By Jonathan David
The subject of canine nutrition is one that has always fascinated me. Gone are the days where one brand of dog food was king and that’s what we were taught we should feed our four–legged family members.
But after years of research and advancements in understanding canine nutrition, there is now a cornucopia of pet food brands, flavors, ingredients and forms available to every dog owner.
Understanding the varieties, ingredients, forms and nutritional information can be overwhelming; however, in our ever evolving industry, it’s becoming a necessity to understand this information. But why is it so important for a pet groomer to know about canine nutrition?
In my 30 years of working in the pet care industry I have come to understand that nutrition and pet grooming go hand in hand. Pet groomers are typically the first line of defense; the gate keepers if you will. We see our canine clients far more frequently than their veterinarians, and when we have a long–time client that we see regularly, we know every lump, bump and issue with those dogs. We know when their behavior is “normal” or when it seems like there’s something not quite right.
Also, customers will often look to their pet groomers for advice about the many pet–related challenges they encounter—and questions about nutrition are one of the most frequent types of questions I get from pet owners.
As the pet grooming industry grows and improves, and as many states are in the process of creating laws that will regulate the pet grooming industry, I believe it’s essential that pet groomers become more informed about this subject for several reasons.
First off, as a professional pet stylist, I believe one should be as informed about important pet–related topics for the simple reason of being a well–rounded pet care professional. If we want to be seen as professionals that should be taken seriously like the many other respected industries in our world, we must elevate our knowledge to be the authorities we know we are in our field.
Secondly, being knowledgeable about important topics like canine nutrition helps to create customer loyalty and this is the foundation of a successful business that can stand the test of time. This can also be beneficial to your business if you’re a retailer through sales of high quality pet foods, nutritional treats and nutritional supplements. At some point your clientele will most definitely turn to you for advice about the best foods to feed their pets and this is a great way to steer your clients who may be feeding their dogs a poor quality diet towards a more nutritionally complete and balanced diet that you carry in your business.
The benefits of this are greater than you think. Not only can this help to boost sales and add to your bottom line, but if you can get your clients on more nutritionally complete diets and healthy treats, your finished grooms can improve as well.
“How would nutrition affect my grooming?” you might ask. Well let’s explore what I mean by that.
Often poor quality diets can be the root of skin issues related to allergies or lack of nutrition. We often see dry, inflamed and allergic skin, and all of those can be related to nutrition. Today’s pet foods have many different ingredients that are newer to the pet food industry and the various brands can be formulated with key ingredients for stage of life, weight management, allergies, performance, specific needs of the breed or simply for more organic and whole nutrition. While this can be very beneficial in selecting the best option for each individual pet, the variety can also have ingredients that some pets are sensitive to or even allergic to.
Unfortunately there is no one–size–fits–all pet food or nutritional guideline, so this is where expanded knowledge about the ingredients and nutritional needs of dogs in general can benefit a professional pet groomer. When we see skin issues that arise from food allergies we can guide them to a better dietary option with a different protein as the base or a different formulation of ingredients.
Some pet foods are very high in carbohydrates or unhealthy fats, leading to overweight dogs. In some cases, the lifestyle of the dog through lack of exercise can also lead to weight issues, so understanding the nutritional needs of less active dogs can help you guide the customer to a diet that better suits their needs.
Another factor to consider is the life stage of your furry clients. Puppies that get a good start in life on a diet of quality, nutrient–rich ingredients have a better opportunity to grow into healthy and beautiful adults with a well developed coat. The needs of a growing puppy are vastly different than an adult dog so being able to educate your clients about the specific needs of their puppies is beneficial for your clients, but also for the groomer as it helps to again create customer loyalty.
Dogs that have already matured and have passed the puppy stage need less fats and often lower proteins. Customers often ask the groomers for advice about when to switch from puppy to adult food, and adult food to senior formulas, which are beneficial for aging pets and sometimes specific medical issues that accompany aging.
The bottom line is, a healthy dog with healthy skin and a good coat is going to look and feel better overall. Helping our clients get their dogs to a healthier weight with a better coat will give us a more balanced and structurally sound dog that will carry a good grooming better and create lasting relationships with our clients that benefit both the customer and you! ✂️
Jonathan David is a former GroomTeam USA member with 30 years in the grooming industry. He owns a successful luxury pet spa and mobile grooming business in south Florida and is an award winning international speaker and judge.
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