Its That Time Of Year Again

 As the warmer weather is upon us, it is important to remember the how easy it is for a pet to suffer from heatstroke. None of us wants to injure or kill a pet in our care, so it is important to realize how this happens in the first place and make changes.

  

Let's start with why groomers don't notice when pets are in distress?

There are several possible reasons that come to mind:

1. The drying cages were out of their field of vision.

2. Not regularly checking on pets while they were drying because they were out of their field of vision. Time is relative. You may not think more than 5 minutes has passed, when in reality, its been at least a half hour. 

3. Can't see the pet was in distress because the pet was out of their field of vision.

Do we see the connection here? There was no one monitoring the pets while they were exposed to heat with little to no air circulation.

How do you make a change?

1. Rearrange the grooming room so that the drying cages are in your field of vision.

2. If that is not feasible, then station someone in the drying area to monitor.

3. Set an alarm for 10 minutes, and visually check on each pet.

4. Mobile groomers are not immune to this this just because they do not cage dry. They are metal cans that heat up very quickly in warmer weather. The best safety tool I have is a window temperature cling. It tells me how hot the interior is BEFORE I begin grooming. I know whether or not my A/C cab cool down the inside enough to work.

Notice that I did not suggest just using dryers with no heating elements. Drying a wet pet with cool air can result in hypothermia. You still need to monitor that pet.

 

What is heatstroke?

 

Heatstroke begins when the pets’ body temperature surpasses 104 degrees. The factors that set the stage for heatstroke is when the temperature in their environment (cage dryer) becomes higher than their body temperature with little or no air circulation (cage), high humidity (heavy panting) and close quarters (cage). The risk is much higher if groomers cover cages with towels to speed up drying. This is the exact same scenario when people leave their pets in a hot car to go shopping.

Signs of heatstroke include lethargy, heavy breathing and panting, bright red gums and tongue, vomiting and diarrhea. Heatstroke can cause shock, respiratory distress, kidney failure, and heart abnormalities among other complications. Damage can become irreversible once their body temperature reaches 106 degrees. Death follows. It is imperative that the pet receives medical attention before their temperature reaches 106 degrees. The only way to prevent this is with constant monitoring of the drying area. Minutes can make the difference between the life, quality of life, and death.

Very young, very old, immune compromised, brachycephalic (dogs with pushed in faces), pregnant, and nursing dogs, as well as all cats are more susceptible to heatstroke.

What can be done if heatstroke occurs?

1. Remove the pet from the hot environment!

2. Lower the body temperature by wetting with cool water.

3. Do not use cold water or ice water. It is counterproductive. It will shock the system and cause a thermal barrier. The pet will be unable to cool itself.

4. Contact a veterinarian for instructions.

5. Transport to veterinarian as soon as possible.

This is a preventable accident. Drying cages are one of our tools. Use it responsibly. If you do not have someone to monitor the pets while drying, then table dry them. There is an empty home right now that needn’t be.

 

 


Is Your Insurance Covering What You Think It Is?

I've been following a couple of posts on Facebook from some very unhappy groomers following denied insurance claims.

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They are unhappy because they did not have the coverage they thought they did.

We all get a large envelope with pages and pages of our coverage when we sign up and again when we renew our policies. All the experts recommend we read it, but it daunting and written in insuranese. My eyes start to glaze over when I make the attempt.

Instead, I contact my insurance specialist. An insurance specialist is NOT YOUR AGENT. An insurance specialist is your contact person within the insurance company itself, such as Travelers, Hartford, Nationwide, and so forth.

An insurance specialist can walk you through your policy as it appears in their files.

Bottom line is this.

You are only covered as it appears on their end. It doesn't matter what your agent says. If you are mobile and have different policies for vehicle and business, you need to speak with each insurance specialist.

Suggested questions to ask include (but not limited to):

  1. The details of the animal floater. Under what circumstances is this floater enacted. Many non-industry policies only include death, NOT injury. There will also be a dollar amount limit on each occurrence.
  2. The details of your business interruption policy. What are the exclusions? If you are mobile, does it cover when your vehicle is in the shop for a motor vehicle accident.
  3. What are your deductibles?
  4. Do you have full glass coverage? Thats both mobile and shop.
  5. Is there a limit of your equipment?
  6. For mobile groomers, is the full amount of the conversion accounted for?

This phone call will take about 20 minutes of your time and will save you an inordinate amount of grief in the event you make need to make a claim.


Grooming A Blind Dog

Meet Ghost.

