Health & Safety

Table Safety Part One: Choosing the Correct Table


 From left to right: #1 Double Cantilever table up #2 DC down #3 portable folding table #4 accordion low boy table down #5 ALB UP #6 center support    #7 Lazy Susan  #8 Round Pedestal Base

One of the most important items you will ever buy in a grooming salon is your table, and it is quite often purchased based on BUDGET constraints not necessarily buying according to what you will need. It is also one of the most DANGEROUS pieces of equipment in the salon. Used incorrectly a dog can be killed or seriously injured on or by your table. It can hurt YOU if you choose the wrong table for your purposes or if it is not used properly.

SO, how do you decide which table is best for you? It is as easy as choosing the right car for your family...oh, wait... that is not easy either! I cannot help you find a car but I can help you pick a table.

In order to decided what is best for your situation you need to answer the following questions:

Stationary, Electric or Hydraulic?

  • Portable or Stationary are perfect for housecall, travelling, competing and dog shows. They are really good for starting out. BUT. They are inherently unstable, cause physical pain to users due to the height restrictions and have really low weight allowances. Usually they are made out of cheaper materials. I suggest everyone has one in case they need a spare table for temporary groomers, may end up working from home or a temporary location or decide to compete. HOWEVER, as a permanent choice for grooming they are not my first choice. 
  • Hydraulic tables are much heavier and stable than portable ones are, but they are not my favorites either for numerous reasons. They are usually "jerky" when being raised because the pumps are mechanically worked by the groomers foot and usually they "drop" slightly as they are being raised. That can make the dogs on the tables very uncomfortable and in some cases they panic, trying to leap off the table or flatten. Then you have to settle them down before you can get to work again. When lowering them they can drop really fast (especially with a large dog on the table) and that, again, can scare dogs. Another thing to consider is that if you, like me, have bad knees, hips, back or are weak at all, then it is hard to use a hydraulic table. I personally CANNOT use one any more. My knees are not strong enough to support me or push the controls. Something to think about. If the hydraulic pump leaks or fails you would have to (hopefully) find parts and then find a hydraulic repair shop to do it for you. In my area? They are non-existent and as a result my hydraulic table that failed became metal for the recycler. 
  • Electric tables are the best in my opinion as the are stable, balanced and smooth operating with little effort. They adjust smoothly, quickly and easily. My Ultra_lift (now Mason) tables all move smoothly enough that 99% of all dogs have no reaction to them moving. They are fast. Lowering them has ZERO drop as they are controlled going down. Weight limits are generally higher than hydraulics and even very very large dogs can easily be moved by the controls where it would be very hard for most people to use a hydraulic for dogs over 80 pounds or so. They are more expensive but usually once you use an electric table you will never go back to using anything else. The drawbacks are obvious. The electrical cord means the table is not movable easily, and the cord can be a trip hazard and traps hair as well. I solved those issues by placing the tables with the cord/motor side facing the wall and wrapping the cords, securing them with cable ties. You can also use a cord cover (Lowe's or Home Depot sell them) if the table needs to be further away so that tripping can be reduced. If pedals or motors go out, even if you cannot get parts from the manufacturer, a good electrician can rewire it for you and fix any problems that may arise.

After deciding you need something besides a portable table, you need to choose between hydraulic and electric. THEN you need to decide on a style of table. 

The table types listed above in the photo gallery are not all created equally. Different types of lifting mechanisms result in varying degrees of stability as well as height.

  • Accordion style tables tend to go lower to the ground than any other style. They also have great stability. They are harder to clean and require more maintenance (oiling and greasing) than other styles. These go straight up and down so they require less room in the shop or mobile unit. These are perfect for all sizes of dogs and have weight limits up to 500 pounds.
  • Cantilever are VERY stable and are usually self lubricating and have sealed pistons for protection of the moving parts. They do not lift or lower straight, they rather shift to the side and as a result need more room to operate than the base implies. The lowest they are going to go is determined by the height of the frame. These are perfect for all sizes of dogs and have weight limits varying from 200 to 500 pounds depending on the frame construction.
  • X lift tend to be lighter than other tables but are stable. They have a rail on which the lift mechanism runs, making it lift and lower almost straight up and down. Damage to that rail can mean a table needs repairing or replacing. More cleaning and greasing may be required over a cantilever based table. These are perfect for all sizes of dogs and have weight limits that handle up to 200 pounds easily.
  • Z lift are less stable than an accordion, cantilever or X lift but more stable than a round or center base. They will have a lower table weight limit and will TIP if the dog gets to the end of the table furthest away from the frame. I have seen some rated for large dogs but I would suggest small to medium dogs ONLY for this style of table.
  • Center bases are inherently unstable, and suitable for toy dogs only or when they can be anchored to the floor.
  • Round based hydraulics are also unstable by nature, but some are more unstable than others. The weight of the base will make the difference on that. If possible, see this type in person to see how stable they are. They are also not suitable for larger dogs IMO and do not go low enough to do them easily anyway. IF POSSIBLE anchor these to the floor as well.
  • Turning table tops are available on some tables but make sure you have the room for the top to spin. Smaller table top lazy susan tables are available and are perfect for toy breeds and puppies.

