BEWARE of Hazards at the Groomer's: Grooming Deaths Cause Concerns

Hey, it's hard being a dog — or a cat — for that matter. All that lying
around during the day, eating biscuits (or catnip), chasing toys, going for walks ... it might not be a 9-5 job, but it still has its demands, which is why your furry, four-legged friend deserves an indulgent day at the spa.

OK, so the "spa" is really called the "groomer's" and there aren't any mud masks or massages, but we're willing to bet that Fluffy and Fido will enjoy a blowout and pedicure — no matter how much they put up a fight.

“I think that groomers are a good thing for our pets,” said Dr. David Bessler, senior emergency clinician at NYC Veterinary Specialists. “Without groomers, they wouldn’t have dignity, and they would have health problems from mats (in their fur). I see a lot of accidents when people try to take grooming into their own hands.”

That said, certain hazards can occur at the groomer's, even if by accident.

1. Self-Hanging

The biggest hazard to worry about is the hanging collar that groomers use to keep dogs (and sometimes cats) still while they cut their fur, Bessler said.

This is the proper equipment to use so they won't "hang" themselves.
This kind of devise actually prevents the dog
from jumping off the table.
“Dogs can’t sit still,” he said. “It can be life-threatening. Sometimes dogs — or cats — will struggle and try to jump off the table. They are usually caught right away, but the way strangulation works, it only takes a second for the airway to be obstructed.”

2. Clipper Burns

“If the pet is clipped a little too close to the skin, it causes pain and irritation to the skin,” Bessler said.

There are some areas on an animal that are more sensitive than others, like the hind quarters, and if that is affected, the animal may be itching quite frequently.

Bessler said he gets a lot of calls about clipper burns, and he usually treats them with a soothing lidocaine spray.

3. Soap in the Eye

Most of the time, the groomer will use a safe shampoo, but if that shampoo comes in contact with the animal’s eye, a corneal abrasion can occur, Bessler said.

The owner may notice the animal’s eyes are red and squinty, in which case he or she should seek attention from a veterinarian, who will treat the condition with eye drops.

4. 'Swimmer's Ear'

Dogs with floppy ears that hang over the ear canal are prone to ear infections, so groomers have to be careful not to get water in them, Bessler said.

“They can get the equivalent of ‘swimmer’s ear,’” Bessler said, “and it’s frustrating for dogs.”

Owners should watch for dogs that are scratching or pawing excessively at their ears, shaking their heads frequently, or have pain when the owner touches the ear. Also, if the owner manages to get close enough to the ear to look at it, the ear will look red in color, Bessler said.

5. Sedatives

Sometimes groomers will give animals sedatives, Bessler said, and he has seen disastrous results occur because of this. If your groomer offers to sedate your pet, say no.

“Sedatives should be administered only by licensed vets or by specific instructions for specific pets,” he added.

Animals have died by overdosing on sedatives given to them by groomers, Bessler said, and in his tenure as a veterinarian, he has seen animals so heavily sedated that he has had to intervene. Sometimes the drugs can be reversed.

6. Dryer Cages

Thomas Bruckner, of Point Lookout, Long Island, lost his dog Bailey, a pug-beagle mix, from heatstroke in September 2008. The dog had collapsed at the groomer’s, shortly after she had been in a dryer cage, Newsday reported in April.

Recommended Reading: 

Do you need a license to be a dog groomer?

Dogs have been killed or injured by hot dryers, sharp clippers or their own leashes if left unattended during grooming, which doesn't require a license or training.

According to, a person does not need a license or certification to be a dog groomer, but certification training instills knowledge and credibility. A person who wants training has the option of going to an accredited institution with certified master dog groomers as teachers. 

NO license, no training, no knowledge needed to become a groomer!

PNM: "On my many visits to PetSmart, sometimes I would gaze into the groomers section to watch the adorable pets. 

I couldn't believe how some groomers handled the poor dogs, by pulling them and in general being extremely rough. I complained to the manager and she said sometimes they had to get aggressive with the dogs because the dog didn't want to listen to the groomer. There's a right way to handle dogs, which obviously they weren't aware of. Several dogs have been injured and burned to death by the automatic drying blowers. (See stories below)...

At a private grooming salon while I was having my dog groomed, I witnessed a dog who had the "hanging collar" around his neck, jump off the table while the "groomer" went to get my dog. I screamed for someone to help him...lucky I was there. If they don't have the proper equipment, run the other way! 

I could go on and on about this problem. Just do your homework before bringing your furbaby to be groomed. Better safe than sorry...
This is what happened when I investigated some of the grooming salons in the area.

After doing my homework  I picked out a few Pet Groomers in my area that had high ratings along with good reviews - and here's what I discovered:

  1. The cost of grooming a very small dog, with no frills added was quoted on the phone, by the owner (who I met at the facility), as one price, however when I picked my dog up, the cost was $15 higher with no sight of the owner. 
  2. I asked for a full groom, which included a bath + the works. When I picked my dog up and brought her home, I noticed that the small mat behind her ear was still there. How can a dog be bathed, dried, trimmed and brushed, and still have that mat still there?
  3. When it was time again for her bath, I took her to yet another "salon", only to find that they never gave her a bath, as her tail fur is very fluffy after a bath, however, you guessed it...NO BATH...her tail fur was as limp as a dish rag.
  4. Good News! I finally found a reputable Grooming Salon who made my little girl gorgeous. Tail was very fluffy along with her fluffy body, nails were perfect and, all in all, a great place to take your pooch - and - it only took a little over an hour. Price is right and people are there are a delight. So, if you're not happy with your present groomer try: Doggie Delight (you'll be delighted with the outcome). 
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