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He originated from a pet store. When this cute bundle of fur went blind shortly after arriving at the store the owner was going to put him down. After all, you cannot sell a blind dog. One of the employees convinced the owner to give her the dog. It was soon apparent, that in spite of her good intentions, it was beyond her capabilities to care for a dog that was exhibiting signs of distemper, ulcerated corneas, glaucoma, and giardia.

In stepped Kristin Edmond, Kaeley Blum, and Dr. Andrew Pickerstein of VCA Northside Animal Hospital In Danbury, CT. They adopted him, treated his medical conditions, and neutered him. All they wanted for Ghost was a good home. I met him when he was Po at VCA while bringing one of my other dogs in for a visit. We clicked immediately and a couple of weeks later he is snoozing next to me as I write this.

I have groomed many blind dogs over the years. I have owned blind dogs. What they all have in common was they went blind over time. They were used to my grooming van, the procedures, the noises, and where everything was located. Minor changes were needed. Ghost is my first dog that does not have a clue as to what to expect.

Dogs take life’s lemons and make lemonade. They adapt. Other senses begin to heighten to compensate for the loss of one. How does all this relate to grooming? I want to make Ghost’s experience with grooming a stress free, pleasant experience. Did I mention he is a Husky? There is lots of grooming in his future.

I’ll start with their enhanced hearing. It’s been interesting to watch Ghost chase after my golden retriever by listening to Ricky’s huffing and puffing as he runs.

While we hear in the 200 to 20,000 Hz range, dogs can hear up to 200,000 Hz. They are already more sensitive to music, throw in that enhanced hearing, and add agitating music. You now have an over stimulated dog, one that is more likely to bite. I play music softly in the background. Nothing jarring or loud. My personal favorite is Stephen Halpern’s Chakra Suite. It’s designed for meditation, and therefore very calming. I am also mindful of other background noises that I may have become accustomed to such as barking dogs and dryers. When drying Ghost, I use a Happy Hoodie to muffle the pitch of the high velocity dryer.

A typical dog has over 220 million olfactory receptors compared to our 5 million. Ghost is relying heavily on his increased sense of smell. That can be both a disadvantage as well as advantageous. Strong odors such as bleach, disinfectants, and cleaners may be overwhelming. I can this use this concept to Ghost’s advantage. I scent mark all the equipment, table edges, grooming arms, etc. with an essential oil. I choose an oil that is not common to the area. For me, it’s rosemary. Using an oil from the pine family would be confusing as pines and junipers surround my property. A little dab does the trick. He can use his sense of smell to “see” where everything is located. You can also place calming essential oils such as lavender in a diffuser or on cotton balls strategically placed around your facility. Do not put essential oils on plastics such as AC vents as it may cause damage.

Whether Ghost is in the tub or on the table, I am always touching him. Sometimes it’s with my shoulder if both hands are occupied. That consistent contact ensures that I do not startle him, and a startled dog is more likely to bite. If he is in a crate or I have not maintained the constant contact, I will use vibrations to warn him before I touch by rattling the cage door or tapping the grooming table with a brush. This is also good advice for deaf dogs.

To round out the experience I have rose quartz crystals in various places around my grooming van. Rose quartz is also known as the ‘Love Stone.” Crystals work on the Entrainment Principle. That’s where the Dominant Operating Resonance of one object affects the Lesser Operating Resonance of another. Remember the tuning fork experiment in grade school. The one where the teacher brought out about four or five tuning forks and made one of them vibrate. Shortly afterwards all the other tuning forks began to vibrate. The same principle applies for crystals. The stable Dominant Frequency of rose quartz helps to calm and support the Lesser Frequency of a stressed pet.

It is amazing to watch this blind puppy adjust and flourish and to see his spirit shine. He runs and chases my other dogs, goes up and down the stairs by himself, and knows when someone is in the kitchen (where the treats are). It took my husband and myself about three days to realize that Ghost was an inappropriate name for him. So, every body, meet Spirit.

 

You can read all about his journeys in Spirit's blog. http://www.spiritdogblog.com

 

The article originally appeared in Groomer To Groomer magazine.


Time Saving Groomer Considerations

Here's the thing with any type of time saving tips: if you don't know where you are wasting time, tips will have a limited affect.Let's look at where time has not been optimized.

Start by figuring out how you spend your time. And the best way to do that is to keep track of everything you do. I do mean everything.Time your entire day and break it down into categories such as client interactions, bathing, preparations, cleaning, grooming, and paperwork.

"You can't manage what you can't measure."

