Spa Products for Dogs
Retailers can benefit from stocking spa product for dogs and cats, so owners can treat their four-legged friends in their own homes.
When the average person hears the word “spa” certain images immediately come to mind. A relaxing massage, a sauna or hot tub, beauty detailing from nails to hair, or perhaps a body scrub with sea salt or pore cleansing mud. Increasing numbers of pet owners are treating their animals as though they were little furry people, and that means they’d like to give them the same spa experience during the grooming process. Many pet grooming salons have adopted this theme by including soft music, appropriate scents, soothing small indoor water fountains and offering spa-style services for pets on an a la carte basis.
Retailers can help pet owners provide a true spa experience right at home, whether the accent is on health, pampering or a combination of both. Products that look, smell and feel luxurious can enhance whatever part of the grooming experience the pet undergoes at home, from foot care to bathing and brushing or complete trims. Items to make pets look and feel their best do not need to be expensive, making it easier for all pet owners to provide their beloved companions with a relaxing and positive experience. There’s another aspect to using spa products at home that pet owners might not think of initially—one or two small changes in the process can make a pet’s entire outlook on being groomed a better one.
Christein Sertzel, one of the founders of The Society of Holistic Pet Stylists, who has been a professional groomer for over 30 years, author of several guidebooks, including one on “canine massage for pet groomers” and owner/stylist of Finer DeTails Pet Spa & Wellness Center in Mazomanie, Wis., has a number of ideas for things that pet owners could do to enhance the grooming experience at home.
“Aromatherapy, of course, is always nice. Specially scented shampoo or essential oils are relaxing for the owner to inhale, and this calm energy can be picked up by the pet; relaxing them as well,” says Sertzel.
This is a huge side benefit to using spa products that owners may not have thought about. Improving the ambience can relax both the animal and the owner, creating a more positive experience altogether. Some pet owners use a special bed pad for the dog to lie on while being brushed or have special treats used only during grooming.
Sertzel, who has various spa products available at ChrisSertzel.com, also suggests playing soothing music to provide a calming effect. As always, retailers should be careful about aromatherapy, essential oils or other scent-based products where cats are concerned, as they tend to be much more sensitive to such things than dogs.
Many of the same items that are available for pets help create a spa experience for humans. Massage, mineral salts, sugar scrubs or mud baths pamper and help with skin problems. Shampoos and conditioners provide soothing comfort and specific solutions to problems. Grooming sprays provide pleasant scents along with detangling/deshedding benefits—the possibilities are endless to increase profits in the spa category. It’s also easy to cater to those looking for a more natural approach to pet care, as the spa products tend to go hand in hand with herbal products and those with less chemicals.
David Campanella, sales and marketing director for Best Shot Pet Products, located in Frankfort, Ky., says that spa products are typically milder or tearless, especially those intended for use as facials.
“They have nice fragrances, contain more conditioners and are usually milder. Lots can be used on humans as they are cosmetic grade ingredients,” says Campanella.
Best Shot’s Scentament Spa line is a very good seller. “They’re not just scents in fancy packaging,” says Campanella. “They are quality products. We offer seasonal facial washes, but all of them can be used anytime. Customers love that they have matching scented sprays to condition and refresh between groomings, as well as working as a brushing aid as they’ll help detangle.”
The fall and winter scents collection includes Berry Amaretto, Hot Toddy and Harvest Apple, which are all tearless, hypoallergenic and enriched with vitamins and silk proteins—great for calming aromatherapy. Campanella notes that spa products are fun to market, as well as practical.
“People buy solution driven products and we tend to forget that many of the spa products are just that, but it’s a much more enticing selection and you should get a better return on this category,” says Campanella. “Manufacturers are bringing exciting packaging and fragrances along and retailers can group similar scents of shampoo and sprays together as department stores do.”
Campanella adds that “grooming and fragrance sprays are like the gateway product for the spa area. The dogs are now smelling and looking good, so owners feel as though they might want a high-end collar and leash to further enhance the pet.”
Bio-Groom, based in Longview, Texas, has long been aware of the value of more natural products for pets and the draw of ingredients familiar to customers from the human industry. The company recently re-packaged one of their best spa category sellers, Indulge shampoo with argan oil, and they’ve added a companion spray intended to be used as a daily brushing aid. Organic, 100 percent pure argan oil from Morocco is a natural source of vitamin E, linoleic acid and omega-6 fatty acids, all known to promote skin and hair health. Lauded as baby-mild and sulfate-free, Indulge shampoo is tearless, hydrating and conditioning, and penetrates the hair shaft and hair follicles to help nourish skin and coat.
According to Peggy Smith, media and marketing expert for Bio-Groom, “argan oil is gaining popularity as a ‘miracle ingredient’ in the Western beauty product industry. It has extremely high levels of vitamin E and 80 percent fatty acids which make it perfect for healing many skin ailments, as well as protecting against premature aging caused by oxidation.”
Some items often associated with a spa environment have very practical, healthy applications. According to Debbie Guardian, owner of Opie & Dixie, “When pups are bathed and groomed, pet parents rarely pay attention to dry, crusty snouts. Dry noses are actually quite common in seniors and brachycephalic, or flat-faced, squashed-nosed dogs.” To combat this ailment, Opie & Dixie has Snoutstik, which contains a healing combination of natural sunscreens, shea butter, sweet almond oil and jojoba seed oil.
“Although a treatment like Snoutstik may be considered a pampering treatment, it’s actually crucial for dogs in discomfort. Snoutstik is an effective remedy for parched and calloused noses,” says Guardian. “It’s moisturizing without being greasy, waxy or sticky and it provides soothing, lasting comfort. It’s not just a grooming treatment, but was created as a regular, go-to aid—just a quick swipe over the nose provides the immediate, gentle, healing hydration a dry nose craves.”
Opie & Dixie’s Paw Balm and Pawstik can be used to give a soothing massage to paw pads, but are also meant to relieve discomfort from cracked or calloused paws caused by walking on extreme heat or cold, or just difficult surfaces. Geriatric dogs can often benefit from regular use of them as well. Opie & Dixie has offered a line of organic, all-natural, chemical-free skin care treatments and grooming products, including shampoos and conditioners, for dogs and cats since 2008.
Whether you offer spa products as restorative helpful products with health benefits or as items for clients to provide their pet with the same pampered experience that they enjoy at the spa, steering customers to this category can add to both pets’ comfort and your bottom line. PB
Carol Visser has been involved in the pet industry since 1982 in various capacities, including grooming in and owning a busy suburban shop, working as a product expert for PetEdge, teaching seminars and training dogs. She was certified as a Master Groomer with NDGAA in 1990 and as a Certified Pet Dog Trainer in 2007, and she continues to enjoy learning about dogs and grooming at her small salon in rural Maine.