Regular grooming is a very important part of caring for your pet and keeping them clean, healthy, and happy. According to the American Pet Products Association, about 67% of American households own a pet, and in 2020 alone, these households spent an estimated $8.1 billion on non-veterinary pet care services, including grooming. While a regular brushing session and bathing may seem enough, it is always in your best interest, as well as that of your pet, to leave your pet's grooming to a professional. A good pet groomer near you can provide you with professional services that ensure your pet maintains a healthy coat and fur while also detecting, preventing, and stopping the further development of any severe or underlying health conditions that you may be unaware of. In addition, pet grooming can also be a potentially hazardous task. In 2019, the Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded 3,720 nonfatal injuries and illnesses, and 11 fatal injuries amongst animal care and service workers. By hiring a professional pet groomer, you mitigate the chances of any injuries occurring during the grooming session, not only to your pet but also to yourself.
Before hiring a pet groomer near you, it is essential to be sure that this person has the right tools to carry out a professional job and ensure that your pet is properly and safely groomed. To do this, you should always ask the following questions:
Are You Licensed, Registered, or Certified?
Although pet groomers in the United States are not typically required to obtain state-issued licenses before legally being able to offer their services to members of the public, some states have certain regulations that apply to them. For example, Connecticut requires any individual that wishes to operate or maintain a pet grooming facility to obtain a state-issued pet grooming facility license. In Michigan, pet groomers who wish to provide flea treatment services are required to obtain a domestic animal pest management license from the state's Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. Likewise, some counties, cities, and municipalities may have local pet grooming regulations that are specific to their respective jurisdictions. Therefore, before you hire a pet groomer near you, it is advisable to find out if any regulations in your area of residence apply to these individuals. You can do this by contacting your local consumer protection agency.
Because pet groomers do not generally require state-issued occupational licenses to operate, it is always a good idea to look out for certification and membership in a trade association when you want to hire one near you. Pet groomers are typically required to pass certain examinations before they can obtain certifications, which in turn lends credence to their claimed proficiency. Likewise, membership in a trade association generally means that these individuals are expected to perform their duties in strict adherence to a code of conduct, and assures you that your pet will be groomed in the most professional way possible. Some trade associations that also provide certification opportunities to pet groomers are the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters, the National Dog Groomers Association of America, the International Pet Groomers Inc, and the International Boarding and Pet Services Association. Note that you should always request proof of certification or trade association membership from any pet groomer that claims to have either or both of these, and verify it with the relevant association.
How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Pet Groomer?
The average cost of pet grooming in the United States is $40 - $90. Pet grooming costs are generally affected by several factors, some of which include the type, breed, and size of your pet, your pet's temperament, and the length of time it takes to complete the grooming. Other factors that can also influence the cost of hiring a pet groomer are your pet's age and current medical state, how long it has been since your pet was last groomed, and your geographical location. Listed below are some cost estimates for common pet grooming services:
- Nail trimming - $5 - $10
- Nail trimming and buffing - $10 - $15
- Teeth brushing - $10 - $15
- Breath refresh - $8 - $12
- Ear cleaning - $10 - $15
- Gland expression - $8 - $13
- Face, feet, and fanny trimming - $10 - $20
- Flea and tick treatment - $8 - $15
- Blueberry facial - $5 - $8
- Paw balm - $5 - $8
- Nail polish - $7 - $10
- Re-moisturization and oil treatments - $10 - $20
- Baths - $25 - $60
- Full service - $45 - $95
There are certain ways that you can stay within your budget when you have to hire the services of a pet groomer and save money in the long run. One way is by inquiring about discounts. Many pet groomers offer different types of discounts to their customers. These include reduced prices for puppy or kitten grooming and discounts on combined services for clients that either cannot or do not want to carry out a full grooming service. Some pet groomers also offer discounts for multiple pet grooming services as well as referral discounts for sending new customers their way. It is always a good idea to find out if the pet groomer you intend to hire provides any discounts that you can take advantage of.
Another way that you can save money on pet grooming is by considering self-service pet grooming. Some pet grooming facilities allow pet owners to use some of their tools and grooming products to bathe and wash their pets, with professional pet groomers on hand to provide assistance for this as well as for more complicated services like nail clipping. Self-service grooming typically costs about 20 30% less than the total cost of having a professional pet groomer carry out the whole job, and they also provide a good opportunity for you to bond with your pet.
What Are Common Pet Grooming Expenses?
The total cost of hiring a pet groomer is generally limited to the actual cost of the grooming. This usually includes the cost of any products, tools, and equipment used, as well as the cost of the groomer's time and expertise. However, depending on the pet groomer that you hire, you may be charged separately for certain services. Therefore, before paying for a pet groomer's services, you should always have a clear idea of the services that this payment will cover and how much any additional services you may require will cost you. These additional services usually include:
- Pick-up and drop-off services: If you are unable to take your pet to a pet grooming facility by yourself, then you may be required to pay an extra fee to have this pet picked up at your home, taken to the facility, and then returned to your home after the grooming services are completed.
- Mobile pet grooming services: Some pet groomers own mobile grooming vehicles with specialized equipment that allow them to carry out certain grooming services like baths, haircuts, and brushing, without requiring you to visit a pet grooming facility. However, you will typically have to pay an extra fee for this convenience.
- Specialized grooming services: Some pet groomers do not include specialized services like flea and tick treatments, medical baths, blueberry facials, and nail polishing in their standard pet grooming packages. In situations like these, you will be required to pay an additional fee for any of these services.