Peter Drucker

 

Factors That Impact Time

 

1. How organized are your files and how much time do you spend updating?

2. Is your equipment in good repair and clean. Equipment is more efficient when it is taken care of?

3. Are you using the right shampoo/conditioner combination for each individual pets needs?

4. Are your grooming procedures consistent? Or are you forgetting to do something and have to get that pet back on the table.

5. Is anticipated equipment and products within reach?

6. How much time are you spending drying? Can you shorten it by cleaning the filters, replacing the brushes, or using the right dryer for the coat. 

7. Do you go to educational seminars to learn new techniques?

8. Do you find yourself rushing to get a pet done. Stop that! You are more likely to have an accident when you rush. 

9. Look at your schedule and how each pet determines the flow of the day. This is your business. Schedule it in a way that makes your day easier. 

10. How much time do you spend with each client? Is it a handoff along with pertinent information or are you socializing?

"Time is money. "

Benjamin Franklin

 

Imagine if you only managed to save 10 minutes on each pet you groomed. How much time is that over the course of day? Your choice to finish earlier or take in another pet. Either way, its beneficial to you!


Is Superglue™ The Same As Surgical Glue?

Unknown

 

That would be no.

 

That includes Crazy Glue™, Loctite™, airplane model glue, and Elmer's™ glue as well as any other glue that is not specifically labeled surgical glue.

It is a myth that this type of non-surgical glue was discovered accidentally during WWII on a battlefield to address wounds. In 1942, it was an attempt to find a way to glue the plastic gun sights on rifles.

Non-surgical glues contain methanol. It is toxic to tissues. You are potentially adding a toxic substance directly into the blood stream. Surgical glues use medically safe bacteriostatic esters.

The other problem with any type of glue (surgical or non-surgical) is sealing in bacteria, which may result in abscesses, staph, or sepsis. There may also be damage to the cellular walls slowing healing.

Waivers and verbal OK's from clients may not stand up in court. A good lawyer will argue that the client was not duly informed of the dangers to their pet.

But don't take my word for it.

"Using surgical glue to close a wound is considered a medical procedure. Unless you are under the direct supervision of a veterinarian you are opening yourself up to legal action. - Dale Krier DVM Creature Comforts, Sherman, CT

 

"Superglue is not medically safe and you can introduce toxins into the body. Surgical glue used improperly may introduce bacteria and cause abscesses. Either way, you may cause serious life threatening injuries." -Kaely Blum VCA Northside Animal Hospital, Danbury, CT

 

Gluing injuries potentially can open up a huge cans of worms for your business. And you may want to check with your insurance company to see if you are covered for injuries resulting from what is considered "practicing veterinary medicine."

 

A better plan is to have a good relationship with an area veterinarian who could walk you through this medical procedure (direct supervision) in the event of a life threatening injury that you are too far from the nearest veterinary facility to make it in time with just wrapping the injury.

 

 

 

 


Client Information Card

This is my client information card. Feel free to copy it, but, of course, change my information to yours.

 

 

Name_________________________________________________________________________________________

Address_______________________________________________________________________________________

Email_________________________________________________________________________________________

Home phone__________________________________________________________________________________

Cell Phone____________________________________________________________________________________

Preferred method of contact________________________________________________________________

Name                 Breed             Age       Medical Concerns

  1. ________________________________________________________________________________________
  1. ________________________________________________________________________________________
  1. ________________________________________________________________________________________
  1. ________________________________________________________________________________________

Can your pet have a treat? Yes     No

In the event of a heart attack, I authorize Mary Oquendo of Pawsitively Pretty Mobile Grooming Salon LLC  (circle one) to perform not perform   CPR. I hold Mary Oquendo and Pawsitively Pretty Mobile Grooming Salon LLC harmless for these actions.

Signature and Date

In the event of a medical emergency and I can not be reached, I authorize Mary Oquendo and Pawsitively Pretty Mobile Grooming Salon LLC to bring my pet to the closest available veterinarian for treatment. I allow the veterinarian to treat my pet. I will be financially responsible unless Mary Oquendo and Pawsitively Pretty Mobile Grooming Salon LLC assume responsibility.

Signature and Date

 

In the event of inclement weather or natural disaster, Mary Oquendo and Pawsitively Pretty Mobile Grooming Salon LLC, is entrusted to use best judgment in caring for my pet and will not be held liable for consequences related to such decisions.

I also authorize Mary Oquendo and Pawsitively Pretty Mobile Grooming Salon LLC to assume guardianship over the following pets in my household until which time I can safely take possession of my pets.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Name and breed of other pets

Signature and Date

Veterinarian and Phone Number

Do you wish to be added to a quarterly newsletter that will have seasonal and safety tips as well as an invitation to a free webinar?

