GROOMING ESTABLISHMENTS – GREAT, GRIMY OR JUST PLAIN GRIM?
You have a pet whose coat needs regular professional attention. With so many options available in terms of parlours, mobiles or one-man-shows, how does one pick a good groomer? Twisted Whiskers’ handy checklist gives you all the boxes that need to be ticked by the business or person who takes care of your baby’s “fur-scaping”.
This is your fur-kid we’re talking about. Are you confident that the person or people who are responsible for him during his grooming appointment are able to work with him in a gentle and caring manner that reduces anxiety? Realistically, no dog or cat picks up the phone and books a spa day for themselves. In most cases, groomers need to do a bunch of things that the pet won’t exactly be thrilled about. Some pets don’t enjoy water, the noise of driers, having their nails trimmed, etc. Your groomer needs to be able to make a caring connection with the animals they work with and communicate to them that they are safe, loved and will not be hurt.
Dogs and cats potentially carry parasites and diseases and exposing your pet to any space frequented by other animals on a regular basis, be it a park, veterinary clinic, parlour or a grooming van, places them at risk for picking up nasties. What measures does your groomer employ to ensure that your pet companion is protected? A top-quality parlour should use the same disinfectant protocol and products used in isolation wards at veterinary hospitals. Holding cages, equipment and workstations must be thoroughly disinfected between each pet’s grooming, and transport vans fogged on a regular basis to ensure that they are parasite free. Twisted Whiskers is routinely audited by F10 Health and Hygiene (the leading veterinary hygiene company in South Africa) in order to maintain our status as a business which is disinfected to veterinary standards.
TRAINING AND EXPERIENCE
Where did your groomer learn to groom? Are they able to advise you correctly on the standard breed style for your pet and offer variations on this, should you prefer a slightly different look? Or give you tips on how to manage your pet’s grooming needs at home, in between his grooming appointments? Do they know their equipment and products inside and out? For example, do they vary the controls on their driers as the pet’s coat begins to dry in order to prevent discomfort to your baby or damage to his coat? Are they trained in the correct use and dilutions of medicated veterinary shampoos for the treatment of skin conditions? Do they know which brushes to use for different lengths and textures of hair? Do they know which breeds should be clipped and which may suffer irreparable damage to their coat if they are shaved? Are they able to assess whether their equipment is in good shape or whether it may be worn down and likely to cause razor burn or nicks? Are they trained to handle your pet in such a way that he is safe when sharp scissors and clippers are used near his eyes, throat, ears, genitals, etc. What training process has your groomer gone through in order to learn his craft – has he served an apprenticeship under the guidance of experienced groomers until he is 100% up to scratch?
An incredible level of skill is required to produce a top-quality breed-standard style when working with a living being who may be frightened, exuberant, or even aggressive – is your groomer up to this task?
What quality control measures are employed by your grooming service? Are their groomers competent to assess their own results if working alone or is a trained supervisor present to ensure that your pet is handled correctly and that your instructions are followed to the letter. Twisted Whiskers is veterinarian-owned and supervised and our Spas are managed by specially appointed staff who continually check up on the pets being groomed, so that our clients can have peace of mind regarding their fur-child’s experience with us, as well as the standard of the grooming carried out.
Has your groomer been trained to assess dogs’ and cats’ body language – does he know if your pet is frightened, uncomfortable, or likely to bite? Does he or she know how to safely and comfortably restrain your pet in order to accomplish various tasks (like shaving the throat or cutting nails and working on raised surfaces)? Is the grooming facility itself safe for your pet (keeping pets away from others, preventing any chances of unexpected escapes, temperature controlled)? Are the holding cages constructed to prevent injury to a pet? Is electrical wiring properly insulated from the moist environment produced by wet coats? If your groomer transports your pets, is the vehicle air-conditioned and compartmented so that pets from different homes can be kept separate from one another and safe while the vehicle is moving and does the driver have the appropriate driving experience?
Being veterinarian-owned, Twisted Whiskers staff are all trained to handle special needs pets who may need specific aspects of TLC. We regularly groom sight- and hearing-impaired pets, heart patients, diabetics, epileptics, pets who have recently undergone surgery, orthopaedic patients, geriatric pets and those with traumatic backgrounds who need an extra-loving touch and reassurance. Our staff know to report any lump, bump, injury, change in behaviour or sign of distress to management so that a decision can be made on whether or not to continue grooming, and to inform the pet’s owner so that veterinary treatment can be sought. In fact, our groomers have, on a number of occasions, discovered lumps that the pets’ owners were not aware of and have been able to save lives through the quick diagnosis of cancerous growths by a veterinarian. A groomer who regularly works with your pet and is familiar with the individual nuances of the animal’s body and behaviour is pure gold!
Additionally, for those dogs and cats who require professional grooming but find the experience entirely overwhelming, our veterinarian is available to safely sedate them and monitor them throughout so that they simply have a little sleep with us at Twisted Whiskers and wake up clean, fresh and tidy, completely bypassing the stress in between.
Are you able to see your pet being handled and groomed? Can you request a tour of the facility at any time to see what happens behind the scenes and have peace of mind regarding all aspects of your pet’s experience? Are you able to inspect the equipment used and reassure yourself that maintenance is a priority and that your pet is not being exposed to dirty, or poorly-maintained clipper blades and scissors or dirty brushes? Does your groomer use only the best quality products that won’t irritate your baby’s skin and are safe around eyes and ears, or is using low-grade shampoo (or worse, dishwashing liquid…. yes, it happens!!) a convenient cost-cutting measure? To ensure that the standards in the pet care industry are raised, pet parents should feel free to assess all the above and choose to only support establishments that take these important aspects seriously. After all, our pets don’t get a choice in where they get groomed, but their owners do.
Is the parlour or facility you’ve chosen temperature-regulated? Is your pet kept warm during winter and are the sweltering summer temps, combined with the heat of driers, managed during the warmer months so that your pet doesn’t overheat? If you use a mobile groomer, do they wash with warm water? Is your pet dried thoroughly, or is he returned damp to your garden in the middle of winter?
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THINGS GO WRONG?
No matter how stringent the safety protocols in place and regardless of how rigorous the supervision, groomers are human beings and animals are animals – there is the potential for an accident to occur. Is your groomer trained in animal first aid? What happens if your pet is cut or falls ill during the grooming process? Will you be contacted immediately, and arrangements made for your pet to receive veterinary treatment? If your groomer is responsible for an accident, will he or she, or their management, be accountable for this?
When you walk into your parlour or when the mobile groomer arrives, do you get the feeling that the staff truly love your pet and are fully focussed on ensuring his or her safety, comfort and well-being? Are they passionate about what they do? Do they keep records of each grooming visit and make relevant notes to ensure that your pet’s medical requirements are taken into account (eg. special shampoo, or care to be taken at the site of a previous injury), and that your preferences for how your pet should look are carefully considered? If you have questions regarding your pet’s visit, the products recommended for his skin and coat-type, style-options, etc. are the staff knowledgeable and able to answer to your satisfaction? Is your pet always welcomed as the star he or she is and are you treated as the valued client you are?
Does your grooming service check all of the boxes above? If not, maybe it’s time to switch…..
Twisted Whiskers Pet Spas (in Randburg and Bryanston) are known for our professionalism, skill, passion and, above all, for our love for animals and our dedication to their well-being.
© Written By Twisted Whiskers