By Kathy Hosler
You might think that pet nutrition has little or no correlation to the grooming industry—but in reality, it does. We have all heard the phrase, “You are what you eat.” And that statement really rings true for our furry friends.
You see pets everyday in your salon. Some come in with beautiful hair and healthy skin while others have dull, lifeless hair and a multitude of skin and health problems. While there could be many causes for these conditions, poor nutrition can certainly be a contributing factor.
You know that your clients love their pets, but many of them make very poor nutritional choices and their dogs and cats suffer the consequences. Some owners make their pet food choices by watching commercials, using coupons or by getting the brand that is on sale—instead of reading labels or researching the ingredients.
Poor quality foods can cause pets to develop sensitivities or allergies to the ingredients in those foods. They can lead to flaky, itchy skin; red, swollen ears, or incessant licking and chewing of their paws or other places on their body. And the more they scratch and lick, the worse these problems get.
The owners bring their problem-ridden pets to you and expect you to permanently fix their issues with a ‘medicated’ bath. We all know that no amount of medicated baths can undo months or even years of poor feeding practices.
Another contributor to skin and coat issues are owners who indulge their pet with treat after treat. Many commercial treats are packed with calories, salt, lots of additives and very little nutrition. Yes, the pets may love them, but we have all seen the sad results in our salons.
Grossly obese pets are brought in for grooming. Many times they have difficulty standing for the groom because their extremely overweight bodies have put such a strain on their joints that they are in constant pain. And it certainly makes grooming them more difficult for you.
A poor diet can lead to extreme dental problems. Many pets show signs of periodontal disease by the time they are three years old. Untreated, they wind up with a mouthful of tarter encrusted teeth and diseased gums that will impact their overall health in a big way and can progress into life–threatening conditions. We have all groomed pets that had such bad breath that you could smell it as soon as they entered your door.
Giving a pet ‘people food’ is something that almost everyone has done at one time or another, but owners who go overboard and give their pets complete turkey dinners or baked ham buffets are inviting digestive disorders, more serious problems like pancreatitis, or worse.
Many stylists have made it a standard practice to remain closed for a day or two after holidays because they know that some owners will let their pets feast on everything in sight. Pets vomiting or having diarrhea due to gastric upset while they are being groomed is not something that you should have to contend with.
Without realizing it, some owners have contributed to their pet’s early death by making unwise nutritional choices for them. Sad isn’t it?
So, what’s a groomer to do? Most owners really do want to provide great nutrition for their pets, but they don’t have a clue how to go about it. That’s where you can help. Educate yourself about pet nutrition and then share that information with your customers.
Owners value your professional opinion and pet care knowledge. Helping the pet parent make better nutritional choices can go a long way toward improving the health, happiness, and comfort of their furry companions—and can strengthen the bond you have with the owner.
If you sell pet food and treats, ask your clients what brand of food they are feeding and compare it to what you have. Show your customers how to read and understand the labels. Tell them what to look for and what to avoid when they are purchasing items for their pets.
If you carry pet vitamins and other nutritional supplements, you can explain to the pet parent how these products might benefit their specific cat or dog. As their groomer, you have the advantage of knowing the pet and any issues that it has.
In addition to recommending high–quality, commercially produced food, treats and supplements, you can give them information about other options—like a raw diet. Suggest that they try healthy, natural snacks like carrots and green beans instead of high–fat, additive–packed treats.
If you have a blog or business newsletter, you can reach out to your entire client base about the importance of feeding a high–quality diet, limiting treats and including daily exercise for their pets. Help them understand how making good nutritional choices can improve their pet’s hair, skin and overall health.
Poor nutrition is not the cause of every problem that pets have—but good nutrition prevents and eliminates a lot of them. And without a doubt, a pet with a good coat and healthy skin is a lot easier to groom.