How to Pick the Best Pet Groomer

Photo by Judy Reinen/ Creative Shotz
Photo by Judy Reinen/
Creative Shotz

The pet groomer profession is booming, as more people than ever take their dogs, cats and even bunny rabbits and guinea pigs to groomers for services ranging from baths and clips to “paw-dicures,” facials and other pampering treatments.

As this is an unregulated industry that does not require licensing or formal schooling, it’s very important to thoroughly vet any groomer to which you entrust the care of your beloved companion animals. In recent years, there have been some cringe-worthy stories in the news about pets that were maimed and even died under the watch of incompetent pet groomers.

Here’s how to go about finding the most reputable pet groomer.

Research Pet Groomers in Your Area

One of the most effective ways to find a great groomer is through word of mouth. You can ask other pet parents, your vet and even pet store owners (provided that they don’t offer these service themselves, as they will be biased) for recommendations.

Thanks to the advent of such Internet business sites as Yelp, Google+ and such, you should also check for any reviews that may be contained on these platforms. You might also check with your local Better Business Bureau, to determine if there have ever been any complaints lodged against a groomer you are considering.

Take Into Consideration the Groomer’s Years of Experience and Training

As with any profession that involves the health and safety of living beings − which pet grooming definitely does − the more experience a groomer has, the more likely they are to have proficient skills and enhanced knowledge of best practices. That’s not to say that all experienced groomers are great, and newer ones are incompetent. But those who have seen and experienced it all are more likely to be sufficiently skilled at working with animals.

And while training is not required, a great many groomers do attend reputable schools or, at the very least, apprentice with established, reputable groomers. There are three pet groomer educational institutions in the U.S. that offer certification: International Professional Groomers Inc., the National Dog Groomers Association of America and the International Society of Canine Cosmetologists. The instructors at these schools are certified master dog groomers, and students are required to take comprehensive practical and written tests in order to graduate.

Photo from there's the National Cat Groomers Institute of America
Photo from the National Cat Groomers Institute of America

As for kitties, which are increasingly seeking grooming services, there’s the National Cat Groomers Institute of America Inc. and the Professional Cat Groomers Association of America, which offer education, training and certification for groomers who wish to service felines.

Otherwise, even those who have been working in the pet grooming profession for a long time take it upon themselves to pursue continuing education and certification in specific practices, and attend trade shows, workshops and seminars to keep their skills fresh and up to date. So always ask about your prospective groomer’s schooling and credentials.

Take Note of the Pet Groomer’s Shop, and Attitude

When vetting a prospective groomer, always pay close attention to the conditions of the salon in which they operate. Is it clean? Do the pet customers appear comfortable? Is it free from funky odors, such as urine and/or feces? Are the cages in which the pets are kept up to snuff? Do the personnel appear calm, focused and confident?

It’s also worth determining if the groomer you are vetting actually likes animals. That may seem like a non-brainer, but a surprising number of groomers don’t care for pets; they are just in it for a paycheck. So a professional that actually loves pets is far more likely to do a good job and care about their well-being.

Overall, trust and pay attention to your instincts, because your pet’s health and safety depend on the competence and care of a pet groomer.

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