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15 Things Your Groomer Does For Your Pet That You Don't Know

The world only ever hears about pet groomers when one of us does something wrong. But what if we celebrated everything each one of us gets right? *WARNING* Some graphic images of human injuries below, some gross stuff, and lots of feelings ahead.

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1. We travel far to go to grooming conventions.

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We go to Hershey, PA, Pasadena, CA, Chicago, IL, Wilmington, OH, Tacoma, WA, Sturbridge, MA, and more. Here they premiere the newest tools and equipment that you can try before you buy. Some go once a year, some go every 5 years; some salons send-out one lucky groomer to bring back the goods!

2. We pay to participate in seminars taught by our industry leaders.

They're like the rockstars of grooming. They teach us new, safe techniques. Classes range from the perfect poodle cut, to choosing the right shampoos, to the safe handling of pets.

5. We see your pet more often than they see the vet.

I once read that the average pet groomer has his or her hands on more animals in a week than most people do in their entire lives. All of that hands-on contact offers us an education in the health and well-being of pets, which is priceless.
Many years ago, I found an odd little lump under the rear leg of a beloved, elderly cat. The lump was in a place where the average owner rarely pets their animal. I brought it to the attention of my customer, and she hustled Elsa the tabby off to see her veterinarian. He told her, "If your groomer had not found this lump, Elsa would be dead in a matter of months." Surgery and treatment provided Elsa with several more years to bring her human companionship and pleasure.
Pet stylists from everywhere tell me they have had similar experiences over and over again. Vania Velotta (Cleveland, OH) told me, "I had a Westie that was a regular customer. When he had a couple of 'accidents' during his visit, I knew that was unusual for him. I asked the owner if he was drinking a lot of water lately, and she said he was drinking and urinating a little extra. I told her that a lot of times that can indicate a bladder infection or diabetes, so she should get him checked out as soon as possible. The next time she came in, she said that she'd taken the dog to the vet, and he was, in fact, diabetic. Then she said, 'And you know, my husband was having the same symptoms, so I made him go to the doctor. Turns out he's diabetic, too.'"

And also:

It happens almost every day—we groomers find lumps and growths and things that just don't seem 'right' on the pets that we groom. Our hands are all over the pets and when we are bathing and drying them, we see it all.
"I found a very small black lump on the tail of a two year old Golden Retriever," says Mary Arnold. "I saw it when the HV (high-velocity) dryer parted the hair and exposed the skin. It was found to be a very aggressive melanoma. It was removed and the dog lived to be sixteen. The Golden's veterinarian said that there was no way that would have happened if the melanoma had gone undetected for another few weeks."

And yet again:

"They discovered four cysts on my dog just by grooming her," Horton said. "When you're bathing them you feel a lot of their body and we notice lumps or sensitivity. But when you're just petting them, you wouldn't even notice those things."

And it's not that owners aren't paying enough attention to their pets or aren't taking them to the vet on a regular basis — Horton said it's more about the unique relationship groomers have with the animals they take care of.

Some bites are so bad, we can't return to work indefinitely.

Everyday we go into work wondering, “Is today the day? Is this dog the dog? Were the owners honest about their dog, or were they so afraid I would turn them away if they just admitted that he bites if you touch his feet?”

View this video on YouTube

We have to vent to each other about this stuff so we know we're not alone.

8. We know we’re bound to have back problems, get carpal tunnel, and groomer’s lung.

Using vibrating tools and the repetitive motion of scissoring equals carpal tunnel. And breathing in tiny slivers of hair day in and day out creates an accumulation of hair in the airways. But we don't mind wasting away if it means we can get a good 30-40 years in doing what we love.

Some of us have even sacrificed our well-being if it means saving your pet.

"Incredibly, even though Brandon was on fire, his first concern was to save the dog he was working on.

“I remember being bent over and pulling my flaming sweatshirt off,” recalls Brandon. “I immediately came up and looked for the dog. I saw his silhouette. I had to disconnect him from the support system on the table. I picked him up, put my shoulder to the door and sort-of busted through it. The door was somewhat opened by the explosion, but it was a mangled mess. Once I got outside, I fell forward and landed face down in the snow.”

And even while Brandon was lying in the snow, his burned, smoking fingers never let go of the dog’s safety loop."

Read the story of Brandon Boyer here

9. We are always in search of the best.

We are equipment junkies. We always want that new scissor that will give the best, plushest finish and impossibly round head. We know we gotta do some serious research, and spend money to get the best results. We never stop looking for that perfect shampoo with the least amount of ingredients we should avoid, the shampoos that give the best finish or might help your pet's dandruff, dry or itchy skin. We know which pesticides to use, when to use them or when NOT to use them, and advise you on how to stop the cycle of re-infestation. When we're not sure, we ask other groomers for recommendations.

We maintain, sharpen, and update our equipment so we aren’t using dull (and dangerous) equipment.

We check our blades for missing teeth, and send them out to the far reaches of the country to get sharpened by some of the best sharpeners. We own several blades as back-up so we won’t hesitate to send our stuff out to get sharpened. We know when our scissors are dull and know that we are at a higher risk of injuring a pet when they’re dull rather than when they are sharpest. We replace our cords if they are frayed, our electric tables are repaired; your wonderful tips are appreciated because they go right back into the tools we use!

And other general gnarlyness

And that doesn't even cover the half of it. There's pus, poop pancakes on butts, and hitchhiker ticks we find crawling on us! There's nothing quite as bittersweet as pulling out a 3 inch-long hair out of your eye that's been bugging you all day when you get home.

13. We reach out to our colleagues, even if they are our direct competitors, because we know that together we can do our best.

We know we can't groom every dog, and if we just don't click with one, we can refer them to another groomer we trust. We're always eager to share our knowledge with each other through forums. We even have each other’s backs through tough times with the Groomer Emergency Assistance Fund

14. We aren’t required to be licensed, but some of us choose to certify with the existing dog grooming associations.


The National Dog Grooming Association of America, International Professional Groomers, International Society of Canine Cosmetologists, and International Judges Association are the main associations that we use to certify and therefore self-regulate our own industry. No one requires it of us, and it doesn’t guarantee that there won’t be accidents, but we push ourselves because our competence equals confidence, and we know you'll trust us more for it. The National Cat Groomers Institute of America even certifies those that groom cats.

...and more about bonding with our furry customers, making them feel their best, and gaining your trust so you keep them coming back to us. Believe us when we say that nothing hurts us more than when our love for our job, our dedication to improving, and our devotion to each and every one of our customers is questioned when a groomer is accused somewhere in the country. If you know a knowledgeable, compassionate, trustworthy groomer, hold onto them tight! Celebrate them and let them know you appreciate their hard work!

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