The article entitled Guidelines for Safer Grooming appears in the July 2011 edition of Groomer to Groomer magazine. You can read it and many more articles by other sassy groomers online at http://www.groomertogroomer.com/
Guidelines for Safer Grooming
By Karla Addington-Smith
I’ll never forget the day, 30 years ago, when one of my stylists turned her back to the large dog on her grooming table. In a blink of the eye, with the restraint around his neck, the dog jumped, flipping the table up and over. The dog’s injuries required veterinarian care. The situation, had the stylist followed salon procedures, would never have happened. It was a regretful and costly mistake.
Even if your staff is experienced and blessed with common sense, there is potential for accidents and injuries to pets and people all around the grooming salon. Consider the electrical equipment we use around water; the wet, hair covered floors; the sharp instruments we use on moving objects; dogs with big teeth. Envision the little salon of horrors!
A holistic approach to grooming, with focus on pet and staff safety, health and comfort, will create an environment that reduces risk of injury while enhancing the entire grooming experience.
Grooming dogs can be extremely rewarding and lucrative work. But, our industry is plagued with burnout, repetitive motion disorders, and hearing loss. The work can be physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting. Here are a few tips to ensure you and your staff will enjoy a long, healthful career.
Project a clean, professional image, while protecting skin, by wearing groomer apparel that is hair repellent. Protect your feet from injury, while reducing fatigue by wearing enclosed, slip-proof shoes that provide comfortable support. Jewelry should be small and practical. Refrain from wearing hoop earrings, brow, nose, and lip rings, as a struggling pet can easily rip these from skin. Rings and bracelets can get tangled in the dog’s coat or accidentally caught on cage doors.
Wear earplugs to protect from hearing loss due to the long-term use of high decibel, forced-air dryers. Dust masks will prevent the inhalation of hair and debris sent into the air by high velocity dryers. Safety goggles will protect the eyes from flying hair and debris.
Be sure to use proper body mechanics when lifting and ask for help with larger dogs. Hydraulic and electric grooming tables, anti-fatigue mats, and bathing tubs with ramps, are no longer a luxury; they are necessary equipment for the professional wanting a long and healthful career in the grooming field.
To ensure pet safety, health and comfort while in your care, salon staff should follow these “always” and “never” guidelines.
- Always keep the dog on a kennel lead when walking or carrying it from cage to table or tub.
- Always double lead the pet if taken outside for a potty break.
- Always keep one hand on the dog while on the table or in the tub. This helps the dog to feel more secure and allows you to monitor subtle changes in the dog’s posture so you may anticipate the dog’s next movements.
- Always remove collar and lead before placing the dog in a crate to prevent accidental choking. Place the cage aggressive dog in a bottom unit with the leash attached to the collar and accessible to the attendant for easy removal from the cage. Monitor these dogs closely.
- Always double check that the cage door is closed and latched securely to prevent strangulation or escape.
- Always keep restraint slack to a minimum to prevent the dog from hanging over the edge of the tub, creating a potential hazard with pooling water on the floor or twisting around in the tub and choking.
- Always pack cotton in dog’s ears prior to bathing to prevent water from entering the ear canal. AND...be sure to remove the cotton before sending the dog home.
- Always avoid getting shampoo or rinses in the dog’s eyes, even if the product is labeled as being tearless. If this happens, rinse the eyes immediately with cool water.
- Always closely monitor dogs being cage-dried to avoid dehydration and heat exhaustion. Be sure the dryer is set at a low temperature, and that air can freely circulate through the cage.
- Never allow a dog to roam free in the salon. This can be a dangerous distraction to other pets.
- Never leave a dog unattended on a table, or in a tub, even when secured with a grooming restraint. Lasso style restraints pose a higher choking risk than loop styles.
- Never allow a dog to jump onto or off the grooming table, into or out of the tub, or cage.
- Never place more than one dog in the same cage, on the same table, or in the same tub, even if they belong to the same family. A new or different environment can create stress and provoke aggressive behavior towards other canine family members.
A Safer Workplace
Reduce pet and staff exposure to accidents and injury by following these simple rules.
- Remove hair from table and sweep up hair from floor after each pet. You should never be standing in the hair of more than one dog while grooming. Clipper vacuum systems are great for maintaining a cleaner, safer environment. Never blow hair into the air to clean off the tables.
- Keep all but essential tools off the grooming table. Place all tools, including brushes, face down on tables to prevent injury to the dog.
- Clean up wet floors or spills immediately. Use a disinfectant to clean area after picking up pet waste.
- Keep grooming products, shampoos, and rinses clearly labeled.
- Keep all cleaning and disinfectant products in clearly labeled containers, in a separate area away from grooming supplies.
- Keep MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets) on hand in case of accidental ingestion.
- Keep laundry and dog dryer filters clean and free of debris.
- Keep electrical equipment away from water at all times. Keep electrical cords untangled and away from pets’ reach while in their crates.
- Do not use damaged or broken tools and equipment.
Client Safety & Etiquette
It is hard to believe that an owner would not allow the pet time to potty before his grooming, or feed him a pound of ham as a pre-grooming treat, but they do. Because many clients don’t realize that they increase the risk of injury, ill health, and distress to their pet during the grooming session, you may consider implementing policies for salon safety and etiquette geared towards the pet owner. Here are a few safety suggestions:
- Require proof of vaccinations.
- Pet must be on a lead at all times. Retractable leads locked at a four to six foot length.
- Do not allow the pet to have direct contact with other pets in the reception area.
For the pet's comfort you may want to suggest the following:
- Be sure the pet has taken care of his or her potty business before entering.
- Do not feed large meals or unusual treats before the grooming appointment.
- To prevent unnecessary stress for the pet and stylist, please do not arrive before the scheduled pick-up time. If the client’s schedule changes, suggest they call instead of dropping by.
Grooming should be a safe and enjoyable experience for the pet, client and groomer. A common sense approach to following safety procedures will ensure you avoid becoming the next little salon of horrors!
If you have anything you would like to add to this list of safety guidlines...please email me or post as a comment. Thank you and wishing you a long, safe and happy grooming life.