OK, so those are the types of tables, now, let's talk about what to look for in a table before purchase.

Ask about parts!

  • IF my motor quits can I get a new one?
  • IF My hydraulic pump goes out can I get a new one? (This happened to me)
  • IF my pedals quit can they be replaced? (This happened to me also)
  • IF my table top splinters or peels can I get a new one?
  • HOW is the table top attached? Bolts? Screws? 
  • IF my frame rusts in 12 months will you cover it? (That happened to me with a table never used in a bathing room).

Next, ask about specifications.

  • How thick is the table top? .75 inches or 1 inch is preferred. 
  • What is the table top made out of (PLYWOOD is best and AVOID PARTICLE BOARD or OSB)?
  • What is the frame made out of? 
  • What type of painting system is used (Powdercoating, baked enamel or spray paint for example)?
  • How is the table top covering attached? Metal strips break and catch clothing.
  • What type of top does it have? Ridged rubber is hard to clean and many dogs find it uncomfortable. Smooth tops and painted tops can be slick. Pebbled is easy to clean and less slick generally speaking.
  • How hard is it to put a clamp on? Do they have a built in arm clamp available? Some tables are really thick so it is hard to put a clamp on or the frame prevents you from placing it where you like it.

After you have decided on the style and done the research to determine a brand, buy the best table you can afford. If it means saving another month or two to get a better table it is will worth it in my opinion because buying a table ONCE in your career instead of buying three or four makes the most sense. 

If you can pick the table up at a dog show or trade show you will save money on shipping fr om most places. there are a few brands that ship "free" but that cost is built into the cost of the table itself. ALWAYS order in advance and have the company bring the table to the show for you. Otherwise you may be disappointed. Most vendors do not bring a lot of tables with them due to the cost of shipping them to the shows and getting them home afterwards if they do not sell.

I hope you found this helpful. Next up?? Table arms and clamps. 



Can anyone hear you scream?

We do not just play with puppies all day . Lots of young people and even adults I know think "I would love to have your job!" "I love dogs, this must be SO MUCH FUN!" but they have no idea what really goes on in this industry and we need to speak up more and let everyone know what really goes on.

It IS rewarding to make puppies pretty; to free dogs and cats from the mats that pull skin, hurt and sometimes result in their death (it is rare but it happens). It is also tiring. Dangerous. Life altering (at times). 

If you are not prepared, work alone, work in small spaces...can anyone hear you scream? Do you have an exit strategy? Do you have safety precautions in case of an accidental slip or fall? Do you have a way to call for help if you need it? The following suggestions may just save your life. 

  • Worry about YOURSELF first, the dog last
  • Have a place to go to get away
  • Have a phone in your pocket
  • Consider a life alert necklace
  • Have a panic button keychain on you at all times EASY to get to
  • If you are in a salon have panic buttons in every room and in places you frequent.
  • Have cameras so people can check in on you if you are alone
  • Check in with family or friends frequently when working alone

Watch the video below then read the rest of the blog post. 


The 22 year old groomer in MA has a Go Fund me page set up with more photos. Sienna's Support Fund The photo below has been widely circulated on Facebook grooming groups.

The dog was under a police cheif's order to be muzzled in public. He should have NEVER been in a grooming shop! People are upset becaue of PetSmart's muzzle policy and the fact that Sienna owns a pitbull (some are blaming her for her injuries in fact) but lets lay blame where it falls. SQUARELY on the dog and the dog's owner.

