Terminology can be deceptive

I have had a saying for most of my adult life which goes "IF YOU QUOTE ME make sure you do it correctly. Every IF , AND or BUT can change the meaning of what I say". 

I feel the same way about speaking about techniques and tools in the grooming world. I know, I know, you are trying to figure out where the connection between correct terminology, quoting and drying is going and trust me there is a connection.

 If you are going to say "I never use dryer cages" make sure that is what you MEAN. If you use fans on cages then you are using a dryer cage. What you LIKELY MEANT was you "Use no heated dryer cages". 

If you are going to say "Cage dryers are dangerous" make sure you know what you are talking about and be HONEST. Not ALL cage dryers or drying cages are dangerous! Some are, when not used properly (isn't most everything?) but others are no less safe the your ceiling fan at home is. 

Right now, in light of our Heatstroke Awareness Day, which is June 13th, I am focusing on dryer safety. It is my passion and my obsession to make dryers safe for dogs and groomers. Since there has been a huge jump in awareness AGAIN this year about topic since a very high profile death in NJ due to heat, I feel obligated to bring this issue up again,

These are cage dryers:

They hang on the front of any cage with a wire door, and blow heated or non-heated air into the cage to dry the dog. When used on closed cages they can offer a danger to the pet if the heat setting is used. MUCH CARE and ATTENTION needs to be paid to any dog with these used on them.


Some people use fans for dryers as well as floor dryers or air movers:



Dogs go INSIDE the cages and the dryers (or fans) are built into them. They can be heated, as in the Clark cage on the left, or UNHEATED as in the Shor-Line on the right. They can be CLOSED IN like the Clark or open, like the one on the right by Shor-Line. The enclosed dryer cages are the ones that are the most dangerous. The dogs placed in them to dry need to be under direct human supervision. In Europe these dryers are very commonly used but in the USA they are not used that much, mostly due to the cost of the unit.


These are hand and force dryers:

These dryers all use heat in different ways. The force dryer on the left pulls air across the motors and has no heating element but the air will be very warm coming out of the hose. The groomers holds the hose in their hand ot uses the clamp on the right to hold it for them. No matter WHAT the groomer has their hands, arms, faces in the flow of the air. If it gets too warm they will know it. The dryer in the middle DOES have a heating element and is called a Stand Dryer (some groomers call them Stand Up Dryers). They get hot, as high as 175 degrees, and while used in an open room, the heat diffuses into the room air reducing the temp before it hars the dogs, but raising the room temperature. They are used when brushing while drying doing what we call "stretch drying" and "fluffing" coats.


SO now that we established the difference between a cage dryer and a dryer cage, let's talk safety shall we?

Motors from floor movers, dryer cages (even if the heat is turned off) can raise the temperature in a room to dangerous levels if left unattended. Any dog with one of these dryers blowing on them needs to be checked on every 10-15 minutes not because they can get hot, but because the room can get hot. Also, they will dry faster than with the heated dryers due to amount of air they produce which is drastically increased from the cage dryers and there is no reason to leave a fan of any type blowing longer than it needs to.

To explain why air movement is more important than heat in drying, picture hanging laundry on the line to dry. On hot days, with no wind, clothes will dry but they will be stiff. Add in a cooler day but lots of wind? Clothes dry faster and softer. The air movement the wind causes results in softer, fluffier clothes and faster drying and the same is true of dogs. Lots of air lifts and separates the hair resulting in better fluff and faster drying, even with lower temperatures. I have done many articles on drying and cage drying in the past. They are all available on my blog.

Force dryers and stand dryers, like the ones used in hand drying, can ALSO raise the temperature of a room drastically and care needs to be taken that dogs, as well as people in those rooms do not overheat. That would mean a stronger Air Conditioner or a secondary AC is in place that can handle the humidity and heat that occurs as a result of drying. I have a window unit in my bathing room where we do our hand drying. I also have a thermometer in each and every room of my grooming shop. That way I can monitor the temperature and make sure that it is safe for both people and pets.

All of the dryers shown above can be used safely. HOWEVER some of them have more dangers involved than others. AS a result of that I choose to use ONLY air movers and box fans to dry dogs in cages and force dryers and hand held human dryers to dry dogs by hand in my salon. The short coated dogs and those who really fight drying parts of their body, like finishing faces, beards on schnauzers and that last little bit of wet that needs to be dried can go into cage dryers at my shop. My cage dryers are pictured above, and as you can see are perfectly safe. The pets in my care are my responsibility and I take their safety very seriously. As a result I choose to use dryers that I  KNOW are not going to cause injury or death to a pet.

Heat can be deadly for dogs. Dogs can suffer heatstroke from very small amounts of heat in an enclosed kennel. In fact, as is being alleged in the most recent Petco incident involving a golden retriever, no heat needs to even be in use for a dog to have a heatstroke. The cage dryers with heat can also cause a deadly situation if used on enclosed cages, like Stainless Steel, Fiberglass or Composite cage banks. In my opinion they should NEVER be used on enclosed crates, only on wire crates which are open on all sides except the bottom. The timers should be set to no more than 15 minutes and timers should be check every week to ensure they operate correctly. Heat settings should NEVER be set on high regardless of the time set as heat can build up fast. If used incorrectly, burns and heatstroke can occur in no time flat. 

In the upcoming week there will be several blog posts by many different authors about heat and safety in the grooming shop. I will provide links when available so that you can become more educated in the topic of heat safety and be able to protect your pets and your grooming charges better. Hopefully, we can help you keep your pet safer with this information.