By Kim Raisanen
Imagine this, your worst nightmare has come true, an animal arrives at your business with an infectious disease unbeknownst to you.
Your staff checked the animal in and placed it in one of the banks of cages in close proximity of other pets. The animal has been there a while waiting for the bather to come for him. It’s the trained eye of that bather/brusher that notices something’s wrong with the pet. They alert you. Thoughts race through your mind that all pets in your care are now exposed to it! Let’s take a deep breath and look at this problem. Yes, Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis (Kennel Cough) is a highly contagious respiratory disease that can run rapid in boarding facilities, dog shows, and doggie day-care centers, but it’s not as likely to spread in the grooming environment if we are on the lookout for it. This is one example of why it’s so important to know what is walking through your door and how cleaning our salons is so important.
For the sake of this article we are going to focus on the felines in our businesses not dogs, even though I love them too.
I make it a point to speak with each owner during my five minute assessment, while their cat is still in the carrier, about the condition of skin and coat. I take the time to observe the cat looking for signs of illness, lumps, bumps and physical sensitivities. If the cat is sneezing, has congested nasal passages or just looks and/or acts “off”, all telltale signs of illness, I may recommend a trip to a veterinarian based on my assumptions. Notice I didn’t say diagnosis.
In some instances, owners may not recognize the signs of illness until it’s too late and they bring us a sick feline. It’s important to remember that for the safety of the cat, yourself and that of your staff, you have the right to refuse grooming of any cat.
There are some owners out there that think groomers are comparable to veterinarians. Believing that we will diagnose and remedy their pets’ health problems. We need to educate our clients for the health and safety of their cats. In doing so, you should recommend a veterinarian visit for any problematic issues you come across while the cat is in your care, especially if disease is suspected.
In my business, I groom by appointment only and have no more than one cat in my salon at any one time. If I have a run over and someone hasn’t picked up their cat after their designated time, I have a holding room for that cat. No cats are in the same room at the same time. I know that it’s not possible to do this in the larger, busier grooming establishments, but because diseases can be transmitted from animal to animal, we should do our utmost in keeping animals away from each other. It goes without saying that pets should not share a water dish or litter pan in your salon.
Even though transmission of diseases are rather low in the grooming salon, they can be passed on by saliva, feces and projectile nasal discharge.
Disease transmission in the grooming environment can be reduced even further by keeping all cats in their own carriers, not stacking them on top of each other, keeping the owners there until you do a five minute assessment, and then work on one cat at a time.
Cleanliness goes a long way in preventing illness. We can do this by keeping our salons in tiptop shape and as sanitized as possible. I always do a heavy cleaning at the end of each day. I use a disinfectant that can be used and wiped away after a few minutes; totally eliminating the possibility of allowing a cat near chemicals. I also sanitize my blades, shears, combs and nail trimmers in between cats and let them air dry. Vinegar and water are my mainstay cleaning arsenal during the day, unless I suspect an infected cat.
My clientele includes special needs cats such as having asthma, diabetes, heart failure, renal failure, blind, deaf, 3-legged, FIV and FIP positives…the list goes on and on. I take pride in how I run my business and I am a trusted authority to my clients.
I always ask about any medical issues including infectious diseases and if I need to know about medications that may be necessary to administer while their pet is in my care. They give me the inhalers for the asthma clients, corn syrup for the diabetics, etc…and I’ve been professionally taught how to use them.
If owners stay for the grooming, they witness me disinfecting my tools and table after their cat is safely back in its carrier. This reassures them that I really care about my salons hygiene. I also switch my grooming smocks between cats. In addition to constantly cleaning my work area, I have air filters running 24/7, and fresh outside ventilation. Many of my clients have complimented me on my salon’s cleanliness and it make me feel good to know I’m doing my best for my customers and that they appreciate me.
In this industry our name is our business. Nothing will kill your salon faster than negative word of mouth about your service and uncleanliness. We need to keep our reputations as impeccable as we can. I promise, if you take the few extra steps needed to spruce up and disinfect your salon, you will be complimented by way of happy return clients and their furry kids. ✂