If you work as a pet groomer, you already know the importance of staying safe on the job to protect yourself and your clients.
A condition called groomers lung is something that every groomer should be aware of so they can take the proper precautions to prevent it.
Read on for a list of six tips to help you stay safe and healthy, and make sure you’re aware of the risks associated with this pet groomers lung disease.
1. What is Groomers Lung?
When you’re snipping, brushing, and shaving an animal’s fur, it’s no surprise that tiny hairs and clumps of fur are flying through the air. As this material floats into the atmosphere around you, you’re likely breathing some of it in.
If you’re breathing in tiny particles of dead skin and fur, this material can get deep into your lungs, accumulating over time. The human lungs are not capable of “processing” this material, which can lead to a health condition known as groomers lung.
This pet groomers lung disease is a chronic condition that can affect your lung function. The tiny, sharp fragments of hair get deep into the lungs, leaving inflammation and scar tissue behind.
Once you have groomers lung, it will likely affect you for the rest of your life. Some groomers lung symptoms include chronic coughing, frequent chest pain, and general inflammation of the airway. Many groomers also experience lung-related issues like bronchitis or pneumonia.
While it’s not quite as bad for you as smoking, groomers lung is still a very dangerous and difficult health problem to deal with. That’s why protecting yourself in advance is so important so that you can continue doing the job you love without negative effects.
2. Wearing a Mask is Essential
Most pet groomers don’t wear a mask or face covering while doing their job, but it’s one of the most important tools you can use to keep you safe and healthy. Always wear a close-fitting mask that hugs your face whenever you’re cutting pet hair, combing, or blow-drying.
Look for a groomers lung mask made of a fine gauze material so it can filter out those tiny hairs, parasites, dust, and dander that fly through the air. If your mask is too loose or if it’s not made of a fine gauze, these small particles can still easily make their way into your lungs.
A face shield is not sufficient for pet groomers, since it leaves a large gap between your face and the air around you. Look for a soft cloth mask made from a lightweight, moisture-wicking material to keep you cool and comfortable throughout the day.
Ideally, you should wash your mask every single day to remove the buildup of hair and particles. Wearing the same mask each day without washing it can cause you to inadvertently breathe in the hair and other particles that have accumulated on your mask during the day.
Purchase several of the same types of masks so you can wear a new one daily. Just be sure to wash all of the masks you wore during the week according to the washing instructions so you can start fresh.
3. Keep Your Workspace Clean
Another way to minimize the risk of groomers lung is to maintain a clean, sanitary workspace. The less dander and fur flying around, the lower the odds are that you’ll end up breathing some of it in.
Make sure that your work area has adequate ventilation whenever possible. An industrial air scrubber or a strong air purifier is ideal, but you can also use a clipper vac that continuously sucks up the hair as you work, trapping it inside rather than letting it fly around.
Vacuum your grooming area regularly, and sweep the floor clean after each grooming job. When cleaning up fur, wear your mask to help prevent you from breathing in all of those swirling particles.
Brush your client’s fur thoroughly after every grooming and remove as much hair as possible before drying. This is an easy way to keep fur to a minimum since it removes a lot of the loose hair as it grabs onto the brush first.
Fur and hair can also stick to the walls, your desk, and other work areas. Wipe down every part of your workspace thoroughly between jobs so that all of the excess debris and fur is kept to as much of a minimum as possible.
4. Make it Easy to See While Grooming
One unlikely way that you can help prevent groomers lung is to make sure that your work area is bright so it’s easy to see what you’re doing. If you’re grooming dogs on a white or a light-colored table, you may not be able to see all of the darker furs as easily.
If it’s a struggle to see all of the fur flying around, landing on tables, or sticking to the floors, you may need to make some changes. Choose cool colors like blue and gray for flooring, grooming tables, and other surfaces so it’s much easier for you to see the fur and hairs in your work area.
Not only will switching to darker surfaces help you spot flyway fur more easily, but it may also help to reduce eye strain, too. And speaking of your eyes, it also can’t hurt to wear protective safety goggles while you’re working so you don’t end up with a piece of fur in your eyes. Wearing eye protection can also prevent small nail clippings from flying into your eyes, which can cause serious damage.
It’s also important to make sure that your workspace has the proper lighting. Consider adding some under-counter LED lights that you can move to the table while you work so it’s much easier to see. The key is to avoid glare so you’re able to work more efficiently, protect your eyes, and be able to spot and remove excess fur after every grooming session.
5. Groomers Lung Treatment
If you’ve been diagnosed with groomers lung, you’ll need to talk to your doctor about possible forms of treatment. Unlike simple pet allergies, groomers lung is much more severe, long-lasting, and painful.
Your doctor may prescribe you some form of immunotherapy that can help your body develop natural protections against irritation caused by fur and dander. This form of treatment typically involves a series of injections until you’re able to fight off the inflammation and irritation caused by the debris in your lungs.
Depending on the severity of your groomers lung, you may also need to take a variety of other medications to treat the condition. Most medicine prescribed for groomers lung is designed to reduce pain and to help keep your airway open.
There is no definitive treatment designed specifically for groomers lung. However, with the right medication and breathing in plenty of clean air, your symptoms should subside.
6. More Ways to Protect Yourself
If you’re a pet groomer, then you’re probably doing a job you truly love. While grooming pets is a commendable job, it does come with a few pitfalls in terms of your overall health and well-being.
Keep your feet and legs comfortable by making sure you’re wearing supportive shoes with a snug yet comfortable fit. Anti-fatigue mats should be placed on the floor where you stand so that you can reduce the amount of pressure you’re putting on your feet, knees, and legs.
A hydraulic grooming table can make dealing with pets of all sizes and weights much easier. These tools are designed to help lift and hold the dog and provide you with the right height you need to groom different sized pets without straining.
Wear protective gloves to keep your hands safe from cuts and (hopefully not!) bites. There are even bite-proof gloves available that are specially made to protect your hands from the occasional clampdown of a canine’s teeth.
If you have a new client, make sure that they’re at ease with you before you start grooming. The more comfortable a dog feels, the less likely it is that they’ll be prone to feeling scared or agitated, which often leads to nips or worse – serious bites.
Always practice good protective measures whenever you’re on the job. Whether it’s protecting your lungs, eyes, or feet, these simple steps will make your workday and your work environment a much more pleasant one.
Avoid Grooming Dangers
With the right procedures in place, you can protect yourself from the dangers of groomers lung. Always wear a protective mask that’s tight-fitting and made of materials that will filter fur and dander from the air.
Keep your workspace clean, and use a clipper vacuum to remove excess fur while you work to minimize the amount of pesky pet fur that’s floating in the air.
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