Salon and style tips for your pampered pet
Dogs have been called "man's best friend" for centuries. However, in many households, cats have also steadily gained status and ranking. No longer is Fido or Morris a pet that just sits around, whose life revolves around its owner. No, America's pets have grown into something much more significant. As the new status symbol for many, they are very pampered. In the interest of full disclosure, I confess that I have two cats that basically rule the roost in my own house.
Chuck Simons, owner of the Pet Salon in Margate since 1983, claims more money was spent on pet toys last year than children's toys. He says that although millions more own cats, dogs comprise 99 percent of the 40 animals his shop grooms each day.
As a member of the National Dog Groomers Association of America (NDGAA), the Pet Salon offers the Furminator Shed-less treatment that reduces shedding by more than 60 percent. "People tend to leave cats alone to care for themselves while dogs need closer attention," says Simons.
Dogs and cats live different lives as pets. Most veterinarians recommend that cats stay indoors for their safety and health. On the other hand, dogs regularly go outside at least twice a day, and often for long walks. Just as humans need protection from the elements, so do our canine friends.
PetSmart, a leading pet retailer, urges appropriate dress for dogs. While dressing dogs in human-style clothing is cute, there are also practical reasons. After medical treatment or certain grooming procedures, dogs may have exposed skin. Shorthaired dogs are almost bald on the chest and belly.
Obviously, all animals need protection from both the winter's cold and snow and the harmful rays of the summer sun. It is vital for those that have been shaved or have lost hair from illness.
Some popular practical items and materials include:
Polar fleece - A good protective fabric, keeps the dog warm while drawing moisture away from the body.
Booties - For icy, rainy, hot and snowy days, booties help insulate the footpads from the cold pavement or ground heat that can burn the sensitive skin.
Hats - Head coverings with visors and sunglasses can protect against UV rays for cats and dogs.
Proper measuring will ensure a comfortable, effective fit. Measure along the dog's backbone from the base of the head to the base of the tail for a "top line measurement." Many manufacturers use that standard for their pet garments, but also measure the animal's girth around the belly.
Increasing a size from the standard charts is smart for heavier dogs. It will also make adjustment easier. Measure chests at the widest point, typically located between the front legs. Sizing charts range from extra small at eight to 14 inches up to XX large at 28 to 32 inches, with several increments in between. Follow the same measuring steps for cats.
Even the best fitting item may challenge an owner's ability to "persuade" a pet to wear clothing, and is best accomplished through training. Trainers advise putting the item on and rewarding the dog with verbal praise. Remove the clothing and repeat the process, gradually increasing the wearing time. As with most dog training, puppies are easier, but more practice will train older dogs.
There are dozens of Web sites for buying pet apparel online. Also, Jakes Dog House in The Quarter at the Tropicana offers gift items and a large selection of apparel for dogs.
A beautifully dressed and groomed pet deserves a keepsake, right? The Pet Salon offers a digital photo process to show off the little darling. "Clients from all over send photos of their pets to our studio," says Simons. "The sitting fee is waived for pets groomed on the same day as the photo shoot. Our shop reproduces that favorite picture into mugs, computer mouse pads, T-shirts and greeting cards."
Portrait and photo packages are also available.
While owners primp and pamper their pets, here is my question: Would we really want to read our pets' minds? While they may be our best friends, they may not think the same of us. But a little extra attention couldn't hurt, right?