Finances & Money

Saving Money as a Pet Owner: Grooming

By Shawn (co-author of

Ever since we’ve had our dog, we’ve paid to have him groomed about every 6 weeks or so.  Currently, those services cost about $75 per trip. Recently, the place we go said that they could no longer take him.  Our dog is 14 and has pretty bad arthritis in his hips and back, which makes it hard for him to stand for long periods.

I’ve called a few other places and got the same result.  My last resort was the grooming salon at our vet’s office.  They said that they could take him — it’s exactly the reason they opened the salon at that office.  However, the price per visit was going to be around $125.

I decided that was too expensive, so I figured I would try to do it myself.  I did some research on the tools I would need:

  • Clippers
  • Tub with hand held shower head
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Comb and brush
  • Hair drier

They also recommended a grooming table which is a table that has an attachment for a leash to keep the dog in place, but I decided against that.

I went to the local pet store and found a clipper set for $45.  It had several differently sized attachments, a pair of scissors and a comb. Then, I went and bought a $25 hand held shower head for our guest bathroom.  We already had some dog shampoo and a brush, so I figured I had everything I needed to get started.

All of the websites recommended washing the dog first, then drying, then clipping.  We have a long haired dog, so I had the bright idea that clipping the dog first would be more efficient.  I would have less to wash and dry.

Big. Mistake.

I never realized how thick our dog’s undercoat was.  There were points where the clippers just weren’t cutting it (literally).  After an hour into this, I decided that maybe I should have washed him first.  So, I took him to the bathroom and started to wash him.  There are special shampoos and conditioners out there that help loosen the fur during the washing.

At this point I realized that I probably needed one other thing.  I need something to put over the drain that allows the water to drain, but keeps the hair from getting down there.  I didn’t see recommendations for something like that, so I’ll have to do some research. After washing and drying we went back to the clipping, which went much smoother this time.

All in all, it took me 3.5 hours to finish the job.  Now, it’s a good thing he can’t speak because I’m pretty sure he’d tell me he hated the hair cut.  But, considering it was my first time, I don’t think it looked too bad.

I think that $75 is definitely worth it to save those hours and have it done right, but I’m not sure it’s worth $125.  I’m going to give it one more shot to see if it goes any more smoothly the next time.

I will say this, though.  If we ever decide to get another dog, I’m definitely going to stick to a short haired dog.

About the author

Clever Dude


  • There are drain covers that will keep the hair out and let the water through. Simple little rubbermaid type things that don’t cost much. Try your local hardware store. I’m not sure where you are, but I had a similar experience in trying to find someone to take our old girl. I posted the question on a local pet bulletin board and found out about a lady that comes out to your house. That’s nice when your dog is old and arthritic. She had a trailer that she groomed the dog in. It cost LESS than the place we had been taking our dog. Find a local pet owner’s site and start asking around. Sometimes a recommendation leads you to someone who doesn’t advertise.

  • I just got a short hair dog, and this is exactly the reason why.

    I had a long hair dog as a kid, and we suffered through this once a month. One thing that helped, was giving the dog a thorough brushing prior to bathing or clipping. It removes all the loose hair, as well as getting out any tangles and making it more easy to clip. After that, we didn’t really have any problems clipping the dog.

  • Aww, you bring back childhood memories of grooming our cocker spaniel. Every summer my dad would bust out the clippers and we’d shave him down. But, that’s why I went with short haired dogs when I got my own! I have three boston terriers, they require pretty much no grooming. I’ve never even brushed them, their hair is so short. I’m sure your pooch looks fine, have you ever seen a shaved cat? Now that’s funny.

  • @Emily —
    I would feel bad taking a picture of him in that pitiful state. My in-laws are visiting, and they offered to pay for the vet’s groomer to “fix” him, but I refused.

    I know the neighborhood dogs are laughing at him, but it builds character 🙂

  • Hi I ama dog groomer. If You can tell me what breed your dog is I may be able to give you a few tips. I am groom a lot of elderly dogs usually reffered to us by the vets as I am also a Vet nurse. The most important things to remember with elderly dogs is to put Humanity before Vanity and make the grooming process as easy as possible on your dog. Many groomers find that if a dog for age or coat type takes 3 hours as is often the case it is just not economicly viable for them as they may need two people to groom (one to assist supporting the dog) I have found the best way to groom the old dears is to let them lie down and do one side first and then roll them over so they dont have to stand.

    Pre clipping before th bath does make it easier to wash and dry but the coat needs to be in a reasonable condition and you need to have th right equipment….. snap on combs generally wont go through a dense double coat, as a suggestion why dont you ask a groomer nearby to give you an hour session with your dog for the cost of a groom perhaps and they could make sure you have the right gear and understanging of how to use the equipment.



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