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How do we keep our salons free of parasites? It is important to know and understand all you can about these pests and to educate your clients and keep a clean pest-free salon. Educating the client is the first and most important step. I rarely saw cases of fleas or ticks in my salon or mobile because I made sure the client was aware.

For your dog client’s health and happiness, as well as keeping other animals on your watch safe, it’s extremely important to keep the shop free from parasites such as fleas and ticks. While the pet parent is responsible for this at home, many don’t understand or know much about it. Fleas and ticks can pose serious health issues for your client. Fleas and ticks feed off the host animal’s blood. Tick paralysis is caused by a neurotoxin in the tick saliva, causing paralysis in the animal. Tick diseases such as Lyme, a tissue disease, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever or Anaplasmosis—both infections of the blood—can cause serious harm. In some climates in the North and Midwest, these parasites are prevalent in spring and summer, but in some climates like the South, it is a year-round problem. Here are the three keys to keeping your shop safe and your clients happy, healthy and parasite free!

Client Education

Consider creating a brochure or handout with the information below for all clients. I would also add this information to my website and a file on my social media page. Again, at-home care is the most important step.

Excessive licking or chewing, hot spots, restlessness and, in severe cases, anemia are all signs parasites are present. Look for fleas with a flea comb; they are very small, brown and a fast-moving insect. They do not fly, but they are serious jumpers. Fleas can be anywhere on the pet, and you will see flea droppings on the skin that look like specks of pepper. Your pet’s skin can appear red and irritated, usually from the scratching.

Ticks look like a spider, they have eight legs, and they range in size, about the size of a sesame seed to about ¼ inch when fully engorged. Ticks can be anywhere on the pet, but pay special attention to the ears, between the paw pads and the anal area. You are most likely to find ticks by feeling them under your pet’s fur. On the skin you may see a red “bull’s-eye mark,” which is a sure sign that a tick had attached and was feeding. The skin can become irritated, making the pet scratch.

Prevention at Home

In terms of chemicals, there are sprays, which can be used on surfaces such as couches, floorboards, dog beds and in the yard, as well as topical solutions, which you will apply to pet fur. These contain insecticides to kill the fleas or ticks.  Oral preventatives, prescribed by a veterinarian, are given to the pet monthly. Each has its own side effects, and it is best to consult with your veterinarian to determine what you should be using.

Natural products include a wide range of sprays, powders and oral natural parasite preventatives. Sprays usually have an essential oil component, which can kill or deter pests. Powders sometimes include diatomaceous earth along with natural oils made in powder form. Oral natural preventatives come in many forms, such as tablets or treats. Again, it is best to consult your veterinarian to determine the right choice for your pet.

Be sure to treat indoor and outdoor at home and on pet. If you take your pet in your car, it is a good idea to treat here, too.

Knowing the life cycle of fleas and ticks is important; just because you have killed the active parasites, there may still be growing larvae and eggs that are ready to hatch. It may take several weeks to months to get rid of them all. It’s also wise to know the health issues caused by fleas and ticks, such as tick paralysis, tick disease and anemia.

Importance of Grooming

Either at home or at the groomer’s, detection and eradication of parasites all year long is the best defense. Incorporate regular grooming into a dog’s routine and use the tools that will keep the pet healthy and happy.

Combing and brushing not only keep a pet looking great but also help find those pesky parasites. The use of a flea comb will also help rid the pet of fleas. Cleaning ears and knowing parasite hideouts such as the paw pads and genital areas are always good ideas. Depending on a dog’s coat, a short trim or a summer shave down can be a great way to keep that hair manageable so that the brushing, maintenance and parasite detection is much easier.

With the client onboard for treating and preventing pests, you will still get occasional pets with parasites. As a business owner, make sure you take all precautions. If you check in a pet with parasites, they should go right into the tub; don’t let them hang around in a cage. Flea shampoo should be used by following manufacturer’s directions. I also suggest Capstar. This is a pill the pet owner will give before the animal comes into your shop. It will kill fleas within 30 minutes and will last 24 hours. When the pet comes into your shop, you will not be dealing with a live infestation. I do know some salons require the client to use Capstar prior to appointment. Always have the client check with their veterinarian prior. After your appointment with a pet that has parasites, you will want to thoroughly clean your shop or mobile. In my shop, I always did a monthly service with an exterminator, just for extra measure. We all know that a pet can pick up parasites anywhere they go; the last place you want them to get parasites is from your business!

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