Blowing Hot Air
Finding the right dryer to suit a grooming salonís needs is a matter of understanding petsí needs and the equipment options available.

As in any business, grooming salons find it vital to have the right equipment to get the job done. Almost any dryer marketed for pet groomers will function to get the animal dry, but utilizing the right dryer can save time, money, and a lot of wear and tear on both the employees and their four-legged clients.

There are as many ways to dry dogs in this profession as there are groomers, and no way is absolutely perfect. Groomers should start by staying on top of industry innovations to make sure they have the best options available. Thirty years ago, high-velocity dog dryers were a new innovation and not widely used yet. Most stylists hand dried every pet using stand dryers. We are lucky to be grooming in an era of many choices in high-performance drying equipment of every type and for every purpose imaginable.

Force dryers depend on moving air at high speed to both blow water off the dog’s hair and help evaporate it. Grooming has changed and evolved over the years. No longer do most stylists brush to perfection before bathing; rather, we depend on products and dryers to help demat before we ever touch a brush to the animal. Using a force dryer in the tub on a lathered-up shedding breed such as Samoyeds, German shepherds or sporting breeds can do most of your brushing for you. The soap helps the dead coat slide right out, and it is easier to rinse the soapy hairy mess from the tub walls than it is to deal with the shed hair blown all over the place. Clean, dry coat is easier to brush, and it’s easier on both the groomers and the animals since less brushing and tugging is needed.

High-velocity dryers used with expertise help demat by moving tangles down the hairshaft to the end, where they brush out readily. Force, or high-velocity, dryers are a real time saver in drying and can even be used with care to dry an animal completely–but they are usually loud. Consider using protective ear muffs or plugs.

Cage dryers of all kinds are utilized to dry an animal without someone working on it. This saves business’ money, as it frees up employees to work on another pet while one dries. It also provides the animals with a break from being handled and manipulated, which most appreciate. Some cage dryers have heat, as well as air flow. Ideally, both should be able to be regulated, and having a timer is a bonus.

Cage dryers have also garnered a fair share of bad publicity. Animals left too long in a dryer or with a heat setting that is too high have suffered injury and even death. Minimize the risk of animals overheating in cage dryers by purchasing timers that automatically shut the dryer off when done, using low or no heat, and by not using them on brachycephalic, geriatric, or other at-risk dogs.

Stand dryers have both good air flow and a heating element, but due to the popularity of force dryers, using them is becoming something of a lost art. Liz Czak, stylist and owner of The Yankee Clipper says it best, “I would suggest than anyone give a good, heavy-duty stand dryer a try.”

She explains that when fluffing a coat to be scissored, a groomer can add a little heat to “set” the coat so it dries straighter and stays that way. It also leaves the groomer’s hands free to use a brush to straighten and untangle, and the groomer can see tangles while he or she brushes because the airflow separates the coat into many directions. The groomer is drying and brushing simultaneously, essentially eliminating an entire step and saving time.

Drying experiences will differ depending upon climate. Stylists in warm, dry areas may need little more than large box fans for most jobs. Those in more humid regions may require a dehumidifier for dryers to function optimally. No matter what a salon is using, however, it crucial that the facility is equipped with sufficient electrical service to handle it the load, as some dryers pull a lot of amps.

Carol Visser is a Nationally Certified Master Groomer and Certified Pet Dog Trainer. Formerly a pet product expert for PetEdge, she and her husband Glenn now own Two Canines Pet Services in Montville, Maine, which provides grooming, boarding, training and day care services to Waldo County.