The next steps: Grooming salons with distancing measures

With pet grooming salons preparing to reopen across the country, it is important to consider how they might be able to operate when the restrictions are eased to re-introduce more services.

Below, we at Groomers, have hypothesised what we believe the new process will entail, in order to remain compliant with social distancing, and dedicate effort to preventing the spread of coronavirus:

The first important aspect of the grooming process to consider in terms of social distancing compliancy is appointments. The salons will need to operate on a strict appointment-only basis to ensure that only one drop off/ pick up is happening at any given time, to keep the contact between people from different households to a minimum.

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We envisage that more salons will shift their focus to the online element of their business to make the administrative side of the appointment streamlined and contact-free.

Technological developments are likely to be made on websites to create an easy appointment scheduling service and to facilitate a form to fill the services your dog would require, along with any special information or injuries that the groomers would need to be aware of, e.g. ‘he is sensitive around his neck’ which may normally be discussed in person at the drop-off.

The online side of the business will also facilitate payment, which alleviates the need for the owner to enter the facility at all, as payment can be taken through the website, and as a back up, the salon owner could accept a bank transfer. 

Once the appointment has been made, the physical drop off of the dog from owner to groomer, again the focus needs to be on minimal contact. We recognise that the welfare of the dog owner and groomer is paramount, therefore the dog would be safely released from their lead by the owner outside of the salon, into a confined area where they can be received by the groomer.

Any additional information required can then be discussed maintaining social distance, ideally without the owner needing to enter the salon and risk contaminating the surfaces.

The lead should be retained by the owner, in accordance with the recommended guidelines provided by the Pet Industry Federation (PIF). Once inside, the animal should then be wiped down with a pet-safe damp cloth, that should then be properly disposed of before continuing the grooming process. 

If a dog is in need of grooming however the owner cannot get to the grooming facility without risking their safety with public transport for example, then an alternative approach may be considered.

If the salon employees have access to a safe vehicle to collect the dog then this method can be deployed as long as there can still be a minimal contact handover, and only dogs from the same household can be in the vehicle at one time, furthermore, the vehicle must be cleaned in between every trip.

If collecting a dog from a person who is shielding, or is suspected of having Coronavirus, then their dog should be collected and groomed after the dogs from other households, and there should be no mixing.

In these, and indeed all cases, groomers and their clients should consider whether the grooming trip is necessary or whether they can stay in contact remotely to provide advice about how to look after the pet’s coat instead. 

Now that the dog is safely in the salon, it will be important to follow guidelines. Where possible there should only be one person to handle a dog at a time, and where more hands are needed they should try as much as possible to keep some distance between them.

There should also be the minimal number of staff in the salon at a time to reduce contact and risk of infection spread. 

The scientific guidance suggests that it is possible for the virus to sit on a pet’s coat and could therefore be passed among humans, all handlers will be required to wear gloves and masks for the beginning of the grooming process, in line with the PIF’s guidance.

Dogs will need to be bathed thoroughly before the grooming session to ensure their coats are clean and ready. Helen Coutts, a member of our team here at Groomers told us ‘I have spoken to many clients over the past month, and they have been using this time to improve and adapt their hygiene practices in the salon, in readiness for reopening.’

Once a dog has been groomed and then handed back to the owner following the same protocol as the drop off, it is crucial to thoroughly disinfect the entire grooming area to ensure maximum safety.

Once this has happened and fresh protective clothing has been adorned then the next appointment would be allowed in, which is why the rigid appointment times must be adhered to, and adding in an amount of buffer time is advisable. 

We see the above process as the most effective method to allow dog grooming and keep pets safe and healthy during the pandemic, while maintaining the safety of the staff and owners involved.  

By Helen Coutts, national sales manager at Groomers

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