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8:04 AM   September 21, 2014
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Stop Shedding Problems at the Source

Suggest the right tools to help appease this common customer complaint.
By Meghan E. Murphy

When it comes to solving one of pet owners’ top complaints—shedding—manufacturers and groomers are getting creative. From new lines of brushes to hypoallergenic shampoos, the latest trends in battling excess hair tackle the problem from the outside in and from the inside out.

The right grooming tool can make a big difference in the results pet owners see. Stock a variety of combs and brushes for variously breeds’ hair types. Courtesy of FURminator
Groomers say they recommend pet owners use the right brushing tools designed for use with the right pups because different breeds have hair with different needs. But experts are also look at the causes of shedding: poor nutrition and harsh shampoos.

From food to shampoo, groomers recommend more natural products to clients to keep shedding to a minimum.

From the Inside Out
Dogs shed naturally twice a year, but, with low-quality processed foods available on the shelf, some pets have unhealthy skin or allergies that cause them to shed excessively.

Groomer Lisa Toscano, who owns Pup Hollywood in Staten Island, N.Y., said pet owners need to first look at the diet when trying to stop shedding.

“That’s the first step,” said the groomer, who studied label after label to find the best dog food to sell in her shop. Toscano carries holistic pet food from Artemis Pet Food Co. Inc. with no wheat, grain or corn products at her shop. Experts are discovering that some pets are allergic some of the traditional fillers used in pet foods.

Brenda Bater, owner of Paw Prints groomers in Buford, Ga., said that she also asks about nutrition and advises her customers to consult their veterinarians about skin problems.

From the Outside In
During tough economic times, more pet owners seem to be waiting a little longer between grooming services, but retailers can still turn a profit on at-home grooming tools. When washing at home, groomers say it’s important for customers to choose the right shampoos because skin irritation can cause pets to shed more heavily.

“There are a lot of dogs that have skin allergies,” said Sue McAdams, owner of Puppourri Pet Grooming in Bellbrook, Ohio. Her store offers a line of hypoallergenic shampoos from John Paul Pet by Paul Mitchell that customers say helps prevent itchy skin.

Bater recommends shampoos that contain oatmeal and aloe. In Georgia, where a lot of pollen and allergens are in the air, she has seen the right shampoos bring relief to itchy dogs.

The Right Tools
From Lhasa Apsos to Great Danes, there are about half a dozen different brush options for dogs with different coats. Groomers say choosing the right tool for brushing your pet is one of the most important decisions you can make to keep shedding to a minimum.

“You don’t want to use a tool for a short-coated breed on a long-coated breed,” Toscano said.

But that seems to be what many pet owners are doing, according to statistics. While 81 percent of dog owners and 74 percent of cat owners have brushes or grooming tools for their pets, there’s little variation in what owners purchase for their breeds, according to the 2009-2010 American Pet Products Associations National Pet Owner’s Survey.

Groomers say using the wrong tools might be exacerbating shedding.

“They can actually cause damage if they use the wrong tool,” McAdams said.

Toscano recommends curry brushes for short-coated breeds, firm bristles for medium coats and pin brushes with tooth combs for long-haired pups. Dogs with double coats need stiff, long-bristled brushes, she said.

What this means is that retailers should offer a wide array of options. Pet Head is now offering a line of six different brush tools, said Ana Montoya, a spokeswoman for the TIGI Bed Head brand licensed to Skaffles LLC in New York City. From the Primpin’ Comb to the So Cool Dog Combo Brush, the brushes all come in fun colors that brings a professional groomer’s tool to the pet parent’s own home.

The creators of the popular FURminator deShedding tools, which groomers often offer as an extra-charge service at their stores, say they’re seeing more pet parents buying the tool for home use.

“We’re certainly seeing an increase in people buying because maybe they’re cutting back on the number of services they’re doing for their dog,” said Ronna Krahl, the director of marketing for Fenton, Mo-based FURminator Inc.

McAdams also grooms her customers’ pups with one of the latest Andis innovations, the Power DeShedder. The tool has a comfortable handle and also can be turned on to give pets a massage while they’re being groomed.

From food to brushes to shampoos, offering pet owners the right choices from the inside out is the key to helping them solve one of their biggest problems and make their pets happier too.

Brushing for Breeds
Groomer Lisa Toscano of Pup Hollywood in Staten Island, N.Y., gives her grooming tool recommendations.

  • Rubber curry brush: Best for very short coats
    .
  • Firm bristle brush: Best for medium coats
    .
  • Slicker brush: Best for curly-haired dogs, dog with mats and removal of dead hair on shedding dogs
    .
  • Pin brush: Best for long and fine-haired breeds or for heavy-coated dogs that have double coats
    .
  • Tooth comb: Best to help finish grooming long-haired pups
    .
  • Stiff, long-bristled brush and large slicker: Best for dogs with double coats, to help remove the undercoat

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Newspaper reporter Meghan E. Murphy has written articles on pet industry trends for more than three years.


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