Selling Solutions

Retailers can help pet owners address a multitude of skin and coat issues by offering a well-rounded assortment of products that address various conditions.




The skin and coat care category, approached correctly, can be one of the easier sells for a pet retailer. All dogs have skin and coat, and most owners want them to look and feel their very best. This means the owners of all types of dogs—big or small, long or short haired—should be in the market to purchase products aimed at improving or maintaining skin and hair.


Twenty-five years ago, pet owners generally only noticed their pet’s hair when it began to shed and become an annoyance. Today, pets are more likely to be valuable members of the family, and owners more aware of their overall health and appearance all year round. In winter and in dry climates, dogs may suffer from dry, itchy skin. In summer and moist areas of the country, dogs tend to get hot spots—a form of moist eczema—and many dogs have allergy problems, sometimes all year round. Owners need help solving these problems, and retailers can help.


A section devoted exclusively to skin and coat care, if space allows, can be great for stimulating sales. Seasonal displays of coat and skin products can be pulled together from every section of the store and marketed for every dog, not just those with problems such as the all too common dry skin and itching. However, retailers should display these items with other like items year round.


The connection between good nutrition and healthy, supple skin and shiny coats is one that owners are more aware of than ever before. Doctors promote the connection in humans, veterinarians do the same with dogs, and dog food manufacturers illustrate the connection in their advertising—all to the benefit of retail sales of quality food and nutritional supplements. Many products address skin and coat issues from the inside. Nutritional supplements such as Ark Naturals’ 100-percent made in the USA Royal Coat Express with Omega-3 (wild fish oil) and Omega-6 (borage oil) can help improve dry skin and itchiness.


Meanwhile, Missing Link’s Ultimate Canine Skin & Coat Formula has a flaxseed base to provide omega oils to pets. Most owners are aware that feeding fatty acids can be beneficial. It’s up to the individual store and salesperson to educate as to which oils are best for the dog and to explain the differences in what’s available. Many manufacturers will provide information that will help sell their products and educate consumers.


Shampoos and conditioners will play a major role in any skin and coat display. PetHead’s unique and colorful packaging is a great attention getter, and its products address various needs; most of its products contain natural ingredients ranging from argan oil to oatmeal to yucca, all aimed at solving specific problems for pet owners. Catchy names like “Feeling Flaky Dry & Sensitive Skin Shampoo,” “De Shed Me,” and “Life’s An Itch Skin Soothing Shampoo” leave no doubt as to what problem the items are intended to solve.


Pet King Brands takes a scientific approach to marketing its Zymox product line. Its shampoo and rinse contains bio-active enzymes that are effective against most of the bacteria responsible for poor coat and skin, and itching. Non-irritating and non-drying, Zymox shampoo contains no harsh detergents, chemicals or petroleum by-products, and it is very mild on skin.


DERMagic is another manufacturer that offers solution-oriented products. An organic chemist breeding and showing Yorkshire Terriers, founder Adelia Ritchie set out to create products that weren’t loaded with cortisone, steroids, antibiotics or strong chemicals. Dr. Ritchie began formulating topical prototype products with natural, herbal and organic ingredients to develop DERMagic Skin Rescue Lotion. Shampoos are available in liquid or bar form, along with many other products to target skin and coat conditions.


Ritchie recommends that retailers co-locate natural or eco-friendly items in one section of the store. “I think it’s important to have a space with green products, all-natural or organic products, or Made in USA products all together,” she says. “This is what customers are looking for these days.”


A fairly new entry to the all-natural pet market is Zen Dog Holistic Healing Formulas. Its shampoos have a coconut base, and they are tearless, hypoallergenic and specifically formulated for the pH of canines. Each formula contains a specialty blend of 100-percent pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils. Skin Repair Shampoo has a companion spray and gel available.


Retailers should save room for specialty/spa items, and sprays and salves to combat hot spots and other specific problems. DerMagic’s Cell Restoration Crème, Skin Restoration Lotion and Hot Spot Salve are all spa-type items to address specific skin needs. Zymox has topical sprays and creams that contain the same bio-enzymes as their shampoo and conditioner. Another spray on the market that retailers may want to have on the shelves is ProLabs’ Skin Soothe Spray. It contains zinc to relieve itching and aid the healing of skin ailments, including minor wounds, foot-pad injuries and skin-fold dermatitis.


Warren London dog spa and grooming products are designed to address common skin and coat issues. “Hydrating Butter is the perfect fit for any retail section that pushes skin and coat products,” says CEO and president Eric Bittman. “This natural, made-in-the-USA product is a leave-in moisturizer that will keep the skin and coat hydrated for a full 24 hours. Any dog that has flaking or dryness would be a perfect customer for this product.”


Warren London has a few other products that can work wonders on a dog’s coat. The 10-in-1 After Bath Spray revitalizes coat and is anti-itch and anti-flake. Warren London’s Hot Spot Soothing Spray is a natural product created to prevent itching and soothe and cool any existing hot spots.


Burt’s Bees Natural Pet Care offers a variety of solutions, including shampoos and conditioners that have companion sprays with similar scents and ingredients. The sprays, in particular, are a problem-solving items that appeal to many consumers because of the ease of application. Hot Spot Soothing Shampoo and Spray uses apple cider vinegar to soothe and restore pH balance and aloe vera to moisturize. Soothing Skin Shampoo can be used on any skin ailment, insect bite, etc., and features eucalyptus oil, which provides powerful soothing and cooling to skin irritations, and honey to moisturize and hydrate the skin. Soothing Skin Cream with Honey and Eucalyptus complements the shampoo.


Retailers should not forget to add a few items to help with the bathing process itself. Regular bathing is an important way to help maintain healthy coat and skin, but it should be as easy as possible to do at home. Microfiber towels or synthetic chamois like Metro’s Super Absorbent Pet Towels are useful items. Ray-Pet’s handy towels made from 100-percent natural renewable fibers are inexpensive enough to be disposable, although they also stand up well to repeated use. PetZen products offers not only its Woof-Ah Dog Bath Mitt with deep-cleaning water jets to massage and stimulate blood flow to improve follicle growth, it also has a seven-foot shower hose that attaches to a threaded nipple on the downspout in a home tub, or threaded shower fitting.


With a little bit of thought about how to offer products in this retail category to customers, retailers can reap lot of profit, both monetarily and in goodwill from the customers—and pets—who benefit from the today’s skin and coat products.



Carol Visser is a Nationally Certified Master Groomer and Certified Pet Dog Trainer. She and her husband Glenn own Two Canines Pet Services in Montville, Maine, which provides grooming, boarding, training and day care services to Waldo County.

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