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Clean and Clear

Maggie Marton//April 4, 2014//

Clean and Clear

Maggie Marton //April 4, 2014//

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For dog owners, taking care of their pet’s eyes is a critical, yet an often overlooked part of the grooming routine.

In addition to having a groomer clip the fur around the eyes, owners should be encouraged to follow an at-home maintenance routine to keep their dog’s eyes clean and clear. Plus, proper eye care can prevent irritations that can lead to infection.

“Dogs rely on their sense of sight, which is why it’s important to keep their eyes healthy and functioning properly,” Steven Shweky of Fetch… for pets!, said. “Eye-care products are very helpful with everything from soothing irritated and itchy eyes, to flushing out any dirt and debris. Retailers should be able to convey to the consumer the importance of eye care and choosing safe, gentle products.”

Denise McDonald, a groomer and grooming instructor at Maser’s Grooming and Pet Boutique in Kenmore, Wash., agrees. She says dogs’ eyes are particularly sensitive, so she only uses gentle products.

“Eyes could be easily injured with shampoos, so it’s something a groomer has to be careful around,” she said. “We always just use a facial shampoo around the eyes because I’ve seen eye burnage.”

At Top Dog Grooming Shop & Pet Supplies in Saugatuck, Mich., owner Nancy Lucas recommends groomers examine their clients’ eyes for any problems that they need to alert the owner to, like swelling, discharge or redness.

For a gentle shampoo, a product like John Paul Pet’s Tearless Puppy & Kitten Shampoo is specially formulated to use around the eyes.

Stain Fighting

One of Lucas’ favorite products is TropiClean’s Spa Lavish Facial Cleanser & Tear Stain Remover Pet Shampoo in Blueberry Fresh Vanilla.

“One of the most common requests from owners is how to remove tear stains,” Lucas said. “Unfortunately, they are just that: stains. A good wash and trimming by the eyes usually helps with the staining, but never eliminates them completely.”

For dogs prone to tear stains, Burt’s Bees also has a tear stain remover that contains chamomile. Another gentle tear-stain product is True Blue’s Safe and Sure Eye Wipes. Rather than using a sudsing product that risks dripping into the eyes, the wipes use natural ingredients like witch hazel, cucumber and chamomile to clean dirt and stains.

When it comes to eliminating tear stains in both dogs and cats, Angels’ Eyes is a popular supplement to keep on the shelf. Safe for both shedding and non-shedding breeds, it helps to eliminate the tear stains from the inside out.

“The only other eye product I use for grooming is pet-safe eye drops when needed to help clear eyes of little hairs after their haircut,” Lucas said.

The Burt’s Bees Natural Pet Care line includes an eye wash made with saline solution that flushes out debris by mimicking a dog’s tears. Similarly, Ark Naturals’ Eyes So Bright is an all-natural botanical wash that gently cleans a dog’s eyes.

In addition to gentle shampoos, McDonald suggests wipes to keep dirt and debris out of the eyes. Plus, she says, long-haired dogs need to have the fur clipped short around the eyes to prevent sores and matting.

Another popular product is Earthbath’s Eye Wipes, which are hypoallergenic and fragrance-free wipes that achieve McDonald’s recommendation to keep the area free from dirt and secretions.

From a retailer’s perspective, educating customers on best practices for taking care of their dog’s eyes at home is crucial. Pair that education with a product recommendation, and be ready to help customers troubleshoot the eye problems that their dogs are facing.

To do this, stock shelves with a mix of product types, gentle shampoos, tear-stain removers, eye washes and wipes, and be ready to help your customers establish an eye-care routine for their pets.

In her store, Lucas counsels her customers to take care of their dog’s eyes without going overboard.

“In my opinion, the simpler the better since our pet’s eyes are so delicate,” she said.