Leading Groomer Stuart Simons makes the case for grooming being classified as an essential service. He warns that trying to trim your own dog in the lockdown could make extra work for the already overworked emergency services.
On the day the UK went into lockdown we were told that our freedom was to be restricted. We were to work from home where possible (with the exception of key workers), only allowed out for one hour’s exercise and essential shopping. Those with underlying health problems and the elderly were told to stay home. All shops, restaurants and bars were closed and vets and doctors started online appointments to keep people at home.
All of these measures were justified and completely understandable, but some professions found themselves in a grey area – are they essential, or not?
One was the dog grooming industry.
When the lockdown started, it was set for three weeks. Now, I would agree that most dogs should be able to cope for that period without a professional groom – so I agreed that dog grooming should have the ‘non essential’ tag.
However, the longer lockdown goes on I am re-evaluating that view.Some dogs were due for their haircut when lockdown started. A correctly maintained hair-bearing dog (that’s a dog whose hair will keep growing like Poodles or Bichons) should visit a professional grooming salon every six weeks. Add three weeks to that and you will start seeing problems.
If these dogs aren’t brushed correctly, matting will start, which if left unattended, could lead to skin problems like hot spots. Blocked circulation 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 five 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 grooming is an essential business, maybe not for all dogs, but most certainly for hair-bearing dogs or those with a combination coat (like spaniels or schnauzers). If these dogs aren’t groomed regularly, then their five animal needs are not being met.
Humans created these hairy breeds and in my view have an absolute 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 safely met, even in times of crisis.
The industry have had little of no direct guidance as to what they should do. Most groomers decided to close, but as animal lovers and professionals, we are now concerned for the welfare of our clients dogs. We know all too well the problems that can occur with unattended coats.
Couple that with social media highlighting how untrained owners are now taking razor sharp scissors to their dogs (not to mention cheap clippers) owners are inadvertently harming their dogs to try to ease their discomfort.
This can lead to injuries which will mean avoidable hospital and vet visits.
Dog grooming is a highly skilled industry involving very sharp blades as many owners are suddenly finding out! Good groomers work tirelessly to hone their skills to provide the dogs in their care with all the animal welfare needs safely.
In conclusion, whether or not grooming is deemed ‘essential’ entirely depends on the type of dog. Hair-bearing dogs and those with a combination coat must be regularly groomed to adhere to the five animal needs listed in the Animal Welfare Act.