The owner of the dog caused this injury to this young woman (and another woman three months prior) because he thought it would not happen again. He thought the dog needed a bath and was unable to do it himself. HIS CARELESSNESS has cost the women in the maulings quality of life and mental stability and the dog his life. Was all of it worth a bath? A walk? Would a muzzle have stopped this attack? Maybe. BUT Sienna had no way of knowing that this was a dangerous dog. The owner did not say to her "You cannot take the muzzle off per order of the police". 


While we are on this topic, do you know who has the dangerous dogs in your town? The ones that AC has deemed dangerous. The ones that have repeated bite histories or maulings? Does AC have an obligation to tell us? If not WHY NOT? Do you share with other groomers who the dangerous dogs are you refuse to groom again? DO YOU TELL THE OWNERS when their dogs bite, scratch, nip or fight you???? If not WHY NOT?????

Less horrible injuries are detailed below.

 Mandy who worked for me about 9 years ago had this happen to her lip while I was out of town at a grooming competition. I literally got a phone call from my son while bathing my dog. "Mama, we have a huge problem"... Yes we did. She had a piece of her upper lip torn off. Her mouth is not the same shape as it used to be. Scarring is minimal. Her "crime" ? She was reaching into a crate to put collars on a family of dogs we groomed every two weeks for years. The Shih-Tzu leaped up and took her lip off.


My own facial bite is documented here: Only a matter of time       I am lucky that you cannot tell it happened unless you know to look for it.


My hand was torn up BADLY last year and really should have been stitched. I used steristrips and tegaderm to cover it up after the doctor refused to stitch a bite, despite the fact that it was tearing and jagged. I have nerve damage in the area, THANK GOODNESS it is on top of my hand. This collage shows the healing. I had a towel over my hand (three or four layers) reaching in to get a dog aggressive dog out of a kennel. We DID NOT KNOW he was cage aggressive and had already done most of the work on him. Owners knew he growled at them in a cage.... REMEMBER owner's lie or omit things to get you to groom their dogs. 


Groomers have had fingers removed by biting dogs. One groomer I know lost a finger to a lab. 

Dean Mazurkiewicz has a story of a bather taking a dog from the owner to walk it into the back to get a bath who had her nose torn off completely. She did NOTHING WRONG, it just happened. That young girl never came back to work. I don't blame her.

Bites are not the only thing that can happen to us at work. Scratches are more common in fact (I bet). Not all scratches are minor either. Billy, pictured before, was torn open by a dewclaw on a small dog over a month before the last picture was taken. The bloody photo? He had already cleaned it up when we took it. It was DEEP. He went to the Royal Canin Dog Show with a huge scratch that ran down onto his hand. LOTS of explaining on that one! Judges look at you funny when you have that type of injury and you want them to touch your dog...




THEN we have accidental slips, falls and equipment injuries.

IF you are alone and you fall due to a dog jumping on you, a wet floor, getting hit in the head by a flying dryer hose (You know it has happened to you!) or a medical condition (such as the seizure that left two beagles dead from hanging while the groomer laid on the floor unconcious) WOULD THERE BE HELP COMING? In many cases, OK MOST cases, NO. NO HELP would be coming. This is where panic buttons associated with alarm systems are not going to help much. You need a fall alert button if you work by yourself most of the time or completely. 

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There is also  the horrible story of Sarah Shoe in North Carolina who's boyfriend was being attacked by a neighbor and the fight escalated to her fearing for her family's life. She called 911 for help and by the time they arrived the intruder was dead and more people were trying to get into her shop. If she had not had a gun on her, her boyfriend Chris, herself and her grandchildren might be dead. I know some of you are anti-gun but you need to be able to protect yourself from a distance. I hear all the time "I have shears I am safe" NO you are not. A gun. Mace. Pepper Spray. A fire extinguisher. Wasp or Bear spray. THOSE will help you stay safe. Shears? WELL the intruder has to be very very close to use those. 

Sarah lost her home, her business and her livelihood during that attack that all started over a dispute with the water bill for their complex! She has been cleared of all charges and the shooting was deemed self defense, but her life is shattered right now. As is Sienna's life in MA. My life has been changed forever. As was the girl who lost her nose. As are MANY of the people who go un -named though we know they exist who are permanently injured, scarred, traumatized or KILLED by dogs or in the course of their work with dogs.

SO? are you prepared? Are you ready to work tomorrow? Do you know what questions to ask? How to read dog body language? Panic buttons ready? Fall alerts in place?

I will cover a few basic safety measures to help keep YOU and the DOGS safe next. ALL of these posts will tie together to make your grooming safer for you and the pets in your care.