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Healthy Dogs

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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.


The industry has evolved very quickly in the last 10 years. The people who don’t keep up are lost. They aren’t getting the benefit of all the advances that are discussed at shows and within professional organizations.


Q: What should I look for when I first enter a grooming shop?

A: Credentials. A master groomer, the certification program I supervise for the NDGA, means the groomer’s skills have been evaluated against a national standard. There are written and practical tests. A master groomer knows safety procedures, health and hygiene practices in the shop, how to handle pesticides, the anatomy of the dog, proper dog handling techniques, first aid. It’s so much more than just how to do a certain trim or cut.

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.

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