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Groomer’s Lung: What You Need to Know & How to Cope

groomer wearing mask to prevent groomers lung

By Janine DeVault

Whether you’re considering becoming a dog groomer or already running a successful grooming service, it’s important to be aware of Groomer’s Lung. This condition affects the respiratory system and is relatively common among individuals who routinely inhale fumes from products like shampoo and conditioner. Inhaling pet dander and skin and hair particles can also contribute to the condition.

Keep reading to learn what causes Groomer’s Lung, the symptoms to look out for, and how to manage or prevent this condition when working in close proximity with your furry clients! 

What is Groomer’s Lung?

Groomer’s Lung is a respiratory condition that many groomers experience. It is more formally known as occupation asthma or hypersensitivity pneumonitis. It’s a condition where a person’s airway becomes inflamed due to prolonged exposure and inhalation of grooming chemicals (such as shampoos, detangling sprays, and other products), dander, fur, and other allergens found in the grooming environment.

Ongoing exposure to airborne particles from chemicals, pet hair, and dander is the most common cause of Groomer’s Lung. 

Inadequate ventilation in grooming facilities can exacerbate the risk. Repeated exposure to these substances can eventually trigger an immune response in susceptible individuals, leading to lung inflammation and respiratory symptoms such as a chronic cough.

Groomer’s Lung is a chronic condition that can lead to complications such as respiratory infections. Catching it early, before the lungs and respiratory system are severely damaged, will reduce your risk of future complications. 

Groomer’s Lung Symptoms and Diagnosis

Early symptoms of Groomer’s Lung usually include persistent coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and fatigue, which can progressively worsen. 

Since these symptoms can mimic other respiratory conditions or allergies, it’s essential to pay close attention to how you feel and seek medical attention if you experience respiratory issues that you just can’t seem to shake. Identifying the condition early is vital to preventing further lung damage. 

Depending on the severity of your symptoms, your healthcare provider may opt to conduct a thorough medical history, physical examination, and lung function test to assess your lung health. They may order chest X-rays, pulmonary function tests, and allergy testing to confirm the diagnosis and identify specific allergens triggering the condition. 

Diagnosing Groomer’s Lung early will give you the best chance of seeking the appropriate treatment and implementing lifestyle adjustments to manage your symptoms and prevent them from worsening. So, if you experience these symptoms, don’t ignore them! 

Coping with Groomer’s Lung

Living with Groomer’s Lung may require that you make some lifestyle changes and seek treatment to get better. 

It’s crucial to avoid problematic chemicals and allergens that aggravate your symptoms. Wearing gloves and a mask while you work will limit your inhalation of airborne particles and help prevent further respiratory inflammation. 

It’s also important to keep the air clean indoors. Optimize the ventilation in your grooming environment and ensure good airflow in your home. Avoid exposure to environments or chemicals that could trigger your symptoms, including wood smoke, hair spray, and even scented products. 

There’s no cure for Groomer’s Lung– it’s a chronic condition, and symptoms will likely reappear or worsen unless you limit exposure to their triggers. However, you may be able to receive medical treatment for your symptoms if they become severe. 

Depending on the nature of your symptoms, a doctor may prescribe medicine to help open your airways. For instance, Non Specific Interstitial Pneumonia (NSIP) has been associated with Groomer’s Lung and can be treated with medication. 

Strategies for Preventing Groomer’s Lung

Preventing Groomer’s Lung is all about taking proactive steps to protect your lung health before problems arise. It’s crucial to prioritize prevention by implementing safety measures in grooming facilities. 

As we’ve mentioned a few times in this article, that means making sure there’s proper ventilation to keep the air clean and reducing exposure to harmful chemicals and allergens. 

Using effective personal protective equipment (PPE), like masks and gloves, to shield yourself from potential irritants is also essential. Whether you’re bathing, grooming, or trimming, wearing the right gear can make a world of difference. 

According to a 2016 study, the ingredient pyrethrin has been linked to symptoms of Groomer’s Lung. Pyrethrin is an insecticide derived from Chrysanthemum flowers that is often used in flea shampoos, sprays, and collars. To reduce your risk of respiratory issues, limit your exposure to this chemical as much as possible. 

The Bottom Line

Groomer’s Lung is a serious occupational hazard that warrants consideration and proactive measures if you’re working in the grooming profession. By understanding the symptoms, diagnosis, and coping strategies, you can take charge of your lung health and minimize your risk of developing this condition.

Prioritize your respiratory well-being by implementing proper ventilation, adhering to safety protocols, and using personal protective equipment consistently in the workplace. By staying informed and taking proactive measures, you can safeguard your lung health and continue pursuing your passion for pet grooming with confidence and peace of mind. 

Janine DeVault is a celebrity dog walker turned content marketer. She is passionate about helping pet brands find their perfect people online through actionable, insightful content. She’s a dedicated animal rescue advocate and has a strong affinity for herding dogs. 


American Journal of Industrial Medicine – Pet Groomer’s Lung: A novel occupation related hypersensitivity pneumonitis related to pyrethrin exposure in a pet groomer

MedlinePlus – How to use a nebulizer

Cleveland Clinic – Non Specific Interstitial Pneumonia (NSIP)VCA Animal Hospitals – Pyrethrin/Pyrethroid Poisoning in Dogs

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