Hair of the Dog
Retailers can set their customers up with everything they need to address shedding and its messy aftermath.
Shedding is a problem that just about every pet owner faces, and it can be a troublesome one. Luckily, pet retailers are in a position to be shedding solution heroes for their customers. Some thoughtful merchandising and customer education can lead to strong sales and provide much-needed help for customers dealing with shed hair issues.
All dogs and cats—except the few truly hairless ones—shed, and even hairless animals shed dead skin cells. Medium-length silky coats may slide out and land on the floor, while long coats that are thicker or curly may get stuck in the coat, causing it to mat if the dead hair is not brushed out. Some pets have both problems: some hair is left around the house to create dust bunnies, and some is retained unless brushed regularly. Although many pet owners think a shorter-coated dog will shed less, anyone with a black pug and light-colored rugs or furniture can vouch for the fact that many short-coated breeds shed a lot.
Shedding has many causes, and most of them are common. Seasonal changes in weather and daylight, age, coat type, health, nutrition and genetic predisposition are a few causes, but it’s important to realize that most shedding is normal and can be dealt with by effectively using the right products and equipment. Excessive shedding, or shedding to the point of thinning hair and visible skin, should be cause to consult a veterinarian, as it may be a sign of an underlying problem.
So how can retailers help pet owners control shedding? They can direct customers to the right products for their specific pet and outline appropriate grooming regimes tailored to control shedding. John B. Vasone, national pet account manager for ConairPRO—maker of brushes, rakes and deshedding tools—suggests that retailers determine the customer’s needs and concerns. Then provide the pet owner with options based on the animal, fur type, lifestyle and budget. “That means knowing all the product’s features and benefits and being able to demonstrate the product,” says Vasone. “When you can satisfy the customer’s de-shedding needs at the right price, you have a sale.”
Businesses that offer grooming services or that have a relationship with a local groomer are at an advantage. Groomers are experts at combating normal shedding and are a great resource for recommendations on which shampoo, conditioner, spray and tools to use at home. Pets need to be brushed and combed regularly—daily is ideal for most. Many coats require more earnest dematting/deshedding tools on a monthly or weekly basis. Manufacturers have created shampoos, conditioners and sprays meant specifically to reduce shedding, and others have researched and created just the right mix of nutritional supplements to keep shedding to a minimum.
FURminator, the manufacturer of a deshedding tool of the same name, has worked hard to help consumers understand the shedding process and offers retailers many of the solutions pet owners need. Its website, FURminator.com, offers a wealth of information on shedding and various means to control it, as well as on its tools and products. In addition to a line of combs and brushes, FURminator offers its deShedding tool in a number of versions for long and short hair, and for both cats and dogs. With a spray to loosen undercoat and even a vacuum attachment to use with the deShedding tool, the company covers every pet owner’s needs. That includes a deShedding shampoo and conditioner containing omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, chamomile and calendula extracts, and aloe vera that is designed to loosen undercoat right in the tub where it can go down the drain instead of under the sofa.
Espree Animal Products offers solutions to help control shedding. “The Espree Simple Shed System consists of a shampoo, treatment and spray,” says Lisa Jordan, sales and marketing director. “Simple Shed Shampoo contains oat protein and aloe vera specifically formulated to release loose hair and undercoat. Follow with Simple Shed Treatment conditioner to nourish and strengthen the living coat and allow easy removal of the dry and damaged coat. The Simple Shed and Static Spray may be used as an aid in brushing and shed removal, and [it may] relieve static on dry coats. When these three products are used together, pet hair can be controlled.”
Offering quality foods is also a great way to ensure that coat and skin are healthy, thereby reducing shedding, but sometimes supplements can be a quick aid to that end. “Linatone Shed Relief and Shed Relief Plus dietary supplements have been proven successful in helping with issues such as excessive shedding, dull coats, flaky skin and scratching,” says Alyssa Guertin, associate brand manager-consumer animal products for Lambert Kay. “These benefits come from ingredients like omega fatty acids, zinc, and vitamins A, D and E. Pet parents have trusted Linatone for decades to help their pets maintain a healthy skin and coat.”
Retailers should try to think of every aspect of the shedding problem and provide solutions for all of it. Selling high-quality vacuum cleaners or handhelds—metrovacworld.com is a great place to look—may help customers deal with the end result of shedding, as well as an innovative product from SwiPets, LLC. The SwiPets gloves remove pet hair from virtually everything. Creator Donna Meté says, “They are a solution to pet owners’ biggest challenge—the aftermath of shedding. The gloves are fantastic at removing pet hair from furniture, fabric, nooks and crannies, edges of carpeting and stairs—all those areas where pet hair hides and is impossible to remove.”
One of the easiest ways to educate customers about a multi-pronged approach is with merchandising and displays. Co-locating several quality foods with tools, sprays, shampoos and supplements may seem like an odd display, but it will serve to show customers that they all work together to achieve the desired result.
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.