NSW Animal Welfare Code of Practice - Animals in pet grooming establishments


This code is designed for everyone involved in the business of grooming and bathing dogs and cats. By adhering to the code, people involved in this industry are demonstrating to the general community their concern for the welfare of the animals in their care.

Animal welfare can be thought of as the way an animal's health and well-being are affected by its interaction with its physical and social environments. Since humans can alter or control an animal's environment, animal welfare means that people have duties and responsibilities towards animals. The greater the level of interference with, or control of, an animal's environment, the greater our responsibilities.

The code is neither a complete manual on animal husbandry, nor a static document. It may be revised to take account of advances in the understanding of animal physiology and behaviour, technological changes, changing industry standards, and the community's attitudes and expectations about the welfare of animals.

Compliance with the code does not remove the need to abide by the requirements of any other laws and regulations, such as local government or National Parks and Wildlife Service legislation.

The code has been prepared in consultation with the Boarding and Grooming group of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC), representing a number of those involved with pet grooming, and is endorsed by the NSW Animal Welfare Advisory Council.

1. Introduction

1.1    This code sets standards for the care and management of dogs and cats held in pet grooming and bathing establishments.

1.2    It applies to the welfare of dogs and cats while they are the responsibility of a pet grooming establishment; that is, from the time of accepting control of the animal from the owner, during holding, and until return to the owner or person responsible for the animal.

2. Responsibilities of the manager

2.1 The manager of a pet grooming establishment is responsible for:

(a)    provision of accommodation for each dog and cat held on the premises at any given time

(b)    the protection of animals from people, other animals or adverse environmental conditions

(c)    provision of sufficient space for animals to stand, move around freely, stretch fully and rest

(d)    provision of water for animals

(e)    protection of animals from distress and injury

(f)    provision of prompt veterinary or other appropriate treatment in cases of illness or injury

(g)    maintenance of hygiene of the premises

(h)    supervision of all staff, whether working full or part-time and whether or not working for fee or reward

(i)    collation and maintenance of relevant records

(j)    ensuring that there is a responsible person present while animals are held.

3. Animal housing

3.1 Location

Pet grooming establishments should be located away from sources of excessive noise or pollution that could cause injury or stress to animals.

3.2 Construction

3.2.1    Animal enclosures must be designed and maintained to minimise the risk of injury, disease transmission, theft, escape or interference by unauthorised persons.

3.2.2    Animal enclosures must be designed to permit regular cleaning; ready checking of animals within, and ready supply and checking of water.

3.2.3    All surfaces of animal enclosures must be impervious or painted with non-toxic paint so that they may be cleaned and disinfected effectively.

3.2.4    Floors of animal holding enclosures must be made of an impervious material to assist cleaning and drainage.

3.2.5    The internal surfaces of animal holding areas should be constructed of impervious, solid, washable materials. Wall/floor junction should be sealed to facilitate cleaning and disinfection.

3.3 Size

3.3.1    Animal enclosures must provide at least enough space for each animal held to sleep, sit, stand, lie with limbs extended, stretch and move about.

3.4 Temperature

3.4.1    Animals must be protected from extremes of temperature, and the environmental temperature controlled to minimise distress to animals.

3.4.2    Very old and very young animals, which are more sensitive than others to changes in temperature, may require provision of heating or cooling.

3.5 Noise

3.5.1    Noise from barking dogs should be reduced by the following methods:

  • placing dogs so that they do not face each other
  • limiting external stimulation
  • holding dogs singly or in compatible pairs.

3.5.2    Cats should be held away from dogs as they may be disturbed by barking.

3.6 Lighting

3.6.1    Lighting should be as close as possible, in duration and intensity, to natural conditions.

3.6.2    Sunlight is the preferred means of lighting, provided shaded areas are available.

3.6.3    Artificial light should be provided, where needed, to allow animal holding areas to be thoroughly cleaned and animals checked.

3.7 Ventilation

3.7.1    Ventilation must be sufficient to avoid dampness and minimise noxious odours without draughts.

3.8 Security

3.8.1    Buildings must be securely lockable.

3.8.2    Each animal cage must be fitted with a secure closing device that cannot be opened by the animals held.

3.8.3    Any security methods used must allow for ready access by staff to animals and ready exit of staff in an emergency.

4. Grooming and bathing facilities

4.1    A weather-proof bathing area must be provided, which is draught-proof and properly drained.

4.2    A bath must be provided with hot and cold water available.

4.3    A separate area for proper drying of animals after bathing must be provided.

4.4    Grooming tables must be stable and easy to clean, and have a non-slip surface.

4.5    Grooming equipment must be kept clean and well maintained.

5. Hygiene

5.1 Cleaning and disinfection

5.1.1    Animal holding, bathing and grooming areas must be cleaned and disinfected at least daily to maintain the animals comfort and control disease.

