Pet Drying: More Than Hot Air
By Kathy Hosler
Pet dryers are one of the most important pieces of equipment that a stylist uses. They are essential for producing a beautiful groom. They also allow you to make wise use of your time, while you provide a safe and stress free experience for the pets you groom.
To get the optimum performance from any dryer, you’ve got to know how to properly use it. However, some of the most important and time saving procedures to remove the excess moisture from a pet’s coat happen before you turn the dryer on.
The All-important Bath
Of course you want every pet that you groom to go home squeaky clean. All the dirt, grease, and skin flakes must be removed from its skin and hair to facilitate quick and complete drying. Have you ever tried to dry a Cocker ear that was still a little bit greasy? The hair doesn’t want to dry, and it doesn’t look clean.
Get the Suds Out
After the pet is washed, they need to be thoroughly rinsed. Then, remove as much water from the coat as possible by using your hands to squeeze out the excess while the pet is still in the bathtub. In shorter coated breeds like Labs, using a squeegee (going with the lay of the hair) will quickly remove a lot of water.
Pets with longer hair should be towel dried. Do not rub the coat vigorously, that can tangle the coat and make your job more difficult. Instead, press the towel against the coat and blot and squeeze to pull the water out. Place a couple of moisture magnets or other type of water absorbers on the pet, then wrap it with a thick towel. Many groomers refer to this as a burrito wrap.
You can then place the pet in a cage for anywhere from five to twenty minutes to allow as much water as possible to be pulled from the hair. While the wrap is extracting moisture, you can be working on another client. Once you have removed as much excess water from the coat as possible, it’s time to turn on the dryer—well, not just yet.
Protect the Pet
Most groomers use an HV (high velocity) dryer to quickly and efficiently dry pets, but there are a few things that you need to know first.
HV drying can produce a lot of noise, and it can be very stressful for some pets. Place cotton in their ears before drying. (Remember to remove it when you are finished). In addition, a lot of groomers find that placing a Happy Hoodie on pets before they turn on the dryer really helps keep them calm and lowers their stress during the drying process.
Some pets cannot tolerate force drying. If you Google ‘dryer induced seizures in dogs,’ you can find many examples of pets that react badly to being force dried. If you are drying a dog and it becomes agitated, anxious, or distressed—stop immediately and allow it to calm down before continuing. These dogs may have to be air or cage dried, and then finished with a stand or fluff dryer.
As important as it is to protect the pet’s ears during drying, it is even more important to protect yourself. For a pet, the drying process occurs only once every few weeks. A groomer is exposed to the noise all day, every day.
If you dry 8 pets a day, that’s 40 per week, and over 2,000 per year. Drying that many pets can have a dramatic and devastating impact on your hearing. Many groomers suffer hearing loss or tinnitus that can be directly linked to the constant noise of the workplace.
In addition, when you are using a high velocity dryer, you should always wear a face shield, goggles, or safety glasses to keep debris from blowing into your eyes. And, a face mask can be a real lifesaver to keep you from ingesting or breathing in floating particles, hair, and any other particulates the HV dryer may put into the air you breathe.
You may think that all this is not necessary, but when you are drying thousands of pets, you have to take precautions to protect yourself too. And when you make it part of your everyday routine, they take only a minute or two to complete. So do the prep, turn on your dryers, and make finishing those pets a breeze! ✂