Yes   No


Just How Many Clients Does A Mobile Groomer Need?

There is no magic number as many factors contribute to the overall formula.

To determine how many clients you need,start with how much you need to earn to meet your business expenses and live comfortably.Cost of living is different from one region to another, as well as are lifestyle choices.

As I do not have employees, my target is $2,000 a week based on a 48 week year.The area in which I live in I have noticed three different price points: $65,$75,and $85 an hour.

Per week based on one hour or less grooms 

 

$65 = 31 pets

$75 = 27 pets

$85 = 24 pets

 

Number of clients needed if on a 6-week schedule

 

$65 = 186 clients

$75 = 162 clients

$85 = 144 clients

 

Let's tweak that number for 4 vs 8 week clients:

 

$65   124 vs 248

$75   108 vs 216

$85    96 vs 192

You can see that there is a huge difference in the number of clients you need based on amount and frequency.

Being at the higher end allows me to work at a much easier pace with less stress on my body. Having clients commit to a more frequent schedule keeps the pets in more manageable coats reducing that wear and tear on me, as well as encourages a pleasant experience for the pets. While I live in one of the higher cost of living areas, the bulk of my clients are middle class working stiffs like myself.Many of which never used a grooming service before. 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Why Should A Pet Professional Take A Pet First Aid Class

(Details on upcoming pet first aid classes are inlcuded at the end of this blog along with a demo video of the class)

 

Because the truth is accidents can and do happen. None of us schedule 2pm: Trip and fall over dryer hose. As professionals we owe it to the pets in our care to be prepared for the unplanned.

Be Aware. The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) says that 60% of all veterinary visits are emergency in nature. They go on to state that 25% more pets could have been saved if only one pet first aid technique was applied before veterinary treatment. A study done in the American Veterinary Journal states that only 10% of pets needing CPR would survive if CPR is not done before arrival at the veterinarian. Another study by the AAHA shows preventable accidents as the leading cause of death and disability among pre-senior pets.

Be KnowledgeableWhat are some of the safety issues that relate directly to groomers?

• Sudden blunt force trauma happens if a pet falls off a grooming table. Or you trip over exposed cords. Or you can slip on a wet floor while carrying a pet. Take advantage of the Golden Hour. It takes approximately one hour for adrenaline to dissipate from the body after an injury. Symptoms are not felt until the adrenaline is gone. Once symptoms present, itʼs generally too late. Look to Natasha Richardson as an example of someone who wasted her Golden Hour. She was the actress who died after hitting her head in a ski accident. She refused on site medical treatment. When symptoms presented later, it was too late.

• Neck injuries or strangulation when an unattended pet or even when an attended cat jumps off a table while looped.

• Hypothermia caused by prolonged exposure to cool temperature. It can happen when placing a wet pet under a cool air dryer. You only need to lower the petʼs temperature by four degrees.

• Dehydration as a result of no water provided to the pet. Stress can also cause dehydration. It can lead to organ failure or death in a very short time.

• Burns resulting from overexposure to hot blades or hot air dryers. So will chewing on electrical cords. Using equipment without Ground Fault Interruptors (GFI) outlets around the tub can result in electrocution burns. Thermal burns can occur when a hot air dryer heats a metal cage.

• Heatstroke from being left too long with a hot air dryer. Enclosed kennel dryers are notorious for this. The young, old, immune-suppressed and brachycephalic dogs and any cat are particularly susceptible. Brachycephalic dogs have the pushed in faces. Examples are Shih Tzuʼs and Pugs.

• Bleeding injures and wounds caused by scissors and clippers. In addition, hematomas and sebaceous cysts may erupt while in your care.

• Heart failure caused by stress, chewing on electrical cords, electrocution as well as preexisting medical conditions. Cat groomers should monitor the cats stress level closely. They are prone to stress induced heart failure.

• A seizure brought on by poisoning, stress, HV dryer and preexisting medical conditions. Poisoning occurs when a pet ingests, inhales or otherwise absorbs improperly stored cleaning and pesticide products. Older dogs are more susceptible to a seizure brought on by the HV dryer.

• Injuries caused by kennel or tub grates.

• Any pet can have an allergic reaction to any product we use.

• Choking on an inappropriate sized treat or toy and any treat given to a dog that gulps his food.

• The HV dryer can blow out an eardrum or cause an anal prolapse when used improperly.