- Tipping: Although it is not mandatory, it is generally good practice to tip your pet groomer to show appreciation for a good job, especially if your pet is difficult to deal with, or requires extra attention. While many people tip between 15% and 20% of the total service, the tip you decide to give your pet groomer should be something you can afford that also properly expresses your gratefulness.
Who Will Do the Work?
When taking your pet to a grooming facility near you, it is important to ensure that the person that will be doing the actual grooming is duly qualified. Pet grooming is not a regulated industry, and so pet groomers do not typically need state-issued licenses to work. However, many professional pet groomers obtain certifications from reputable grooming-related associations, and it is always a good idea to hire a certified pet groomer. In addition to the pet groomer's certifications, you should also check out the condition of the grooming facility. Ask to inspect this facility and make sure that it is clean and well-kept. You should also observe the way the pet groomer interacts with other pets and pet owners. Finally, provide as much information as possible, such as the size and temperament of your pet, as well as any specific types of grooming services that the pet may require, and get confirmation that the pet groomer can handle all these.
What Qualifications Should a Pet Groomer Have?
Although pet groomers typically have a high school diploma or its equivalent, many of these individuals learn their trade on the job by working under the guidance of more experienced groomers. However, some pet groomers also undergo further training by attending grooming schools. In addition to this training, pet groomers are also expected to have certain qualities that are relevant to their profession. These include compassion, patience, physical stamina, reliability, attention to detail, and good customer service skills.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics currently estimates that there are about 193,660 animal caretakers in the country. This figure includes pet groomers, some of whom belong to and also obtain certifications from organizations like the National Dog Groomers Association, the International Pet Groomers Inc, the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters, and the International Boarding and Pet Services Association. Note that neither membership nor certifications from these organizations are mandatory requirements for pet groomers. However, they generally indicate competence, expertise, and professionalism.
Will You Provide References?
It is important to always ask for references before you hire any pet groomer. You can get referrals on good pet groomers near you from fellow pet owners, friends, or online referral pages provided by associations like the International Boarding and Pet Services Association, the National Dog Groomers Association of America, and the American Professional Pet Groomers Association. After getting these referrals and contacting the pet groomers, you should ask them to also provide you with at least three verifiable references. This way, you can get other opinions and information from former or present clients of the pet groomer that can help you determine if this individual is the right fit for you.
Alternatively, you can also get opinions and information on the pet groomer that you intend to hire through several third-party websites that allow interested parties to post reviews and testimonials on pet groomers that they have patronized. These websites, which include Better Business Bureau, Google Review, and Yelp, are also a good resource for finding good pet groomers near you.
Quick Facts about Pet Groomers
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Expert Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Pet Groomers
What Should I Look for in a Dog Groomer?
When looking for a professional to groom your dog, it is always a good idea to make sure that the person you intend to hire is duly qualified for the job. Get recommendations from friends, family, and online resources, and look for pet groomers that are also certified. Once you have narrowed your options down, you should have a one-on-one discussion with your intended pet groomer. The answers that you get to certain questions can help you gauge your level of comfort with this pet groomer and ascertain that your dog will be in good hands. Some questions that you should ask during this discussion are:
- May I see your grooming facility?
- What types of grooming services do you provide?
- Do you have grooming experience with my dog's breed?
- Will I be allowed to stay and watch while my dog is being groomed?
- How will my dog be housed before and after the actual grooming?
- Do you have valid insurance coverage?
- Do you have a first aid kit?
- Do you participate in any voluntary pet grooming-related continuing education programs such as the American Kennel Club's S.A.F.E Grooming Program?
- How do you handle emergencies?
- How much will my dog's grooming cost and do you have any additional costs that I should know about?
How Often Should Dogs Get Groomed?
Many professional pet groomers recommend that you carry out a professional grooming session every six to eight weeks. However, how often a pet should be groomed generally depends on the pet's breed, coat or hair length, and level of activity. For example, long-haired dogs or active short-haired dogs that roll around in the dirt a lot will typically require more frequent grooming sessions than more relaxed dogs that spend most of their time indoors. Nonetheless, it is always a good idea to discuss with your pet groomer and come up with a grooming schedule that will be suitable for your pet.
What Should You Not Do When Grooming a Dog?
While it is always in your best interest to hire an experienced professional to ensure the proper and safe grooming of your pet, it is also common to want to carry out certain aspects of this grooming by yourself. However, some actions can end up causing more harm than good to your pet. As such, if you decide to self-groom your dog or any other pet, you should never do any of the following:
- Never wash the insides of your pet's ears
- Never brush your pet's hair immediately after a bath
- Do not bathe your pet too often. One bath a month is generally enough, except in situations where your vet recommends otherwise
- Never use blunt or dull clippers for trimming your pet's nails
- Never rush nail trimming
Is My Pet Too Old to Be Groomed?
No, your pet is not too old to be groomed. With regular grooming, you can recognize any changes in your pet's health and identify any developing or underlying health conditions. As such, while grooming is necessary during your throughout your pet's life, it is even more important as the pet gets older and more susceptible to illnesses.
How Old Should My Puppy Be Before He Gets His First Groom?
The recommended age for a puppy's first grooming session is around the 10 12 week mark, with many professional pet groomers advising that this first grooming should be done no later than the puppy's 16th week of age. During this time, your puppy should have gotten acclimatized to being handled and also received a second round of vaccination shots.