Dare to be Dry
As more pet owners take on home bathing, retailers have much to gain by ensuring their customers are equipped with the tools they need to get pets clean-and completely dry.
Pet owners are increasingly discovering the many benefits of home bathing. It can be a great bonding experience for pets and their owners. Home bathing also keeps pets tidy between trips to the groomer, and gives pet owners the opportunity to inspect the pet’s skin and coat, which can lead to the discovery of lumps and skin conditions that need proper treatment. However, pet owners who do not properly dry their dogs after a good wash may end up doing more harm than good.
Pet professionals—from groomers to retailers—should be happy to help pet owners work on their animals’ personal care at home, selling them the necessary tools, while educating them on the consequences of not properly drying their pets after bathing. After all, retailers and groomers that maximize the sales potential of this category will not only nurture a close, loyal relationship with customers, but also generate a reliable income stream.
An essential part of preparing pet owners for home bathing is ensuring that they understand the importance of drying. Failing to completely and thoroughly dry a wet dog is a common error, and many owners do not understand how vital it is. Salons employ a lot of time and expensive equipment to dry dogs as completely and quickly as possible because there are risks—health and otherwise—that go along with a damp dog. Everyone is familiar with that wet-dog smell. Sometimes, the odor occurs because the pet was improperly cleaned, but even well-shampooed and -rinsed pets may develop an unpleasant residual odor from being left damp. Natural bacteria on skin can increase, causing odor.
“I always recommend to my clients to dry their dogs off as soon as possible after they get wet,” says Pamela Page, DVM, owner of Pagett Veterinary in Palermo, Maine. “Damp fur against skin, especially in warm weather, provides an excellent environment for bacteria to grow, which can cause acute moist pyoderma—otherwise known as hot spots. These are red, raw, oozing skin infections that can grow quite large amazingly quickly. They are difficult to manage because they are hidden under the fur, itchy and very painful, so pets tend to make them worse by scratching and licking them.”
Moisture also provides an excellent breeding ground for a number of yeast and fungal infections, especially if the coat is naturally dense or has accumulated dead coat. Retailers should seek opportunities to educate customers on the most effective grooming tools to keep pets’ coats as free of mats, tangles and extra coat as possible, as well as the best tools, products and equipment to dry them thoroughly to prevent skin issues. Sometimes, a burgeoning hot spot can be calmed just by a gentle shampoo and thorough drying.
Aside from keeping a dog’s skin free of hot spots or infections, there are some other practical reasons to make sure a pet is dried thoroughly after bathing, points out Elizabeth Yong, Andis representative. “My dogs are small lap dogs and really go wherever they want in the house, so I want them to be dry,” Yong says. “I always use an ionic/ceramic dryer like the Andis Comfort Dry Dryer, to dry the hair quicker while preserving natural oils and reducing static electricity after a bath, lifting the hair to dry the roots closer to the skin. Even after just being in rain or snow, or having morning dew and wetness on their feet, they know the routine; paws are wiped and blown dry. They have their own towels stacked by the door along with the Comfort Dryer.”
While any towel will help remove water, manufacturers are using alternative materials and designs to produce functional improvements. From faux chamois to microfiber towels, there are plenty of options to offer customers.
Ray-Pet, for example, has a new twist on towels. The company’s Ray Pet Wet Pet towels are disposable. Groomers love to use them on animals with skin issues; although the towels are certainly strong enough to be washed and re-used multiple times, they are inexpensive enough to throw away, saving groomers the time, effort and expense of disinfecting them.
Pet owners can benefit from them, too. “Our towels make the drying process easier in that you can use the towel, wring it out and continue drying your pet in less time than it takes with a cotton towel,” says Wendy Watts, Ray-Pet’s vice president of administration. “Also, with cotton towels, there is the added expense of having to wash and dry the towels after use, and having to wash out the washer to get rid of the pet hair that accumulates. With our Wet Pet Towels, you can rinse out the towel and air dry [them], or simply throw away after each use.” The towel is available in two sizes: large (17 by 31.5 inches) and small (13 by 12.5 inches.)
Two other manufacturers seem to have hit upon similar solutions to the drying problem. Soggy Doggy Doormat is a soft, absorbent doormat that doubles as a crate bed. Each noodle in the microfiber chenille towel is made of finely woven strands, making it incredibly absorbent. The Soggy Doggy doormat traps dirt and moisture at the door; used as a crate mat, it ensures that the difficult-to-dry underparts of the dog dry quickly. Soggy Doggy has also developed its Super Shammy, which is made of the same material but includes hand pockets to make it easy and quick to towel dogs off.
However, one of the product’s best benefits is that 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,” she says.
Dog Gone Smart also uses super-absorbent microfiber fabric to construct its dirty-dog doormats, and the company has now extended its line with Zip ‘N Dri. Also made with microfiber fabric, Zip ‘N Dri is a robe-like towel designed to dry the dog five-times faster than a normal towel. A zipper and Velcro keeps it in place, so when the dog shakes, all the moisture is contained.
Chris Onthank, chief executive officer for Dog Gone Smart, also recommends using Zip ‘N Dri on dogs that don’t like dryers at the grooming salon, as well as at home. “Dogs can be wrapped inside the Zip ’N Dri and put into a crate to dry— in about five to seven minutes time.”
While towels are a necessary part of bathing most dogs, dryers to blow out dead coat and blow water off the dog are superbly useful. B-Air manufactures a number of professional dryers, many of which are economical enough to be used by pet owners.
Lynne Allen, pet and animal senior account manager at B-Air, agrees that thorough drying is vital, especially around the feet and legs. “Drying is half the battle when grooming pets at home,” says Allen. “The B-Air Bear Power dryer is ideal for consumers to use. It also fluff dries the coat, leaving a beautiful fluffy finish.”
The two-speed, two-horsepower motor is housed in a high-impact ABS body for durability. The Bear Power I comes with a set of four nozzles to accommodate any coat type. The slot nozzle is for long-coated pets to prevent knotting while drying. The cone is used for the deepest drying and is great on very thick-coated dogs. The brush nozzle is designed for deshedding the coat. The airflow nozzle allows more airflow for drying small dogs, cats, and sensitive areas such as ears and face.
With so many options on the market these days, it is a great time for retailers to tap into the sales potential this category offers. However, perhaps more importantly, having a solid assortment of dryers, towels and other bathing/drying-related products can help pet owners keep their dogs healthier and 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.