Top Tips On Dog First Aid For Groomers
Dog first aid is an essential skill for all groomers. An accident could occur when working with animals around scissors, water and electrical equipment, and on a high grooming table.
Although some incidents are unavoidable, knowing how to respond and work effectively in these situations can make a huge difference to the dog you’re grooming. And by having the correct equipment to hand, you’ll be ready to deal with any grooming-related injuries, should one occur.
By following our top dog first aid tips for groomers, you’ll find everything you need to know about preventative first aid for dogs and exactly what to do for the dog you’re grooming should an accident happen.
Table of contents:
Where can I learn dog first aid for groomers?
The best way to learn first aid for dogs is by attending a dog groomer’s first aid course. Available both in-person and online, dog first aid courses help to keep your knowledge up to date, so you’re well prepared to deal with any injuries in your salon.
Refresher courses are also available for those who might need to brush up on their skills. Whichever course you choose, look for nationally recognised providers to ensure you’re receiving the best and most factual information to help you safely deal with any injuries.
If you opt for an online course, make sure to enquire if there are videos and images available as part of the course, as it’s very difficult to master dog first aid without watching some demonstrations.
Not only will you learn what to do in an emergency, but you’ll also learn about the best equipment to have readily available in your salon to treat any accidents and injuries.
What should be in my salon’s dog first aid kit?
Alongside your essential grooming kit, you should have a well-stocked dog first aid kit to hand. Here are the things we’d recommend you have in yours:
- Rubber or latex gloves to prevent the spread of bacteria.
- Bandages are perfect for cuts and grazes, so you’ll need to have a variety in your first aid kit. Have stock of both cohesive (self-adhesive) and open-weave bandages available.
- Spray on plasters and sterile wound dressings are necessary for areas you can’t bandage, so you’ll want a good supply of these.
- Haemostatic powder to stem blood flow from the nails.
- Surgical tape will help to hold wound dressings in place.
- Disinfectant wipes for cleaning equipment, humans and dogs.
- Saline pods (or you can use a teaspoon of salt dissolved in a pint of water).
- Antibacterial spray or cream for sanitising wounds and for clipper rash.
- Sterile eyewashes for cleaning shampoo and irritants from the eyes.
- Cotton pads and swabs
- A thermometer and instant cool pack
- Round-ended scissors
- A foil blanket
Remember that all first aid performed in the salon should be preventative until the dog can see a vet. With this in mind, have a vet’s number on speed dial or have it laminated and kept near the salon’s phone in case of an emergency.
If you doubt whether you can treat an injury, always call a vet to seek professional advice first.
What are the most common dog grooming injuries, and how can they be treated?
Thankfully, the most common injuries that occur in the grooming salon are minor and easily taken care of with the right knowledge and equipment.
Here, we’ve outlined some of the more common problems you’ll face and the best practice for caring for those injuries until the dog can visit a vet.
Nicks and cuts from the clippers
As grooming requires close work to a dog’s body using scissors and clippers, it’s only natural to expect some accidental nicks and cuts from time to time. Here’s what to do in this situation:
If there’s any bleeding, start by applying pressure to the wound with a cotton pad. Leave it in place for a few minutes and try to resist the urge to remove the pad to see if the bleeding has stopped, as this will remove the clotting and cause the wound to bleed again.
Once the bleeding has stopped, or if the wound has little or no bleeding, use your salt or saline solution to flush the wound to remove any unwanted debris or fibres left over from the cotton pad.
Apply antibacterial spray to the wound and then, if the affected areas allow for it, follow with a bandage. To bandage correctly, start with a sterile wound dressing, then wrap with a layer of the open weave, conforming bandage, followed by your cohesive bandage.
Avoid wrapping the area too tightly, making sure that you can comfortably slide two fingers between the bandage and the skin; otherwise, you may stop the dog’s blood flow, causing swelling.
Dressings should ideally be removed after 24 hours, so relay this information to the dog’s owner if the dog is still bandaged when leaving the salon.
If the affected area can’t be bandaged, add pressure and clean the wound the same way as before, then use a spray-on plaster to create a barrier from dirt and bacteria to prevent infection.
For significant wounds, or if there’s a noticeable flap of skin, seek veterinary attention immediately or contact the dog’s owner and advise them to do the same.
Blood from a nail quick
If a dog’s nails are black, it can be difficult to locate the quick, which sometimes gets caught if a nail is cut too short, causing bleeding. Similarly, if a dog moves too quickly, this can also result in a nail-quick related accident.
Bleeding quicks can rapidly create a large supply of blood, but they can easily be treated if you and the dog remain calm.
Start by applying pressure to the nail, just as you would with a wound. Then, use your haemostatic powder to stem the blood flow. Reassure the dog, keeping it calm throughout, and you should find that the bleeding should slow and stop relatively quickly.
Clipper rash or a skin reaction
Dogs with sensitive skin can sometimes react to the close shaving of the clippers or certain grooming shampoos. If this happens whilst you’re grooming a dog, the best thing you can do is treat the area immediately to soothe the skin and prevent infection.
Start by cleaning the area with an antibacterial wash, and then apply your cold pack to the affected area to soothe any itching or discomfort.
As with any rash, the area could prompt the dog to scratch, leading to an open wound or infection. Alert the owner to the problem so that they can prevent this from happening by buying a surgical cone or visiting the vet for further advice.
When working with a dog on a grooming table, there’s always a chance that it might jump or fall from the table if restless or temporarily unsupervised.
Although there aren’t any immediate treatments for this, watch the dog for signs of discomfort, such as licking the affected area.
Even if everything seems fine, alert the dog’s owner of the fall, so they can keep their dog still and rested and seek further medical advice and pain relief should any delayed problems develop.
If you notice excessive blinking or red eyes after shampooing a dog, it may be that their eyes are slightly irritated. In this case, rinse the dog’s eyes with the eyewash from your first aid kit or your saline solution to prevent any further irritation.
If you notice any eye problems from an accidental trauma in the salon, advise the owner to seek professional advice immediately to rule out any further problems.
When working with water and electrical equipment, electric shocks can occasionally occur. These are extremely rare, but it’s still important to know how to deal with these situations to prevent further complications.
If a dog chews through an electric cable or sustains a shock from wet clippers, they need to be safely removed from the source of the shock.
For your safety, turn off the electric appliance first, or if this isn’t possible, use a non-conductive object, such as a wooden broom handle, to safely move the equipment away from the dog.
Once the dog is safe, wrap it in a foil blanket, then seek veterinary care immediately so it can be fully assessed.
How to make your salon the safest place for dogs?
Now you know the most common dog grooming related injuries, and how to deal with them, it’s essential to equip both yourself and your salon with all of the tools necessary to perform dog first aid.
Take a trusted canine first aid course tailored specifically to dog first aid in the salon, and make sure you have a well-stocked dog first aid kit that’s fit to deal with any potential problems. To stock up on your essential kit, you can explore our full range of dog first aid at Groomers, tailored specifically to all of your salon’s dog first aid requirements.
Finally, it’s important to remember that no matter how safe your salon is, accidents occasionally occur, so you need to be ready to deal with them in the safest and most effective way possible. Review your safety protocols regularly and stay well-versed in dog first aid to ensure a happy and safe environment for all of your future clients.