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Establishing a proper wellness routine with good grooming is essential for maintaining a happy and healthy dog. A professional dog groomer can master your pup’s furry unruliness. He or she might also perform health-related services for your dog — such as teeth cleaning, bathing, nail trimming, ear cleaning and even check for skin conditions. However, it’s important to find a groomer you can trust. Your pet’s safety, comfort and health are ultimately at stake during each visit.

With that said, here are nine essential tips to consider when choosing a professional pet groomer.

1. Ask for References

Finding the right dog groomer is crucial in avoiding unattractive haircuts, skin cuts from clipper blades or scissors, irritation from products, and potential exposure to contagious diseases. Start with referrals from friends, family, co-workers and other acquaintances, since they might already have experience with a reputable dog groomer. Your veterinarian, doggy day care or trainer may even be able to recommend a high-quality groomer.

Additionally, you can diligently research finding professionals in your area. Some may even have social media profiles in which you can evaluate the groomer’s style. Cut down on potential prospects by cross-referencing your findings with the Better Business Bureau. 

2. Visit the Salon

When searching for a grooming shop, be sure to tour the facility. Look for a well-ventilated salon, clean workstations, pet-friendly products, and sturdy tables and tubs.

Answer these questions when evaluating a pet grooming salon:

  • Do the employees exhibit friendly attitudes and a professional manner?
  • Is the salon clean and free of heavy odors?
  • Is there adequate lighting?
  • Are the kennels for dogs and cats separated?
  • Does the salon keep records of past visits, a pet’s health, vaccinations and emergency contact information?

3. Talk With the Groomer Personally

Make sure your potential groomer takes the time to talk to you about your canine’s health conditions, physical limitations, behavioral concerns and any sensitivities. You want a groomer who is upfront about everything that will happen during the session. Likewise, an experienced professional should be willing to give a tour of the grooming environment, including any tools that are used in the process.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions, such as what kinds of products the salon uses on dogs; if the groomer has experience with your canine’s breed; and how your pup will be housed. Your pooch should have a crate to itself in view of salon staff with plenty of air, clean padding and water.

4. Inquire About the Equipment

Find out what kind of equipment is used during the grooming process. Dogs can experience burns or worse if they are kept in crate or cage dryers for too long. Ensure that these types of equipment have low heat and are in an area where dogs can be constantly monitored. 

5. Ask About Training and Proper Certification

Get a sense of the groomer’s skill, experience and knowledge. Some states require by law that grooming facilities be licensed, and groomers certified through local schools or organizations (such as the National Dog Groomer’s Association of America, Inc. and the International Society of Canine Cosmetologists).

Be on the lookout for licensing — it means both the establishment and groomer have met certain standards that will provide your pup a safer experience. A qualified professional will demonstrate proper usage of sharp grooming instruments such as scissors and electric clippers.

A skilled groomer can alert you about the following issues:

  • Fleas
  • Ticks
  • Tooth decay
  • Skin infections or masses
  • Sudden weight loss or gain
  • Ear infections

Pet owners can even dig deeper to find out if the groomer-to-be attends any conventions, trade shows or seminars to further his or her career. Moreover, medical and first-aid training is always an asset in a groomer, in case an emergency should arise.

6. Request Grooming Fees in Advance

Grooming prices vary due to breed, style of a cut, location and various services needed for a dog. A typical fee may be $35 for a shampoo, brush and dry. Adding a cut can increase the cost by about $5 to $10 more. Make sure you know what is included in the cost of a service and inquire about grooming packages.

Grooming services such as teeth brushing, de-matting and de-shedding treatments may be offered for an additional fee. If your vet recommends a specific shampoo to use on your pup, ask the salon if you need to supply it. Some salons charge extra for items such as choice of shampoo.

7. Identify Your Grooming Goals

Inform the groomer of your furry friend’s specific needs. You both should be clear about what the finished groom is going to look like and cost. Don’t hesitate to bring pictures if you have a certain hairstyle in mind for your dog. Look for a groomer who has done similar work with your breed.

8. Observe Your Pet’s Reactions

Notice your pet’s behavior after the grooming session. A grooming visit should be an enjoyable experience, and your pet should appear comfortable going to the salon. If your pooch shows signs of discomfort, extreme anxiety, or emotional distress prior to a visit or after a session, consider finding another groomer. Not all groomers are the same, and dogs can take to individuals differently.

9. Assess Your Observations and Feelings

Do you feel comfortable leaving your pet in the groomer’s care? How does the groomer interact with other clients, canines and fellow staff members? Does the groomer seem patient and calm; or does he or she seem rushed, disorganized or distracted? Trust your intuition and don’t be afraid to walk away if you receive negative vibes. If you feel uneasy, chances are, your pooch will, too.

Grooming is just as important to your dog’s well-being as are veterinarian visits, a healthy diet and exercise. By taking these tips into consideration, you can be confident that the right dog groomer should be able to meet your pet’s needs. These suggestions can also go a long way in establishing a great working relationship between you, your dog and the new groomer.

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