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5:12 PM   October 25, 2014
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Canine Cover-Up

Odor-eliminating products for dogs cut out the smell—and sell.
By Angela Pham

Whether addressing bad breath, that “wet dog” smell, or excessive gas, products designed to eliminate unpleasant canine odors today tend to be multitasking. And like most other trends today, they’re heading in the direction of all-natural.

Retailers report bad breath as the often No. 1 odor complaint among customers.
Many retailers and manufacturers cite that their dog-owning customers' No. 1 odor complaint is the problem of canine halitosis, more commonly known as bad breath.

“I had somebody come in today and said their dogs' breath is stinky,” noted Ryan Golas, owner of the Dog and Friends store in Orlando, Fla. “We hear about bad breath more than odor.”

Golas tells his customers about Ark Naturals' breathless toothpaste and also recommends Dogswell's Breathies treats to help fight tartar and plaque—often the main culprits of the smell. Ingredients such as parsley and mint help mask unpleasant odor while the dog chews.

Multitasking products like these are now the norm. At Benedent Corp. in Houston, director of marketing Jorge Zarur said the company has expanded on its existing doggy dental health line of toothbrush and toothpaste with a fresh-breath water called Plaque Off. With mint oils, yucca, and anthium dioxide, the additives improve the dogs' breath and also promote overall dental and digestive health, Zarur added. And to better address the root of the breath problem, Benedent recently added other modifications as well.

5 Selling Tips

Emphasize specific breeds. Lisa Jordan of Espree Animal Products Inc. said their fragranced facial products and deodorizers are especially perfect for bearded dogs, such as Schnauzers and bearded collies, as well as Yorkies and Shih Tzus and other breeds with extra fur that can trap odor.

Tout convenience. Jordan promotes shampoos and conditioners as an inexpensive, easy way for customers to extend their dogs' time in between grooming appointments.

Offer samples of breath-improving treats. Ryan Golas of the Dog and Friends store in Orlando, Fla., lets customers try them out first hand with their dogs to see if they like the results.

Stress the health benefits. Kristy Gooch of the Only Natural Pet Store in Boulder, Colo., shares perks beyond odor elimination, such as the soothing, naturally antiseptic oatmeal in shampoos that helps with scratching and hotspots.

Appeal to the senses. Nick Schklair of St. Johns, Fla.-based GNE Enterprises Inc. encourages retailers to use his 2-ounce bottles as in-store testers. He also suggests using Post-It notes with fragrance sprayed onto it as a take-home fragrance sample for customers. --A.P.

“We have made the central head of our toothbrush larger in order for the user to be able to brush the crown of each tooth with precision,” Zarur said. “We added an angle to the handle of the brush for that same reason. [And] we have created … a palm-assisted fingerbrush that promotes healthier teeth, meaning less bacteria; therefore, less smelly breath.”

In Boulder, Colo., visual standards coordinator Kristy Gooch at Only Natural Pet Store said bad breath is the No. 1 odor problem raised by her customers. To address their needs, the store sells a lot of digestive enzymes, and also created its own brand, called Royal Digest.

“That helps with the breath and shedding and all that stuff,” she noted. “It's one of the best-selling items in our store.”

To target a market of consumers concerned about bad breath and, similarly, dental health, Michael Anderson, of the sales and order entry department at Oxyfresh, said his company advertises in Dentistry Today, and word-of-mouth advertising doesn’t hurt, either.

“Customers will say to each other, 'I notice your dog doesn't have bad breath; what do you use?'” Anderson said. “The biggest seller in our line is the oral hygiene solution.”

But while dogs may commonly emit their worst smells from their mouth, the skin and fur often pose problems, as well. Anderson said the same ingredient in Oxyfresh's dental health line, Oxygene (a stabilized chlorine dioxide), is used in their deodorizers and shampoos as well to keep smells fresh. And the company's spray deodorizer works as both an air spray and one that an owner can spray directly on the dog.

“If it's winter, you probably don't want to bathe the dog too much,” Anderson said. “So just spray and rub it on the fur.”

Orange Dog, a deodorizing, vegan, and environmentally friendly line created by GNE Enterprises Inc. of St. Johns, Fla., is advertised as an all-natural set of shampoos and other deodorizers made with a citrus twist. But director of marketing Nick Schklair said the products' orange oil ingredient also serves a purpose he has not even advertised: Flea elimination.

GNE has also recently developed a large, gallon-size bottle for groomers who want economy sizes for their larger needs.

Just out at the Happytails Pet Spa of Santa Monica, Calif., is Ear Clear, an all-natural serum made to go into a dog’s ears to alleviate discomfort, itchiness and odor.

“If your dog has an ear infection, then you're aware of the Dorito-smelling ears,” observed Lorna Paxton, CEO of Happytails. “Just drop a few drops into the dog's ear canal.”

Similarly, the line's Eye Pads are made for covering up tear stains that drain from dogs' eyes, which also often emit an odor. Paxton said the product's lavender serves as both a soother and an odor reliever.

Though some companies avoid a fragranced product for dogs in case the dog owners harbor an allergy, the scent of an odor cover-up or eliminator can clearly play a factor in customers' purchasing preferences. From citrus to tea tree oil to oatmeal, fragrances run the gamut of diversity.

In Kansas City, Mo., store owner Gretchen Miller said deodorizers at her Doggie Style Boutique location tend to come in nature-based scents.
“Like poppy, anything floral,” she shared.

Among Sergeant's Pet Care Products Inc.'s odor-fighting line-up are fragranced collars, sprays and shampoos. Altering the fragrance has been a success, said Elizabeth Gould, health and beauty care category manager at Sergeant's.

“Since updating our Fur-So-Fresh fragrances about a year ago, we have seen an increase of over 20 percent,” she said. 

Spritzers and other deodorizers are sometimes targeted at certain areas, such as the face or body, and often for certain odors, such as skunk.

Espree Animal Products Inc.'s sales and marketing director Lisa Jordan said their formula for their “de-skunker” and odor eliminator has been adjusted a bit recently. Its modified potency is already out on shelves, she said, and is more effective than the original.

“This year, we have had such an increase [in sales] as far as de-skunk sprays,” Jordan said. “The groomers are calling in. There has really been an increase this year.”

And for dogs that have odors that originate from gas and bloat, there is a solution as well. Kate Gebhart, president of Bark Stix Inc., who makes Fartbusters treats for dogs out of Port Richmond, Calif., made the product in 2008 to address dogs that need extra digestive enzymes to be healthy and energetic. A positive side effect happened to be a lack of flatulence, she said.

The packaging for Fartbusters features a cartoon dog with flowers appearing to emerge from its rump, which Gebhart said has been tweaked to appeal to customers not familiar with the product.

“People have been responding well to it,” she said. “People see the product and … they just love the idea, and they can smile about it.”

“At the same time, you can laugh about it or chuckle and also know you have a healthy treat here,” she said. <HOME>

Angela Pham is a long-time dog owner and frequent contributor to Pet Product News International.


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