Casting a Dry Spell
Stocking a variety of drying solutions will not go unappreciated by customers-thankfully, the market has plenty to offer.
Drying products are not only useful for preventing muddy paws from tracking in the house and on furniture, but also to help prevent skin issues such as hot spots. Damp dog fur creates an ideal environment for fungal and bacterial infections to begin. Thankfully, prevention is easy—keep dogs dry.
Retailers need to be able to help clients decide which drying aids best suit their needs. Offering easy ways to dry a dog and keep its skin and coat in good shape can also make for easy sales.
What’s the best way to dry? That depends on the coat type of the animal. A short single coat—think Chihuahua or Doberman—needs toweling; a Newfoundland, on the other hand, needs towels, dryers and patience. Long-haired dogs will need a quick brushing and a spritz with a finish spray as part of the drying process in order to prevent tangles. Still, some elements of the drying process are universal, and retailers should stock a selection of the best the market has to offer in this category.
Towels and Toweling
All dogs could benefit from a good toweling off as the first step. Regular bath towels are good, but reusable or disposable pet towels could be better. Metropolitan Vacuum Company, a manufacturer of pet dryers, sells the Super Absorbent Pet Towel, a synthetic chamois that absorbs 15 times its weight in water and can be wrung out and reused. These 20-by-27-inch machine-washable towels used by professional groomers are also ideal for at-home use.
Ray-Pet towels for dogs has taken the convenience of faux chamois a step further, making a 100-percent biodegradable throwaway towel that is still substantial enough to be re-used or washed in the machine. They are also low enough in cost to just throw them away. I was skeptical on this one until I tried them—these lightweight, 17-by-31.5-inch towels did a great job drying my Springer, especially her thickly coated ears, which are always a problem area to dry. I plan to keep them in the grooming shop for use on sporting breed ears that just seem to never dry.
Soggy Doggy Doormat manufactures a soft, absorbent doormat that doubles as a crate bed. Each little noodle in the microfiber chenille towel is made of fine woven strands, resulting in a much larger surface area than it seems and making the doormat incredibly absorbent.
Groomers have begun to use this product in drying crates to ensure that the underside—always the slowest to dry since the dog is lying on it not allowing air circulation—dries just as fast as the rest of the dog. This is especially useful on thick, double-coated breeds such as Malamutes or Goldens. The doormat works the same way at home, making it far easier to get a dog dry inside its crate. It is great for older pet owners, as well, reducing the need to bend down to dry pets. Soggy Doggy has also developed a Super Shammy, which is made of the same material but includes hand pockets to make it easier to towel dogs off.
The unique material doesn’t get stinky, according to Joanna Rein, president of Soggy Doggy. “Keep it in a basket by the door, it won’t get moldy” suggests Rein, who believes her products are a perfect fit for pet retailers. “After we created the Soggy Doggy, it became clear that it was a universal product. If [customers] walk into a store and see it, they immediately understand the use and it becomes an impulse purchase. Customer satisfaction brings them back to buy more for other doors, companion products or gifts.”
Plug into Drying
Dryers are the next step in efficient pet drying, and there are all types, sizes and prices to consider. Oster makes several dryers for professional groomers, but its Adjustable Table-Cage Dryer at $399.95 may be worthwhile for some consumers. It will stand firmly on a grooming table or other surface, or hook to a crate. Four temperature settings allow the user to keep the animal comfortable whether it’s summer or winter.
Andis manufactures a few handheld dryers, similar to human dryers, that are inexpensive—ranging from $35 to $60—and effective. Andis representative Elizabeth Yong, uses one for her Bichon crosses Butters and Shelby. “I keep the Comfort Dry Hand Held Pet Dryer plugged in by the back door, and if it’s raining, they get their feet wiped and dried on the way back in,” says Yong. “I couldn’t do without it.”
The ionic technology dries hair faster by breaking up water molecules, and the ceramic far-infrared heat won’t dry out the dog’s coat. Dogs also tend not to fear the quieter-than-usual dryer.
Other dryers on the market provide air at a high-velocity usually with no heating element; the friction of air moving through the hose and motor warmth keeps the airstream warm.
Metro Vac has been manufacturing this type of dryer for both the professional grooming salon and for home use in the USA since 1939. From small dryers suitable for small dogs or spot drying, such as the FlexDri, which attaches to a table for hands free drying, or the Air Force Quick Draw, to Metro’s most powerful offerings, the Twin Turbo or the Master Blaster, Metro has a dryer to suit every need and price point.
The most popular dryer for pet owners is its Air Force Commander, which is sold at a price equivalent of only about three or four trips to the groomer. The four-horsepower motor is powerful enough to dry the thickest coat, and the variable-speed control allows pet owners to use just a delicate amount of air on faces, increasing to full power from the shoulders back. These dryers have no heating element, making them safe to use on pets. The force of the air stream parts the coat and dries it from the follicle at skin level up to the tips, but there’s no risk of harming the skin with heat, as the dryers get only about 25 to 30 degrees above room temperature.
“Educating the consumer is key to sales,” says David Stern, vice president of marketing at Metro. “If a store sells a Golden or a consumer has gotten a pup, the retailer should be able to advise them as to what to purchase, and know why a forced-air dryer is more effective and less likely to cause harm than a human hair dryer. Dog ownership is a major responsibility, and you should use the right tools and professional-level tools, if possible, to make sure you dog has a healthy coat.”
Metro dryers will even blow out dead coat on a wet or dry dog—a good selling point.
So stock your shelves with dryers and drying accessories, and make money while helping to keep pets healthier and customers happier.
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.