The RSPCA has voiced concerns about the growing trend of a number of different services that fall under the category of extreme dog grooming and their affect on the health and welfare of the dogs in question. Procedures which put fashion and style first, whilst highly unnecessary for dogs, have also, most importantly, proven to be discomforting and generally stressful for dogs to go through.
Although dog spa representatives have replied to these claims to suggest that the creative and extreme grooming industry is simply ‘harmless fun’ and that dogs enjoy the process, certain animal welfare charities are unsure of the basis of this suggestion and, furthermore, are worried about the largely unregulated nature of dog spas, whereby the services offered to people’s dogs may not have been checked by professionals who understand dog behaviour, thus meaning that they may unwittingly be distressing the dogs that they are trying to de-stress.
There is however of course a valid point to be made that it can be dangerous not to groom one’s dog enough, as this can lead to discomfort, with matted hair and overgrown nails and even infections being the prime causes of problems. However, might this growing industry be taking advantage of dog owners’ sincere intent to show their pets love and care whilst not always putting an interest in the wellbeing of the dogs first?
A growing trend
The Pet Industry Foundation suggests that the rapid growth of dog spas illustrates in turn a growing trend for people to humanise dogs and to treat them as they would a child. This in itself is no great problem, though it does begin to become a cause for concern when owners spend as £500 on ‘creative grooming’ procedures for their dogs which predominantly have a superficial focus on cosmetics.
A spokesperson from the RSPCA suggests that this is indeed a worrying trend if it does continue to develop as, far from caring for the concerns of their dog, owners might increasingly view their pet as a mere ornament, saying that this intense pampering often ‘sends out an extremely worrying message that dogs could be viewed as novelty accessories rather than as intelligent, sentient animals.’
Though it may start as harmless fun, charities such as the RSPCA are worried about how this may change the way humans view pets in the long run, and therefore how this might negatively impact the level of care which dog owners may be giving their pets, perhaps misplacing money and misdirecting their affection by having their dogs’ hair dyed for example.
There are however many spas who do not use dye and have an ethos which is opposed to that of the more superficially minded spas. These instead will focus on services such as massages and trimming hair and nails.
It seems that with all of this, the key thing is always listen to your dog and to make sure you are aware of whether they are enjoying something or whether they are not. Grooming after all should be all about the dog’s comfort and wellbeing and not purely about the owner’s satisfaction. It would appear that most dog owners understand this general rule, whilst others perhaps are too quick to buy into fads and fashions without thinking: ‘am I de-stressing my dog or distressing my dog?’