Humans aren’t the only ones looking shaggy these days.

While pet grooming was designated an essential business in New Jersey, under the red phase in Pennsylvania, pet owners were on their own. But now that all counties in Pennsylvania have moved into either the yellow or green phases, that has changed.

Grooming is an essential part of not only keeping a pet looking good, but also in maintaining its health.

Here are some of the differences in pet grooming procedures, and why it is important to have grooming for your animal.

Do pets need to socially distance, too?

No. Don’t worry, the distancing is limited to humans.

“You can’t brush an animal six feet away, which is why we all have masks on and you don’t have to worry about respiratory breathing,” said Floss Gerst, of Floss Pet Grooming in Stratford, Camden County.

Do the animals have to wear masks? “No,” she said. “Even if we required it, I think the owners would object.”

Remember: The virus is primarily spread between humans. There have been a few cases of animals getting the virus from people, but the CDC says “the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low.”

Pet pickup

Like most other businesses, social distancing is expected in how they operate. Under the yellow phase, everyone is still encouraged to stay away from others, and that means continuing contactless and curbside behaviors for businesses allowed to open, much like we have been doing with essential businesses during more restrictive phases.

Gerst says that her place has curbside pickup, and this is a practice many groomers are adopting.

“Nobody is coming into our place,” she said. “We are getting the pets and bringing them in; that is the main thing that has changed for us.”

When making an appointment, ask how your groomer is handling things.

Mobile groomers

The mobile pet business is a popular option because you don’t have to pack up your pets and take them to a grooming place. Want that option? Ask if they can perform their services entirely outside your home.

Amanda Bowman, of Fairy Tails Mobile Grooming LLC in Cherry Hill, does all her work curbside.

“The only differences I have implemented is that we no longer go into a customer’s home,” Bowman said. “We request they either have the dog ready outside, or we just meet in the doorway.”

If they can’t groom outdoors, have a conversation first about what precautions they can take.

Why you should get your pet groomed?

“There is misconception that grooming is basically haircuts for dogs,” said Mike Bober, president and CEO of Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC). “The reality is that grooming is much closer to a health service for pets.”

“First, skin care issues, potential ear infection, infected nail beds,” he said. “Things aren’t going to be immediately obvious to a pet owner, but if left untreated, they could turn into significant health issues.”

If I can’t get an appointment right away, can I do it myself?

“The best I could suggest is to do your research,” Bowman said. “Don’t immediately buy the first set of clippers you see. You can greatly injure your pet using the wrong equipment/tools. We [groomers as a whole] have taken the time to learn the safety inside and out, how to properly use the tools, and how to complete a groom without stress or injury to a pet.”

She said maintenance is the key until you can bring your pet to a groomer.

“I performed a Facebook Live video showing simple tips and tricks to keep their pets safe while things [were] on lockdown," she said. "Of course, in any situation, if there is an emergency, see your vet ASAP.”

Bober is wary about pet owners grooming their animals.

“The level of skill and, frankly, the level of potential for things to go bad is much higher when you are attempting to groom a dog at home than when you are attempting to cut your own hair or child’s hair,” he said.

“If you give a human a bad haircut, that is a topical thing. That is a cosmetic issue. If you are dealing with a dog that can’t communicate its stress verbally, that is unlikely to understand what you are trying to do to it, it doesn’t matter how many YouTube videos you watch, you are not going to be in a good position to give that dog the level of professional care necessary to avoid injury and to make sure you are diagnosing any issues.”