The daily routine in the grooming salon should include more than merely accepting as many dogs as possible, grooming them, and giving them back to their owners in stylish, fluffy cuts. Every groomer and support staff member must be well informed as to their roles in ensuring every pet is safe from disease.
Whether your salon grooms a couple of dogs a day or sees 50 on a busy Saturday, just one sick dog can infect all of the others. In addition, if the salon is not thoroughly cleaned, the affected areas could continue to infect dogs visiting your shop for days.
As a groomer, you are responsible for the prevention of spreading contagious disease to pets groomed in your facility. The only way to accomplish this is for the salon to abide by strict policies. The policies should outline what pets will be accepted as well as a staff duty roster with guidelines for rigorous sanitation techniques. The guidelines should also include how your staff can protect themselves by washing hands, using gloves, and other methods designed to prevent them from contracting a zoonotic disease. Zoonotic diseases are spread from animal to human through contact with infected urine, feces, and bodily secretions or, in some cases, even breathing in infectious agents.
Disease control begins long before you meet or even touch an owner’s pet. When your clients call in to make appointments, the client record must be reviewed to check that vaccinations are up to date. In addition to vaccination records, it is helpful to have the contact information of the veterinarian. As a courtesy, you could offer to call the veterinary clinic when the records show that the animal’s shots have expired. When you add a new client, make sure to inform the owner that she must bring her pet’s vaccination records or the pet will not be accepted.
There are several reasons to never accept a dog if he has had vaccinations that day. The dog will be unhappy after the veterinary visit, and he could experience tenderness or a reaction at the vaccination site, which could make the dog harder to groom. In some cases, the groomer might be blamed for symptoms of soreness or stress. Most importantly, the shots will need time to take effect and support the dog’s immune system. As mentioned above, your shop should have a defined policy regarding vaccination dates when scheduling appointments. For example, when you have a new client, the waiting period should be a couple of weeks after the shot. If your regular client is on time with the shots, then a couple of days after the vaccinations should be sufficient.
The age of the pet is also very important and should always be taken seriously. If the pet is a puppy or a senior, his resistance to infection might be lower than an adult dog’s. This is also the case with a pet that has had a recent surgery. In the case of a new puppy, your shop should have a policy that states puppies must have had the last set of shots at least a week before the appointment. Elderly animals more than 10 years old and pets with a surgery in the past week should have a release from their veterinarian.
Once the appointment has been set and the dog arrives at the salon, a staff person using a check-in list should speak with the pet owner and conduct an examination of the dog. When clients are allowed to drop and run, meaning a dog has not had a proper check in, the potential for problems in the salon arise.
The check-in examination should include looking for the following:
- Visible signs of a possible
- medical condition
- Eyes – red, swollen eyes
- Ears – red, tender to the touch,
- and odoriferous
- Rear – sores or leakage
- Sensitive areas
- Fleas or little black dots
- of flea droppings
- The condition of the coat
- for grooming
If you recognize a sign that indicates the pet might be ill, you should never actually diagnose the problem. Instead, simply state you recognize there may be something out of the norm and recommend that the owner seek the assistance of a veterinarian. Most owners become very concerned when they did not detect a problem with their pet, so be gentle. The discussion with clients should be discreet to not embarrass them.
If you noticed any cautionary signs that a pet might be ill, be sure that all affected areas in the salon are disinfected afterwards. The fewer areas they are exposed to the better. The reception check-in areas should be equipped with a cleaning kit that includes a spray bottle with a disinfecting solution (one part bleach to 30 parts water), paper towels, clean rags, and small garbage bags to contain waste.
Each staff member’s daily routine should include cleaning procedures based on their area of responsibility. The groomers must keep their workstations clean by disinfecting used tools, wiping down their table, and disposing of all hair between each client session. The table base, floor, and nearby walls should also be wiped with the cleaning solution daily.
The bathers should follow the same tasks as above, as well as disinfecting the tub after each bath. It is important to have all cages, crates, and cage banks thoroughly disinfected between clients. In addition, all large containment units and equipment should have wheels or casters for easier cleaning beneath and behind them. Devices such as vacuum cleaners, clipper-vacuuming machines, and other tools that suck up hair should be emptied daily.
The reception area and the areas outside the entrance should also be cleaned daily. These areas are sometimes overlooked and can become marked and re-marked by your furry visitors.
By following these guidelines and instilling mandatory policies and procedures, you can ensure your salon is doing all it can to not share infectious diseases between pets.
Lead Grooming Program Manager
Animal Behavior College