Tips for Selecting a Groomer

Summer is in full swing, and all of the outdoor activities may have left your pooch looking a little worse for wear. It might be time to think about bringing him to the groomers to ditch the dirt and grime and pick up a new ‘do. Before you pick up the phone and make an appointment, be sure to do your research and shop around. After all, if you pick the wrong groomer it might lead to something more serious than just a bad haircut; your pet could get sick, traumatized, injured or worse.

A good starting point to finding the right groomer is word of mouth, ask every pet owner you know if they would recommend their groomer. Scour the internet for reviews and remember to be wary of groomers with a high rating but very few votes, they could be trying to pull a fast one by writing a few bogus reviews. You might also want to check out the Better Business Bureau to find an accredited groomer in your area.

Try to find a certified dog groomer. New York does not require groomers to be licensed while Connecticut does. In order for an establishment to be eligible for the certification in Connecticut they must have adequate room, well maintained grooming equipment, drying cages, sanitary practices and an exercise area. Of course this doesn’t mean you should avoid groomers in New York or automatically trust a Connecticut groomer. Due diligence in your research is always a must.

Inquire about the services they provide and whether or not the pricing is all-inclusive or a la carte. Along with the obvious services such as bathing and clipping, groomers can also offer nail trimming, teeth brushing, ear cleaning and paw pad cleaning. It may be wise to ask if there are extra charges for severely matted fur or aggressive behavior. Remember to factor in tipping, 15 to 20 percent is customary.

Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions. It is perfectly acceptable to ask about how much experience they have and whether or not they know first aid for pets. You can ask them about grooming in general, for tips about shedding or how often a dog should be bathed to try to suss out how knowledgeable they are.

You may want to ask to tour the salon. It’s a good idea to scope it out and get a feel for the place. It is also a good opportunity to observe the groomer’s personality. Are they friendly and calm or abrupt and impatient? Basically, trust your gut, if you don’t feel comfortable there your pet won’t either. Is it well run and organized or is it messy and chaotic? If it’s messy they may be more likely to be lax in sanitary practices which could lead to skin infections or catching a contagious illness.

Speaking of illnesses, there are some pre-existing medical conditions that can factor into the grooming process. A good groomer will ask you about them but feel free to bring them up first. Conditions that can affect the grooming session include hip dysplasia, disc disease, seizures, skin problems, allergies, asthma or anxiety.

If you do have an anxiety prone dog you may want to look for a groomer that offers a one on one experience. Some groomers employ different people at different stations which might add to an already stressful situation. Another option is a mobile groomer so he doesn’t have to leave the comfort of his own turf.

Once you choose a groomer be sure to observe your pooch closely after his appointment. If he seems extra lethargic or nervous and has diarrhea for a few days it means that he got overly stressed out. Follow up with the groomer to see if she can come up with a strategy to make it less stressful the next time. If she can’t or is unwilling to, it might be time to start the search over again.

Written by Elizabeth Boluch