The array of merchandise available in a typical spa product aisle is mind-boggling: Tropical fruit-scented and aromatherapy-fragrant shampoos and conditioners with matching perfumed candles, fun aromatic soaps on a rope, hair color enhancers and luster shines, skincare creams to ward off environmental damage, specially oxygenated waterless shampoos, shea butter balms for cracked skin, tear-stain removal treatments and scented after-bath spritzers and relaxants.
But wait; take a closer look at the labeling. This indulgent assault on both body and the senses is strictly for dogs …
In the last five years, as dog owners continue to undergo the transformation into pet parents, the pet industry has been packaging merchandise and treatments to mimic human beauty products in a race to ensure that both people and their furry companions are treated equally when it comes to promoting good health and well being.
This copycat syndrome has witnessed companies like John Paul Mitchell Systems, the largest single-line hair care company in the world, cross over species barriers with the introduction of their John Paul Pet Care range back in 2003.
Chief Executive Officer John Paul DeJoria was one of the first people in the beauty industry to speak out about testing products for human use on animals and was quick to point out that in ironic contrast — all the John Paul Pet products are tested on humans before they begin their shelf life.
In the same time frame, many companies have followed, picking all natural ingredients for their pet spa lines and reaping the financial benefit of blossoming sales.There are signs of a growing trend towards including “human grade” materials. And to top is all, an organization now exists called The International Society of Canine Cosmetologists. It’s headed by Texas-based Pam Lauritzen, a pet stylist, and lecturer in the grooming world and aimed at keeping track of trends, innovations and issues facing the pet spa products industry.
“As new ingredients and technologies evolve, some of the older ingredients become less popular and market trends change accordingly,” says Justin Jones, President of Espree in Grapevine, Texas. “An excellent example is tar and sulphur shampoos that were very popular 10-15 years ago to treat skin problems. Now, ingredients like oatmeal and tea tree oil are in the forefront and tar and sulphur based products have taken a back place on the shelf in favor of these newer formulations.
“These days, philosophy is to combine the wisdom of nature with the latest innovative technology to create pet care and grooming products that meet specific needs safely and naturally.”
Jones says that dog spa products have followed the ideas of similar human products every step of the way. Initially, the tar and sulphur and various chemical-based products made way for a tropical wave of fruity fragrances like strawberry, apples and kiwi that dominated shampoos and conditioners.
“Fruity fragrances are still popular choices, however, the focus is now on holistic aromatherapy products. And I admit I have no idea where it’s going next.”
Retailers across the country agree that as more pet owners are educating themselves to the benefits of natural ingredients like lavender and chamomile and seeing the results, they become a target audience for similar spa products for their pets.
In past years, statistics published by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association indicated that dog owners purchased their grooming tools and products primarily from supermarkets and discounts stores. However, owners of smaller retail outlets and up-market pet boutiques agree that with the advent of the humanizing of pet products and labeling them spa products, the demographic is changing and that their sector of the grooming market has increased considerably.
The whole connotation surrounding dog spa products has to do with pampering and mollycoddling fur kids This refreshing metamorphosis goes hand in glove with personalized service offered by individual retailers. This make-over package includes more pet groomers presenting themselves as pet stylists and doggy parlors remodeling themselves as pet spas.
And there’s a further transformation within the industry; more and more retail stores are now offering pet styling services and vice versa.
“I consider the difference between a dog spa and a typical grooming salon to be the amount of individual attention lavished on a pet,” says Laura Pearson, owner of The Pampered Pet Day Spaw (stet) in Long Beach, Calif., recently voted one of America’s ten most dog-friendly cities by Dog Fancy magazine.
“At a spa it’s all about the quality of the time spent and the overall experience of the visit. Everyone enjoys being pampered and pets are no exception. A spa offers a relaxed atmosphere.
“Our canine clients often run in ahead of their pet parents, head straight for the toy box and grab their favorite toy. The facility is cage free and appointments are made to cater strictly for the convenience of the pet. They have our full attention through a variety of treatments until they are collected approximately two and a half hours later.”
Like many manufacturers, Dr Phil Brown, Vice President of Research and Development at Nutri-Vet endorses the trend of dog spas selling take home products for use in between salon appointments.
Once again, this trend mimics the human hair and beauty salon system whereby a stylist or beautician will recommend products to the client to use at home to maintain good skin and hair between salon visits.
“This new retail relationship offers lots of benefits to both pet stylists and pet owners. Firstly, if the pet owner is happy with the services provided by the salon, they will take the recommendations for at home product use to help maintain the groomer’s good work. And, if the product works well at home, the groomer ultimately gets the praise and the benefit of continuing business.”
Back to the shelves crammed with a vast array of products. Apart from the variety of shampoos to treat various skin conditions and ranges of conditioners and detanglers, popular new products include hair colorants to bring out auburn or black shades and luster sprays to make white fur dazzling white. Paw balms containing shea butter are specially formulated for cracked paw pads and chapped noses. There are specially oxygenated waterless shampoos and conditioners for pets on the go and formulations designed to remove brown tear stains and flavored face masks that cleanse and relaxes simultaneously. Heady colognes and trendy nail polishes in the latest colors like poodle pink and fire hydrant red complete the pampered and peticured pet.
As yet, there is no product on the market to cover hair hairs, but no doubt that will happen!
“I believe that every dog should have his spa day at home too,” says Candace Smith owner of the Austin, Texas based Cain and Able that produces gift sets complete with a rubber duck toy.
Pat parents are buying them for their own pets as well as for gifts. While other manufacturers complete the at-home spa experience with specially designed toweling bathrobes and special bone-shaped towels
“It’s all part of the pampering package,” says Carol Perkins founder of Harry Barker in Charleston, South Carolina who had had great success with her doggy bathrobes.
“Bottom line. A relaxed dog is a happy dog. That’s what is all about.”
A DAY AT THE SPA
“On average, our canine clients come in every two weeks for a bath and get a full spa package once a month,” says Jennifer Posner, Executive Vice President and Alpha Female at trendy LA Dogworks in Los Angeles, Calif. She remains discreetly silent about her celebrity VID (Very Important Dog) list that has the puppurazzi camping outside her door.
The spa has a special Zen Den with canine massage therapists on hand trained in Thai massage, aromatherapy massage and Reiki. Separate treatments like dental cleaning; hair coloring, coat whitening and tear stain treatments are available as well as special conditioning body wraps.
“Body wraps are far more beneficial than a hot oil treatment for skin and coat texture,” says Posner. “There are also special wraps used to relax tired muscles and to reduce pain and stiffness in joints. While ‘French pawdicures’, featuring two color designs are very popular at the moment.”
South Bark Dog Wash in San Diego, Calif. offers a different kind of spa experience. Clients rent a tub and buy a special spa package of shampoos and conditioning treatments at this “full service self service spa”. This translates into pet owners do their own washing and grooming under the watchful eye of spa handlers who assist dogs in and out of the tub and apply specialized products like a blueberry-flavored cleansing facial “mask”.
“It’s just a another concept,” says co-owner Donna F. Walker. “But at the end of the day, it’s still all about indulging your pet.”
This article is from Pet Product News International