Keeping Safe In Your Salon
As a professional dog groomer, your job is extremely physical. It also carries a lot of responsibility as customers leave their beloved pets in your care while they are groomed. Ensuring a safe salon is important not only for you and your colleagues but also for the dogs and cats that visit you.
Not only are you standing on your feet all day, but you are also subjected to noise, at risk from nicks or bites, regularly have your hands in and out of the water, plus you will be exposed to potential allergens in shampoos and other products. It is important to keep yourself safe to prolong your grooming career. An early injury could mean having to step away from a career you love but there are some simple precautions you can take to ensure your safety.
Choosing professional grooming clothing to wear while at work will not only give a more professional appearance but will also make your working day more comfortable. These pieces of clothing are an important line of defence against water, grooming products, and medicated treatments that you will be exposed to in the salon. While there is no single pet grooming uniform, you should select pieces that are water-resistant or fast-drying, that is easily cleaned, and easy to move in. Groom Professional grooming clothing is designed to be hair repellent (as hair splinters are no joke!), hard-wearing, and thanks to the high quality of these items they wash well and will maintain their professional look.
Choosing the right dog grooming footwear for the salon is also important. Non-slip shoes suitable for wet floors will help prevent slips. Choosing a closed toe and reinforced shoe will ensure your feet are protected from dropped equipment and tools – especially sharp items like scissors. Podiatrists recommend having shoes with a wide toe box to allow for feet to expand during the day and the , which are specifically designed for people on their feet all day, are especially roomy. So, as well as offering room for your feet to naturally expand, your feet will also be able to breathe and there will be no rubbing. The have a contoured footbed to ensure not only comfort but also even weight distribution. After around 6 hours on your feet, the cushioning in your shoes is almost completely compressed and no longer offers you support, so if you’re working for longer than 6 hours each day you may wish to have a second pair of shoes or clogs to change into halfway through your working day.
- Wearing gloves will limit the contact your hands have with water and grooming products. Overexposure to water and the chemicals will strip your skin of its natural oils and can leave hands dry and cracked. Gloves are particularly important now as we continue to manage the spread of Covid-19, but it is also important to continue to wash your hands and use good hand cream to ensure they are moisturised and nourished.
– not only are masks important to manage the spread of Covid-19 but they will also minimise lung and breathing issues caused by long-term exposure to hair and airborne particles in the salon. Regularly vacuuming the salon air will also reduce the amount of hair in the salon. Contact your doctor if you notice you have constant coughing or wheezing or if you struggle to breathe or experience pain with breathing, while you are grooming or just after grooming.
– You may wish to wear wraparound glasses while grooming. These will prevent product or hair from getting in your eye which can cause infection and also physical damage to the eye from tools, or claws.
– Between dogs barking, clippers buzzing, the noise of dryers and blasters, phones ringing, and customer conversations, a grooming salon can be a noisy place. Long or repeated exposure to sounds at or above 85 decibels can cause hearing loss so protect your hearing by wearing ear defenders in the salon. Also take time to research the noisy levels of pieces of equipment before purchasing. Apart from protecting your hearing, this will also be useful if you groom nervous dogs who will appreciate the lower noise levels.
Pet grooming is extremely physical and there are many long-term injuries that can be sustained if care is not taken.
- Carpel Tunnel, Arthritis and achy joints– Arthritis can’t always be avoided and can come about because of your age, or because of family history. In order to minimise how it affects you, you need to look after your joints. Use lightweight equipment where possible and if needed, wear .
to take the strain off the joint. Increasing your omega -3 fatty acid consumption will help reduce inflammation in the body - fish is a rich source but many supplements exist – Check out
- Back and Neck Problems- Having a table that can be raised or lowered to help elderly or larger dogs get on and off will negate the need to lift the dogs which can cause back injuries. Ensuring that tables and baths are a suitable height will help with your posture during the day and should minimise the impact on your neck and back.
- Shoulder, hip and knee problems - Ensuring good posture and even weight distribution will help minimise hip and knee problems. Exercise and weight management to avoid overexertion on your joints will also be beneficial. Carrying out some simple shoulder exercises can help with any uncomfortable sensations in your shoulders but consult a doctor if this pain becomes too much.
Being physically fit, watching your weight, having a good working knowledge of proper manual handling procedures and not smoking will all help you avoid some of these common complaints. It’s also important not to overexert yourself and try to groom too many dogs each day. You will end up burned out and with injuries which may stop you grooming while you recover or may result in you having to stop grooming altogether.
Cleaning and Equipment Safety
Maintaining good salon hygiene is always important but post lockdown it is neccesary to ensure this is a top priority. Clean all workstations, baths, tables and holding cages, before and after each use. It’s also important to clean tools in between uses. Consider contact time for disinfectants and make sure you are leaving product on surfaces long enough to be effective. Clean up spills immediately whether this is grooming product, cleaning product or water as this will help to avoid slipping and ensure hair is also swept up.
Clean your shampoo pumps and dilution bottles, or pipes on your will help prevent a build-up of product which can lead to bacteria or mould. Sometimes washing with hot water is not enough and they may need to be cleaned with diluted bleach.
