How to Choose a Groomer

Apr 20, 2020   Tracey Aston   Grooming

There are many reasons why a pet parent would want to take their pet to a professional groomer. Groomers are trained in the proper tools used to care for a pet's skin and coat and know how to keep an anxious pet at ease with a lot of care and patience. Some pets require visiting a groomer for complicated grooming or breed specific haircuts. Whatever the reason for visiting a groomer, there are several things you should be looking for before making your final choice on a groomer.

The most important question in both safety and quality is the training of the groomer. Training can vary. Some groomers learn on the job through apprenticeships or mentoring programs. Others attend classes at a pet grooming school. Always make sure to ask about a groomer's training, experience, knowledge and continuing education. A professional will always want to learn and improve their skill set.  Some groomers even compete in competitions to master their craft and learn new skill sets.

Not at groomers will groom cats, as they pose bigger risks of bites and infection from bites and scratches.  Always double-check if a groomer has experienced or is certified in cat grooming.

Does the groomer carry insurance? Are they trained in pet first-aid or have emergency procedures in place to protect your pet?  If they have insurance, ask what it covers. A first aid kit should be in plain view but if it's not don't be afraid to ask to see it.  Talk to the groomer about their emergency procedures in the case of an injury or evacuation.

Every dog breed has a different coat type and some require a very specific, breed standard cut. Choose a groomer who has experience in your pet's coat type and cut.

The groomer you choose should have experience with your dog's breed and health conditions, such as arthritis or skin conditions. Ask what special accommodations are used for arthritic senior pets or pets with health conditions.

Make time to visit their shop.  The facility should be well-ventilated with clean workstations, crates and tools, and solid tables and bathing stations. Watch for rusting or loose pieces on equipment, mold or mildew. Ask how often a salon deep cleans and sanitizes their shop and tools. Tools should be kept away from the pet and safely on a table where a pet can't injure themselves or the tools.

Some saloons using crating during the dry process and if left unattended a pet could become ill from being overheated. Always ask about the drying practice and if pets will ever be unsupervised during this time. If the salon doesn't use crates, and not all do, ask where the pet will be kept after its groom and make sure to mention to your groomer if your pet isn't dog or cat friendly.

Ask the groomer what types of products are used during grooming. Are they professional, high quality shampoos, conditioners, and detanglers? Are the products free of harsh chemicals or ingredients that could cause an allergic reaction?

Groomers will ask for proof of vaccinations, as your pet will be around other people and pets. They should always be asking for proof of rabies and kennel cough vaccines. This is for the safety of all, including your pet.

Some pet parents want to stay with their pets for their grooming appointments. Some salons will allow this, while others prefer the pet parent wait in an adjacent room or come back. If you want to stay with your pet, check to see if that salon will allow it. Allowing pet parents into the shop could be a liability issue for many reasons – stressed animals bite, your presence and anxiety could affect your pet, or someone could trip over electrical cords.

Double check if the groomer uses breakaway collars and leashes during the grooming process. If not, if a pet tries to jump or pull away, a regular leash could choke them. 

If your pet is larger, a senior, or has special needs ask if they are willing to accommodate the pet's needs and allow them to rest.

Groomers will NOT advertise or perform complete shave downs on any pet unless medically required. Doing so is harmful for skin, hair and be damaging to the animal for their heating and cooling needs and leaves the susceptible to skin cancers. A shave may be done in a specific area in cases of severe matting but it never recommended. 

Are they a fear-free grooming shop? If they are not, do they use positive, modern based methods to make grooming a positive experience?

A professional groomer will schedule appointments and keep as close to the time as possible. This allows them to spend the proper amount of time and give specific attention to an animal during their time.  Respect your groomer and don't request same day appointments unless they are offered to you.

Lastly, check for upfront pricing. Ask what the service you are purchasing covers. Is it just a bath? A bath, groom, and nail trim? If they find parasites, will they automatically use a flea dip? A groomer will cost money and the amount will depend on many things, such as the size of animal, haircut and condition of coat. A groomer might request more time if coat condition needs more work to do the best job possible.

A trip to the groomer should be a positive experience for you and your pet. By asking questions ahead of time, you will know you have made the best choice for your pet. 

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