Looking for that perfect way to reward your most devout follower? Walk your pet into that luxurious spa. Here’s what you need to ascertain when making that booking
By: Shannon Heggem, Pet Luxury Expert
Posted on: April 24, 2019
Now, more than ever, the “pets are family” movement is in full swing on a global scale. Many people are opting for four-legged children over two, and are demanding the availability of human-level luxury services for their furry kids. Progressive day care, boarding, veterinary and grooming facilities recognize this need for high-end care, and are happily providing targeted luxury services for pampered pooches.
Savvy grooming salon owners have embraced this opportunity to service the luxury care market by adding spa products and trendy add-on services to their lists of offerings. This has been embraced with great enthusiasm by pet parents, who cannot seem to get enough of luxury products, care and services alike.
It is important to note that our feline friends also have luxury services available at cat spas, which are increasing in popularity. However, the market remains, at least for the moment, dog-centric, perhaps due to overwhelming ‘adoration’ that most cats have for water in general. So for now, let’s focus on our finicky, fussy French bulldog Fido.
A canine spa treat
The basis for choosing a specialized spa facility for your fortunate four-legged companion goes far beyond simply finding a grooming shop with “spa” included in its name. It is important to seek out a true pet spa where indulgent, pamper-focused services are offered in a peaceful, Zen-filled atmosphere. The basis of the dog spa concept is to provide a means for doting pet owners to be able to reward their faithful friends with a relaxing and pleasant experience which goes far beyond the basic bath and haircut.
A true canine spa event begins with a refreshing wash, and an air-jetted bath is simply a must. As dog-worshippers usually know, most pooches generally do not enjoy being bathed. However, a warm whirlpool bath combined with one-on-one human attention can usually sway even the most-resistant. Perhaps a soothing soak in a milk bath with some rose petals would be a better choice for the more circumspect.
A major component in the spa experience is the usage of specialty products. A learned spa provider will be able to suggest an appropriate shampoo for each individual guest: maybe a nourishing shampoo to help with dry skin and coat, possibly a detangling or deshedding option, or even perhaps a color-enhancing shampoo to make sure Fido looks his finest. The use of a specifically-designed bathing system is also a must. Hand-washing is not only out of vogue for a true dog spa, but it just simply cannot produce the same cleanliness or therapeutic benefits.
Following the bath, treatments which enhance the condition of both hair and skin collectively are key. Many spas offer a deep leave-in conditioning treatment, or even a healing and reparative hot-oil application. But one of the most popular dog spa treatments is the facial, much like in human spas. Blueberry seems to be the most-preferred canine version, not only for its scrumptious scent, but also for the stain-removing benefits. Or how about a mud mask? Rather than the true organic version, dog-specific spa mud is often infused with Jojoba and olive oil. The sumptuous mixture smells divine, and helps to exfoliate and detoxify the skin.
Even during a spa treatment, regular maintenance issues must be addressed: ear cleaning, brush-outs, nail trimming and the like. It is interesting to note that the spa twist on these services can transform less-favorable tasks into much more enjoyable affairs. A more pleasing spa version of the nail trim is the “pawticure” which is accomplished with a nail grinding tool. Traditional nail trimmers can be frightening for dogs, especially for those who have had toenails painfully trimmed too short in the past. The gentle grinder-method greatly reduces this risk since only small portions are removed at a time. After the nails, each paw is then massaged with a pad conditioning treatment. Dogs who usually detest having their nails clipped often enjoy a pawticure because the entire experience is incomparable.
No spa session would be complete without the full body massage, and for most canine clients this is by far the most enjoyable portion of the visit. Various pet-specific techniques may be utilized such as Tellington TTouch, and even human techniques like Reiki, often in conjunction with a variety of different props to enhance the benefits. Tellington TTouch is a gentle and specialized method of guided touch which offers physical and emotional benefits to both the provider and the recipient. In the case of pets, it improves rapport and trust between the human and the animal, enhances cellular function and promotes healing.
Special grooming gloves with rubber bristles are always a favorite, especially for tummy rubs. Hot stone massage sessions are also well-received where warmed river rocks are placed on the dog to help to release muscle tension and increase circulation. Regardless of the techniques used, the dogs are essentially just appreciative of the one-on-one human interaction during this portion of any spa visit.
Going one step ahead
The implementation of specialty-grooming techniques and trends are a vital element of the luxury dog spa experience. Ears and tails can be safely dyed vivid colors to make a statement, with embellishments such as beads, feathers, and/or glitter for extra wow. Asian-fusion is a wildly popular trend in grooming, with dogs being styled to look like plush-stuffed toys. Or perhaps Fido would prefer a more spunky choice like a Mohawk or a lion clip.
All of this pampering works up an appetite. A dog spa worth its name should offer an extensive canine-friendly food and beverage menu, which is much more than a biscuit and bowl of water. Gourmet meat-focused meals and delectable treats like frozen yogurt “pupsicles” are always favored, made with all organic and non-GMO ingredients of course. And believe it or not, wine and beer are not just for human fun any longer. Canine non-alcoholic choices are fun offerings to help Fido unwind after a long day of primping and feeling fabulous.
So now that Fido has been lovingly fluffed, conditioned, massaged, pawticured, embellished, and fed...what else could you possibly add to the overall spa experience? Well, with any luck, he arrived in a limo provided by the spa, and will of course, be going home in the same fashion. After all, doesn’t he deserve the very best?
These devoted, marvelous creatures deserve to be reimbursed for all of the love and loyalty which they endlessly dispense. Isn’t the simple reward of a restful day at the dog spa the very least we can do?
Shannon Heggem is a pet luxury lifestyle expert. She has been shaking up the pet industry since the early 1990s with her bold and daring high-end pet spaces. From luxury pet resorts (like her own Luxury Unleashed) to home-based custom pet spaces, Ms. Heggem continues to accelerate the level of pampering for the most-fortunate four-legged friends. Her work has been featured in magazines and on reality television. Shannon Heggem is considered the global authority on pet luxury. She is also the human behind doggie social media starlet @gigglesbygigi, probably the world’s most pampered dog. You might meet them both at one of their many speaking appearances around the globe, and hear first-hand about just how pampered a pooch can truly be!