Posted January 10, 2018 at 07:11 PM | Updated January 10, 2018 at 07:12 PM
News of two dogs dying and a third being injured after being groomed at a New Jersey PetSmart received widespread interest, and concern from pet owners.
Pet grooming is big business, with owners expected to spend some $6.11 billion on services this year, according to the American Pet Products Association.
With more than half the households in the country owning a dog or cat, the demand for qualified groomers and safe grooming techniques is high.
NJ Advance Media spoke to Chuck Simon, a certified groomer and owner of Groomers Helper, who shared points to keep in mind.
Do your research
Googling “pet groomer near me” and clicking the first choice is not how to choose a groomer. “Most people are lazy and are not going to go any further than they have to,” said Simons, who has been in business for more than 30 years. He advises owners who care about their pets to do their due diligence and research extensively before committing to a groomer that will handle your beloved pet.
Decide your priorities - are you willing to spend more, or travel further? Are you looking for a good bath or a nail clipping? Find someone with experience, pictures on their website and most importantly, talk to a customer of that groomer.
“Reviews should come from people walking out their door,” said Simons, whose customers also come from word of mouth. Most groomers don't advertise for grooming customers, so a substantial amount of ads should raise a red flag.
While he isn’t the biggest supporter of Yelp, Facebook reviews work can be brutally honest, giving pet owners a good handle of past customers’ experiences.
National Dog Groomers Association of America
Though licensing is not required in New Jersey, Simons pointed out it’s very important to find a groomer who is passionate enough to continue their higher education, more than likely being a qualified groomer. The first thing to find is a National Certified Master Groomer, typically on behalf of National Dog Groomer Association of America (look for the logo of a barber shop pole with a poodle). These groomers have to pass written and practical tests, become an expert on safety procedures and hygiene, and more than anything, know how to groom a dog.
“If that groomer took the time to be certified, then they pretty much know everything, know the breeds and they can handle a pet.” Still, check out their reviews, Simons urges, but traveling a few extra minutes for a National Certified Master Groomer could make the world of a difference to your pet.
Sophie Nieto-Munoz | For NJ.com
All groomers should use clean equipment, Simons said. Though not everything needs to be sterilized, cleaning equipment should be disinfected after each usage. Cages for the animals should also be wiped down before a new animal enters. To avoid infections and pet illness, Dogington Post, a pet advocacy site, urges floors and crates to be cleaned with bleach at the end of the day. Even though there are vaccines for pets, illnesses including kennel cough are airborne. A lack of cleaning products (and those musty scents) are signs to not leave your pet there.
One of the biggest rumors in the grooming industry is that pet salons sedate or tranquilize pets. If you hear of this, run, Simons said. A sedated pet is worse than an anxious pet, because it’s trying to fight the sedation, making it harder to work, Simons said.
“If someone is going to give your dog something, it should be under a licensed veterinarian. Groomers are not doctors,” he said. “I wouldn’t take my dog to a groomer that uses sedation.”
Another concern of pet owners that may partially be a myth is cage drying.
Towel or air drying, forceful blowers and kennel dryers are the three ways most groomers dry pets, Simons said.
Towel or air drying takes hours, so most groomers opt for forceful blowers, which blows the water off the pet and fluffs it.
Cage dryers have the worst reputation of drying methods due to news of dogs overheating with this technique. Most of these stories, Simons said, are because of operator negligence who box a dog up, put heat on it and don’t pay attention.
“It’s not the dryers. It’s the people who are using them,” he said.
But he said not to worry, since good kennel dryers have a fail safe that can’t exceed a certain temperature.
He doesn’t let his cage dryers go above 82 degrees, and pets should only be in the cage for 10 to 15 minutes. Check that these dryers have plexiglass fronts, so it’s visible if a dog is in distress.
“If we can force dry them, we’re going to force dry them, that’s what we prefer,” Simons said. “But some dogs just absolutely don’t let you.”
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