March 1, 2016

Dog owners usually seek skin care products to solve a problem. They notice their dog is itchy, for example, or perhaps that the dog has dandruff or oily fur. When it comes to skin care, it is often an “as needed” purchase rather than a preventative one. Because of the problem-solving nature of the purchase, consumers focus on products that are simple, targeted and effective.

An increase in allergies that manifest in the skin and an emphasis on environmentally-friendly products have shifted purchasing habits.

“Our products are free of all toxins—phosphates, phthalates, sulfates, parabens, DEA, and synthetic fragrance and color—so dogs get clean, rinse clean, smell great and their parents can feel good about the choice they made,” said Jane Bond, co-owner of Eco Dog Care.

This month, Eco Dog Care will launch a new shampoo called Soothe.

“So many people have told us about their dogs who are suffering from environmental allergens and triggers, and we’re rolling out a new fragrance variant about the same time that will offer a burst of citrus freshness from Israeli orange oil,” Bond said.

Cameron Fang, who runs product development and international sales at RELIQ, expressed a similar sentiment.

“Customers want a product that will thoroughly clean their dog and leave them smelling fresh without damaging their skin or coat,” Fang said. “RELIQ’s cleansing process actually removes bacteria and toxins through an absorption process, while stimulating the skin and helping to clear problem skin, hot spots and odor problems.”

According to Fang, the products in RELIQ’s line are also all-natural and “eco-safe: safe for the pet and safe for the environment.”

Bond explained that dog owners are becoming more conscious of their purchasing decisions.

“I think folks, in general, are just more aware of how their personal decisions can affect the environment, and they want choices when they shop,” Bond said. “So, for example, adding detergents can create a lot of foamy bubbles in shampoo, but additives like phosphates and sulfates can also contaminate the groundwater and oceans. So when you rinse your dog after a bath with these products, you’re also washing contaminants down the drain and into the water.”

Part of that awareness includes the effects pet products can have on dog owners and on groomers.

“Not only are our ‘green’ ingredients important for the health of a dog’s skin and coat, but our products are healthier for the people that use them to bathe and groom their dogs,” Bond said. “Nothing harsh on your dog, nothing harsh on your hands.”

For those owners who are concerned about dry skin or are grooming novices, simple products often provide the best solution. For instance, guide those customers to a clean-rinsing shampoo that does not require a second conditioning product.

“When using our formulas, there is no need to use a conditioner following the shampoo process,” Fang said. “Our shampoos are pH balanced and low-sudsing for easy rinse. They’re also 100 percent chlorine, alcohol and paraben free. They are formulated with far fewer lathering additives. Dead skin cells, dirt and stains are separated from the hairs and are effortlessly rinsed off without unhealthy cleaning agents being left behind. Our solutions offer an easier application, quicker clean up, less wasted product, less water consumption, and pets will no longer suffer from dry skin.”

Skin care products are not limited to shampoos, conditioners or sprays. An important consideration and possible upsell is a quality brush. Dog owners might not realize just how important regular brushing is for their dog’s skin health.

The line of ActiVet brushes hits on all major needs. For instance, Pro Firm Purple has bent firm bristles on both sides with a firm flex ratio—perfect for undercoat removal. The Gold Supersoft Coatgrabber meets needs on the opposite end of the coat spectrum. It’s a soft brush for short, dense coats with little or no undercoat. ActiVet also includes combo brushes and options for various coat problems. However, many dog owners are unaware of the relationship between brushing and skin care. Consider product demonstrations in the salon to illustrate the necessity of good brushing.

Often, when faced with a skin care problem, dog owners ask for advice on which products to purchase to solve a specific problem. This positions groomers and retailers to make product suggestions that address the acute issues as well as any possible preventative steps. Be prepared with a few suggestions to answer some of the most common skin care problems your customers face. Utilize displays that are solution-focused rather than brand- or product-specific to provide clearer buying options for concerned dog owners.

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