Dry Clean Only
by Carol Visser
April 1, 2012
The market is brimming with a healthy assortment of between-bath products and waterless cleansers designed to keep the family pet smelling good every day.



In increasing numbers, pet owners are treating their animals as members of the family. Pets are no longer confined to the backyard or basement, and not only do they live indoors, they are often allowed on furniture and beds. This makes odor control on pets a more significant consumer concern than ever before, creating a prime opportunity for pet specialty retailers.

Many groomers are reporting that budget-conscious pet owners are trying to stretch the time between grooming appointments. Retailers, including those offering grooming services, should be ready to help advise clients on products that help keep pets smelling and looking fresher longer. Brushing and combing do a lot to remove dirt and dander, but there are plenty of products on the market designed to help control pet odor between baths and grooming salon visits.

With the many waterless products available today, pets do not necessarily need to take a proper bath to smell good. These products work in a manner similar to regular shampoo. Shampoos contain surfactants (surface-acting agents that lift dirt and then soapsuds carry the soil away). Wipes, waterless shampoo, and foams usually contain lighter surfactants that lift dirt, leaving behind little or no residue and a light fragrance. The user simply wipes the dirt away.

Waterless shampoos can be applied lightly from a spray bottle or on a towel, or poured thoroughly on an area and toweled off and dried. Wipes are convenient—just pull one out and wipe the area.

While most grooming or finishing sprays do not contain surfactants, they still carry away dirt and odor when used and wiped off. They usually do not wet the coat enough to require drying, but they do a lot to condition the coat and skin, and reduce static. When chalks and spray powders are wiped or brushed off, a good amount of dirt is removed along with the excess powder. The remaining powder coats the hair shaft, leaving a nice scent, reducing static, providing a bit of texture and absorbing oils.

There are wipes made specifically for eyes, ears, face or the full body. These often seem similar to baby wipes, but they are designed with pets in mind. It can be risky to sell and recommend a product that isn’t designed for pets for off-label use. If a problem results, the store could be legally responsible.

Fortunately, there are an amazing number of products designed for between-bath freshenings. Retailers interested in bolstering this category on its shelves may want to check with their vendors to see if they offer any of these types of products. Coordinating scents and packaging is always desirable, and it’s convenient to work with existing vendors.

Know the Selling Points
Whichever products a retailer decides on, it is a good idea to keep samples out where customers can see, smell and try them. With products that work, a demonstration is the best sales tool. Point out the benefits, both by having signage listing when to use each kind of between-bath assistance product and by training employees to suggest them.

There are many reasons to use between-bath sprays, waterless shampoos and wipes, and each of them is a potential selling point to a customer. These products may reduce static electricity, reduce tear stains, reduce odor and clean spots.

Waterless and between-bath products will also be ideal for pet parents with puppies or kittens that are too young to be fully bathed, or customers with sick, convalescing or geriatric pets. They are great for customers who travel with their pets, as well—they can clean muddy paws before getting in the car and help clean up messes while on the road.

Another selling point that has become important in pet supplies recently is being “green.” Aroma Paws of Tarzana, Calif., offers customers an American-made product that helps the dog while being eco-friendly. Its products are packaged in recyclable bottles, and the company follows a policy of “reduce, reuse, recycle.”

The organic Face, Coat and Paw Wash uses tea-tree oil as an astringent to strip away debris from the coat instead of chemically derived surfactants. The Between Bath Conditioning and Deodorizing Coat Sprays are made from all-natural ingredients and are made with pure essential oils, which dogs are less likely to have allergic reactions to. “An educated retailer is an invaluable resource for pet owners,” says Crystalyn Guzman, CEO of Aroma Paws. “Knowing a product, its uses and benefits will not only help your customers with their grooming concerns, but will boost additional sales.”

And that’s the ticket to selling: understand the customer’s needs and know which products will meet those needs.

Mary Meeks, owner of Nature’s Specialties, agrees. “Talking to customers and asking what breed they have, and what kind of condition it’s in will give you the information needed to find out what you can offer them to help solve their problems,” she says. “And make sure to just show them new or good products that you are excited about.”

Meeks is excited about the company’s newest product, Quick Rescue, a medicated foaming wash with a mild solution of neem and herbal oils. It’s intended for itching, hot spots, and skin irritations due to flea or tick problems, but it is also good for cleaning and deodorizing. Work the foam in, wipe with a damp cloth and brush out.

Between-bath products will sell themselves. With just a little bit of effort, these products will fly out the door, helping pets stay fresher and more “pettable,” while keeping the income stream steady. What more could you ask of a product category?


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.