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  • Writer's pictureRobin Pitoscia

Sanitation in the Grooming Salon

Recent events in Michigan are highlighting the risk of disease transmission in dogs. Dozens of dogs have suddenly fell ill and many have died, prompting veterinarians and dog owners alike to take caution with animals. State veterinarians have now identified that these dogs in Michigan have been contracting parvovirus, a fairly common canine disease that is usually considered to be most dangerous to young puppies. In truth, any dog can get parvo, become ill and possibly die of the disease. We most commonly worry about young puppies who have not been vaccinated against this virus yet. Older dogs typically have been vaccinated for parvo when they were puppies, and gotten boosters routinely. These vaccinated dogs have greater immunity, and are therefore less likely to become sick, or their illness isn’t as severe.

Regardless of the vaccination status of pets, it is the duty of every pet professional to be aware of health risks to the pets they care for, and to take steps to reduce or eliminate transmission of disease and parasites in their establishments.

Pet groomers should establish and follow strict health and safety protocols. The following is a list of essential procedures meant to keep the animals in our care safe. If you are a pet groomer you owe it to your clients, their pets, and your community at large to do these things. If you are a pet owner, I encourage you to speak with your groomer about their health and safety protocols.

  • All pets should be screened by staff when first entering the salon. Animals that seem ill or whose owners report symptoms of illness should be rescheduled and sent home until they are feeling better.

  • Any pet showing signs of illness while in the salon should be sent home. Symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, nasal discharge, eye discharge, coughing, sneezing, lethargy, fever, skin rashes or lesions, and parasites should be noted in the pet’s files and reported to their owner.

  • The salon should ask for proof of and keep records of vaccinations for its animal clients. Pets in most states are required to have up to date rabies vaccination at the least, and may require more. Pet owners should speak with their veterinarian about proper vaccines for their pets.

  • Grooming tools, equipment, and fixtures like bath tubs and tables should be cleaned AND disinfected between pets.

  • Disinfectants used in the grooming salon should be labeled effective against common pet diseases such as bordetella, coronavirus, distemper, influenza, parvovirus, rabies, staphylococcus, etc.

  • Follow all manufacturers recommendations and directions.

  • Animals should not be allowed to share items such as towels, bedding, bowls, or toys. All items should be cleaned between pets.

  • Any “pet mess” of urine, feces, vomit, blood, vaginal or seminal discharge, etc should be cleaned and the area disinfected immediately. If the salon offers a “potty area” for its customers’ pets, this area should be cleaned of any solid waste regularly. If “pooper scoopers”, rakes or shovels are provided for clean up, these items should be regularly cleaned and disinfected as well.

We cannot guarantee that pets will not pick up germs when they are out in public, especially in areas that are frequented by other pets. The grooming salon is one of those frequented places. But groomers and other pet professionals can reduce the risk to their clients and their own animals by forming and following very simple cleaning and disinfecting procedures.

Robin Pitoscia is the owner of Diva Dog Grooming LLC, located in Duluth, MN. She has been a professional dog groomer for 15 years, working in a number of grooming salons across the Midwest. In addition to grooming dogs, she also breeds and exhibits Chinese Cresteds in a variety of AKC dog shows and sports. She is a strong advocate for building respectful relationships between humans and dogs through positive reinforcement and an understanding of canine cognition and behavior.

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