QC Pet Studies graduate Casey Bechard works as a full-time dog groomer and shop manager at Off The Leash Pet Grooming in Regina, Canada.

There are a lot of obstacles that you can run into while working at a dog grooming salon. One of those obstacles—which thankfully does not happen often— is getting a dog that has fleas.

Dealing with fleas (and ticks, especially during tick season) is the definition of ‘not fun!’ So, I hope this article will help you when you find yourself in a difficult situation like this one.

Prevention Tactics

flea and tick prevention being applied on a dog

The most important thing you can do to prevent an infestation at your salon is to make sure your doggy clients are treated for fleas and ticks. It’s such an easy thing that the owners can do, and it will help put your mind at ease. Before accepting any new dogs, always ask to see a records of their latest vaccination visit from their vet.

But, in the odd chance that one of your dogs does come in with fleas, make sure you immediately quarantine the dog so that he does not get near any of your other dogs. Request that the owner come in and pick up their dog, and tell them that their pet needs to be treated (and the fleas have to be dead) before you can groom their pet. This is for the safety and well-being of all the other dogs you have in the shop at that time.

I did have a unique case one time, though. An abandoned Shih Tzu was in dire need of a groom… he was one big mat! The lovely people who found him brought him into our salon to treat him to a spa day. Now, when a dog comes in like that, as groomers all we want to do is help. But we had no idea what was under the dog’s coat…

Once we were done shaving the Shih Tzu, we realized that he had a lot of red bugs on him. So our first thought was fleas. But since we already started, we decided to finish the groom. However, we made sure that we kept him quarantined from the other dogs, and that everything we used on him was cleaned and disinfected as soon as we were done. When the owners arrived to get the pup, we told them to make sure he gets treated for fleas and ticks.

What’s the difference between fleas and ticks?

zoom in in a flea

Fleas and ticks are very different. Ticks are mostly present in the spring and early summertime. These annoying creatures like to find warm places to live and blood to suck. So if you have a fluffy dog, you need to be extra vigilant.

Ticks can be hard to spot as they can be small or big. And when pulling them off of your dogs, make sure that you get the full tick off, including the head. It’s easy to accidentally leave a part of the tick in your dog’s skin! If your pet has been vaccinated against ticks, the tick will instantly die when it bites your pet.

Fleas are another story. Fleas are the worse out of the two and they are hard to control once they get into your space. Symptoms of a dog having fleas is mostly itching, typically by the tail and bum area, and sometimes even behind the ears. They might even try to bit at their tail. Your dog may develop red bumps, but most of the time they are hard to identify.

Fleas are also jumpers. If an infected dog has them and stands beside another dog, the fleas can jump onto the other dog that isn’t infected yet. One thing to know about fleas is that they require a host to survive. If they are not living on a host (AKA your dog’s coat), they will start to die off.

How do you quarantine an area infected with fleas?

dog in quarentine

If you find yourself in a pickle and have to deal with a dog that has fleas, it is important to know how to properly keep an area quarantined. This will prevent the fleas from spreading to other areas in your workspace, and to other dogs.

Here are a few ways that I would deal with a situation like this:

  1. Keep all of the tools and brushes that you used on the dog in one place.
  2. Make sure to clean and disinfect all the tools and brushes as soon as you are done. As an extra precaution, don’t use the same tools for the rest of day. Remember, fleas that are not on a host will die on their own.
  3. Keep the infected dog separate from all of the other dogs. You can put him in a kennel when finished.
  4. Make sure to clean all the places that the infected dog has gone. You can even have a little follower clean the affected areas.
  5. Once the dog has left, make sure that the kennel he was in, the table he was on, and the tub he might have been in all get cleaned with bleach. Let the bleach sit for a few minutes before wiping everything down.

How to Speak to Your Clients about Fleas and Ticks

happy dog groomer client

Talking to clients in any situation can be difficult, but this one in particular shouldn’t be a hard topic to bring up. If I suspect that my client’s pet may have fleas, I would simply say, “I noticed that your pet is extremely itchy and has these black specks all over. In my experience, this is a good sign of fleas.” I would also recommend them to bring their pet to the vet, and let them know that the dog will not be groomed until they have been treated.

You can contact your client over the phone or tell them when they come to pick up their dog, either way will work!

I hope that you never have to deal with a bad case of the fleas or ticks! But in the case that you do, I hope you now have the knowledge to handle the situation properly.

Remember, prevention is key! All it takes is a simple conversation to make sure your doggy clients are always vaccinated.

Do you have any other suggestions on how to deal with ticks of fleas? Let us know in the comments below!

Are grooming small and big dogs the same? While the basics of grooming don’t change, there are some unique considerations when grooming large dogs! Check them out here.
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