk to trust a stranger with an animal, there are ways to ensure you are leaving your furry companion in good hands. 

But then there are the horror stories. Dubai resident Sara Evans was left heartbroken after having her Pomeranian groomed. When Lola was dropped back home by the grooming service, Evans noticed a change in her pet's behaviour: Lola was crying and seemed frightened. The next day she was brought to the vet and Evans was shocked to discover Lola had a broken back leg that needed urgent surgery. 

While it's hard to say whether the incident was directly caused by the groomer, you can never be too careful, which is why we asked the experts for tips on how to go about finding a trustworthy groomer.

Tips on how to find a good groomer

Pablo Zabala Jr has been working at Cloud 9 Pet Hotel and Care in Abu Dhabi for the past six years. He has gone from receptionist and pet handler to vet assistant and full-time groomer.

“As a groomer you need to keep learning every day,” he says. “A groomer needs to be patient and really ­knowledgeable on how to handle the situation and be able to read the pet’s body language. Grooming can be stressful for some animals and if the groomer doesn’t have any knowledge on how to handle that, an accident is likely to happen.”

He also advises pet parents to trust their instincts. "Talk to the groomer," he says. "You have your senses. You will see the way they handle the pets and how they talk to you. You should get a feeling of security."

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES Ð Feb 14:  Mrs.Yuliya Kovaleva (not in the photo) owner of Pet Style grooming Jack(dog) in her salon at International City in Dubai. She is giving bath to Jack in this photo. (Pawan Singh / The National)

 *** Local Caption ***  PS21- PETSTYLE.jpgon18fe-petJACK2.jpg

He also advises pet parents to trust their instincts. "Talk to the groomer," he says. "You have your senses. You will see the way they handle the pets and how they talk to you. You should get a feeling of security."

He recommends checking out social media as well, particularly Instagram. Most groomers are proud of their work and will have posted examples of the styles they've created.

Social media should also be your go-to for peer reviews and recommendations. “Pet parents should check Facebook and Google reviews before trusting a grooming company,” says Hitesh Thawani, managing director of Precious Paws Pet Spa in Dubai. 

Owners are often asked to drop their animals off in the morning and pick them up at night, but pet parents should be vigilant about the type of place they are leaving their furry companions at. Some things to keep an eye out for include cameras in the salon and sterilising kits, while a supervisor or owner should also be on site for owners to speak to if any problems arise.

How often do pets need to be groomed? 

Another issue to be aware of is how often your pets actually need to be groomed. For ­example, most cats can handle themselves unless their fur becomes matted and a shave becomes necessary, before it leads to a painful skin irritation. 

Long-haired cats are more susceptible to matted fur unless they are brushed daily. Courtesy Evelyn Lau

Erika Szentes is a European groomer who got her licence in Hungary. Citing examples of smaller dogs such as Havanese, Maltese and Pomeranians, all of which have similar coats, she says: "They have fine hair with a lot of undercoat. I would suggest professional basic grooming every fourth week, a haircut once every eight weeks or professional full grooming with a haircut every six weeks [alongside] a quick, daily brushing at home." 

However, she says that even if two dogs are the same breed, their needs can be quite different. "It depends on how much undercoat they have, if the owner can maintain a bit or can't at all and if the doggie is allowed to go swimming," she explains.

For short-coated breeds such as a French bulldogs, fox terriers, boxers and salukis, she recommends "bathing with claw-clipping and ear cleaning every four to six weeks". For fluffy cats, Szentes suggests professional deshedding or basic grooming every three or four months. She says maintaining a healthy coat for any animal is as much the owner's responsibility and to discuss with a groomer how you can play your part.

How pet grooming has evolved 

Basic grooming aside, massages, paw soaking and tooth-brushing are some other services readily available in the UAE, depending on your budget. A 15-minute body massage at Precious Paws is Dh40, while a pamper package for cats starts at Dh250, or Dh350 for small dogs at The Pet Shack in Abu Dhabi. A “pawdicure” (nail painting) at Dubai’s Soaptopia will set you back Dh50, while Miss Meow grooming offers services for rabbits and birds as well. 

For those who have anxious animals, it can be stressful trying to take them to a salon. Fortunately for owners, there are several services to remedy that problem and getting pets to a groomer is now easier than ever.

Precious Paws offers a mobile grooming service. Courtesy Precious Paws 

Precious Paws has launched mobile services and pet owners can book using WhatsApp. "The van will visit you at your desired time and the pet parents do not need to leave home at all for this," says Thawani. "Many of our clients have us visit their homes while they are still at work. This way when they return home, they have a well-groomed pet and more time to spend with the family."

Cloud9 also offers a service through which groomers can come to your home. All you need is running water and electricity. The groomers will bring a table and scissors, and everything can be done in a stress-free environment for the animal.

While there are plenty of other salons that offer such services, it’s up to a pet owner to do their due diligence in finding a suitable groomer. “It’s a business, competition is there, but you should look at the quality of work,” says Zabala Jr. “We need to satisfy the customer, but also make sure the pet is happy.”