We have a range of disinfectants available to provide enhanced cleaning and disinfection for all major hard surface areas and non-slip flooring.
Make sure all electrical equipment is serviced regularly and PAT tested annually. There should be no trailing or frayed wires (these should be replaced immediately). Ensure that all equipment and products are stored correctly when not in use to avoid damage to the equipment or an accident. This also includes scissors which could not only cause damage if they fall but could also be damaged and as a crucial tool in your salon these need to be looked after.
Product Shelf Life
Our Groom Professional Shampoos have an 18-24 month shelf life once opened. In a busy salon, your shampoos and conditioners are unlikely to last this long but to ensure you’re using products while ingredients are still active and product is still safe for use you could mark the opening date on the bottom of the bottle for reference. Products opened and not used after the shelf life as expired may be contaminated by bacteria and could cause irritation or infection for the dog.
Your customers are trusting their beloved furbabies to your care for the time they are in your salon. Not only is it important to ensure your salon is a safe environment for them, but it is also important that their owners make you aware of health issues that may cause problems during the groom.
Waivers should be specific and ask about any ailments their pets may have including ACL tears, allergies, mobility issues and back problems, seizures, vision or hearing problems, ear infections, diabetes, kidney problems, heart trouble and of course skin conditions. It is also important that the owner shares information on any surgeries or accidents the dog may have had. Also ask the owners about any potential behaviour issues or anxieties the dog may have. This is most important with new clients but doesn’t hurt to confirm again with clients before appointments. It is also important to have a matted dog release form so that your client is aware that you may have to remove a substantial amount of coat if it is matted beyond saving.
- Be careful when clipping or shaving pets that have extremely matted coats. Matts may be very close to the skin and you may nick or cut the skin. Use a comb to pull the matt away before clipping. If this is not possible, you may have to consider shaving the dog. is a handy product to have in the salon as it can be used on both humans and dogs. Apply to itchy skin, sore paws, cuts and nicks, weepy eyes, and irritated ears as well as to any nicks or scratches you as a groomer sustain.
- Heat Exhaustion – It is particularly important on hot days to ensure dogs in your care don’t overheat. If you offer a pick-up service NEVER leave a dog alone in a car.
- Dogs falling from tables or baths – You should handle puppies, older dogs, and overweight pets with particular care. Use a groom restraint while grooming - it will not only protect you from a nervous dog who may nip or scratch but will also stop the dog from jumping for the table and potentially injuring themselves.
- Dog being hurt by other dogs – unless an owner brings two dogs in and specifically requests they are kept together while waiting to be groomed, it would be advised to keep dogs apart to avoid any fighting. Manage your appointment times to ensure you don’t overcrowd your waiting area.
- Keep plants and cleaning products away from dogs – many plants can be toxic to dogs - lilies, aloe vera, ivy, to name a few. Ensure your cleaning products are correctly stored to avoid dogs getting access to these.
- Ensure your waiting cages are safe and secure – make sure they are free from sharp edges, peeling paint and choking hazards
- Cutting the quick when trimming a dog’s nails - Some owners worry about cutting their dog’s nails at home because they are concerned about cutting into the quick (the blood supply that runs along the middle of the claw). Nicking this blood supply can happen in the salon but if it does, apply a blood stopper to the area and it will staunch the blood as well as cleaning the area.
- Clipper burn – this will give the dog uncomfortable itching in the area and as they try to soothe the itch by licking or scratching they can cause further irritation and even cause the skin to break which could lead to infection. Some tips to avoid clipper burn
- Ensure your clipper blade doesn’t get too hot and that it is well lubricated
- Try not to clip the same area repeatedly
- Be particularly careful in sensitive areas such as the groin
- Using a longer blade length will help avoid clipper burn
- Apply appropriate pressure – too hard and you could cause clipper burn
- Be aware of the skin sensitivity – puppies and younger dogs will have more sensitive skin than adult dogs, and you should also take care when clipping those with paler coats
- If you suspect clipper irritation talk to your customer before going home about how they can manage this and what products they can use to help soothe the area.
- Hematomas/blood blister - in the salon you may see a badly matted ear that requires shaving. Once this is done the blood supply will return quickly to the ear and the dog may shake its head, banging the ears of the head. This can result in swelling and sometimes even bleeding from the bottom of the ear. If you need to shave down a severely matted ear, do this slowly and once complete apply a happy hoodie that will hold the ears close to the head and avoid them being damaged.
If an accident does occur in your salon be calm and professional, explain what happened and what the next steps are whether this is seeking veterinary help (which your insurance should cover) or how to treat an irritation or injury at home. Make your customer aware if this was an incident which could have been avoided if they had shared specific information in your waiver or if it was as a result of their neglect of their dog’s coat. If you feel the incident was your fault may wish to offer them a discount on their next groom or offer the next groom for free if you feel this may help retain that customer. As you’ll have built up a good relationship with your customer, they will be understanding if an accident does happen. Your love of dogs will have led you into this career, so they will know this was not intentional.
If you are sensible and follow the safe practices discussed above, don’t overexert yourself and don’t get complacent, you will enjoy a long grooming career and repeat business from your trusting customers.