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July 2010

June 2010

Groomers and Musculoskeletal Disorders

Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD) is defined by OSHA as “injuries and illnesses of the

muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, joints, cartilage and spinal discs.” It is the number 

one job related injury in the U.S. OSHA estimates that for $3 spent on Workmens 

Compensation, $1 is directly related to MSDs.

Let’s get some boring facts out of the way. The Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2008 is as


  • 384,480 cases of MSD with an average of 10 lost work days per incident.

- 532,590 cases of sprain, strains and tears with an average of 9 lost work days per incident.

  • 11,950 cases of carpal tunnel with an average of 27 lost work days per incident.
  • 147,190 cases of soreness with an average of 8 lost work days per incident.
  • 154,500 cases of overexertion with an average of 10 lost work days per incident.
  • 36,540 cases of repititive motion with an average of 17 lost work days per incident.

MSDs result in reduced productivity, poor product quality, lost revenue and lowered morale.

In the grooming world, what causes MSDs?

  1. Lifting heavy dogs can result in back injuries. Make use of ramps and electric tables. When lifting, keep the dog close to your body and lift with your legs. If you need to turn, use your feet, not your torso.
  2. Squirmy, uncontrollable dogs and cats can cause back and shoulder injuries, sprains and strains. Take a pet behavior seminar and use restraints and muzzles. * Special Note - Do not noose a cat. If it jumps off the table, the neck will snap. *  As you work, move the pet as little as possible.
  3. Repititive motions such as brushing, combing, carding, stripping, clipping, scissoring, dematting and drying can lead to carpal tunnel, rotator cuff injuries and tendonitis. Keep your shoulders relaxed and your wrists straight.
  4. Overexertion caused by working long hours with no breaks and equipment not in peak condition. You work harder when blades and scissors are dull. You take longer to dry a pet if the filters are dirty. Take regular breaks in your workday and schedule the hard to handle or strenous dogs on differing days.
  5. Standing on hard floors causes overtiredness, leg, knee, foot and back injuries. Invest in quality fatigue mats, stools and use foot rests. Change it up while you are working. Alternate between the three. Sitting on a stool all day long can be as damaging in the long run. Wear quality foot wear with thick insulating soles and with shock absorbing insoles. Keep your toenails the right length. Where have we heard that before?
  6. Awkward postures from working in a cramped environment or from bending, twisting, leaning and kneeling. This can result in back and knee problems. Work at the right height. Adjust your table as often as needed, so that you are not bending and twisting while grooming. Use tub grates to raise the height of smaller pets so you are not bending over them while bathing. Make sure the tub has toe spaces for you to stand comfortably while washing the pets.
  7. Excessive force because wheeled equipment has hair lodged in the wheels.Difficulty pulling or pushing results in shoulder and wrist injuries.
  8. Vibrating handtools such as nail grinders, clippers and grinders can cause Vibration Syndrome. It affects the circulation and neurons in fingers. They blanche white, are cold, numb and painful. If left untreated, the damage can become permanent.
  9. Contact injuries from leaning against hard objects such as tables can result in back injuries.

What could you do to prevent MSDs?

  1. Training, training, training. Participate in safety training seminars for yourself and your employees. Make it a part of your regular continuing education. OSHA has a training institiute. For more information visit
  2. Treat symptoms and injuries while they are minor.
  3. Keep ergonomics in mind when designing or remodeling your shop. Ergonomics is the merging of workplace conditions and job demands with the capabilities of the groomer.
  4. Massage therapy maintains the overall health of soft tissue and body. It’s recommended that groomers have a one hour session every two to four weeks.
  5. Chiropractic care eliminates pressure on the nerves caused by imbalances in the vertebral and skeletal system. Groomers should see a Chiropractor at least once a month as a preventative.

* Get recommendations from trusted sources. Incompetent Massage Therapists and Chiropractors can do more harm than good. *

  1. Yoga allows for free flowing movement in your body and helps to teach you how to effectively move throughout your day.
  2. Stretching helps loosen up soft tissue and is easy to do anytime, anyplace when you feel a little stiff.
  3. Vacationing doesn’t mean traveling to some exotic port of call. It means taking the time to separate your mind and body from your work. It gives both a chance to heal.

Implementing a healthy, safe and ergonomic work environment will decrease strain,injuries and burnout, resulting in increased groomer health, morale, productivity and efficiency. 


Pet Tech PetSaver and 3 day Instructor training in Rockport, Maine.

We're going to Rockport! Daryl Connor was so kind as to offer up Rockport for us. We will be there on Sunday, July 11th for the eight hour PetSaver Program. This is a comprehensive hands-on program that was designed for the pet professional as well as the pet owner. Everyone will have their own stuffed dog to work on.The topics include healthy living, priorities and concerns of emergencies, rescue breathing, CPR, choking, bleeding, shock and fractures, poisoning, heat and cold injuries, snout to tail assessments,  first aid and emergency preparedness kits and dental care.

The cost is $150pp and includes two handbooks. 

The 3 day Instructor begins with the eight hour PetSaver Program followed by an extra hour after class. Day Two is marketing, teaching techniques and a round robin. Day Three is class presentations.

