Pet professionals who work hands-on with pets often hear about the dangers of zoonotic diseases and how to avoid them. We hear about the horrors of bacterial and viral infections that can leap from animals to humans, or parasites that are just as comfy living on human hosts as they are on the animals we work with. But what about the things that are beneficial to both humans and pets?
We know that there are many products and remedies that are just as good for our furry friends as they are for humans—and sometimes those products are even more beneficial to our pets than we realize.
But why should a groomer know more about a “One Health” approach?
The theory of One Health is a collaborative approach working towards the optimal health outcomes while recognizing the interconnection between people, animals, plants and the environment.
Right about now you might be asking yourself, “What the heck is he talking about?” Let me explain…
In the large scheme of things, the One Health approach is when experts like infectious disease experts, physicians, veterinarians, laboratorians and pet professionals work across human, animal and environmental health to improve the health of people, domestic pets and wildlife. Basically, working together to create products, protocols and environments that are most beneficial to the health and wellbeing of humans, animals and the environment as one.
Now you might be asking yourself, “How does this involve pet groomers?” Well, simply put, by tackling pet grooming from a One Health approach, we can make small changes and adjustments to our daily life in our homes and salons that, on a much smaller scale, can create better environments and health benefits for both the groomer and the pet.
Let’s start with our basic environments. We live and sometimes work in our homes. We also work in salons, mobile units, veterinary facilities and boarding kennels. In these places, we come and go and we have pets that come and go which is constantly exposing our environments and us to possible health hazards. So we use cleaners and disinfectants that we know will kill those nasty germs. But what do those products do to us and to the pets we groom?
Over the last year or so we’ve become painfully aware of the importance of good ventilation and clean environments, and we’ve become diligent disinfectors, but many of the products used in enclosed spaces can cause respiratory issues. And, if you read labels closely, the warnings on some of the products can be of concern.
We use clipper coolants, lubricants and sprays in aerosol cans, and often we inhale the spray as we use them. When we dremel nails, the nail dust floats through the air like the smoke from a cigarette and it becomes part of the air we breathe. And, let’s not forget the hair itself. As we snip and clip and those fine micro bits of hair fly around and stick to our skin, they’re also going into our lungs. All of these things described are not only happening to us, but they’re happening to the pets we groom as well.
So now that I’ve painted a vivid picture of things we may not think about every day that could be causing harm to us and the pets we groom, let’s talk about how to combat the harmful effects of these airborne assaulters. The first thing you can do is improve the quality of the air you breathe. Using an air purifier in the enclosed spaces in which we work can drastically improve the air quality. And, installing a HEPA filter in your air conditioner or furnace is another great way to filter small and toxic particles from the air you breathe. Be sure to frequently clean the air filters on your force dryers and vacuums as well and clean the inside of the hoses regularly. Dander, hair and bacteria can build up in these areas that we often forget when implementing our cleaning protocols. Wearing a mask when you’re using a dremel or when scissoring is a great way to help protect your lungs while grooming.
Next, let’s look at some of the products we use, such as cleaning products, as well as some healthier options that don’t contain harmful chemicals which can be irritating to the lungs. Cleaners with strong-smelling chemicals and disinfectants may be good to treat surfaces, but they’re not always the best products to use while in an enclosed space. Instead, try using disinfectants that are mild-smelling and free of harmful chemicals, which are better for you, the pets you groom and the environment. There are many products on the market that are natural or plant-based and still do a thorough job of cleaning and disinfecting.
When using chemical sprays like clipper lubricants and coolants, be careful when spraying them and avoid using them close to the pets you groom. I like to use a paper towel cupped around the clipper when I use these sprays. The paper towel helps absorb the excess spray and catches the droplets that would otherwise make their way into the air I breathe.
Aside from physical health, mental health is a very important part of staying in good spirits and keeping the dogs we groom comfortable. Using aromatherapy diffusers in a corner of the room can be a nice way to help calm the senses of both you and the pets in your care. Be careful which products you choose, as some oils can be strong and the smell can be overpowering and irritating to pets. There are some great light-scented diffusers that just add a peaceful, calming scent to the air without creating offensive or overpowering smells. There are also diffusers that release pheromones which are said to help calm stressed pets. And a comfortable, relaxed pet sets the stage for a good experience for both the pet and the groomer. The health and wellbeing of ourselves, self-care and mental breaks are a vital part of longevity in any career.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, so don’t feel like you have to make a monumental shift in the way you operate. Small changes can go a long way to a better, happier and healthier you, and the pets you groom. ✂️