Choosing a Pet Groomer
Grooming services can include a hair cut, trimming or shaving, combing, brushing, bathing, clipping nails, ear cleaning and teeth cleaning.
"Every dog [and cat] benefits from a professional groom, and no, haircutting is not mandatory," says Tracey Fisher, Resident Dog Grooming Specialist at PetSmart. "Professional grooming encompasses important steps such as cleaning the ears, clipping the nails, brushing out dead hair and improving the condition of the pet's skin and coat with health-enhancing shampoos and conditioners."
WHN Tip: Love Your Pet!
According to a survey by Furminator, Inc., shedding is the major cause of negative feelings for pet owners towards their cats and dogs. Regularly brushing, cleaning, and grooming your pet will decrease shedding and increase the healthy, shiny quality of your furry friend's topcoat.
List Your Requirements
When (hours/days) you can drop off/pick up your pet for grooming
How much you can spend on grooming services
How often your pet needs groomed
How far you are willing to drive
WHN Tip: Start Young
If you get a dog or cat, start the grooming process when they are young so they get used to it early.
Family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers
Breeders, animal clubs, your current vet or local animal shelter
Local and online directories
WHN Tip: If you're moving to a new area or home, ask your current veterinarian, breeder or groomer for recommendations in that area.
Ask Key Questions
Where is the practice located? (Is it easy for you to get there from both home and work?)
What are your hours? Are you open seven days a week?
WHN Expert Tip: "Being able to drop off and pick up your pet at times that are convenient to your schedule will help prevent your pet from having to be at the salon longer than necessary." Tracey Fisher, PetSmart
What types of services are available? How much do services cost?
WHN Expert Tip: Expect to pay anywhere from $40 or more for a shampoo and hair cut. The Humane Society of the United States
Are you accepting new clients?
What paperwork or items do I need to bring o the day of the service?
How soon are appointments available?
WHN Expert Tip: Call Ahead
"I get an exact time to bring my dogs in so they don't have to wait in a cage for hours." Beth Shaw, Humane Society National Council Member and Chair of Karma Rescue's Advisory Board
How long do appointments last?
Can I/Do I have to leave my pet for the day?
Are you familiar with my breed of animal?
Can you do a breed-appropriate hair cut?
Will you be able to handle my pet's special needs such as ________?
Do I need to bring proof of vaccination or other records with me?
What are special services? (cost for detangling matted hair, burrs in fur, etc.)
Ask About the Groomers
What type of training programs do your groomers attend?
Are they members of any grooming organizations such as the National Dog Groomers Association of America?
What types of licensing and certifications do they (or the store/vet/) have?
How many years of experience do they have?
Do they have liability and other necessary insurance (such as?)
What kind of animals does the groomer own?
How many pets have they groomed that are the same as my pet's breed?
WHN Expert Tip: "Ask to see pictures of their work, especially photos of your pet's breed." Frances Greenspan, Animal Groomer and Communicator
What type of shampoos and conditioners do you use? Do you use dryers on pets?
What do you do to calm pets down? (Some groomers might sedate pets with drugs before grooming.)
What do you do if a pet is sick?
What are your safety procedures in case of an emergency? (A dog or cat loses control, etc.)
May I watch the groomer work on an animal?
WHN Expert Tip: No Federal Rules
"No federal agency regulates or licenses groomers, therefore, it is important to find out the training qualifications and experience level of the groomer. A training or safety certification is your assurance that the person working on your pet has taken the time and care to learn how to groom your pet safely." Tracey Fisher, Resident Pet Grooming Specialist
Evaluate the Facility
Visit the groomer's practice (or several to compare) before making a final selection.
Does it feel safe and inviting?
Is it well-lit?
Are the rooms clean and in good shape?
Are there any unpleasant odors?
Are the cages clean?
Are dogs and cats caged separately?
Do the other dogs and owners seem to be relaxed and happy with the services?
Do I like the appearance of the other animals after their appointments?
WHN Tip: Consider a test-run. Choose a simple service to start and see how it goes.
Preparing for the Visit
WHN expert Tip: "Professional grooming is more than just a haircut; it's about good health and hygiene." Tracey Fisher, Resident Pet Grooming Specialist
Bring the following
- Adoption papers
- Contact phone numbers for you, other family members and your vet
- Medical and vaccination history
- Registration papers
- A list of questions and possible health concerns to mention to the groomer including:
Special care needs
- Your pet's leash, collar or any other items the groomer requests.
WHN Expert Tip: Avoid a Pet Swap
Ellen Palestrant, pet owner and author of "Pretzel on Prozac: The Story of a Dog I Once Knew" once picked up the wrong dog when its collar was traded with another dog after a grooming. To avoid an unwanted pet swap, Ellen advises to "have some other identification on your dog - or another way of recognizing him other than by his collar before taking him to the groomer. After all, collars are removed during grooming and dogs sometimes emerge quite deflated after their hair-loss."
During the Visit
Be sure to mention or share your list about your pet's health concerns, quirks and behavioral habits with the groomer beforehand, says Fisher. "Information such as 'he doesn't like his feet touched' or 'he is afraid of loud noises' helps us adjust or modify the experience so that it's a positive one for everyone."
WHN Expert Tip: Winter Grooming Tips
"Keeping your pets coat mat free and healthy will help your pet stay warmer and the coat and skin to be healthier throughout the winter. Heated houses can dry your pet's skin and coat making it itching and uncomfortable, and possibly leading to matting of the hair. A professional groom will clean and condition both the skin and the coat to keep it healthy and your pet happy every season of the year." Tracey Fisher, PetSmart
After The Visit
WHN Tip: After you leave, if you have more questions, don't be afraid to call to get them answered.
Was the groomer helpful, courteous and knowledgeable?
Did the groomer listen to my questions and answer them in a way that I understand?
Was the groomer respectful and considerate to me and my pet?
Did the groomer ask me questions?
Was the groomer rushed or attentive and willing to spend time with me and my pet?
Did the groomer take down details about my pet's needs, medications, vaccinations and important contact numbers (vet, emergency numbers, etc.)?
Would I prefer this groomer to be the primary groomer for all my pets or should I select different groomers for each pet?
Do I feel comfortable with my decision?
WHN Expert Tip: Trust Your Gut
"Pet owners should always ask themselves, 'Am I comfortable with this groomer and this grooming environment?' If the answer is no, cancel the appointment and re-schedule somewhere you are comfortable. Rely on your instinct." Sharon Zabala, Cathy's Critter Cleaners
WHN Tip: If you aren't comfortable with the groomer, consider finding another groomer. But remember that it may take more than one visit for you, your pet and your groomer to get to know each other.
Work with your groomer to develop a grooming style that fits your pet, your family's lifestyle and works with your at-home routine. Think about seasons, too – longer hair for winter warmth? Shorter for summer heat?
Bring a photo that shows exactly what you'd like your dog or cat to look like.
Exercising your dog before the appointment will make for a much better behaved and a happier grooming client.
If you like the groomer, schedule your next grooming appointment.
Consider doing a few maintenance tasks yourself, like nail trimming or brushing, to save money.
PetsAdopting a Pet