This is another question that is commonly asked. Most people expect that the job is more dangerous than other job types, but I don’t agree. There definitely are certain dangers involved, but I think that any job will entail some level of danger. The important thing is to make sure you are properly trained on the current safety procedures and that you are comfortable working with large &/or dangerous animals. The most common dangers are listed below along with a brief explanation of why they pose a risk.
Bites or Scratches
The first danger that you might think of is the possibility of getting bitten or scratched. This is a very real danger that accompanies dog grooming and it can happen at any time. Even dogs that seem to be docile and kind natured can snap without warning. For example, I was working with a pit mix that had been rescued from an abusive owner. The dog only had three legs, but was the sweetest thing I had ever seen. She played well with the other dogs and loved getting attention. I had finished her bath without problems, and was going to clean out her ears. When I got close to her with the cotton ball she went crazy! Luckily, there were three other people in the room who jumped in to help and no one was seriously injured. I continued to bath that dog every Tuesday, but never again cleaned the ears with cotton. She eventually got to where she would let me clean them with a washcloth, so that’s what we did. You never know a dog’s past, and you never know what is going to push them too far. You must always be on your toes.
As dog groomers, we work with many tools that can be dangerous. Obviously the most self-inflicted wounds come from scissors. I once saw a groomer accidently drop their scissors and they landed straight through their shoe and into their foot. The scissors groomers use are not like your everyday household scissors. They are much, much sharper. It is not uncommon to hear of groomers getting skin caught in nail clippers or hair caught in an electric file (Dremel) either. When you are busy it becomes easier to ignore common safety procedures and accidents happen.
This is one danger that most people do not consider when they think about doing dog grooming as a career. When you are working with many dogs a day, you are inhaling all of their pet dander. Especially noticeable during hydraulic drying, pet dander can be a major health risk to dog groomers. Also, when you are cutting the hair, you are inhaling tiny, sharp pieces into your lungs. All of this can add up to major respiratory damage for those who have been grooming dogs for many years. Many establishments are now requiring that their groomers where protective masks that prevent the dander and hair from being inhaled. (I am going to be honest, I never wore masks, but now years later, I wish that I had)
Cross Species Contamination
This is one of the less common dangers of dog grooming, but I wanted to add it so that you would be aware that it is possible. There are obvious disease types that can be transmitted to humans, such as rabies, and there are also lesser known infections and diseases. For instance, if a dog comes in for you to groom and you notice that it has small, inflamed red bumps on the underneath of the belly, it is likely that dog has a staph infection. If you suspect staph infection on a dog, quickly wash your hands, and put on gloves. Also, to avoid infecting another dog, thoroughly sanitize all of the equipment you used before using it again. Staph infection in dogs is fairly common, especially in the hot summer months. In addition to infections and diseases, dogs can also share their pests. Check yourself for ticks and fleas after working on an infested dog.
Stress on Body
I placed this one last on the list because many people do not think about it being a danger. If you speak to any groomer, however, this is probably the first danger they will list. It is very, very common to hear of slipped discs, carpel tunnel and joint damage in a groom shop. This is the reason that many older groomers will no longer work on large dogs. It is not that they don’t like large dogs; they simply do not have the strength and stamina left to do it. This is also the reason that if you are a young groomer you will likely be booked solid with large, long haired clients. Carpel tunnel comes from the years of tedious brushing and scissoring, while back and joint damage are caused by repetitive lifting of medium to large dogs.
If you are currently grooming, or are thinking about becoming a dog groomer, it is important that you keep these dangers in the back of your mind. If you plan to groom for many years, it would be wise to set yourself up with a plan for the future. What will you do if you become unable to work on certain dogs, or even groom at all? Remember that groomers are very unlikely to be receiving insurance and other benefits, such as retirement. If you want to ensure that you are taken care of should anything happen, look into a good insurance policy or policies from companies like Aflac.