The cost is $1495 and includes 10 handbooks.

For more information or to register contact me at 203-746-9569.


                              PET FIRST AID KITS

                                   BY MARY OQUENDO CMPTI, CCS  

                                      ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 2010

What’s so important about pet first aid kits? Accidents aren’t planned, they can and do happen. Therefore, preparation is key. The American Animal Hospital Association states that 25% more pets could have been saved if only ONE pet first aid technique was applied before veterinary treatment. First aid means the difference between life and death, between temporary and permanent disability and between a short recuperation and a long recovery. A pet first aid kit plays a vital role.

I recommend taking the time putting your own kit together. If you choose to buy a pre-packaged kit, verify the contents suit your needs. In addition, replace items when used and check expiration dates on a regular basis.

What’s in my kit? I keep the contents in a large, denim Tinkerbell bag. Aside from Tink being the “bomb”, the bag is convenient to move from location to location. Other options include fishing (tackle) and craft boxes, which have plenty of compartments for storage. Suggested items are listed by category. There is some overlap between categories.


  1. Adhesive tape.
  2. Gauze pads.
  3. Gauze rolls.
  4. Vet wrap.
  5. Cotton roll. This is used for head and large area wounds.
  6. Non-stick gauze.
  7. Antibiotic cream.
  8. Providone Iodine ointment.
  9. Sanitary napkins. They are used to soak up excess blood. 
  10. Bandanas/triangular bandages. They can be used for splinting fractures and covering wounds. In addition, they can be used to aid a dog in walking by taking the pressure off of an injured limb.
  11. Paint stirrers can be used for splinting.
  12. Sealed sterile solution for flushing wounds. An unsealed bottle is no longer sterile, nor is bottled water.
  13. 0.2% chlorohexidine rinse.  Used to rinse out wounds. The 0.2% is important. Less than that is not effective and more can cause cellular damage. I no longer use alcohol or hydrogen peroxide to flush wounds. Alcohol stings and hydrogen peroxide damages cellular tissue. In addition, both will slow healing. Nolvasan is a brand name.
  14. Nexaband. Your vet can demonstrate the right way to use this product. It is important that the wound is properly cleaned and dried first. Never use Nexaband on bite wounds.
  15. Plastic cards are the right size for paw injuries. Cushion them with extra gauze to protect the pad.
  16. Tea bags. They contain tannic acid which helps to clot bleeding injuries.


  1. Premeasured dose of LIQUID gel antihistamine as determined by your vet.
  2. Safety pin.

The safety pin is used to puncture a hole in the liquid gel. It is then squirted onto the tongue of the pet. This is the easiest and most effective way to administer an antihistamine.

  1. Plastic card for flicking out bee stingers. Do not tweeze them out as you only inject more venom into the pet. Place the card under the stinger and lift up and out.


  1. Chemical cold pack or instant cold gel wrap. They can be placed against pressure points to aid in cooling the pet.
  2. Rubbing alcohol can be squirted onto the pads. As this can cause alcohol poisoning, talk to emergency veterinary personnel first.


  1. Poison Control Center’s phone number is 888-426-4435.

 DO NOT ASSUME YOU SHOULD INDUCE VOMITING! Different poisons call for different protocols. What will help one situation will cause harm in another.

  1. Hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting.
  2. Activated charcoal to absorb poison.
  3. Baking soda to absorb topical caustic material.
  4. Squirt bottle to administer treatment.
  5. Plastic baggie/latex gloves for vomit or stool sample.


  1. Sterile solution for 1st and 2nd degree burns. DO NOT RINSE 3rd DEGREE BURNS. 3rd degree burns are characterized by the burn being  through the full thickness of the skin.
  2. Bandana/gauze to cover burns.


       1. Small flashlight with spare battery to check throat for debris.

       2. Plastic baggies/latex gloves for debris sample. 


  1. Emergency muzzle.

If your kit is needed, your pet is probably in pain. Any pet in pain or being moved into pain can and will bite.

  1. Digital thermometer and petroleum jelly. They will thank you later.
  2. Blunt tip scissors.
  3. Tweezers.
  4. Eye dropper.
  5. Eye wash.
  6. Honey packets for hypoglycemic dogs.
  7. Survivor blanket will help keep pet warm due to shock in cold weather ONLY.  It should not be used in warm weather. 
  8. Glow sticks can be used to illuminate most common strains of ringworm. However, keep in mind this is not a full-proof diagnostic tool. 
  9. Smart Water or unflavored Pedialyte will help to re-hydrate stressed pets. Pedialyte must be unflavored because the other varieties contain artificial sweeteners.
  10. Photos of me WITH my dogs. The photo will establish ownership should I become separated from my dog(s) while hiking or traveling.
  11. Latex gloves to protect from zoonotics.
  12. Constricting band. I live in an area with poisonous snakes. If the bite occurs on an extremity, then place the constricting band after the wound. It will help to slow down the venom. Remove any collars from the pet. Intense body swelling can occur.

These items are in my kit because they suit my needs. Your kit should suit your needs. A good source for some of the harder items on this list can be found at