Pet Grooming

How to pick the right grooming salon for your particular pet:

By Liz Triplett, Director of Grooming Services

LH Mercantile, llc – Pet Supplies Plus Franchise

Let’s face it. We have all heard the horror stories about groomers. It makes many of us skeptical about leaving our loved ones to be groomed. So, what do you do?  Scruffy needs a haircut every 4-6 weeks.  Some people take it as far as to learn to groom their dogs themselves. This isn’t for everyone. I have actually seen dogs come in to the shop with cuts and skin irritation after their owners attempted the groom.   Most owners don’t know where to begin when picking a groomer and a salon for their pet. Most of it is trial and error which can be risky if you are unsure what to look for. In this article we will discuss some guidelines on how to pick a place you can trust with your beloved pet.

Sometimes online ratings can be helpful. I recommend that you do review these things but only take them into consideration.  Most people are more inclined to put complaints online rather than positive experiences. The most common complaint I run in to is “they shaved him bald”.  Many times this is because the pet’s coat was unable to be saved and the best thing for the pet is to get a fresh start. So, I don’t consider this a legitimate complaint unless I saw the dog beforehand.  These online ratings are good to read, but don’t go solely on what online ratings say.

Most larger shops have groomers of all levels. I get phone calls all the time from people looking for an experienced groomer to groom their pet.  Just because someone has the most experience does not mean they are the best fit for your pet. I have worked with groomers for nearly 17 years and have seen excellent groomers who are new to the business as well as groomers who have been grooming for 10 or more years who are burnt out with bad attitudes.  I recommend you visit a shop and observe.  Do more observation than talking.  The best shops have an open area where you can watch the pets on the tables. I personally don’t recommend shops where you can’t see what is going on for at least a portion of the appointment.  Look for a groomer who seems relaxed, confident, and attentive to the pets. They should have a gentle hand, calm manor, and seem happy to be there. Watch them throughout the grooming process. Are they paying attention to the dog’s skin and coat? Are they brushing and combing with a gentle hand or are they ripping through the coat?  Go in unannounced and ask to look around the shop.  Take a look around.  Is it clean? Do you see disinfectant bottles for cleaning between pets? Your best shops will have cleaning checklists to insure that everything is kept sanitary.  Watch the groomers. Are they spraying down their tables and equipment between each pet? Do they sweep or vacuum between each haircut?  Ultimately you would want the shop to resemble the cleanliness of a barber shop or hair salon.

There are shops out there that will cut corners to keep their prices down. Quality shampoo, conditioner, and sprays can be costly and is usually the first thing struggling shops compromise on.  Be sure they are using products that are designed for your pet.  I have heard of shops using only dish soap to wash dogs. Although there are dish soaps out there who advertise that they are safe for animals, these detergents are for animals who have been subject to an oil spill.  Do not use dish soap or human shampoos to wash dogs. Products designed for your pet have the correct PH to keep your pet’s skin and coat healthy.  Ask to see their shampoo options in the manufacturer bottles.  A good shop will have a variety of different shampoos and conditioners available. Some options may be an upcharge. This is due to the increase expense, but it can definitely make a difference for your pet.

Ask them if they keep a detailed file on each client.  Your best shops have a system of keeping accurate notes on the age, breed, health, and services your pet has received. Your pet’s health is very important when it comes to grooming. Grooming can be physically demanding on a pet and it is important for the groomers to be aware of any conditions so that they can take proper precautions.

Are all the pets properly restrained?  Many people have a phobia of pets being in kennels before or after the service.  Actually that is the safest way to go in most cases.  I have seen shops that let the pets roam while waiting for their owners. This may work for some shops, but I personally don’t recommend this. This is why.  It causes many distractions to the groomers and dogs who are currently on the table.  Some dogs can get territorial of water bowls, toys, and even the tables that they are on.  In most cases, everyone is working on tasks while in a shop. They are not attentively watching the pets who are free. This opens your pet up to being stepped on, tripped over, fighting, or even ingesting something they shouldn’t.  Unless your pet will physically hurt then selves attempting to get out of the crate, keeping the pets contained while waiting for you is the safest way to go.

What is the drying policy at the shop?  Do they use kennel dryers?  Do the dryers have a heating element? Do they leave pets in kennel dryers for long periods of time? Kennel dryers can be safe if used properly.  Brachycephalic dogs, puppies, cats, and senior dogs should never be placed in a kennel dryer. It may inhibit their breathing.  Dogs and cats overheat much easier than humans. A heated dryer can also dry out their skin or even burn them if it is too hot.  It is a best practice to have minimal when drying pets.

Are you considering having your pet groomed by a groomer who works out of their home?  This can be beneficial for pets who prefer a quieter atmosphere.  My recommendations are to inspect the area your dog will be in to insure they have proper equipment.  Make sure they are properly insured and licensed to have a business in their home.

My last and final suggestion is to find a groomer and stick with them.  This is easiest on everyone. The pet gets to know the groomer and the groomer learns your pet. Groomers who love what they do get attached to their regulars and treat them as they would their own pet.  They can be key in monitoring your pet’s health as well. Groomers can see the changes you may not because they only see your pet every 4-8 weeks. If your bounce around to different groomers, the groomers do not get to know your pet and help you monitor these things and a bond between the pet and groomer does not have a chance to form.