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Dog Grooming FAQ: What to Look for in a Dog Groomer

WebMD veterinary expert answers commonly asked questions about finding the right dog groomer.


Other things to look for include looking at the condition of the shop. Is it clean? Does it smell? Wear white shoes or socks when you go in. If fleas are there, they’ll jump around your ankles. There shouldn’t be fleas.

The shop should just generally look neat, clean, and professional. It should be a place where you’re comfortable leaving your pet.


Q: Most shops require that their clients be up to date on shots. Is that important?

A: Not all shops require this. It varies from shop to shop. I require rabies, which is required by law, and bordetella, which is like a cold for dogs. Dogs that are around a lot of other dogs should have a bordetella shot regularly.

But there’s a big controversy about vaccination protocols, even among the veterinary schools. Some schools are saying shots should be every three years now and not yearly. Some people do titers [blood tests to see if dogs have an immunity to a disease like parvo or distemper.] I don’t require yearly shots because I don’t give my own dogs yearly shots.


Q: How do groomers handle fearful or aggressive dogs?

A: You should talk to the groomer about a fearful or aggressive dog before you even take him in. Some groomers just won’t handle aggressive dogs, or there will only be one groomer in a shop that handles them.

And some fearful dogs are created by their owners. If you’re apprehensive about dropping your dog off, he’ll feel that and it will make him fearful. So try to make it a positive, upbeat experience when you come in with your dog.


Q: There have been reports of dogs dying in drying cages, where a hot dryer blows into a small cage. Are these dangerous to pets? Should I ask that my dog be hand-dried?

A: Drying cages are not dangerous, only untrained operators are dangerous. If used correctly, under close supervision, they’re fine. When you have problems is when people aren’t trained how to use the machines correctly. So they set them up for 85-90 degrees for 30 minutes and walk away. Well you can fry a dog in that amount of time at that temperature. When used, they should be set at 75-80 degrees, so it’s more like a warm, tropical breeze and not like a heat sauna.

And they should never be used with brachycephalic breeds [flat faced dogs, such as bulldogs and pugs]. That’s because most of them already have breathing problems. I wouldn’t use them with an elderly or a sick dog either. Normally the large drying cages are used for the bigger, heavy-coated breeds. But it all goes back to training. These people are just thrown into a grooming salon with no training and then dogs end up dying.

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