Building a Better Bandage
Jennifer DiGrazia, CEO of PawFlex Inc., discusses wound care for pets and the growing importance of the health care category in pet stores.
PET BUSINESS: What separates PawFlex Bandages from traditional bandages for humans?
JENNIFER DiGRAZIA: PawFlex Bandages are non-adhesive, so they will not stick to fur, rip fur out or cause any type of pulling discomfort. All of our bandage designs feature a unique non-slip grip application that prevents the bandage from sliding down the legs.
PawFlex Bandages also have a non-adherent wound pad built into every bandage. This allows for a hassle- and stress-free application, even on very wiggly pets. Having the wound pad already attached reduces the chance that the medicine will get everywhere but on the wound. It also prevents the wound pad from moving out of place.
The PawFlex Quick Catch and Release fastener allows the pet parent to repeatedly check the wound without causing further pain and stress or changing the bandage. The Velcro-type tab fastener also allows for adjusting and readjusting the bandage to just the right tension without having to worry about ruining the bandage as in use with adhesive bandages.
Because PawFlex is super stretchy and super soft, it allows a dog to maintain full flexibility without restricting any movements. PawFlex bandages are also breathable, which helps aid healing.
Additionally, unlike humans, most dogs lick bandaging, either to get to their wound or because of the alluring smell and taste of adhesives. PawFlex bandage material is water resistant and will not absorb water/saliva from even the most persistent lickers.
Lastly, PawFlex Bandages come in five designs—each created for a different wound area. PawFlex Medimitt is the first ever bandage designed for dogs paws, which is where the majority of sores and injuries occur.
PB: How did you come up with the idea of PawFlex bandages?
DiGRAZIA: In brief, I adopted a little blind Dachshund who was severely neglected. He was extremely timid, fearful and sensitive. He nervously licked at his paw until it was raw, and traditional bandaging wasn’t working. Not only was his wound getting worse, the tender skin around his wound began breaking down from use of conventional pet bandaging at the time.
I knew I needed something that would be gentle but would still stay on, and something that could easily be put on and changed.
PB: What are some of the challenges that you had to overcome to bring the concept to reality?
DiGRAZIA: The main challenges were money, and finding and sourcing the best materials for an affordable price. Because bandages are disposable, you need to make them relatively inexpensive. PawFlex bandages have so many features to them and utilize the best quality materials. I did not want to skimp, and this made it a very big challenge to make the products cost-effective for the end consumer. I was determined to give every dog an opportunity to have the least invasive bandaging experience possible in his or her time of pain, discomfort and, oftentimes, fear.
The next hurdle was creating automated machinery that never existed before, because PawFlex bandages are such a unique design. Like any new business, it required taking a huge risk and undertaking. It took countless hours and sacrifices to get to the point where we are now.
PB: What are some of the keys to success for pet stores in the healthcare category?
DiGRAZIA: Keep it natural, keep it safe and only sell products that work. Successful pet stores show their customers that they care for pets and want to carry products that help their customers give the very best care to their beloved companions. In the long run, pet stores that are just in it to sell the products that make the most profit will lose business to the stores who really care about pets.
PB: What are some common mistakes that retailers make in this category?
DiGRAZIA: They don’t have enough safe and natural healthcare products, but instead have all the old-school pharmaceuticals. Pet stores also need to have a healthcare section and advertise it.