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Are Groomers Essential?

Friday, 17 April 2020 10:31 AM

On the 24th March 2020, the United Kingdom entered an unprecedented era, Not since wartime in our country have any similar restrictions been in place. Yes we were warned, we were even shown by the examples of other countries, but were we ready? No! On that day the UK went in to Lockdown. We were told that our freedom to live the lives that we have become used to was to be restricted. We were told to work from home where possible (with the exception of key workers), we were allowed out for an hours exercise and we were allowed out to purchase essential shopping. Those with underlying health problems and the elderly were told to stay home. All shops, restaurants and bars were closed down and Vets and Doctors started online appointments in an effort to stop people leaving their homes. 

All of these measures were absolutely justified and completely understandable but typical-ly there were certain industries that were left in the dark. One such industry is the Dog Grooming Industry. 

Groomers were closed at the same time as retail and that is perfectly understandable. The spread of this hideous disease needs to be stopped and Grooming is seen as an industry that isn’t essential. But the question is… 

…Is grooming essential? 

When the lockdown started, It was for an initial period of 3 weeks. Now, I would agree that for 3 weeks most dogs should be able to cope and so I would agree to the non essential tag. However, as time goes on and the 3 week deadline has come and gone, it has caused me to re-evaluate my opinion. 

Some dogs were due for their haircut when the lockdown started, a correctly maintained hair bearing dog (thats a dog whose hair doesn’t grow to a pre determined length, but in-stead grows and grows, just like ours…Poodles or Bichons) should visit a professional grooming salon every 6 weeks, add 3 weeks to that and you start getting problems. If these dogs aren’t brushed correctly, matting will start to occur, matting that, if left unat-tended, could lead to skin problems like hot spots, blocked circulation and can also be a huge factor in heatstroke even in springtime conditions (not just summer). 

Pet professionals have to follow guidance given to them by the relevant authorities. As professionals they have to adhere to the 5 Animal Welfare Needs. These are: 

The Need for a suitable environment 

The Need for a suitable diet 

The Need to exhibit normal behavioural patterns 

The Need to be housed apart from or with other animals

The Need to be protected from pain, suffering and disease

Now it is the last point that guides me to believe that in actual fact they are indeed an es-sential business, maybe not for all dogs that they tend to but most certainly for hair bear-ing dogs or those with a combination coat (combination coats have hair and fur, like Span-iels or Schnauzers). If these dogs aren’t groomed regularly, then they are not adhering to the 5 animal needs. As humans, we have created these breeds and in my view have an ab-solute responsibility to make sure that they are cared for in the very best way possible. We should be able to ensure that their grooming needs are met, even in times of crisis. 

The industry have had little of no direct guidelines as to what they should do. Groomers are listening to the news with their brain and are staying closed, but as animal lovers and professional, are concerned for the welfare of their clients as they know all too well the problems that can occur to an unattended coat. 

Couple that with social media highlighting how untrained owners are taking razor sharp scissors to their dogs (not to mention cheap clippers) and are potentially inadvertently harming their dogs whilst trying to ease their pets discomfort. This will lead to potential injuries which in turn could lead to avoidable hospital visits and also pet injuries which could impede our essential Vets at this time of national crisis.

Dog grooming is a highly skilled industry as many owners are suddenly finding out. They work tirelessly to hone their skills so as to provide the dogs in their care with the 5th ani-mal welfare need. 

Grooming IS essential but it is absolutely true that some dogs can go for much longer than others without their groom. 

In conclusion, the ‘essential’ title is entirely dependent on the type of dog that groomers have been asked to look after. Hair bearing dogs and those with a combination coat MUST be regularly groomed for the industry to adhere to the 5 animal needs. 

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