Increase Access to Dog and Cat Grooming Services to Improve Animal Health
Grooming practices like brushing, bathing, and nail trimming are essential to maintain the health of dogs and cats. Despite the serious consequences of inadequate grooming for pets, including skin infections, strangulating hair mats, and restricted and painful movement (caused by dense hair mats and overgrown claws), pet owners may not have access to the resources they need to keep their pets healthy. These pet owners may in turn violate animal neglect laws and be subject to criminal charges. This study examines the role of access to grooming services and supplies to support the well-being of pets and the people who care for them.
Researchers used data collected between 2018 and mid-2021 from 5 ASPCA® programs: the ASPCA-NYPD (New York City Police Department) Partnership, the Community Engagement Program, the ASPCA Animal Hospital, Community Medicine, and the One ASPCA Fund. All programs served animals in the New York City area. The data includes 2,600 cases from the ASPCA-NYPD Partnership and Community Engagement Programs and more than 52,000 veterinary appointments from the other 3 programs.
Researchers discovered that during the study period:
Over 13% of the ASPCA-NYPD Partnership’s cruelty cases involved general hair matting concerns and/or strangulating hair mat wounds.
About 5% of Community Engagement cases received grooming-related supplies to support in-home grooming (grooming kits, brushes, nail trimmers, shampoo).
More than 6% of the ASPCA Animal Hospital’s 2018-2021 appointments involved medical grooming or nail trims.
Approximately 4% of appointments seen by Community Medicine veterinarians included grooming-related concerns or services.
Around 5% of appointments scheduled via the One ASPCA Fund resulted in pets receiving needed grooming services
During the ASPCA's grooming services pilot program, all 204 available appointments were filled by clients.
Researchers’ preliminary findings suggest the following:
Companion animals’ grooming needs are an important aspect of their health-related care.
Improving access to grooming services and supplies and improving caregivers’ knowledge of their pets’ grooming needs is likely to improve the welfare of a significant number of companion animals.
As few studies have examined pet owners’ knowledge of their pet’s grooming needs and/or barriers and facilitators of access to grooming services and supplies, continued research in this area is necessary.
There is a great need for research aimed at establishing best practices for implementing programs that provide no-and low-cost grooming-related services and supplies for animals and their owners, particularly among underserved and low-resourced populations and communities.
Improved inter-agency and cross-services collaboration can help to ensure the health and welfare of multispecies families.
Animal welfare professionals should consider including grooming education and resources for pet owners in their community as a way to improve overall pet health and increase access to care.