Cut cost of living crunch:

Groom your pets at home

With the cost of living crisis nipping at Kiwi pet owners’ heels, many are looking at ways of reducing costs without disadvantaging their pet’s health. Home-based DIY pet grooming is taking the stage as one of the simplest ways to save on fur friend-related finances.

Michelle Le Long, chief operating officer at pet insurance specialist PD Insurance, says the services of a professional pet groomer are highly valuable when pet owners don’t have the time, skills or confidence to groom Fido or Fluffy themselves, “but for those needing to cut costs, there are plenty of things you can do yourself with some good advice and a bit of practice”.

Consider the charges

The costs of professional grooming can really mount up. For example, for a full groom of two dogs, seven times a year, you could be looking at well over $2,000. Nail clipping is around $20 a clip, having your pet’s teeth cleaned costs around $20 too, a wash and dry can cost up to $130, and a full groom can hit nearly $200, depending on the size of your pet and length of fur. Taking on even the simpler jobs can make a noticeable budgetary impact over a few months.

Why groom?

Regular grooming will help Fido and Fluffy look, smell and feel their best. Importantly, paying frequent attention to their hygiene further supports wellbeing by helping prevent some health conditions caused by dirt and grime being caught in sensitive areas. Home grooming sessions also allow you to examine your pet’s teeth, eyes, ears and nails for anything needing attention.  

Maintenance grooming such as brushing, bathing, nail trimming, ear and eye cleaning and tooth brushing can all be picked up in online tutorials or by taking grooming classes. Some of these responsibilities, such as regular brushing to maintain your dog or cat’s coat, is something the kids can get involved in to help teach them the duties of pet ownership.

Tools of the trade

An initial investment in grooming tools such as brushes, combs and clippers can soon pay off in savings. Choose a brush to suit the coat of your pet’s breed – bristle brushes for short-haired breeds and sleeker brushes for long hairs. To trim their nails, it’s best to use a specially designed clipper with a safety guard to prevent cutting the nails too short and causing pain. Clean their teeth frequently with toothbrushes and toothpaste designed for pets; to get them used to this, start by briefly and gently rubbing the teeth and gums with your finger. 

Advanced home grooming – with a warning

Once you’ve mastered the basics, you may feel confident enough to learn to clip, shave or even hand strip (pluck) your pooch to save more money. However, if you’re considering getting the clippers out yourself for ‘the look’ or to beat summer heat, there are a few things to be aware of.

Dogs like golden retrievers are ‘double-coated’ – they’ve a dual layer of fur. Underneath is soft, downy fur to keep them warm and on top the coarser fur keeps them dry. Shaving their fur can adversely affect the ability to regulate their temperature. Fido’s undercoat does this naturally and shaving his fur can make him prone to sun damage, sunburn and even skin cancer. It can also induce irritation and itchy regrowth and cause his topcoat to grow back in worse condition.

A prizewinning home groomer’s tips

Brett Sheehan of Palmerston North has been a dog dad to five miniature schnauzers and one shih tzu over 20 years. Not wanting to spend big bucks having each professionally trimmed, he watched his first schnauzer’s initial groomer haircut and has since groomed his dogs himself.

Such are the skills Sheehan developed, his home grooming was good enough to win prizes at dog shows.

“What I did for show grooming was very different to standard trimming,” he notes. “For show, schnauzers must be hand stripped, which is immensely time consuming, and not a pleasant experience for neither the groomer nor the dog. I showed two dogs until they achieved NZ champion status, after which I ceased hand stripping and now keep my dogs clipped, leaving the coat longer in the winter months for warmth.”

Sheehan advises first-time groomers to buy quality gear. “My first attempt with a cheap clipper was like trying to cut through a thick-cut rump steak with a butter knife! I then spent $400 on a quality clipper and it’s more like a hot knife through butter. You’ll also need a pair of good scissors, as you can’t do everything with clippers.”

Sheehan notes it’s easy to underestimate the commitment needed to learn to do home grooming safely and competently.

He says, “It does require some skills and can be hard work and stressful. You can cut the dogs, clip nails too close, which can bleed, and you could ruin your relationship with your dog!”

Ultimately, however, he has found it worthwhile for the cost savings, knowledge gained and trusting relationships formed with his beloved dogs.


Media contact 

Leandri Smith – The Mail Room 
027 365 9003 | [email protected]