Pet Care Companies Argue That Grooming Is Essential During COVID-19

Local and state governments are struggling with which businesses to categorize as essential and which should remain closed during the COVID-19 outbreak. Sometimes, the answer is obvious. Grocery stores are essential. Medical clinics are essential. Recently, it was ruled that dog daycare and boarding operations are also essential. What about dog grooming salons? So far, the answer is unclear.


Local Governments Ultimately Make the Call

Whether or not a business is allowed to operate during the coronavirus pandemic is a local decision, typically ruled at the state or local level. In New York, for example, state officials told CBS MoneyWatch, “for the time being pet grooming is still a non-essential business except in emergencies where it is medically necessary.” Retail giant PetSmart had closed more than 1,600 of its grooming centers for about two weeks to satisfy state mandates, but on April 6, many of them re-opened.

A spokesperson emailed CBS MoneyWatch, “Unlike hair and nail salons for people, several localities have identified professional grooming as a vital part of keeping pets healthy and have permitted pet salons to continue to operate. However, more than half of our salon locations remain closed to comply with government orders and to respect the wishes of some of our associates who have chosen not to return to work at this time.”

Major Retailers with Grooming Centers Make a Case

Pet supply stores have been allowed to remain open as essential businesses. After all, they sell products that enable our pets to stay healthy, including food and medical supplies. The grooming centers within those stores have been treated differently. However, PetCo and PetSmart are making the case that grooming is an essential business. The basic argument is that grooming is medically necessary.

When a long-haired dog goes too long between clippings, their fur becomes matted. This is not only painful for the dog, but it can also lead to various skin problems. It’s hard to argue against the need for grooming in these cases. It’s also difficult to argue that a simple wash and combing are essential. This kind of grooming could be performed at home. That’s why there is some confusion surrounding whether or not grooming salons should stay open.

AVMA’s Guidance is Being Misconstrued

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) “has advised pet parents to continue to ensure their pet is well-groomed during the COVID-19 pandemic.” PetSmart is using this guidance in its argument for allowing grooming salons to remain open. This was never the intention of the AVMA.

“We were trying to convey the importance of keeping animals clean and longer hair coats brushed so as to avoid matts,” a spokesperson for the AVMA wrote to CBS MoneyWise in an email. “The statement was not intended to address the idea of pet grooming as an ‘essential business’.”

See at-home grooming tips from a professional groomer!

Medically Necessary Grooming Should be Allowed

Hair matting is a legitimate reason to see a professional dog groomer. The longer a dog goes with matted fur, the worse the matting will become. Matting can make it painful for a dog to move and can rip and tear their skin. Further, if dog parents attempt to trim their own dog’s hair, they risk hurting the dog, cutting their skin, and just doing a poor job. The trimming of dog hair to avoid mats or remove existing matting should be allowed.

See What Happens When At-Home Grooming Goes Wrong!

These are definitely unprecedented times. Governments are doing their best to make decisions that are in line with the health and well being of all. Our pups are being considered in this process, but it’s important that we not overburden the system. Pet parents can help by performing at-home grooming such as brushing, combing, and washing. When medically necessary, consult your local groomer to see if they are available to service your dog.


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