By Dr. Michael Fleck DVM
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 300,000 cases of Lyme disease are diagnosed in the U.S. each year. This number represents an increase of ten times figures earlier reported by the government agency. Most of these cases were diagnosed in 13 states, primarily in the Northeast and Upper Midwest. Additionally, Antech Laboratory, a notable blood and tissue pathology testing facility, reported that up to eight percent of people and pets in Florida are infected with Giardia, an intestinal parasite. No part of the country is immune from epizootic diseases.
Why is this information important to the professional groomer? Because both Lyme disease and Giardia are examples of epizootic diseases or diseases transmittable between pet and human. Lyme disease is transmitted by ticks and Giardia by direct contact with individuals (pets or man) shedding the parasite. As a professional groomer, your health and that of your staff, your client’s pets, and your business could be at risk.
To combat these health problems and preserve the integrity and reputation of your grooming salon, the professional needs to take better precautions in handling the pets coming in daily for their grooming experience. Establish a spa policy and train your staff to take a few minutes and ask the pet owner a few simple questions before admitting the pet into your grooming facility. Questions should include (1) Has your pet been feeling well? (2) Have you seen fleas or ticks on the pet? and (3) Has the pet had loose stools? If loose stools or diarrhea are present, the pet should probably not be groomed that day. You can recommend immediate veterinary attention to your client and explain a reschedule can help their pet avoid stress.
Since both you and your clients have time constraints, especially in the morning hours, you might want to have all of your clients sign authorization, which allows you to administer a Capstar tablet and give their pets a natural ingredient-based flea and tick shampoo with, of course, the appropriate additional fees, listed.
Furthermore, before caging the dog or cat and initiating the grooming process, it is extremely important to follow up with your own evaluation of the skin and peri-anal region for the presence of fleas, ticks, and loose stools. If fleas and/or ticks are present on the pet, the infested pet should be housed separately from the other grooms for the day, and the isolated housing area must be disinfected and treated for eradication of all the fleas and/or ticks left behind after grooming. Moreover, don’t forget to treat the bathing area as well. Lastly, before releasing the pet, a thorough discussion with the pet owner should include insect management control for both the pet and the pet’s environment (home, car, and yard).
Both Lyme disease and Giardia may be life-threatening diseases if undetected and untreated. These two diseases represent only a small number of epizootic diseases that the groomer needs to be aware of.
For more information about this topic and others, register for my Go Meetings webinar in October at www.epi-pet.com or by calling 866-204-0002. Attendance is based on a first come, first serve basis.
Michael C. Fleck, DVM is the Director of the Animal Medical Center of Bradenton, Florida. He is the President of Epi-pet, creating skin treatment and ear cleaning products. He is a journalist and lecturer, specializing in pet skin issues.