What you need to know about dog grooming – at home, and by the pros

Amanda T. Lago

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What you need to know about dog grooming – at home, and by the pros

SPAW DAY. Bringing your dog to a professional groomer can be an enriching experience for them.

Courtesy of Collar & Comb

Whether you're grooming your dog yourself or sending them to pro groomers, this is one aspect of pet care you shouldn't furget!

MANILA, Philippines – Anyone who takes care of dogs will know that along with a good diet, regular exercise, and lots of cuddles, grooming is essential to their furbaby’s health.

What you need to know about dog grooming – at home, and by the pros

More than just getting your dog a fancy haircut, regular grooming prevents infections and uncomfortable skin and fur conditions and helps detect any lumps, bumps, and sores that may point to more pressing health concerns.

“It’s basic maintenance for your dog. Just like humans, if you go months, years without cutting your hair…ganun lang din naman (it’s like that),” Tamara Pineda, co-founder of dog spa and grooming center Collar & Comb, told Rappler in an interview.

“And it’s a pleasant experience for dogs…siyempre kung magaling yung groomer (of course if the groomer is good),” she added. 

Tamara, along with her friend Toni Dionisio and their husbands Doni Dionisio and Jacko Hernandez, founded Collar & Comb in early 2022, when Toni and Doni returned to the Philippines after living in the United States.

It was in the US that Toni got into dog grooming – because pet care services were expensive there, she enrolled herself in a certificate course for dog and cat grooming so she could take care of it herself for her two chow chows, Churro and Toffee. 

Now with two branches – one in Ortigas and another in Katipunan – Collar & Comb’s spa-like ambience and detail-oriented grooming done by pet-loving professionals has apparently become a go-to for pet parents in Metro Manila. She shared that some of their clients even bring their dogs in for grooming once a week.

Pet owners don’t have to bring their furbabies in to the groomers that often though. 

According to Toni and Tamara, you can take care of your dog’s grooming needs at home for the most part – and save the full-service professional grooming for every four to six weeks.

Here are some of their grooming tips:

To bathe or not to bathe?

As tempting as it is to scrub your dog down every day so they’re smelling fresh for cuddle time, a daily bath could cause more harm than good. In fact, they don’t even need to bathe every week.

Tamara explained: “Sabi nga nung vet namin (our vet said), one to two times a month lang. Because sometimes, it’s bad for their skin. That’s why sometimes, they get rashes. Or then they start getting allergies, kasi na-remove mo na yung natural defense (you’ve removed their natural defenses).” 

The exception, of course, is if they’re visibly dirty – for instance if they’ve been rolling around in mud or playing at the beach.

“Dirt also can cause sickness, right?  So kailangan clean din sila (they need to be clean too).  So it really depends on the dog,” Toni added. 

Brush hour

Of course, there’s still a lot of grooming to be done for your dog in between baths. Unlike bathing, proper brushing is one thing Toni and Tamara recommend as a daily habit for you and your dogs – particularly breeds that have long fur, like shih tzus, poodles, schnauzers, and bichon frises.

Regular brushing prevents matting – which is what happens when your dog’s fur tangles and wraps around itself. Matted fur can be super uncomfortable for your pet, but more than that it cause skin irritations and make ticks or fleas harder to spot. 

Getting rid of matted hair is tedious and can be painful for dogs – Toni shared that they once had a de-matting case that took the entire day – so ideally it should be done by professionals. But it’s really best to avoid matting altogether – hence the need for daily brushing done properly.

“We charge a little bit more of a premium for the de-matting, just because…It takes time, number one,  it’s very labor-intensive, and, at the same time, we also don’t want to keep the clients repeating,” Tamara said. 

Pang-discourage na namin yun, I mean, para matututo sila  magbrush sa bahay (it’s to discourage .  Because it’s really unpleasant for the pets,” she explained.

To properly brush your dog, you need to use the appropriate brush or comb for their coat (single-layer, curly coats require different brushes from straight, double coats for instance). You also need to remove their collar or harness and make sure you’re brushing down to the inner layers of their fur. 

Animal, Canine, Dog
Courtesy of Collar & Comb
All ears

Another thing dog (and even cat!) owners should be mindful of is cleaning their pet’s ears.

Yun yung pinaka-namimiss ng owners (that’s what owners miss often), the ears,” Toni said. “Dogs are prone to ear infections. Especially [those with] long, floppy ears…spaniels, beagles, golden retrievers. ‘Yung mahilig mag-swimming (those who love to swim).”

You don’t have to clean your dog’s ears daily (and in fact, you shouldn’t) – but you should watch for the telltale signs that their ears need tending to.

According to the American Kennel Club, you know it’s time to clean your dogs ears when you smell a mild odor coming from the area, or when you notice that they’re shaking their head more than normal. Also, if there are other symptoms like inflammation, redness, pain, or a yeasty smell, do not clean and head to the vet instead.

To clean your dog’s ears, you need to use an ear cleaning solution specifically made for dogs, let it sit in their ear canal for 30 seconds, and wipe it away with a cotton ball or pad.


Dogs who often walk on pavement may not need a nail trim often as the roads naturally grind their nails. However, many indoor dogs will need regular nail trims. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), your dog will need a pawdicure when their nails touch the ground as they walk – you’ll know it by the clacking sound it makes. 

You can use either a clipper or a grinder to trim your dog’s nails – but be careful not to hit the quick (which holds the nail’s blood vessel and nerves) at the center of the claw. When in doubt, ask an expert or professional to do the trimming for you.


In between your own home grooming, it’d be good to get your dog pampered by a professional. 

As Toni said, a grooming session also acts like a basic health check for your dog, because groomers – at least the good ones – know how to flag any rashes or growths that might be of concern, which is something you might easily miss or dismiss if you’re handling your dog on the daily.

Bringing your pet to a spa is also a good form of enrichment. The new environment, with all its smells, sounds, and sights, plus the interaction with other dogs and people might help you meet their quota for mental, physical, and emotional stimulation. And any fur parent will know that when that happens, dogs tend to be sweeter and more behaved.

Professionals are also able to give your dog different haircuts to suit their needs.

Siguro superficial na yung (it’s superficial that) you want them to look cute,” Tamara said, stressing that grooming is not just about aesthetics.

“Some specific breeds, like a schnauzer, sometimes they do a specific cut because they’re prone to back acne. That’s why their backs are always shaved. So sometimes, there are cuts that are for their health also,” she added.

Indoors, Interior Design, Shelf
Courtesy of Collar & Comb

So how do you prepare your dog for a trip to the spa?

On the day itself, make sure they’ve eaten at least two hours before so they’ve digested by the time the groomers get to them.

In general, it’s also important to expose your dog to the spa environment from a young age. Bring them in even if it’s just for a quick nail trim or ear cleaning, so they can be familiar with the grooming routines.

It actually circles back to grooming them regularly at home, because this gets them used to the sensations that they may encounter at the spa, and to being handled in general.

Whether you’re giving them a basic brushing and cleaning at home or taking them for a full-blown spaw day, you know you’re doing something for your dog’s wellbeing – and ultimately, yours too. –

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Amanda T. Lago

After avoiding long-term jobs in favor of travelling the world, Amanda finally learned to commit when she joined Rappler in July 2017. As a lifestyle and entertainment reporter, she writes about music, culture, and the occasional showbiz drama. She also hosts Rappler Live Jam, where she sometimes tries her best not to fan-girl on camera.