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Vets and Groomers Collaboration

Tuesday, 28 September 2021 09:17 AM

Groomers and Vets

Working together for a better future

My little Bichon Frisé Molly recently got diagnosed with Glaucoma in her left eye, the pressure started to mount up and her behaviour began to change. A really happy and healthy, all be it elderly, Bichon suddenly turned in to a depressed, confused and unhappy dog. She has been blind in that eye for many years but it had never bothered her, dogs are so resilient but my little Molly is on another level. She is incredibly brave and shrugs off pain and illness easily which is why, when her behaviour started to change, I knew it was urgent. 

Having called my local Vets I was greeted with a recorded message explaining that the surgery had closed along with 2 other local ones within the same group. Immediately concerned, I went to the website and discovered that the emergency surgery that we would use out of hours was also unmanned due to a staff shortage. I was a little bit dumbfounded and quite frightened for the welfare of my dog. The Vets that we use is quite a large conglomerate and has 5 surgery’s locally. Hastings, St Leonards and Bexhill on Sea are dog loving communities and are now faced with all the dogs that are on the books of this vet group being squeezed in to 2 small practices. This obviously in turn makes it very hard to get an appointment. 

Why is this happening? 

Well, at first I thought it was just our local towns within this Vet Group that was effected but the reality is a much bigger problem. This seems to be country wide. 

In 2015 there were 8.5 million dogs which is equivalent to 24% of UK households owning a dog, in 2021 however, this has increased to 12.5 million dogs in the UK equating to 33% of households owning a dog. Couple this with the now shortage of vets and we have a very very big problem.

Brexit has forced a huge number of amazing vets away from our shores. The word is that they felt undervalued and found a better option in neighbouring countries. Not great for our pets. 

Then of course there is the problem with IR35. The self employment rules have changed and it has forced vets to reconsider their place in the British workforce because they don’t see how they can work within the limits of employment that these new rules present. 

There has never been a more important time for the pet industry to come together for the greater good and support one another. 

Covid19 and the Pandemic saw the canine population grow exponentially. People that have never considered pet ownership suddenly decided that they wanted a furry friend to look after. Grooming salons all across the land are currently jam packed with dogs waiting for their first hair cuts. My salons are fully booked until well in to November and that is with 4 groomers at each venue. 

There is a slight disconnect though. Whilst sitting at the vets waiting for Molly’s eye to be checked, I noticed people waiting for nail clipping and skin treatments. These along with Ear cleaning and external anal gland expression used to be carried out by groomers but in recent years, The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons have stipulated anal gland and ear plucking procedures should be carried out by vets or vet nurses. 

This puts an even greater demand and pressure on our vets. 

Fully qualified groomers really should be helping the Vets with the problem with supply and demand. Triage works very well in human hospitals and could work just as well in the veterinary sector. A simple nail clip, ear clean or anal gland expression would be a walk in service to a professional groomer and would take no more than 5-10 mins to carry out. This would leave the Vets & Nurses to concentrate on the major problems that they are faced with on a daily basis. 

The mindset we have when, as humans, we deal with an itchy foot should apply to our pets. If I was to get an itchy foot, I would firstly visit my chemist for some athletes foot powder or similar. If the chemist thinks it’s something that requires more attention, then I would go to my Doctor. This should be how we view our pets health and well-being. Obviously, I am in no way saying that groomers can diagnose but they can help with flea baths, and minor external discomforts. 

The Groomers Spotlight is a register of highly skilled, professionally trained & qualified groomers that could help to alleviate some of the workload from the Vets in the UK. Simple referrals from vets receptionists to local qualified spotlight groomers for anything external could be the thing that helps to alleviate this nationwide problem.

Dog owners should be able to rely on the fact that there is someone to help when their pet needs attention. It shouldn’t be questioned. Our pets are worth the trouble because no pet should suffer because of bad human choices. 

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