Insights and Resources on Improved Access to Grooming for Overall Animal Health
Grooming is an important aspect of basic pet care for most companion animals. The consequences of not receiving routine grooming care can pose significant risks to animals' health and well-being. The ASPCA’s new research study examined factors and services that operate as barriers and facilitators of pet grooming among clients of a subsidized grooming service program in New York City, as well as the impact of a tailored nail-trimming demonstration on clients' confidence trimming pets' nails.
Collectively, the results of this study indicated that improving access to grooming services, facilitating access to grooming supplies, and improving caregivers' knowledge of their pet's grooming needs may be likely to improve the welfare of a significant number of companion animals served by subsidized animal welfare program services. To develop and implement effective programs, it is important to understand what factors are related to pet owners' access to grooming services and supplies, awareness of their pet's grooming needs, and their ability to groom their pets.
Researchers extracted retrospective data from the ASPCA’s five New York City programs related to grooming, including appointment notes, appointments with medically necessary grooming or nail trim, etc.). Additionally, 167 clients whose pet(s) received grooming services between December 21, 2021, and April 22, 2022, participated in the study.
Eligibility for receiving services was determined prior to completing the study survey. ASPCA staff emphasized that participation was entirely voluntary and would not impact the services or quality of care provided. Clients who chose to participate were able to choose whether they wanted to complete a Spanish- or English-language version of the survey. After a client consented to participate, program staff explained the purpose of the survey, made efforts to ensure privacy and confidentiality of the survey responses, and offered clarification or assistance in completing the survey, as needed.
For clients receiving services at the CVCs, the survey consisted of two parts: a pre-groom survey (12 questions) and a post-groom survey (six questions). The pre-groom survey was given to the pet owner during the appointment check-in process and assessed four content areas:
pet and owner demographics
the pet owner's view of the role of grooming in relation to maintaining their pet's health
the owner's confidence performing basic grooming tasks
barriers they experience to grooming pets
After the grooming service was completed, the post-service survey, which included two content areas:
confidence level related to nail trimming
supplies and supports that would help with maintaining grooming at home
Here are some of the findings:
92% percent of the sampled audience reported experiencing at least one barrier to maintaining their pet's grooming (e.g., income, transportation).
46% of the sampled audience experienced three or more barriers to providing grooming.
Cost was the most frequently reported reason for decreasing grooming service use (31–41%), followed by the lack of available services (15–22%).
91% of the sampled audience endorsed that at least one supply/support (e.g., brush/comb, behavioral support) would be beneficial in maintaining their pet's grooming needs at home and more than half reported that three or more supplies/services would be beneficial.
45% of the sampled audience expressed fear of hurting their pet as a barrier to grooming at home.
Income and cost of services or supplies serve as primary barriers to grooming pets, along with several other factors including fear of hurting the pet, transportation, and pets' behavioral issues.
Findings suggest the following:
Owners are more confident in bathing and brushing their pets but less confident in trimming nails or cutting hair.
Providing just one grooming supply/support (e.g., brush/comb, behavioral support) would be beneficial in assisting pet owners with their pet’s grooming maintenance.
Nail trimming demonstrations can significantly increase pet owners’ confidence in performing this grooming task at home.
One-time grooming service and/or demonstration is just one aspect of a spectrum of services needed to prevent grooming-related omissions of care. It is important that low- and no-cost grooming programs that focus on underserved communities ensure that clients also have the support and supplies needed to continue to maintain grooming at home and that animal welfare professionals work collaboratively with community members to reduce barriers to pet owners' access to these services.
Further examination and identification of factors (e.g., how the service is delivered, pet owners' individual and situational characteristics) that contribute to lasting impacts of nail trimming demonstrations and other grooming services on pet owners' maintenance of pet grooming may help identify specific methods and subsets of clients who benefit the most from these services.