Right now, in light of our Heatstroke Awareness Day, which is June 13th, I am focusing on dryer safety. It is my passion and my obsession to make dryers safe for dogs and groomers. Since there has been a huge jump in awareness AGAIN this year about topic since a very high profile death in NJ due to heat, I feel obligated to bring this issue up again.
I was a pet owner with a groomer before I was a groomer. As a result I am acutely aware of the fact that I did not know enough about the process and that YOU as a consumer likely do not know a lot about it either, and do not know what is safe, what is not and how to figure out if the groomer you have chosen is a safe place to leave your dog or cat.
If you are going to talk to your groomer about heat safety, ask "Do you ever use dryer cages or cage dryers" but make sure that you understand the question. If your groomer uses fans on cages then your groomer is using a dryer cage, but is that a concern to anyone? Not likely. What you LIKELY want to know is "Do you use heated dryer cages or cage dryers".
I will be HONEST. Not ALL cage dryers or drying cages are dangerous! Some are, when not used properly (isn't most everything?) but others are no less safe the your ceiling fan at home is. the trick is to educate yourself on what these dryers actually ARE and then make a decision that makes you comfortable in the safety level the salon offers.
The slideshow below shows CAGE DRYERS.
The slideshow to the right show DRYER CAGES
Dogs go INSIDE the cages and the dryers (or fans) are built into them. They can be heated or UNHEATED. They can be CLOSED IN or open, and can be manufactured or home made. The enclosed dryer cages are the ones that are the most dangerous. The dogs placed in them to dry need to be under direct human supervision. In Europe these dryers are very commonly used but in the USA they are not used that much, mostly due to the cost of the unit.
These dryers are cage dryers
They hang on the front of any cage with a wire door, and blow heated or non-heated air into the cage to dry the dog. When used on closed cages they can offer a danger to the pet if the heat setting is used. MUCH CARE and ATTENTION needs to be paid to any dog with these used on them.
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These dryers, when used incorrectly can cause burns and heat injuries.
They should ONLY be used on open cages and with HUMAN MONITORING.
The dryers shown here use heat in different ways and used correctly are perfectly safe.
The force dryer pulls air across the motors and has no heating element but the air will be very warm coming out of the hose. The groomers hold the hose in their hand or uses the clamp in the other photo to hold it for them. No matter WHAT the groomer has their hands, arms, faces in the flow of the air. If it gets too warm they will know it. The dryer DOES have a heating element and is called a Stand Dryer (some groomers call them Stand Up Dryers). They get hot, as high as 175 degrees, and while used in an open room, the heat diffuses into the room air reducing the temp before it harms the dogs, but raising the room temperature. They are used when brushing while drying doing what we call "stretch drying" and "fluffing" coats. The groomer may use one or more of these dryers and the other dryers we disccussed to dry your dog. ASK THEM what they use if you are concerned.
Carpet dryers with or without hoses can be used to dry dogs as well and fans are often used to dry dogs after force drying, just to make the dog completely dry with as little stress as possible, Older dogs, puppies and heavily coated ones may need this type of dryer to ensure they are fully dried safely. Some dogs cannot be dried safely without some type of dryer cage and the choice to do this does not make your groomer a bad groomer, it makes them SMART, taking your pet's safety into account.
Force dryers and stand dryers, like the ones used in hand drying, can raise the temperature of a room drastically and care needs to be taken that dogs, as well as people in those rooms do not overheat. That would mean a stronger Air Conditioner or a secondary AC is in place that can handle the humidity and heat that occurs as a result of drying. Window units may need to be added to ensure the comfort and safety of the pets.
All of the dryers shown above can be used safely. HOWEVER some of them have more dangers involved than others. As a result of that I choose to use ONLY air movers and box fans to dry dogs in cages and force dryers and hand held human dryers to dry dogs by hand in my salon. If I lived in a colder environment than I do (I live in GA) that decision might be different, and just because a groomer chooses to use heat does not make them a bad groomer or a groomer with no thought to your pet's safety.
You are your pets advocate and it is up to you to make sure your groomer is a safe one.
ASK YOUR GROOMER what their protocol is for dogs in dryer cages. They will be glad to answer you.
Ask your groomer:
HOW do they dry dogs.
WHERE do they dry dogs?
What are the precautions they take to ensure your pet has no heat injury?
How often do they check on the animals in the drying area?
Do they have a thermometer to keep track of the temperature in the room where the dryers are located?
You an make a decision if you are comfortable with the level of safety and concern in the shop by listening to the answers you are given. If you are not comfortable do not hesitate to tell the groomer and see what can be worked out. If it cannot be addressed to your satisfaction, I suggest you find another groomer.
Heat can be deadly for dogs and humans. Dogs can suffer heatstroke from very small amounts of heat in an enclosed kennel. In fact, as is being alleged in the most recent Petco incident involving a golden retriever, no heat needs to even be in use for a dog to have a heatstroke. Ask your groomer if they know the signs of heatstroke in dogs and what their protocol is if they see the signs.
Signs of heat stress include:
- Rapid, frantic panting
- Wide eyes, fixed stare
- Not responsive, "out of it".
- Thick saliva
- Bright red tongue, or blue-grey tongue and gums
- Vomiting or Diarrhea
- Extreme thirst
- Staggering, inability to stand
- Collapse or Coma
Since very few deaths occur in grooming shops every year due to heat stress it is likely you will never have an issue but that does not mean you should not ask questions and feel comfortable with your choice.
In the upcoming week there will be several blog posts by many different authors about heat and safety in the grooming shop. I will provide links when available so that you can become more educated in the topic of heat safety and be able to protect your pets and your grooming charges better. Hopefully, we can help you keep your pet safer with this information.