Be Proactive. Most of the above are preventable accidents. Wrap up cords and hoses when not in use. Make sure there is a clear path from one area to the next. Keep the bathing area floors dry. Store toxic materials in a closed cabinet. Monitor pets at all times. Exercise caution when using your equipment. Do you have the phone numbers handy to your local vet and the after hours office? Do you know how to get to the after hours office? You donʼt want to try and find it in a panic. Walk through your shop and note possible problems and correct them. Go home and do the same. Your four legged furry family members will appreciate it.

Be Prepared. Take a pet first aid class. Written materials and videos alone are not a pet first aid class. To properly learn these skills, your Instructor must be properly trained. Be choosy. Ask questions. What did their training consist of? Pet first aid and CPR is best learned through a combination of lecture, demonstration and hands on skills. A professional level class should include the following: bleeding and shock, restraining and muzzling, primary pet assessment,rescue breathing, CPR, fracture and limb injuries, insect bites and stings, snakebite, seizures, first aid kits and emergency preparedness kits, poisoning and poisonous substances, choking and snout to tail assessments. A better class will also advocate a healthy pet lifestyle. This includes the importance of dental care. Furthermore, it should also stress the importance of both when to seek veterinary care and of establishing a relationship with your vet.

Be Proud. Hang that certificate for all your clients to see. Knowing these skills is the difference between life or death, between temporary or permanent disability and between a short recovery or a long recuperation. These skills will also give you the confidence needed when an emergency arises. Your clients will know you care.

Be ResponsibleIʼve had three occasions with my own pets that required pet first aid. All three situations ended up being very minor when they could have easily escalated into a far more serious situation. Have release forms that allow you to perform pet first aid and CPR on the pets in your care.

Taking a pet first aid class is the right thing to do. We are responsible for the pets in our care and in our lives. They would do the same for us.

Upcoming Class Schedule

 

March

Atlanta Pet Fair

 

May

New England Pet Grooming Professionals Spring Fling

MardiPaws

 

July

Kenmore, NY July 16

Ithaca, NY July 17

Altamont, NY July 18

 

August

SuperZoo

  

 


Recycled Scissors

Soooo, I was at the Precision Sharp Booth at the New England Show last October. 

Totally ogling his new line of ergonomic shears.

They felt so nice in my hands. 

However, like so many of you, I have way too many scissors as it is. Many of which I haven't used in awhile. But my wrists were saying 'Buy them, buy them, buy them."

I mentioned my dilemma to Randy and he said, "No problem. Send me your scissors and I will alter them for you."

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I sent him a straight and a curve that was languishing in the spares box. This is what I got back. They are awesome. I am not putting undue strain on my wrists when I use them.

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Do I use them exclusively?

No

But, I can now choose which scissor will serve me the best ergonomically. 

Randy is prompt. I had my recycled scissors shortly thereafter. I can't wait to bring him a couple of more scissors at the Atlanta Pet Fair. 


Change In Behavior

As groomers, we see client's pets on average every six or so weeks. I feel this is the perfect amount of time to notice something that owners may miss because they see their pet's everyday.

What may be a minuscule difference in behavior when seen on a daily basis, will appear huge to a groomer who has not seen this pet in weeks. 

Many times a change in behavior is one of the early signs of an underlying medical condition. Early detection means early intervention.

Some examples of change in behavior:

  • Brownie was a sweet, lovely Shih tzu.I could do anything to this boy. On one occasion he was snappy.Very snappy.I called the owners to come pick him up and reschedule him. Brownie's owners informed me that the day before their home was burglarized and the intruders terrorized Brownie. The owners thought a change of scenery with someone he loved would be better than staying at home. Brownie was suffering from PTSD. We stopped grooming and let him just hang out with us while the owners cleaned up the mess at home.The following grooming, he was back to his normal self.
  • The opposite of Brownie was Princess. Princess was a handful. We nicknamed her the "Pterodactyl." She could fly and nail you at the same time. Except for one groom is which she was very complacent. In case you're wondering, I finished that groom. It was the only time in her entire life (15 years) that she was a pleasure to groom. I mentioned it to the owners and they had her vetted. Turned out to be the beginnings of a problem for which she was treated.
  • Casey was also a very good boy for grooming. He was a large golden retriever. He always was very social. So when he looked a little withdraw and cautious around his legs, we told the owners that it wasn't like Casey not to be wagging his tail the entire time he was here. Owners started Casey on some joint supplements and by the next groom he was back to normal.

So, the point is, don't ignore subtle changes in the behavior of the pets we groom.None of these changes in any of these pets were notices by the owners.The longer a health issue goes undiagnosed, the less likely there will be a full recovery.