Picture of Health

The market abounds with skin and coat care products that address a pet’s needs from nose to tail.


Most pet owners want their pets to be as happy, healthy—and beautiful—as possible. Products are available to help do just that, from the inside to the outside and from one end to the other. The most important aspect of skin and coat care, though, is health. It all starts with health; and there is a wider range of products available to help with this than pet owners—or retailers—may think.

Human beings automatically look to products to improve the appearance and health of skin and hair, and many similar products are available for pets. Think of going out in cold or dry weather; many people automatically bring lip balm with them and keep hand lotion nearby. Dogs’ skin is prey to the same environmental factors, so even though they are unlikely to need lip balm, retailers should encourage the purchase of an entire gamut of items that they need, from external to internal aids.

The first step for any pet owner whose pet is experiencing a skin condition is to have it seen by a veterinarian. However, if a specific diagnosis does not ensue, the pet owner may simply have to try different products and pay close attention to how the animal’s coat and skin reacts to find a solution. Some shampoo formulations target problems, allowing retailers to help solve specific issues for customers. 

“Today’s pet parents are demanding more from dog shampoo,” says Barbara Denzer, vice president of marketing for Cardinal Laboratories, in Azusa, Calif. “No longer do they simply want products that will clean their dog; they’re looking for specialized shampoos that address specific coat/skin needs, whether it’s to highlight a white-colored coat or to provide safe, gentle cleansing for delicate skin.” 

Cardinal’s Furrever Devoted Medicated Dog Shampoo, part of the Furrever Devoted Shampoo and Conditioner line, helps relieve itchy, irritated skin. Chloroxylenol eliminates fungus and mildew (making it a good candidate for dogs with fungal issues on paws, too) and salicylic acid softens and helps shed scaly skin, while botanical conditioners protect skin and coat. 

Some lines of products are meant to work synergistically. Each component works on its own, but as you add them together, the results improve. Zymox is one of those lines. Mild and gentle, Zymox Shampoo and Conditioner use a patented enzyme system to naturally provide relief from inflammation and soothe itchy, allergy prone skin. If the skin has developed hot spots or scratches already, the gentle yet effective Zymox Topical Cream or Spray with .5% Hydrocortisone will work by itself (or even better after the shampoo) to heal them without the use of antibiotics.  “The most common feedback we hear from pet parents is ‘Thank you, Zymox, for making something that works,’” says Deborah Brown, vice president of Pet King Brands, Inc.

Although the Dog Fashion Spa line, introduced to the U.S. by Groomers Helper—also the exclusive U.S. distributor of ActiVet brushes—includes shampoo and conditioners, including a clever bar soap encased in a bath sponge, the line’s Coat and Skin lotions are also a great retail item for this section. The safe, non-greasy formulas can be used two ways: as a leave-in conditioner after bathing or as a between-bath grooming lotion that can be massaged into the fur and skin to moisturize and deodorize. Ingredients include botanical extracts including lavender and chamomile for the Rilassante Blend, and Tuscan and white teas for the Semplice Blend. The four-ounce version makes an attractive impulse item placed right next to the register.

Shedding is a concern for many pet owners, and making sure both coat and skin are healthy and hydrated can help. Warren London’s Exfoliating Butter Wash with Jojoba Beads and Hydrating Butter target those areas. 

“Removing dead skin and hair is very helpful with our natural jojoba beads to help contain shedding around the house as well as opening the pores and letting their coats breathe,” says Eric Bittman, CEO and founder of the company. “This is extremely healthy for the coat and will help it to look and feel great.” 

The wash is available in either Milk & Honey or Pomegranate & Fig scents. The Hydrating Butter, available in Guava & Mango or Pomegranate & Acai, is an intense leave-in moisturizing treatment designed to continue to hydrate for 24 hours after application.

These days, skin and coat care products for pets are not limited to shampoo and conditioners. Healthy skin and coat actually begin with nutrition. Guiding pet owners to the right pet food for their budget and their pet’s needs is one way retailers can help, but supplements are another valuable tool in this area. Coconut oil with its superfood fatty acids is a current favorite to stock, but there are plenty of others available as liquids, dry additives and even treats. They can be fed year round, or as needed. Winter weather, in particular, can lead to dry skin, and supplements can help combat that. 

HealthyCoat for Pets is an all-natural omega-3 and -6 essential fatty acid liquid supplement for dogs and cats. According to Matt Ryherd, sales manager for HealthyCoat, “The skin is the largest organ on the body—the healthier it is the healthier you or your pet are.” 

HealthyCoat believes that the best way to market coat supplements is to relate them to the consumer. “It isn’t that the food is bad or the shampoos are bad, it’s just that their pets need that boost in the same way people do,” Ryherd adds. “It’s really just another part of a balanced diet.” 

Different than many liquid supplements in the way it is processed, HealthyCoat can improve the coat and skin but has many other benefits as well. Since it is cold pressed, it retains all the omega oils and is chemical free. It contains soy and flaxseed oils and is full of lecithin, biotin, B12, and E —all things proven to improve the coat and skin. Senior dogs experience an increase in energy, itchy dogs’ skin is soothed, and the anti-inflammatory properties help improve joint mobility and relieve arthritis symptoms. 

Pet owners also have to care for pets’ noses and paws. Angels’ Eyes, manufacturer of the popular eye stain product line, also offers Angels’ Eyes Soothing Nose Glow Moisturizer. Specifically developed to help soften and moisturize a pet’s nose, it is great for dogs that tend to have dry noses. Angels’ Eyes hasn’t forgotten the other end of the dog, either; Soft Paw Moisturizer will moisturize and protect paw pads.

The Warren London line includes items for paws and noses, too. In addition to its Grapeseed Oil Paw & Nose Revitalizer for moisturizing, it produces a unique paw care product—Deep Cleaning Paw Fizz Tablets. According to Eric Bittman, CEO, soaking the paws for up to five minutes in a tub or basin while the product fizzes will not only moisturize, it will fight fungus, bacteria and germs that are often the cause of dogs licking their paws. 

“This helps fight this problem at the source and is a must-own for any dog with these paw-licking issues,” says Bittman. 

There are so many products that can help pet owners keep their animals’ coat and skin in optimum condition, and for some retailers, this might be a good time to consider expanding their skin and coat care assortment and marketing more of these items together as a full care package. A wider variety of skin and coat products in a bigger retail section may just equate to better care for pets, as well as better profits for retailers. 


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