Bone Dry
by Carol Visser
August 1, 2012
Retailers that are not selling drying and finishing products are missing out on an important slice of the grooming supplies business.



Retailers devote a good amount of space to shampoos and conditioners for pets. Sometimes, however, they don’t realize that there’s a whole world of products on the market meant to help the drying process, and they wind up neglecting great sales opportunities found in drying and finishing products.

Pet owners who bathe their pets at home have every kind of setup imaginable—from a full grooming room that equals any professional salon to an area on the lawn where the dog gets a quick rinse with the garden hose. Whatever the level of expertise or sophistication, there are products that can help pet owners dry their pets quicker, easier and in a more professional way—and retailers can increase their income by offering at least a few.

Well-executed home bathing and drying can help pet owners save money at the grooming salon, as clean pets require less frequent appointments and will be in better condition when they are groomed—a good selling point for home bathing and drying products. Many breeds require little to no professional styling, but pet parents may still need a little know-how and the right products to keep their dogs in top condition.


High and Dry
Pet owners don’t always understand the importance of drying all dogs thoroughly after bathing. After all, a dog can take a dip in the lake or ocean, shake, and it will seem to be nearly dry—but it’s not the same scenario as a bath. Dogs have natural body oils that distribute along the hair shaft, providing some protection against thorough wetting, and many dogs have double coats that keep them even drier. Most dogs have both undercoat, the soft, fluffy hair that sheds everywhere, and guard hairs, the longer, stiffer, darker hairs that grow through and conceal the undercoat. The undercoat provides insulation, while the guard hairs give water resistance. When the dog is dunked in the pond, he only gets wet on the surface, for the most part. When you shampoo a dog, however, you remove the natural oils, wetting the coat, even the undercoat, right down to the skin.

Dogs that are not dried completely are prone to various skin conditions, as a damp coat and skin are prime breeding areas for bacteria. Damp dogs can also harbor odors. Itching can result from dampness under the surface, causing dogs to injure themselves by scratching.

Whatever means are used, dogs should be dried thoroughly. Human hairdryers are difficult to use, as they get much too hot for dogs’ skin. David Stern, vice president of marketing for the Metropolitan Vacuum Cleaner Company—which makes air force dryers and other pet grooming equipment and products—says another problem is that hairdryers dry from the outside in, which can leave the skin and undercoat still damp.

“Dog hair should be dried from the hair follicle up to ensure that the skin area is completely dry, which is what dog dryers are designed to do,” Stern says. “More and more people are drying their dogs at home and are looking for the equipment to do it right. New construction of condos and apartment buildings are even including self-serve dog-wash areas.”

Metro’s orange hi-velocity dryers are readily recognizable, not only to professionals but to consumers through advertising in consumer-oriented magazines. Metro’s FlexDri, suitable for toy breeds, clamps to a table allowing hands-free drying—a huge bonus as brushing under the airstream allows fast, tangle-free results. Also used by professional dog groomers, the Air Force Commander is popular with owners of medium to large dogs. A variable speed control that allows users to dial from zero to 100-percent power means the same dryer can be safely used on small dogs and faces, as well as thick-coated bodies. The very powerful Blaster dryers have this feature as well.

Metro Dryers’ website, dogdryer.com, shows all the company’s products, including a very simple solution to make drying easier at home. The Super Absorbent Pet Towel is a synthetic chamois that can be used to blot water off the dog, absorbing up to 15 times its weight in water.  After being wrung out, it will continue to absorb water, providing a huge savings in mess, damp towels and laundry.

Another product that groomers love that is equally valuable for home use is a Happy Hoodie, a soft, stretchy band placed over the ears. Many dogs do not like to have their heads and ears dried, whether with a flow of air or a brisk toweling. HappyHoodie.com illustrates that dogs tolerate the noise of a dryer much more readily when wearing one, and the material absorbs water so well that the ears will be mostly dry by the time you are done drying the body. The company claims that it even calms animals with noise sensitivity to thunder, vacuums and more.

Pet owners will need more than just a dryer and absorbent towel, however, to make the most of the process. A good brush for after the dog is dry is essential.  A clean, dry coat brushes out much more easily than a dirty coat, or than clean coat when still wet. A good trick is to towel lightly, then spritz on a silicone-based product such as The Stuff, PetEdge’s GloCoat or Best Shot’s Mist, and then use a dryer, or even allow the animal to air dry to some extent. No dryer? Air dry, and call the pet over every 20 minutes for a towel and brush session until dry and mat free. Once dry, brush thoroughly. For the short-coated breeds, a rubber brush can be used, while shampoo is on the dog. Shampoo is well distributed, while shedding coat slides right off with the suds.

There are conditioners aplenty that help reduce tangles simply by reducing the static that can cause matting. Grooming sprays and mists also usually leave behind a light scent on the coat.

Terri Wellman, sales and marketing manager, for Scottdale Ga.-based Davis Manufacturing, says the company offers a spray item used mostly by groomers, but that could be invaluable to pet owners, too. Davis’ Quick-Dry Spray allows the dog to dry in less time. While the ingredients are proprietary, Wellman assures that there is nothing in it that would be drying to coat and skin. Davis Manufacturing also carries a faux chamois, the Towel Magnet.

It’s becoming ever more common to bathe dogs at home, so why not make it easier for them to do so while increasing your sales?


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.