5.1.2    Faeces and urine should be removed promptly.

5.1.3    Cleaning and disinfecting agents should be chosen on the basis of their suitability, safety and effectiveness. The manufacturer's instructions for the use of these agents should be followed, since too dilute a solution may be ineffective and too concentrated a solution may be toxic to animals.Some common disinfectants, particularly those derived from or containing coal or wood tar products (such as phenol, cresol and chloroxylenols) are toxic to cats and should not be used where cats are held.

5.1.4    After cleaning, animal holding areas should be left dry.

5.2 Pest Control

5.2.1    Pests, including fleas, ticks, flies, lice, mosquitoes and wild rodents, must be controlled.

5.2.2    Chemicals used for pest control should be registered under the Pesticides Act and used only in accordance with manufacturer's instructions.

5.2.3    Because some pesticides are toxic to dogs and cats they should only be used under professional supervision.

5.3 Waste disposal

5.3.1    Waste disposal must be in accordance with the requirements of the local government authority.

5.3.2    Hair, faeces and used litter should be placed in sealed plastic bags for disposal.

5.3.3    Use of a trade waste service for collection and disposal of wastes is preferable. Wastes should not be incinerated.

5.4 Litter trays

5.4.1    Cats must be provided with litter trays.

5.4.2    A sufficient depth suitable litter material, such as commercial cat litter, sawdust, shavings, sand or shredded paper, is to be provided. Litter must be changed as often as necessary and litter trays cleaned and disinfected regularly.

6. Management

6.1 Facilities

6.1.1    Each pet grooming establishment is to provide an area for reception, records storage, and display of information for clients. Premises should include washing and toilet facilities for staff.

6.1.2    Appropriate firefighting equipment must be readily available.

6.2 Care of animals

6.2.1    All animals held must be readily identified by owner's name.

6.2.2    Collars or leads which are likely to become entangled or lost should be removed on admission.

6.2.3    Animals should always be held singly, except for compatible animals of the same species from the same household.

6.2.4    Cats must not be held in the same cage as dogs, even it they come from the same household.

6.2.5    Sedatives may only be used in accordance with veterinary advice and with the written consent of the owner.

6.2.6    Dogs may be muzzled whilst being handled, provided the dog is able to breathe freely with the muzzle on and the muzzle does not cut into the dog's skin.

6.2.7    Care must be taken when using insecticides on animals as they may be potentially toxic.  Use insecticides only according to the manufacturer's directions.

6.2.8    The establishment's policy on vaccination should be displayed to the public.

6.2.9    Water should be available to animals at all times while they are at the establishment.

6.2.10    Where an animal is held overnight for any reason it must be fed and offered the opportunity to exercise. It should not be left overnight on the premises unattended.

6.2.11    Animals known or suspected to be suffering from an infectious disease must not be admitted.

6.3 Record keeping

6.3.1 The following information must be recorded relating to each animal admitted:

  • the animal's name
  • name, address and contact telephone number of its owner
  • a description of the animal including:
    • sex
    • breed or type
    • colour
    • age
    • distinguishing features
  • treatment requested
  • date of each treatment
  • expected time of collection
  • any collars, leads or belongings brought in with the animal
  • vaccination status
  • name and contact telephone number of a veterinarian who normally attends the animal.

6.4 Staff

6.4.1    Staff should respect animals and have experience in handling dogs and cats. Formal training, such as a technical college qualification in animal care, is encouraged.

6.4.2    Staff should be aware of their responsibilities and be competent to carry them out.

6.4.3    Staff should make themselves familiar with the grooming requirements of the various breeds.

7. Transport

7.1    Animals should be transported in the shortest practicable time. They must not be kept in parked vehicles in the sun or in hot weather unless adequate ventilation and shade is provided.

7.2    Any vehicle specially designed or regularly used for transporting animals should:

  • protect animals from injury
  • have non-slip floors
  • provide easy access and operator safety
  • protect against extremes of temperature
  • protect against unauthorised release of animals
  • be easy to clean and disinfect
  • be supplied with clean, secure cages or carry baskets for cats or very small dogs, and with separate compartments or partitions for larger dogs. Transport cages should permit an animal to turn around, but otherwise be small enough to avoid trauma during transport.

7.3    For more information about animal transport, refer to the companion publication in this series titled The Care and Management of Animals by Companion Animal Transport Transport Agencies.

Originally published in October, 1996, by NSW Agriculture