Nailing Down an Opportunity

Nail care services can be important to ensuring the health of not only a grooming salon’s canine clients, but also the business’ reputation. The key is using the right products and practices.

While it may be easy to simply view nail care as just one of the less glamorous parts of pet grooming, it would be a mistake to discount just how important this service is to the wellbeing of a salon’s canine clients. The condition of a pet’s nails can have a significant impact on its overall health, causing issues that range from simple discomfort to serious infection. Thus, keeping up with proper care is essential.

“The most important aspect of animal nail care is simply to make sure that they are cut, and cut frequently,” says Drew A.B. Clark, director of sales and marketing for Resco Pet Products. “ Many animals have natural filing that occurs while they are walked, or [during] play, but that does not mean that they do not need to be trimmed as well. Dogs in particular need constant maintenance or many problems can arise. They can get infections, in-grown nails, and even nails that can grow right through their pads, requiring surgery.”

In addition to contributing to keeping pets healthy, a salon’s ability to deliver good nail care service will go a long way in furthering the reputation of a grooming business, says Matthew Faulhaber, marketing and sales manager, pet retail, for SmartPractice.
“Educating clients about their pets’ nail care is an excellent opportunity to enhance their standing as important resources for their pets’ care,” he explains. “Groomers should be alert to pets’ nails, looking for any abnormalities such as growths, including in and around the nail bed, unusual coloration, infections, and broken and ragged nails.”

While a groomer can address some conditions, any unusual situations should be discussed with the pet owner for possible referral to their veterinarians for medical care, says Faulhaber.

For groomers, the first step in delivering quality nail care services is arming themselves with the right tools. According to Jennifer Parish, sales manager for Espree Animal Products, every salon’s nail-care toolbox should include the basics: nail clippers, files, grinders, nail polish and styptic powder.

MiracleCorp’s Sharon Burden agrees on the basic items listed by Parish, and suggests a couple of additional items.  “Groomers will have their own preferences, but a good start would be:  nail trimmer, nail grinder or file, styptic powder or styptic pads, ball-tipped shears for trimming between pads or an electric hair trimmer, pad ointment, nail buffer, nail clipper scissors, alcohol wipes, nail polish and remover,” she says.

Once their toolkit is set up, the next elements of nail care that groomers should consider are safe pet handling and proper technique. “The first thing is to make sure you have the pet safe, secure and restrained, and always be in control of the grooming process,” says Christina Pawlosky, Certified Master Groomer and national training manager for Oster Professional Products/Oster Animal Care. “I like to do the  pet’s nails right after a bath, as the nail tissue is softer and the nails are more pliable.”

Oster’s Gentle Paws Premium Nail Trimmer and the new Sunbeam Pets Lighted Nail Grinder are both great to use on nails after the bath, when nails are wet and more pliable, suggests Pawlosky. 

“Grinding is always the safest [in order] to avoid the quick under the harder nail surface, but it can also be more time consuming. Just remember to start slow, rub the grinder over the paw until the dog relaxes. Use a firm but very calm voice. Each time you complete a nail or foot, you can give the dog a treat, but I normally like to wait until the end and make it a big reward.”   

When it comes to advances in nail-care tools, manufacturers are concentrating on safety for the pets, as well as comfort and aesthetics for the grooming professional. “In the past 10 years, there have been many new nail care tools introduced, but current trends focus highly on nail grinding and nail quick-finding techniques,” says Clark. “A trend that we are focusing on at Resco, because we believe it is here to stay, is the scissor-style or plier-style nail trimmer, as groomers would call them.  We believe this style nail trimmer offers comfort to groomers that they have not seen before in earlier tools.”

According to Clark, Resco recently expanded its nail care line to include a series of guillotine nail trimmers that come in anti-static candy colors like raspberry red, winner’s circle purple and electric blue.  “We feel that groomers not only enjoy the bright colors, but the individuality it offers them in the salon,” she says.

Looking Good 
But groomers aren’t the only ones looking for a unique aesthetic when it comes to nail care, says Parish. She points out that today’s grooming clients are looking to make their pets stand out by blinging out their nails, and Espree is making that easier than ever. “Nails with high design and bling are becoming increasingly popular in the grooming industry,” says Parish. “New nail pens and nail wraps are making this easier for the groomers.”

SmartPractice is another company that is helping grooming salons add a pizzazz to their canine clients’ nails with its Soft Claws nail caps. Soft Claws come in a variety of colors, and the company recently introduced a new line of sparkle colors. However, Faulhaber is quick to point out that nail caps aren’t just about aesthetics. “Soft Claws can also help dogs with arthritis, disc conditions or hip issues get better traction on smooth flooring when applied to the hind leg nails,” he says.

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